The Cat out of the Bag :: Salvation

We have journeyed through six of the ten Cats out of the Bag. We have discussed In, Grace, Will, Truth, Glory, and Discipleship. There are four more Cats to discover in this series of redefining words that may have had different meanings when the words were written such a long time ago.

I really can’t believe I am writing on this word. I mean, what could possibly be different about the word salvation? Nonetheless I have heard this word as one that may have a different meaning than we know today. The baseline redefinition needed can be found in this sentence:

Grab your salvation Cat out of the Bag.

Why would one want to hear this phrase and continue reading this post? I don’t know! But I am going to attempt to deliver what is pressing.

Perhaps you have seen this:

Romans 1:20-21
Romans 3:23
Romans 3:10
Romans 6:23a
Romans 5:8
Romans 6:23
Romans 10:9-10
Romans 10:13
Romans 8:1
Romans 5:1

These verses are included in what some people call the Roman Road to Salvation. The basic idea is this:

God created the universe. He is perfect and glorious, but we are sinners and unable to be right with God. Because we are not right with God, we have a punishment for that. But God has a plan for us to experience and be right with Him. Our responsibility in this interaction is to confess our imperfections and sins to Him and He provides us with His promise of salvation and rightness with Him.

After this is presented as a path, someone would then provide a sinner’s prayer for another to pray to be saved. You can read more about the Sinner’s Prayer if you’d like.

The Roman Road to Salvation and the Sinner’s Prayer are my roots. This is what I was raised under. This is the beginning of my own faith journey. I am going to talk about some things that I have since struggled with and also discovered recently that shine light on salvation…for me, anyway. 🙂

Hopscotch

I KNOW we have all played hopscotch. This was the game in elementary school when the guys were showing off their feats of strength in kickball or the monkey bars, the girls would be throwing a rock on some chalked out squares. They would hop in each of the squares and skip the one where there was a rock.

The boys would come over and check it out. Once. Then go back to feats of strength…hoping the girls would see their bulging biceps or quantified quadriceps.

Hopscotch didn’t make sense to the dudes. What’s with hopping? And then you have to skip one box? What do you win? Boys weren’t interested in agility.

Give me monkey bars with a beginning and an end.

Better yet, make the monkey bars long enough to where I can skip every other bar and really impress myself! But the goal is in mind. The other side.

Another example: Kickball. Kick the ball. And run! As fast as you can and try to make it around the bases as fast as possible without getting pegged in the head (that’s illegal, anyway…gotta hit below the shoulders).

But we all remember that one guy, that if you got the ball, you were gonna Legend-of-Sleepy-Hollow that mug…But I digress.

The idea in kickball is kick it, run, and get home. Beginning and an end. Got it.

So, this hopscotch thingy…hop, skip, jump, dodge the rock. And what do we win, again? The agility-hopping crown?

Looking at the Romans Road, I thought to myself, why does this “road” hop around the book of Romans? If it was a road, wouldn’t it have a beginning and an end? Why then: 1, 3, 6, 5, 6, 10, 8, 5?

When we read books, we read a chapter, then the next chapter, then the next chapter, and so on, and then the end. Why would we go back a couple chapters? And why would we just use a portion of those chapters? And then skip forward again, and then back and then forward?

I always wondered why this Road wasn’t in order. I always wondered what Paul was saying in the entire letter to the Romans.

I recently discovered the reason why Romans was put in the Bible after Acts and before 1 Corinthians. You probably know this, but I’ll say it anyway because it was a pretty big discovery for me.

Romans was placed in the Bible after Acts because it was a letter written by Paul. It was before 1 Corinthians because it was the longest Pauline letter. Philemon was the shortest. That’s it. The New Testament Pauline letters were organized by length…not chronology.

So, if you are discovering that the item you cherish, the Bible, is revealing more about God and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, than you initially considered, know that the Lord isn’t playing hopscotch. He’s flexing on the monkey bars!

There is a purpose to the book of Romans, and to the other letters by Paul, and to the other writings in the New Testament not written by Paul. And the Old Testament has a purpose too. It’s not hopscotch.

Ticketmaster

My wife and I enjoy the arts and athletic events. They are nice date nights and, sometimes, things we get to dress up for.

There’s something about dressing up and going out that is enjoyable. There is a strong desire for me, as her husband, to show off my bride to the world. There is a beautiful picture of Christ in these afternoon or evening dates that I am thankful to be able to see and experience.

Typically before one of these nights out on the town, I have gone online and purchased a ticket through Ticketmaster to be sure we get pretty good seats that we can afford.

If the tickets are for a play we have wanted to see, we try to get tickets in the center of the balcony for a great view of the entire stage. If the tickets are for a sporting event, we try to get closer to the field so that we can experience the speed and intensity of the game.

We get the tickets in the mail and I set them on my dresser. My wife reminds me to put them in a place that I won’t forget or lose them. So I situate them in a good place to come back to when the time is right.

Game day, or theater day comes. I go back to the spot where I put the tickets, we dress up for the match or the play. We usually enjoy a nice dinner and then make our way to the event.

We walk up to the gate, they take our tickets and tell us to enjoy the game, or enjoy the show.

When one gets saved, this is sometimes how salvation is viewed. We purchase tickets for the big day with “the prayer.” We put our tickets in a safe place. When it’s game day or the day of the big show, we grab the tickets, get dressed up, and go to the gate, looking to hand our tickets to whoever is at the gate…hoping for them to tell us to enjoy the game, or the show.

I believe at that point, we will realize we were in the game, or the show, from the prayer. There was no Ticketmaster.

We actually joined the game. We picked a team and suited up. We discovered the game plan and went after it.

Or we joined the theater company and became a thespian. We got the script and began playing our part immediately.

Which leads me to this third thought.

Mr. Woo

Check out this short video and then continue reading.

Mr. Woo is an awesome juggler. He can do a bunch of cool things with the ball, juggle off his shins, his back, he can stall it on his chest and head, he can even juggle off the soles of his feet.

Wait, what?

Yeah, the soles of his feet.

Sometimes he’ll do his thing at a halftime show or at a soccer convention. But then the game goes on, or the convention attendees go to the next booth or session. He is an individual show. He is not a team player. Some might say he plays a good part in his own show. He is not part of a larger team or entity.

Some people who have experienced salvation take their salvation as their own. They pray a personal prayer. They begin a personal relationship with God. They begin to pray by themselves. They read the Bible on their own. They try their hardest to be a Christian.

They begin the Mr. Woo show. What can they do with Jesus? Now here is the return of my initial thought, “Grab your salvation Cat out of the Bag.”

Salvation is not Hopscotch, Ticketmaster or Mr. Woo.

Salvation is MORE!

If salvation isn’t hopscotch or a ticket or an individual effort, what is it?

Here would be a great place to reference the Salvation Army. William Booth was on to something as this part of the link describes:

Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunkards were among Booth’s first converts to Christianity. His congregations were desperately poor. He preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead them to Christ and to link them to a church for further spiritual guidance. Even though they were converted, churches did not accept Booth’s followers because of what they had been. Booth gave their lives direction in a spiritual manner and put them to work to save others who were like themselves. They too preached and sang in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God.

What is the essence of salvation? The power of God. There are numerous verses that provide Biblical perspectives on salvation meanings in different letters to differ Churches, not just the one in Rome.

Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13 is a great picture of the revelation of Salvation. If you’d like, take a minute to read the text where Paul and Barnabas were in Pisidian Antioch. Acts 13:14-43. Here are my takeaways from this passage alone.

Vs 16 – Paul was talking to the men of Israel and those who fear God, or those who have a profound reverence and respect for, or those who worship God that were not of Jewish origin. He was talking to believers of God in Pisidian Antioch and those who are believers today. Believers who believe God is the source of our salvation.

Vs 23 – Paul identifies the source of this salvation they were looking for. He says that God has brought a Savior, Jesus. He is the personification of salvation!

Vs 26 – The kicker! Paul says to his family of Jews and Gentiles who are believers in God for the source of salvation that the “message of this salvation has been sent.” This message is Christ! God brought us Christ as a message of salvation, His promise fulfilled!

Vs 32 – Paul tells this gathering that he is preaching and testifying to the good news of the promise, which is salvation, through Christ, who was sent from God and was resurrected!

Vs 34 – Paul references Psalms and David’s writings and says that God will give us the Holy and sure blessings of David!

Vs 38 – Through Christ, rightness is received!

Vs 39 – Through Christ, we are freed from all things!

Vs 43 – Paul gives them a final urging…to continue in the grace of God!

My brothers and sisters, insert whatever question you have about salvation in verse 39 for “all things” and you shall see salvation through His eyes!

Divine Siblings, continue in the grace of God and His fullness!

And remember, salvation is more than a personal relationship with Jesus. Salvation is a gift through Christ’s resurrection Life. Salvation is what brings you into Christ. Salvation for Christ’s Bride is the Divine Will of God. Salvation for His Body changes the destination of His Body. His Body is no longer dead, but Alive in Christ through the power of salvation to anyone who believes.

And when we are saved, we are saved into Christ. We are saved into His purposes since before time began and until time ends and after that.

So, saved ones! Saints! May we be about His Will. May we be about His Glory! May we be about His Discipleship. May we be about His Grace. May we be about His Truth!

For Salvation is here.

How would you describe salvation based off your experience or your pursuit of Christ?

8 comments

  1. Trevor Honeycutt · April 24, 2012

    Good word Mark.

    A wise man once told me that scripture has 3 applications, and it takes all 3 to get a more complete understanding of what it’s communicating: practical, spiritual, prophetic.

    Salvation, so far, to me has been:
    Ultimately, of course, salvation unto Jesus and the new life in Him.

    Practical – Salvation from a bondage filled life (drugs, alcohol, selfishness, etc), unto freedom.
    Spiritual – Salvation from guilt, shame, deception, etc; unto Life in the Spirit.
    Prophetic – Salvation from the judgment of death, unto life with Christ in the great age.

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  5. Jessica · July 10, 2012

    Reminds me of that song…I’ve got peace like a river…I am so thankful that Jesus is the beininngg and the source of all peace…seems like the need is greater all the time for His peace…unlike anything the world would try to give us.Thank you dear friend for this beautiful post…both visually and spiritually.Have a blessed weekend,Helen

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