Why Salvation Actually Involves Stages (Salvation Series #2)
March 19, 2018God's Fellowship, Salvation
Salvation is our heavenly Father’s merciful initiative to bring us into His fellowship and save us from our wayward separations. He deeply desires that we accept His insightful guidance and be saved from the “slavery of separation” that plagues us. Everyone inherits the chains of bondage because Adam and Eve chose to seek wisdom apart from God’s guidance. This action enslaved them to their choice to separate. It is worth noting that we are not bound to sin; it is separation that holds us captive, sin is a result.
Everyone inherits the chains of bondage
because Adam and Eve chose to seek wisdom apart from God’s guidance.
While often viewed as “once and done,” God’s gift of salvation actually involves a progression of three major stages. As I explained in Blog #1 of this series, “You Can Be Free From Life-Restricting Perceptions” it is possible to experience the first stage of salvation, and yet, continue to embrace restrictive views that limit the fullness of life God intends. Upon examining Israel’s release from Pharaoh’s enslavement, we learn how erroneous perceptions about God limited them, and also limit us, from fully receiving His best:
1. Our faith is only in what our natural senses can see and hear.
2. We believe we cannot personally hear God speak.
3. We want God’s help but don’t believe He can work through us.
4. We seek God’s miracles but do not entertain His presence.
How many of these perceptions continue to hold you captive? Just as Israel’s liberation from their captor did not result in an immediate entrance into the Promised Land, our initial deliverance is just a release to free us to become Godly people and introduce us into an interactive fellowship with God’s presence.
Transitioning Into Overcomers
After their initial deliverance, Israel needed time to transition from thinking and living as servants of Pharaoh. A time of transition would allow God to share His insight and teach them to live in the manner He designed developing children to live.
The wilderness process would prepare them to live free of the restrictions they had lived under. Perhaps surprising to you, God intended their wilderness journey from Egypt to Canaan to be a two-year transition process. In chapter 2 of The Christ Culture, I explain this more thoroughly.
Yes, their full salvation was delayed so they could learn to respond to God’s direction and let go of previous perceptions. During this time, He would prove they could count on Him. God provided water out of a rock, food from the sky and ground (manna and quail), and even victory in warfare. Both then and now, God’s transition process is intended to root out desires for the old life while we learn to embrace His guiding presence.
God’s transition process is intended to root out desires for the old life
while we learn to embrace His guiding presence.
Salvation’s 3 Major Stages
As the author of salvation, God is the Savior who delivers us from our bondage to separation and our subsequent deathly lifestyles. As we’ve just noted with Israel, salvation cannot be fully attained solely by deliverance. The Old Testament example of salvation reveals there are at least three major stages in the salvation process.
1. We are initially delivered from the oppressions that bind and restrict us.
2. We experience transitional times as we accept new perceptions of life under God’s governance and put off the old ways of thinking and living.
3. We mature as children who are free to respond to God’s guidance.
The second stage is necessary in order to establish what the first stage began. We want to learn to think and live free of separation. As we respond to the guiding light of God’s love, we progressively transform from being mere offspring of God who are bound by separation, into taught children of God (John 1: 12) who are becoming better reflections of His heart. When we experience the fellowship of His guiding presence, our life in this earth greatly benefits.
Salvation cannot be fully attained solely by deliverance.
Adjustable or Stalled
Sadly, the generation delivered from Pharaoh failed to adjust what they understood about life. The perceptions they were taught limited their ability to really believe and receive the promises of Canaan. They failed to enter the fullness of life God was providing – the fullness of their salvation.
Nevertheless, God still loved and cared for them. He continued to provide miraculous food, water, and clothing for forty years. As with Israel of old, we can be delivered and yet complicate our transformation and fail to enter into the fullness of life God intends. We can receive salvation in one area, yet not in another.
Progressing through Salvation’s Stages
God has designed life to be a maturing process. While God is patient and lovingly supplies many of our needs, we still need to “work out our salvation” (see Philippians 2:12). We work it out in one area, then another, and another, staying open and willing to adjust. Even the Apostle Paul experienced deliverance and then spent three years of transition in the desert. Paul went on to speak of salvation belonging to those who are “faithful to the end.”
Just as God led Israel, He provides for our needs, beckons us to respond, and tries to lead us today. As we respond and progress through salvation’s stages, we day-by-day transition from our deathly separation into the fellowship of His guiding presence. Developing greater intimacy with Him results in more abundant living!
As I describe in The Christ Culture, our heavenly Father invites each of us into the interactive culture of Christ, a nutrient-rich environment where the reality of God’s inspiring presence is experienced today. I have more to share about salvation’s stages so stay tuned for blog #3 in this Salvation Series “Our Role in Accepting God’s Guidance.” Be sure to sign up to receive an email notification of our latest blog.
In the meantime, go deeper and join us on the exciting journey of personal interaction with God! Get your copy of The Christ Culture, A Way of Life Like No Other. We have prepared a Guide to facilitate group discussions.
Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder