I’ve had this conversation with plenty of folks in the past. It is a difficult one and maybe it just doesn’t have a clear answer. I know it gets theological..or CAN get theological. And to some degree maybe we over-think it. Maybe the fact that we think about it at all, or even doubt it, says something of our confidence in the procedure..if there even is a procedure..an equation..blah..
Here’s my ramble..
I grew up Southern Baptist. Somewhere in the summer between my 4th grade and 5th grade year, during a Vacation Bible School, I repeated a prayer after our preacher. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me from my sins. I then made that confession public with the act of baptism (water immersion..getting dunked..because that’s the way the Southern Baptist Convention said we should do it because of the Greek word baptizo which means “immersion” most of the time, but also is used in the New Testament to mean, “dip,” “cleanse,” “wash off.”)
Nevertheless..I spent my middle and high school years trying my best to follow rules..keep it between the lines..get close enough to sin to enjoy some of it’s byproducts while telling myself I hadn’t crossed any lines. I wasn’t living surrendered, I was living enslaved to a set of religious rules and clean outward appearances..sounds Pharisaical..hypocritical..but I spent a lot of time sincerely trying my best to be “GOOD” because I thought that was what a Christian did. And that led to many “re-dedications” and prayers of forgiveness..making more promises to God to “do better.” I never seemed to keep every rule..
Then college..the age of enlightenment..the era of new discovery..the land without rules..it was here that I think I finally had my epiphany..my moment of clarity..my moment of true surrender to a God of grace..it was sometime here that I realized my depraved state at birth and my genuine need for a Savior.
I have tried my best to live a surrendered life since..plenty of ebb and flow..times of deep devotion and times of relative stupidity..I’ve been uber-disciplined in my walk and at other times completely unfocused..but I’ve tried..and I feel that I’ve been on some sort of path toward righteousness..have I gotten there??..HECK NO..but I do feel forward progress.
And all of this begs the question, “When was I officially SAVED?”
[Or does that question even matter?]
The reason this question surfaces today is in part, due to the reading plan. Romans 10:9,10,13 says:
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
So, if I “confess” out loud and then “believe in my heart” then I will be saved..
Saved from God’s wrath..and from hell..I get that..but that doesn’t make me a disciple..or a follower of Jesus..maybe just a “saved” fan of Jesus..so as one of my small group buddies asked the other night, “Where is the line that separates being a fan and being a follower?”
UGH..now I think I am over-thinking it..is it really THIS simple..
at Vacation Bible School I did confess..I did believe..but I didn’t live like a surrendered follower of Jesus..I wasn’t taking up my cross daily..that all came later..
So was I “saved” at age 10 and only recently have I become a follower/disciple?
Or was I “saved” when I truly became aware of my need for a Savior while in college?
Or some other time completely??
Who can shed light on this issue?
What do YOU think?
And is it normal to even think like this?