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This editorial, which was promised in the August 2016 editor’s desk column, is a long overdue debt to the readers. In that column the subject of individual salvation was introduced with warnings about the ditches of legalism and Antinomianism. It is suggested that a re-reading of “What Is an Anabaptist?” Part 8 might be helpful as background to the present piece.

Let us begin with the goal of salvation. God desires that those who come to Him be transformed in spirit, mind, and practice. They are to be pilgrims on this earth and separate from the ways of the “world system.” Holiness is the command.

Therefore, any salvation message that does not include that goal of holiness is no salvation at all. It is not possible to be saved by mental assent to the Gospel facts. Simply saying the sinner’s prayer and going on as if nothing happened is certification that nothing happened! This has been the “sticking point” for Anabaptists from the beginning. There was no major disagreement with the Reformers over the great doctrine of justification by faith. The disagreement came when converts were allowed to go on sinning with impunity.

A simple Anabaptist understanding of salvation for today must include:

1. A realization and recognition of one’s utter sinfulness. (That is, there is not one thread of righteousness in us.)

2. There can be no relationship with God established by us. (That is, we can do nothing by ourselves to gain God’s favor.) 

3. Our condition is humanly hopeless.

4. The absolute unconditional surrender to Christ must take place. (This is called “saving faith” and includes a complete trust in the shed blood of Christ for forgiveness of sins.)

5. The integral companion of saving faith is repentance. (That is, a deep and continuing sorrow for sin and a complete turn-around from sin to God.)

6. The new birth, while instantaneous, only happens after a period of laborious struggle with the guilt of sin.

7. The new life in Christ continues with ongoing repentance and spiritual growth progressively toward holiness.

The above is intended as a very simple outline on individual salvation and is not in any sense exhaustive. It should be under- stood that many people who consider themselves born-again Christians are really not. We should never tire of hearing and sharing the Gospel.

If salvation has truly taken place, the person who has truly come to Christ should be expected to become a part of a Biblical community of faith (otherwise called a local church). There should be no such thing as a “lone ranger” Christian. Christianity is a community proposition.

--Written by Paul Emerson

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