A Prayer
of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

(No 1 in a series on salvation experience)

By Edgar Jones
Last year I posted a series of five papers on the history of salvation.  If you wish to begin with that for your consideration of salvation, you should go here.  The views I have presented under the theme of salvation history will be complimentary to the views expressed here on the theme of salvation experience.

This begins a new, short series on the individual experience of salvation.  The very first thing one must do is to strip one's mind free of all the salvation doctrines of the churches (all of them), which are based on completely false premises.  This includes the doctrines of Paul and his early successors, the Church Fathers, the current doctrines of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Meno Simons and all others on down to the current expositions of Evangelical Protestantism, et hoc genus omne.  These all confuse the issues by contributing a host of red herrings that are incorporated into certain doctrines. These include security of the believer, sin as the transgression of the law, predestination, original sin, salvation by grace, total depravity, substitutionary atonement and many other things.  if the reader, in quest of Truth, is unwilling or unable to set aside all preconceptions that have been influenced by such ideas, than it will be vain to continue reading here.  

The second thing one must do is to carefully define salvation due to the huge number of different salvation doctrines that are being preached around the world and that are intrinsic to the above listed doctrines.  
Then we will examine, in this paper, the question, "When can a person truly state, "I have been saved?"

Defining Salvation

We can correctly understand personal salvation only when we perceive it from the perspective of the Father in heaven, and that only as Jesus has revealed it to us.  From this perspective, things appear as the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) depicts them. There we see a sinner attached to life in his "far country" and earnestly seeking a fulfillment.  We also see a grieving Father in a house that represents heaven, looking out on the "far country" and seeing only death and lostness, for he described his repentant and returning son as having been lost and dead.


    [24] for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
But he did not say this until after the prodigal had returned to the Father's house!  This world of men, represented by the far country in the parable, is therefore the abode of the lost and the dead -- that is, it is the abode of human beings who are both lost and dead to God in heaven.  The Father wants to receive them into his house as his dear children, but cannot do so because they are lost and dead.  

This world (the kosmos) is a doomed abode, ever so slowly yielding to a futility that is its destiny.  It has been bonded to futility and can never be glorified.  The lost and dead souls within it will share in its inglorious demise because they, like the prodigal son, remain of the world, attached to the world, and are both lost and dead to the Father.
 Learn more about this attachment here.

But the Father loves all and earnestly desires to save all human beings from this sinking ship, this "far country."  Salvation, from the perspective of the Father, is then the rescue of His children from the deadness and lostness of the world and their safe deliverance to His glorious house.  There, they are rescued from lostness and death and granted eternal life. Then, according to the primary teaching of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents!

Personal salvation is therefore to be defined as the rescue of the individual person from this world and the arrival of that person in the Father's house.   It is a process having a beginning in this world and an end in heaven; it is not an event.  To this end the Father sent his loyal and obedient Son into the lost and dead world, risking the eternal life even of the Son, not to make a sacrificial offering for sin but to rescue all who will hear him and follow him home to the Father.  

The Keys of Personal Salvation

The eternal destiny of each person in this world now rests with the individual, just as it rested with the prodigal son in the far country. Nothing occurs until the individual does two things:

1. Repents of the love of life in the far country, which is the essence of sin, and
2. Desires above all to rise and go to the Father.

Jesus mandated the first when he delivered the Great Principle:


    [25] He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Jesus mandated the second when he summed up the Law in the Great Commandment:


[37] And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
These two are keys to personal salvation, because one cannot be saved from this world while loving life in this world, and one does not want to go to the Father, from this world, until one loves the Father with the whole person -- heart, soul, strength and mind. Standing together, therefore, these two form a Great Correlate and their intent is salvation and eternal life.  One of them establishes the positive bond to God that can only be described as love; the other establishes the negative stance towards the life in the world that can only be described as hate.

Some Implications

Within this definition of salvation, there is no place for a personal "salvation experience" event according to which one can truly say, "I was saved at such and such a place and at such and such a time." That is because the experience of salvation is both tentative and incomplete while one abides in this world.  It is a process and not an event. Personal salvation and the gift of eternal life are provisional while one continues in the world and in the flesh.  The salvation process has its beginning as an event, so that one may say, as Jesus did,


[9] And Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come. . ..
He means us to understand that the process of salvation has begun in the experience of that person.

Emotional manifestations are not reliable evidences of the salvation experience.  An emotional release interpreted as a deliverance from sin guilt is not characteristically a manifestation of salvation, not even of the beginning of the salvation process. There comes to my mind the scenes I witnessed in my childhood during the aftermath of evangelistic sermons delivered from the pulpit of Walnut Grove Baptist Church. There was the inevitable alter call, the invitation to the sinners in the congregation to come forward and confess their sins and seek salvation.  Someone would come forth, weeping and sobbing, and the saints would pounce on him or her like vultures on carrion.  The pastor and the evangelist led their admonitions as they implored the sinner to repent and trust the shed blood of Jesus as atonement for their sins. This was sometimes a lengthy process that always included earnest and loud prayers for the sinners soul in an effort to pray him or her through.  Then there was the sudden outburst of emotion on the part of the sinner under conviction and immediately there arose the cacophony of hallelujahs and praises to God!  The sinner had been saved!  Or, alternatively, there was no such outburst, and the entreaties would continue on for a long time -- until the saints had expended their energy, I suppose.  Then the saints returned, weeping and depressed, to their pews and the pastor, greatly discouraged, dismissed the congregation with exhortations to continue praying for the unrepentant soul.  For a child, it was most entertaining.  

The converted "sinner" went home that night with a great sense of relief.  Surely something had taken place?  After so much public celebration by friends and neighbors who were members of the church, there was no way open to denial.  So, ever after, that person looked back to that night as "the night I was saved."  So the convert followed through and appeared at the baptizing the next Sunday afternoon, when the pastor dunked him or her under water in the creek.  The bait was taken; the trap was sprung.  

Another implication is that one does not attain to personal salvation by believing something about Jesus, as did the convert described above.  Thus this assertion of Paul is false:


    [9] because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    10] For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.
This deceives all who subscribe to it.  They inevitably conclude that, on this basis, salvation is a "done deal."   It is in the Bible, so it must be true!

This also obscures the genuine basis of personal salvation, which consist in believing Jesus and not just something about Jesus.  Therefore Jesus gave this formula for the acquisition of eternal life (eternal salvation):


[24] Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

    One More Characteristic
If every individual arises immediately to the Father's house as soon as the Good News is heard and received, there will be no one remaining who can witness to contemporaries and generations yet unborn.  Someone must go throughout the sinking ship that is the world and announce the arrival of a savior with his lifeboat.  It is necessary, therefore, that those who conform to the Great Correlate remain for a time to be witnesses to the Good News of Salvation for the sake of their neighbors and successors.  

There is a hazard in this because the freedom of the individual always remains intact, and it is possible, even inevitable, that some will return to the love of life in this world.  This is apostasy that is illustrated by the Parable of the Sower.  Therefore, the salvation of the individual is not secure while one remains in this world, but the continuance in the faith for the duration of one's sojourn here has the effect of strengthening and confirming one in the assurance of salvation.  

During this hazardous period, the Father has, through the Lord Jesus, made known his will for the duration of our sojourn in the world.  It is the Second Commandment:


[31] `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
This Second Commandment therefore guides us in all our affairs while we remain on the earth, and it is essential to the summation of all the commandments.  Jesus resolved the Second Commandment into three separate applications, as follows:
1. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44)
2. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have     loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34)
3. Love yourself  (i.e., Love your neighbor as yourself) (Mark 12:31)
There are then only two positive purposes that continuance in the world can serve:
1. The proving of faith through endurance
2. The witness to others that they also may be saved.
Jesus therefore said, 
1.  But he who endures to the end will be saved.  (Mark 13:13)
2. you shall be
my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama'ria and to     the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)


The personal salvation of a child of God is the rescue of that child from the world and the arrival at the Father's house.  The experience begins when the child first opens his heart to the Word of Truth as uttered by Jesus of Nazareth.  This initiates the salvation process but does not insure personal salvation because the will of the child always remains free to turn back to the world while the child remains in the world.

When, therefore, can one truly say, "I have been saved?"  Not until one has risen and, arriving at the Father's house, finds oneself embraced by the Father and hears him cry out in great divine Joy:

This my child was dead, and is alive again; was lost, and is found!

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