When Were You Saved?
Christians from different denominational traditions will answer this question differently. The application of the sign of water baptism influences many believers’ reply to this question of “When?”
First, salvation belongs to God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1). This means that in His eternal good pleasure and purpose, God determined all things that would come to pass. His purpose is eternal (Eph 3:11), and by His sovereign power, all things are accomplished according to God’s will (Eph 1:11).
Because salvation is perceived to take place in time, there is both a wholistic aspect and a sense of process. There is only one salvation for sinners, and this means there are similarities to the experience. Still, no two people would ever claim to have the exact same experience in salvation.
From the Bible, we learn that salvation was part of God’s predetermined plan before Creation (Acts 2:23). In eternity past, God predestined some of His created people to adoption as sons (Eph 1:5). He gave these people the right to be called, “children of God (Jn 1:12–13; 1 Jn 3:1, 10). Therefore, He knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19), and He calls them by name (Jn 10:3), having written their names in the Lamb’s book of life before creation (Rev 13:8; 17:8).
Second, the question of when you were saved is not as important as “if” you are believing in Jesus, today. As important as one’s testimony is before the church about his or her spiritual experience, the fact is that faith in Jesus Christ is now.
Today, my dear reader, you are either in Christ or not (1 Cor 1:30). If you are in Christ, then you are believing in Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are not in Christ, then you are not believing in the only Savior of sinners (Jn 10:26; 14:6).
I once asked a man in Scotland when he was saved. Murray’s reply was marvelous (and obviously memorable!) because no one I ever knew answered this question with “before the foundation of the world.” Murray was correct, of course. He was alluding to the doctrine of election.
God the Father is Yahweh, the Lord. God the Son is Jesus Christ, the Lord. God the Holy Spirit is Lord. It is the Lord who saves us at every point of requirement. For instance, sinners must make a full payment for their sins. None of us have anything to pay with, so as to be set free from the consequences of sin.
Jesus Christ our Lord suffered and died in our place and on our behalf when He was crucified on the cross of Golgotha (Rom 5:8; 1 Pet 2:24). He saved us on that day by shedding His precious blood for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Titus 3:5). He released us by canceling our debt of sin (Col 2:14; Rev 1:5).
At the time, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to baptize the elect redeemed (Jn 14:26; 15:26; Acts 2:38; 10:47). This, too, is the day of each one’s salvation. It is the day God transfers them into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13). It is the day He puts within them a new heart (Ezek 36:26). It is the day He makes them alive in the Spirit (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). He causes them to be born again of God on that day (1 Pet 1:3).
In answering the question, “When were you saved?” The Christian can say, “I was saved in election by God the Father before the foundation of the world. I was saved in redemption by God the Son, Jesus Christ, on the day of His death by crucifixion. I was saved in regeneration by the Holy Spirit on the day appointed for me to receive Him according to the will of God (Jn 1:12–13).” The ongoing manifestation of that salvation is faith in Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of the believer’s death.
The everlasting Gospel proclaims an eternal salvation for the saints of God; therefore, the better question than when you were saved is, “Are you saved?”
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 14, 2021