Salvation is Only the Beginning

I've never been in the back of the room at a church meeting, but I can almost see how some go. "Hey," they say. "How are we going to get people saved? We've got to figure out how to get them to say the prayers."

I think we're used to thinking in terms of numbers. It's only human to play the numbers game. I mean, think about it. In the baseball world, or anywhere in sports, the concept is, "How many fans can we get in the seats?" After all, that's where the business is. And so we see it in some churches. "How many butts can we get in the pews?" After all, there's our tithe.

And you see that a lot, man! You see churches saying, "Fifty people got saved today!" Or, "One hundred people got saved today!" But being a Christian is a lifestyle that we live, not a decision that we make. It doesn't end with being saved. That's where it starts. We should be asking, "How are we going to get people to live a life of Jesus?" That's the concept, because that is joy. That is true joy.

Too often someone will say they're a Christian because at some point in their life they said, "Oh, I believe Jesus is Lord." They made that decision at some moment in time. But how does it affect their lifestyle throughout the next 30, 50 or 70 years of life? A lot of times it doesn't. I think that's why you see Christian marriages failing at the same rate that you see non-Christian marriages failing. Using this type of salvation theology, Christianity is not a lifestyle that people live. It's just a decision they made.

When you admitted that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, and rose again three days later, you were saved. And that is awesome! You were saved! Now the resurrection empowers you. It gives you the salvation that you're looking for. You're in the family of God. You're justified!

But justification by faith is only the beginning of your fulfillment. Confessing that Jesus is Lord is not what makes you a Christian. Life in Jesus, the life of a Christian, is a life of discipleship. A Christian lives this life by living as Jesus lived. Scot McKnight expands on these exact same concepts in his book, The King Jesus Gospel, where he shows that if you stop after confessing that Jesus is Lord, then you're not going to feel fulfilled in this life.

If the life of a Christian began and ended with confessing that Jesus is Lord, then love and mercy and grace would be lived out through all Christians everywhere. Salvation alone would make us God's instruments of love and of mercy and of grace. That decision we made to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior would be enough. We wouldn't have to do anything else.

But we don't love very easily. We don't do that. We don't show much mercy. In fact, McKnight talked to a number of non-Christians and found that they'll tell you sometimes Christians are the meanest people they've ever met!

So it can't just be justification and salvation that makes us different. I believe it is a Spirit-led lifestyle. If you feel empty, like you can't accomplish something in life, it could be because you don't understand why you're here. I believe I understand why you're here, and why we're all here. Living the lifestyle of Jesus helps us understand.

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Jeremy Affeldt, pitcher for the three time Baseball World Champion San Francisco Giants and Major League Pitcher for 14 years, retired from playing baseball last month. His streak of 22 consecutive scoreless appearances in the post season trails Mariano Rivera's mark by only one. He is an all-time leader in postseason ERA, with a minimum of 30 innings, with an 0.86.

He follows the belief that "No Man Shall Live For Himself" and "Love Your Neighbor as Yourself." Jeremy is a humanitarian, philanthropist and is co-founder of Generation Alive. He works to end human trafficking, feed the hungry and end poverty. He is the author of To Stir A Movement, Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball. His second book is expected to be released in 2016. He is available for appearances and speaking engagements. Follow him on twitter @JeremyAffeldt and @GenerationAlive