In Bible school, it’s easy to start feeling like a better person than any of us really are. This leads to many interesting conversations about church, theology, and culture. One of those conversations recently was about salvation. The comment was made, “Realistically, only about 1/10 people who say they’re Christians are really saved.”
This actually kind of makes sense. When you look at the standards set in the Bible as often as Bible students do, it’s pretty obvious that there aren’t many who are living up to the standard. I’ve definitely looked out at a congregation before and thought, “These people don’t even get it. This is just a social experience… not a spiritual experience.”
But here’s what’s interesting. The people who make these comments, myself included, assume they’re in. They only question everybody else. The other interesting thing is all the people making these comments hold to salvation “by grace through faith”. Their argument is that if someone believes then you’ll see fruit. But at what point does fruit replace law?
If a person is saved, then yes, there will be fruit. But the reality is that fruit can also be evident in the life of non-believers. Whenever we elevate the “evidence of fruit” above God’s grace, we essentially go back to justification by the law. No one will ever be producing only fruit and no sin, just like no one can ever uphold all the commandments. If there is any standard at all by which to judge salvation besides grace alone, we’re all doomed. Thankfully, our access into grace is faith.
Have you seen this tension between fruit and law before? How do we handle the process of sanctification? Are justification and sanctification supposed to separate at all?