By Rev. O.L. Johnson
The holy scriptures are clear that no one is saved by what one does in a physical sense. And they are likewise clear that we are only saved by performing certain cognitive functions.
There are some of us who believe the former, and reject the latter as the only road to heaven. You can clear this up for yourself very easily. Look at Romans 10:9, 10 and Ephesians 2:8, 9.
These scriptures are as clear as a bell that salvation is a function of what we believe in our minds and our hearts. So, we are not here today to debate the means of salvation, but rather to discuss our salvation from two different vantage points.
The word itself implies that we are saved from something. What would that be?
I think most of us would agree that the most important thing we are saved from is an eternal existence in hell. Secondly, we’re all elated that we’re also saved from the effects of sin in our lives which, in Romans 6:23, is identified as “death,” a reference to an existence on earth and in eternity without God. For a lot of us, that’s enough, so we don’t look any farther.
But the benefits of salvation don’t end there. In addition to being saved from something, we are also saved for something. We seldom think about salvation in this light, but the scriptures are clear that we’re also saved so we can experience and enjoy the promises of God given only to his people and not to the unsaved. Here are just a few of those promises; there are much more.
First of all, understand this; that if you are saved, God has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), and that plan does not include poverty and want for anything needed to sustain you on a daily basis. God promises you a blessed life (Galatians 3:9) and an abundant life (John 10:10). All of us, saved or not, have the same basic needs — food and clothing.
Unfortunately, there are those among us who very often are not able to consistently satisfy those needs. But the people of God are not counted in that number. Why? Because God promises in Philippians 4:19 that he will supply all the needs of his people. But he does not tell us exactly what those needs are. Outside of the basics, individual needs may vary.
This brings up the thousands of homeless people; where are they in this scenario? Are their needs being met within the meaning of Philippians 4:19? At first glance most of us would give this a “no” answer. If that’s true, then why is it true? Either none of them are saved, which I believe is unlikely, or those who are saved have accepted and live by Paul’s teaching on “contentment.”
In a nutshell, here’s what he tells us in 1Timothy 6:5-8. Pursing material gain in life is an ungodly pursuit; cease that pursuit. Instead, adopt the philosophy that great gain is a function of godliness and contentment with one’s lifestyle. He finishes with this thought, “and having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
So, it’s possible that the homeless don’t need a four-bedroom house in View Park as part of their “needs” in life. Maybe they are content with only food and clothing, and a plot of ground to pitch their tents. Could our assumptions about them be wrong? Think about it.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column appears monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.