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Let’s Not Make-a-Deal

• Greg Boyd

Salvation is usually defined as a distinct moment in time. It is a deal that we make with God to get out of hell. In this sermon, Greg talks about how salvation is so much more than a one-time deal, and there is something better behind curtain number 2 (guaranteed).

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Last week, we discussed what it looks like to be rooted in Christ. This rootedness involves both salvation and discipleship. The key to this rootedness was to continuing to walk in a certain direction or way. This is one of the most basic and difficult parts of being a Christian.

This is not the typical description of Christianity that we hear. This walking involves life-long effort, and yet we hear that it only takes a moment to be a part of the Kingdom. One step instead of a journey. While the salvation moment is important, centering our entire faith on it makes our faith contractual and not covenantal. We make salvation a legally-binding contract between us and God, where if we pray the sinner’s prayer, then we get to go to heaven. But we lose out on so much of what God offers by thinking in contractual terms.

In contracts, there is usually a purchase of goods during a legal deal. This legal deal involves two or more parties where they enter into an agreement. The parties trust in the legal contract and not each other. It is a self-oriented way of doing things, where it is meant to protect oneself from others.

In covenants, there is a marriage where people exchange their lives in personal pledges to one another. It involves parties and celebrations. The people involved trust each other. It is an other-oriented arrangement, where people trust and love others instead of only seeing what they get out of it.

Salvation is about entering a marriage with Jesus. It’s about him sharing his life with us and us surrendering ours to him. It is participating in the eternal fellowship of the Trinity. It is about growing in knowledge and love for Jesus and learning how to be a trusting and trustworthy spouse. It is about getting ready for the marriage supper and learning how to partner with God on this Earth.

This is why the New Testament never separates salvation and discipleship. Becoming the bride involves a salvation moment and a continual walking out of our faith. It is not commands that we obey, but rather a relationship that we honor. It is not fire-insurance. When we think in terms of contract, we lose the relationship aspect of our walk with God. It simply becomes freedom to do what we want with no consequences because that is what Jesus bought us.

We don’t earn the love of a spouse. We don’t purchase a marriage with a spouse (nowadays anyway). It’s for free. But it would be ridiculous to then live a life without caring how we treat a spouse. Our relationship with Jesus is the same.

If salvation is a marriage covenant (and it is), then it’s something we never forget. It’s about surrendering to Jesus and the only life we have to surrender to him is this life. The important question becomes “how do I take the next step with Jesus” and not “did I remember to take that one step with Jesus, and was that one step enough?”

It is important to remember this relationship with God is a covenant. It is extremely difficult to remain rooted in Christ if we simply view the relationship as a contract. A one-time purchase is easily forgotten, but a person we have everyday interaction with, is a part of every step we take.

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Topics: Covenant, Discipleship, Salvation

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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 1:28

    We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Not Make-a-Deal

  1. Hans says:

    YES! Can we please get that clip uploaded to youtube PLEASE

  2. Tim says:

    Greg I LOVE to hear you preach and I really enjoyed this sermon. I would add one comment however. You mentioned that someone being ” saved in 1974″ is not relevant today but it is only relevant where he/she is today in terms of walking with God. My problem with that is, the Bible says that when we are saved, all things become new. There is an undeniable teaching in the bible that there is a 180 degree turn when someone is saved. So I can’t view that being “saved in 1974” is irrelevant at all. Your thoughts? 🙂

  3. Erik says:

    Tim, you quote one verse but you don’t put it in context and it doesn’t sound like you listened to the whole thing. To repent literally means “to turn” but every time you sin you turn away again from Christ to do so. This is the message of the cross, this is why the people of Israel turned to look upon the serpent in the wilderness of sin to be saved. They saw their sin reflected on the image that was a foreshadowing of the cross. If they got bit again they had to turn back again. Repentance is an every single day thing, the kingdom is continually at hand. If you sin but don’t repent you are as good as unsaved and are no longer new. Claiming you are saved when you have not repented is the sin of the Pharisees. The “newness” mentioned in your reference is the ability we gain when we are mentally gazing upon Christ and not upon our own temptations. It’s all about focus and if you’re no longer focused on Yeshua you’re not saved. This is what Greg was explaining. Be very careful about holding such dogmatic theological interpretations of a single verse, Jesus got onto the Pharisees who did this sort of thing the most. It was called phylactery, they would literally write out scripture, put it in a little box, tie it to their body and claim they were following the instruction of Deuteronomy 11:18. Taking a spiritual concept and applying it literally like this can be a spiritual death trap. You’re not physically new, you don’t get a new genome. You’re new by faith which allows you to walk it, step by step, day by day.

  4. Erik says:

    Just thought I should come back and clarify something. It’s true that God really did tell Israel to literally bind the words to their body, but to think that sign or symbol is anything more than a reminder is incorrect. It is only useful if they work as a reminder and motivate you to repent and turn when you’re in violation. We need the word to convict us, but if we harden our heart and never submit to the conviction of the Spirit they are no good.

    I do not mean to sound Pharisaical myself. I’ve struggled with this a lot and that’s why I can explain it…after being one type of prodical I turn and go too far the other way. I live in rebellion against God by living in sin, then I repent and live in rebellion against God’s forgiveness of other’s sin. Sometimes you just have to keep oscillating back and forth coming closer and closer in line with the straight and narrow. Nobody is perfect but the man after God’s own heart never gives up but always comes back to repentance. Look at David! If he’d looked at his encounter with Goliath as the beginning and end of his salvation he never would have repented when Nathan called him out for his sin with Bathsheba. God doesn’t expect us to have a perfect record, but to have a new perfected heart.

    Always in love,


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