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Taking Out the Trash

• Greg Boyd

What does it mean to “get saved?” Many people (especially people in the United States) see salvation as a one time event and the result of “believing” certain things about God. While belief is important, salvation encompasses much more than that. The salvation that God offers is a continual personal transformation where the trash of our old lives is replaced by the beauty of God’s Kingdom.

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When asked the question, “What is salvation?” most people would explain it as something that happens to a person when they believe certain things about Jesus and then God declares that person righteous. In other words, salvation is a transaction where correct beliefs about God are exchanged for a declaration of forgiveness by God.

This view of salvation is based on the popular use of a courtroom analogy. In this analogy, every human is declared guilty, sinful and unable to do anything about it. Upon recognition of this guilt and the acknowledgment of Jesus as “savior,” the judge, who is God, declares a person righteous because he or she is seen through the righteousness of Jesus.

While this makes for a good analogy, there is a problem: it fails to reflect the biblical view of salvation. A better analogy comes from the passage in Luke 12 where Jesus speaks about fearing the one who has authority to throw a person into hell. The word hell here is “ghenna” which refers to a garbage dump. Since only trash is thrown into a garbage dump, Jesus is warning against living a life that is trashed. In modern terms, “Don’t become trash, for all trash is thrown out. Become a person who is fit for the Kingdom.” Salvation is about God delivering us from the trash in our lives.

In our popular view of salvation, the courtroom analogy explains how salvation deals with the consequences of sin so that we can stay out of ghenna, but it does not deal with the fact that our lives are still trash. God’s view of salvation is one that actually deals with the reality that the trash exists and he does something about it. While it is true that my initial salvation experience was truly “salvation,” it is definitely NOT all of my salvation. Salvation is also about continually getting rid of the trash in my life which is a continual process. This means that salvation can be described in three tenses: past, present and future.

PAST
Eph. 2:5 – “[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

PRESENT
1Cor. 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

FUTURE
Rom. 5:10 – “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

I have been saved, I am being saved and I will be saved. My trash was taken out, my trash is being taken out and my trash will be taken out. God does not expect us to “figure things out” just because we “got saved” at some point in the past. His salvation is ongoing in our lives… That kind of love is overwhelming.

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Topics: Salvation, Sin, Transformation

Sermon Series: Life Beyond Belief


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 12:1-12

    1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be [a] on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

    4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

    8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever publicly disowns me will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

    11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

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