Saved from What Exactly?

Are you saved? This just might be the most common question among Protestant Christians, and my answer to it is another question? Saved from what exactly? I learned many years ago to not presume the questions others ask. Our future salvation rests in two people; God, and ourselves.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified. Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it. But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. – Romans 10.1-10

Saint Paul wanted nothing more than for everyone to be saved, but from what? Saved from Death? We all live forever, thanks to what God accomplished on the Cross and in the Tomb. Saint Paul recognized the zeal people had for God, but there was something lacking. They were ignorant of God’s righteousness, and oftentimes, so are we.

According to Saint Paul, if you confess and believe, you will be saved. Confess and believe in what? To suggest that merely if we believe in Christ we will be saved, then you’re not reading the nuance of the passage. It is possible to believe incompletely and in ignorance. What happens if we believe in the wrong ‘version’ of Christ? Many people call themselves Christians (43,000 denominations in 2015 to Gordon Conwell Seminary) but they do not all confess the same Christ.

It has become common to say, “We’re all Christians,” but that presupposes we are all talking about the same Christ. Mormons and Lutherans both speak of Christ, but nobody would disagree each is talking about a totally different Christ. Saint Paul understood this also when he said, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”

It is easy to seek our own righteousness, especially living in 21st Century America, a society built upon rigid individualism and rights. I wonder if maybe we could read today’s passage as understanding that Saint Paul’s desire and prayer to God was that we may be saved FROM OUR SELFRIGHEOUSNESS, rather than death. Since we will all live forever, it would do us some good to look deeper at ourselves. Why else would Christ say, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him DENY HIMSELF, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8.34)

Salvation is the goal of every Orthodox Christian, and we also desire (like Saint Paul) that everyone else is also saved. Christ did His part. Now our part is to give up our self-righteousness and allow the Church to guide us out of ignorance and into a deeper faith in Christ.


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