So, in the name of background research, I was reading up on some posts over at OST, when I came across this good'un. I'd recommend regularly visiting OST any way, but it's worth it if only to read Andrew's response to the question, "Are you sure you are saved?"
Am I sure that I am saved? I do not think that the Bible defines ‘Christianity’ fundamentally or centrally as a religion of salvation, and certainly not of the highly individualized personal salvation that is characteristic of modern evangelicalism; so I do not think that the question ‘Are you sure you are saved?’ really gets at the heart of the matter. I believe that the God who called Abraham has called me to be part of his own people, and that my inclusion in that people is a matter of grace and is a consequence of Christ’s death and vindication. It could not have happened without the victory over Israel’s sin, its alienation from God, the prospect of judgment, and the opposition of the powers that ruled over Israel, that - to my mind - is best captured in the story about the suffering Son of man who receives ‘dominion and glory and a kingdom’ from God. This is a narrative of salvation but it is worked out primarily at a corporate level and it is set within a larger narrative of the calling or election of a people to be a place of God’s dwelling in the world.
So for me, as someone who was ‘alienated from the commonwealth of Israel’, what I have received from God by faith, as an outworking of his grace, is incorporation into a people in the midst of which the living God dwells through his Spirit and whose ‘king’ or ‘lord’ is the messiah Jesus. That ‘incorporation’ is my ‘salvation’, I guess you could say - it is what has made me whole, it has brought me into a new humanity, it has reconciled me with the living God, it has set me free from all other kingdoms - Christ is my king.
Am I sure? Why shouldn’t I be sure? I have been baptized into a worshipping community. I am part of that community. What’s not to be sure about? It’s like asking a footballer if he’s sure he’s part of the team. He’s signed the contract, he trains with the team, he gets paid by the club, he’s wearing the club strip, and he’s on the pitch playing, well or badly, with other members of the team. Of course he’s part of the team. In other words, the question ‘Are you sure that you are saved?’ reflects the over-subjectivized, over individualized bias of modern evangelicalism...
I’m sure this is all going to sound far too complex, if not downright evasive - but in a way that is precisely the point. I think that we need to recover the complexity of the biblical narrative, the larger theological and historical context that must frame any narrative of personal ‘salvation’, and that inevitably resists the modern myth of individualism.
Check out the full post. It's exceptionally good stuff.