When you think of salvation, what do you think about? Many times salvation is seen in terms of an instantaneous event, obtained at the point of conversion. While one enters into a saved state when they believe in the Lord Jesus, confess His name, repent of their sins, and are immersed in water for the remission of sin (Acts 16:31, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21), is that all? What comes after these things?
The plan of salvation does not end with baptism; if anything, that is when the plan of salvation begins. As Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3-5:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
While we obtain initial salvation at the point of conversion, we ought not think that salvation is complete at that point: our final salvation is waiting for us, to be revealed on the last day. How, then, shall we move from our initial salvation toward our final salvation? The Bible indicates that such is only possible by being an obedient servant of Christ.
It is not popular in American society to be described as an “obedient servant”. Americans pride themselves on being independent and mastered by no king or other such earthly ruler. While we may be free in terms of earthly authority, we are never truly free in spiritual matters. Paul indicates as much in Romans 6:16:
Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
The only choice we have in the matter is to whom we shall pledge ourselves: to God and His righteousness, and be saved, or to Satan and sin, and perish.
Salvation, then, is not gained in one moment and then held in perpetuity no matter what (cf. 2 Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26-31, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Salvation, indeed, is a process, the development of a man coming out of sin and heading toward maturity in Christ. Paul describes this process in terms of a race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain. And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating the air: but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.
Whether we seek to look at it in terms of a growing relationship with God through Christ (1 John 1:3), a race to run (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), a path to walk (Matthew 7:13-14), or in some other way, the reality remains the same: if we desire to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10), we need to be obedient servants of Christ our Lord. Such was Paul’s goal for mankind (Romans 1:5), and we always seek to have in our association those who desire to serve God. Let us always remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:22:
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”