More than once I have heard a conversion story that basically stated, “I got saved every Sunday.”
We sometimes dismiss this kind of story as stemming from bad theology or manipulative practices. And while that may be true, in dismissing it, we swing to the other extreme, which is, “I am already a Christian; this sermon doesn’t apply to me.”
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. In reality there is truth to “I got saved every Sunday.” Of course, that truth hinges on the meaning of the word “saved.”
The word “saved” simply means deliverance. But in modern day evangelicalism, we have come to equate the word “saved” with the word “regenerated”—that initial act of salvation where we pass out of death and into life for the first time. In reality, however, we can say, “I am saved every Sunday.” In this sense, we mean that we persevere in the faith and grow as a Christian through the preaching of the Word.
Paul told Timothy: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim 4:16). The “hearers” that Paul has in mind are not those outside the church, as verse 12 clearly indicates: “show yourself as an example of those who believe.” Paul’s point is for Timothy to pay close attention to his teaching because in so doing he was “saving” himself and his church. Translated to today, this means, as John Piper has once said, “What is at stake on Sunday morning is not merely the upbuilding of the church, but its eternal salvation.”
The truth then is that Christians do get saved every Sunday. The only difference is that the “saving” is not a “regeneration” saving, but an on-going “sanctifying” and “persevering” saving.
So before we write off a personal testimony of “I got saved every Sunday,” let us seek to understand how words are being used. And let us uphold and promote the regenerating “saving,” sanctifying “saving,” and persevering “saving,” which occurs every Sunday by God’s Spirit through the preaching of the Scriptures.