[reprinted from November 17, 2011]
[Jesus said] “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 (NLT)
If someone asks, “Are you saved?” what do they mean?
I first heard this question when I was 14-years-old. I had been raised Catholic. I knew Jesus was God who came to earth to die for my sins and three days later rose from the dead and now lived in heaven. I had a young teen crush on a boy who walked me to class and ate lunch with me in the public school we attended. He invited me to a revival. I had never been to a church service with “Amens” and loud, shouting preaching. I had never seen an altar call and found myself the focus of people (4-5) that came up to me asking, “Are you saved?” I had no frame of reference to know what they meant. And now, 40 years later, I can say, “Yes, I am saved” but my meaning and any 20 other people can mean 20 different things. What did Jesus mean? His meaning is the one that matters, isn’t it?
Jesus was clear in Matthew 4:17 that there was a need for us to “make a change” (repent) because God’s Kingdom was coming and God and sin did not mix! In the Luke passage Jesus said He came to save those who were “lost.” If my Creator and I are not living together, then one of us is lost. Jesus also told the leadership of the Church that He came to call sinners, not the righteous (Matthew 9:12-13). Throughout the gospels Jesus brings the message from the Father that He desires to be with His children. He loves His children. He sent His own Son to bring us to the safety of the sheep pen (John 10). So when someone speaks about Jesus and questions a person, “Are you saved?” I believe Jesus’ answer is more encompassing than the answer most of us require.
Too often my requirements for someone to be “saved” from their sins is more about their relationship with me not God. I want to hear the person say the “right words” so I know they are “right with God.” I want them to agree with my interpretation of specific important Scripture passages. (Which Scriptures are more important?) I want them to stay away from “certain sins.” Sins that aren’t a temptation for me so I can’t see how they could do such things! I want people to be “clean” inside and out before they attend my church. (Hmmm. Jesus said He came for the “sick” so doesn’t that make a church = a spiritual hospital?) Do I eat with those who are “unsaved”? Jesus did. Do I spend time sharing everything Jesus has shared with me – including His love? That’s what Jesus said to do (Matthew 28:19).
Am I saved? Yes, because I am a sinner loved extravagantly and unconditionally by God Himself. He loved me before I loved Him. I cannot do anything without my LORD. I cannot “save” myself from sin. I need Jesus. He came, died for me, and now guides me with His Holy Spirit to live my life as a servant until He brings me home with Him forever. I am saved by Love.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. [I pray] that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. [I pray that] you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and width, height and depth, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (HCSB)
The Cross, covered in the Blood of God’s Son, is also the symbol of His Love – not condemning but convicting as it comes with complete forgiveness for all God’s children who will hear His voice to “Repent! Come to Me! for the Kingdom of God is near.”
Give Me Jesus written & sung by Fernando Ortega