A conversation has sprung up at Evangelical Update regarding salvation. What is it, who "gets" it, who doesn't, how do you know if you are saved, etc. The discussion to date is illuminating, but really the topic is too big to cover without a post (or a series thereof, as you'll see here over the next week or ten) here as well. I mean, I like the conversational utility of blog comments, and I hate to consume long stretches of such with my verbosity to the detriment of participation by others. So, I'm going to do a series addressing the topic at hand.
Many assumptions may be made for the sake of space, and I'm not going to defend every statement with detailed follow-up; that's what the comments section is for if you have questions. This series is coming from my perspective as an Evangelical, and I don't propose to speak for everyone; let's have a discussion and see where it comes out.
Salvation isn't a simple topic. Well, in some senses it is. I could say that salvation is offered to all, accepted by few. I could say it's something God offers out of love, through His grace. I could also say we don't deserve it, as we (being imperfect and sinful) cannot earn the favor of God (being perfectly just and righteous). And in truth, it's all of these things. It's the why's and wherefors that take more time. Each of these statements is simple - yet explaining them can take lots and lots of time.
I'll try to be concise.
When we're talking about salvation, though, it is a theological topic. That is, it has to do with the knowledge of God. Without God, the topic makes no sense. When "doing theology," or discussing spiritual matters ala Christianity, we need to go therefore to the source to get the information from which we derive our beliefs. There are a couple of places we can go for information on salvation: God Himself, and the Bible. The former is obvious - who better to ask about His gifts than, well, Him? God, through the person of the Holy Spirit does speak to us and give assurance of salvation. But that's a topic for later in the series.
The other main source of information regarding our eternal state is found in scripture. This, being God's revelation to us about Himself and His actions is another good source. In fact, aside from scripture and the direct revelation of His "still, small voice" there really aren't any authoritative sources of data regarding the afterlife. So I'll start the series by explaining how I see and interpret the Bible as that will inform how I come to my perception of God. That in turn leads to how I see salvation, since above all it is an act of God.
I've gone a long way, so far, and said very little about how I see scripture, so this will just be a flyby, to be fleshed out in the next post or two. My view of scripture is that it is inspired and inerrant. It is useful for teaching, correcting and edifying. It is the prime source of information about and from God outside our experience with Him. And the Bible is also fully sufficient to explain all we need to know about salvation and how to receive it.
Some of these terms (inspired, and inerrant in particular) are interpreted in different ways so I'll turn to what I mean by those two "i" words next.