A popular meme floating around social media states: “I’ve ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon. I’ll keep you posted.”
In faith circles, our chicken-or-egg debate rages around when exactly a person experiences salvation. Is it before or after we are baptized? Is it before or after we step away from all our sins? Is it before or after we are lead in the “Sinner’s Prayer”?
For a very brief overview of the debate, check out the Order of Salvation on Wikipedia. (Scroll down to “Different Schemes” for a quick chart of major theological schools. United Methodists fall under the Classical Arminian column.)
Who would have thought the issue of salvation could be so complicated?
Paul, who had spent so much of his early life deeply embedded in the scholarly debates, simplified the issue for us in his letter to the Romans. Martin Luther, as a part of his Reformation theology would come to refer to this passage as “sola fide” (“by faith alone”).
Rather than create complicated doctrines, Paul wanted the people he was teaching to know that faith in God was the single most important aspect of salvation.
Abraham, who is the father of three major world faiths, was not perfect or blameless. Yet, he was considered righteous. This righteousness was not the result of his perfection of character or life, but because of his faith in God.
Likewise, David, who’s exploits are well documented in the Old Testament, was considered the greatest king of Israel and a righteous man. Once again, his righteousness was not because he was a flawless human being, but was credited to him on the basis of faith.
What a relief it is to know that in spite of my imperfections, my flaws, my constant struggles with temptation, that God has so willingly credited righteousness to me based on my faith and my heart-felt desire to live within God’s will.