Why Just “Getting Saved” Won’t Help You

The purpose of The Whole Man is to help men find healing and wholeness in Jesus.

With that in mind, I realize that as we walk toward this purpose, there may be readers who question what this looks like. For much of my early life I searched for healing and wholeness in many places. Eventually I landed in the offices of a number of professional counselors.

Professional counseling is an important part of finding healing, but it has a threshold in what it is able to offer. It’s absolutely a vehicle to move you forward toward healing and wholeness, but apart from Jesus it can only achieve a shadow of this desire. Professional counseling is more akin to pain management than a cure. The goal is to mitigate pain, so that it is bearable to live with, but pain is never completely eliminated. This is why some people go to counseling for 20 years. As long as the ailment remains, you must continue treatment. However, when you are cured you stop treating symptoms.

This is where Jesus comes in. When we enter into relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit carries you over the threshold into healing and wholeness. Sometimes that happens immediately, but more often it is a process.

Sadly, in an effort to “win” souls to Christ, the church has reduced the entirety of following Jesus into a singular event, namely “getting saved.” We can see this played out by the way that Christians use time as a measure of “spiritual maturity.” Typically when two Christians meet for the first time, they don’t ask, “What is Jesus doing in your life, right now?” Instead, they ask a variant of “When did you get saved?”

How long we’ve identified as a Christian has become the defining measure for how well we follow Jesus. However, if we are to experience the healing and genuine wholeness that Jesus offers; we must learn what it truly means to follow Him. And following Jesus is much more than simply “getting saved.”

I’d like to demystify what it means to “be saved” by Christ. It isn’t magic. At the most basic level it is believing that Jesus is who He says He is, that He loves you, and then doing your best to shape your life as a response to His love. To clarify, shaping your life as a response to the love of Jesus is about choices, sometimes very difficult ones, but choices nonetheless. It has nothing to do with your ability to “be good enough.”

Following Jesus begins with belief and is followed by actions in your life that flow out of that belief. As difficult as some of these choices will be, making the choice to believe is possibly the most difficult. However, this is your first act of faith in the person of Jesus and the beginning of following Him.

My friend Thomas put together a great write up on what it means to confess and follow Jesus, so I’m going to cheat and use that. There are three parts to consider: Salvation, Justification and Sanctification.

Salvation

This is the event that most Christians refer to when they say they are “saved.” It is the most important of the three and it is intended to place you in relationship with God. Salvation is about accepting the truth of your fallen and broken state and believing that God forgives you through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

What must I do to be saved?

1. Understand God desires close relationship with you. (John 3:16 & James 2:23)
2. Confess your sin condition and Jesus as Lord. (Romans 10:9, 3:10, 7:11 – leads to death and 1 John 1:9)
3. Believe in the power of His Resurrection. (Romans 10:9, Ephesians 1:19, and 2 Cor. 4:14)

Justification

The most meaningful of the three and is the experience of being made into the likeness of Jesus. Justification is about being adopted as sons and daughters of God and being made worthy to approach Him. Our worthiness is achieved by Christ’s work on the cross, in which we trade our sin and brokenness for Christ’s righteousness.

What must I do to be justified?

1. Accept by faith the gift of sonship (adoption). (Galatians 3:11, 26 and Ephesians 5:1)
2. Trust in the atonement/exchange of righteousness. (Romans 5:6, 9-11, and 1 Peter 3:18)
3. Become sealed with the Spirit in faith. (Ephesians 1:13, 4:21, and Galatians 3:14)

Sanctification

The most visible and how we live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is a continuous process and enables an active life, faith and work. It has to do with the Holy Spirit empowering you to live a life that reflects the character of Jesus, the growing of your faith in who Jesus is, God’s justice and goodness and doing the good work of the ministry.

What must I do to be Sanctified?

1. Surrender to Repentance. (Romans 2:4 and Acts 2:37-41)
2. Seek to be presented, in Christ, to God. (Colossians 1:22, Ephesians 1:4, and Romans 7:4)
3. Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Thess. 2:13, Ephesians 3:14-21, and Acts 1:8)

Salvation and justification are singular events that happen simultaneously. However, sanctification takes the rest of your life and requires other Christians. Maybe it’s time to stop managing your pain and start looking to the cure for your hurts.

In the next post, I’ll talk about some of the things you can do to grow in your relationship with God.

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1 Comment

  1. This is an amazing and clear understand of Protestant theology. This is really good. I struggle with simply being saved and ending the discussion. Life is more than being saved when we die, we are called to live a joyous life in Christ.

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