I Buy Books!

I buy a lot of them. I love the written word and cannot remember a time when I didn’t love reading. Sometimes I aimlessly browse through a library or bookstore simply to take it all in—the titles, the classifications, the depth of knowledge humanity is capable of inspires me. I even like visiting second hand book stores or used book stores. One used book store I visited in Oxford had first edition books that were written in the 1800’s. It was a privilege for me to hold them.

One visit to a Christian bookstore stands out in my memory. I had selected a number of books and waited in line to purchase them. A clean-cut, buttoned up twenty-something man and I engaged in checkout line small talk. But, then our conversation quickly heated into an argument when he ventured into his rehearsed ‘salvation message.’ He began to beat the salvation drum so loudly that everyone in the checkout area and those browsing could hear it. He challenged me if I knew whether or not I was ‘saved’ and if I knew whether or not I was going to heaven.  I answered his questions with definitive answers and challenged him right back by asking, “how do you know that just because you have a date and time that you're saved? I think there will be many that will be be surprised where they wake up.”

Who can be saved?

The answer has eternal significance. Many have tried to answer the question definitively. Salvation is sometimes taught as limiting God. Much like Fed Ex or UPS, emphasis is placed on a decision with a specific date and time. Once saved—always saved. Others create such nefarious ambiguity I wonder whether they believe 'it’s all roads lead to heaven or to hell.’ Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Bultmann, Moltmann and Bonhoeffer captured their knowledge and understanding in sermons and in books which contributed to the salvation library. All interesting perspectives and worth your time to explore if you are so inclined. 

Salvation, as a term, has a curious history. 

Strong’s Concordance can help us. The Greek term is sṓzō (from sōs, "safe, rescued") – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).  Sṓzo is the root of sōtḗr “Savior.” Soteriology is the study of salvation: sōtēría("salvation") and the adjectival form what is "saved/rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety. Salvation has deep European roots. Old English, West Germanic, High German, Middle Dutch terms link the word salvation to healing, ointment, or salve. We can even investigate and find a link to the term salvage. 

The definitions all have deep significance for me.  I can easily recognize why God received an S.O.S. signal. I consider the brokenness around me. It’s not hard to admit humanity’s need for a healing salve for injuries caused or sustained by ungodly humanity. We cannot limit ourselves to the sinful acts we do to one another but we must address the source of our brokenness—the inherited sinful condition of the human heart. The God of the Bible considered our wreckage worth saving. Perhaps we need to comprehend Jesus on a salvage mission. Jesus’ mission and work was not limited to save our personal souls but included a more comprehensive restoration project that meant restoration of the entire created order to what God intended. 

Salvation. Who can be saved? This is the question Pastor Terry Clark and Director of Worship John Dudich will unpack for us Sunday. I hope you can join us. 

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27 NIV

Pastor Jen