These are many ways we, as Christians, have described Salvation through Jesus over the years. Some of them are very Biblical, some just aren’t. (ex: “Born Again” can be found in John 3:3, but there are no Bible references to “The Sinner’s Prayer” or “Walking an Aisle”)
Clearly, all of these terms are used in an effort to describe the experience of salvation through Jesus. They have proved useful in helping us understand a very spiritual, personal and subjective experience with a real, unchanging and infinite God.
I’ve had some great discussions since Sunday about the usefulness of terms like these in being able to share salvation with the current generation. Some believe these terms are adequate to be used in sharing the Gospel, some feel they are outdated.
But before we whisk away these terms as irrelevant or set them in stone forever; let’s ask some questions.
*What’s the purpose of sharing the Gospel of Salvation in Christ?
*How well do these terms describe the Gospel to those who don’t know it?
Obviously, the purpose of sharing the Gospel of Salvation in Christ is so that people might believe. The Apostle Paul says it this way:
Romans 10:13–14 (ESV) “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
We are right to seek adequate ways to describe what God distinctly wants all of us to understand about Him, His Son Jesus and our sin. But we must continually question the effectiveness of terms like these.
Phrases like “Washed in the blood” or “Once saved always saved” may miss the mark of helping others to understand Jesus if the hearers have no reference for understanding them.
Even if the terms are Biblical, we have to be ready to describe what we are saying to those who are hearing it. Salvation is a true question of life and death which merits the constant examination of how we are sharing the message.
But here’s the good news.
We are free to creatively try new ways to communicate the timeless and real Gospel. We are free to hang onto terms like “Born Again” or “Redeemed” as long as they communicate who Jesus really is, who we really are and what God really wants.
For this, the terms must be Biblical or in the very least Biblically based, so the they can be explained and applied truthfully and gracefully from the Bible.
We have to do so truthfully because we want all to come to a knowledge of the truth of sin and redemption. (1 Timothy 2:3-5) And we do so gracefully, because we must genuinely care about the souls of those who hear the Gospel message. (2 Peter 3:9)
I personally like many of the terms we use to describe salvation in Christ. I believe they are God’s grace to us in allowing us to see the Gospel of Salvation with color and depth.
But we must be sure that what we say is equitable to what we mean. We must avoid closing our hearers off or leading them away from the Gospel by using terms they don’t understand.
(Check out this link, Post Christian Culture to understand why I believe we must be even clearer about the Gospel than we have in the past.)