Dude! You’re Making a Big Deal Out of Nothing.

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Dude, Chill! Stop rocking the boat. Back off! You’re making a big deal out of nothing. There’s no big difference between faith alone and having faith. You’re gettin’ all worked up over nothing. Enough already!  

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Here’s why this is a big deal – SALVATION. 

  1. It impacts your understanding of salvation. Salvation is one unified reality. It encompasses all of life. It occurs in the past, present, and future. Yet, you are taught that justification is separated from sanctification which is separated from glorification in order to preserve the idea that justification is by faith alone. Yet, we learn from every biblical writer who addresses this issue that justification includes some form of effort along with faith. Thus, salvation must include some kind of effort. Wow! That’s hard to swallow, isn’t it? 
  2. It challenges your experience of salvation. If salvation is one unified reality that includes faith and effort, then your experience of salvation must include faith and effort. You are not being saved by faith alone. You are required to participate in salvation for salvation to be a reality in your life. You cannot passively cruise into eternity on the wings of faith alone. Faith-efforts such as communing with God in prayer, fasting, loving your neighbor, persevering in suffering, repenting,  struggling in obedience, and participating in the eucharist are ways of experiencing salvation. 

Salvation By Faith & Effort Changes Everything…For Good 

To realize that you must put forth some kind of effort in order to be saved changes everything. Now, all of life and how you live it is elevated and deepened in a fresh realization that if salvation is to be real in God by Jesus Christ through the Spirit, you have to be involved. Tenacious engagement is called for. No more indifferent, inactive, lifeless, “I’m-good-to-go” Christian life for you. 

Please don’t assume that I’m advocating some sort of radical, works-righteousness, save yourself, no-need-for-grace theory. Far from it. Don’t be trapped by dualistic thinking believing there are only two positions on the subject of salvation: either you’re saved 1) by effort or 2) by grace. Thankfully, there’s another position: salvation by both. 

It’s in this participatory paradigm – participating in salvation by faith-efforts – that you realize an even deeper need of God’s grace and mercy. In the ongoing struggle of salvation, grace must sustain or all efforts are useless. 

I think I’ve spent enough time on this subject. I hope my reflections on “faith-alone” have challenged some of your assumptions and actions. Perhaps, I’ve confirmed what you’ve always believed. Maybe I’ve got you taking a second look at “faith alone.” 

Above all, I hope I’ve communicated my biggest desire for you – that you participate as fully as possible in what God has provided for you – in this case, salvation. 

Dr. K