Conditional Salvation?

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I heard George Barna speak at the FAM Conference here at Azusa
Pacific University this week. I would say that Barna is the most
quoted voice in Christianity, so what he says–and what he
believes–is important.

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I took issue with something he said in his talk. (God–and
George–forgive me if I misheard him, but this is what I walked
away with.)

Barna said that we have “marketed salvation” wrong. We’ve made
it free when there’s actually a cost to it. Yes, it cost Jesus, he
said, but we’ve made it too simplistic with “free.” He said that in
our culture “free” means you don’t have to do anything for it. But,
in his view, for there to be salvation, there must be
brokenness–that the person must experience brokenness to genuinely
receive salvation.

Huh?

The Barna Group research (of which George is no longer a part
because he sold it in 2009) revealed in 2003 that a person’s
response to the meaning and personal value of Jesus Christ’s life,
death and resurrection is usually determined before a person
reaches eighteen. In fact, a majority of Americans make a lasting
determination about the personal significance of Christ’s death and
resurrection by age 12.

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How broken can a child be to receive salvation? And how biblical
is this view? I’ve kept thinking about Ephesians 2:8-9: “It is by
the grace of God that you are saved–and that NOT of yourselves. It
is the free gift of God–not of works–lest anyone should
boast.”

I once believed that for people to receive salvation, they also
needed to understand lordship–that they were giving up everything
and following Jesus as their “boss.” I don’t believe that anymore.
I think whenever we add conditions to receiving what Christ did for
us on the cross, we are acting against God’s will. Who among us
fully understood the Christian faith when we chose to follow
Christ? Like a child, we come to him and he receives us. Our
understanding is limited.

While it may be true that conversions are dramatic and spiritual
growth steep when someone comes to Christ in a time of crisis, it
is no less true that those who come to Christ without crisis aren’t
also fully accepted and received into the kingdom of God.

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About Author

Christine Yount Jones

Christine has more than 26 years of children’s ministry experience. She is the Executive Editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine, has authored many books and articles on children’s ministry, and serves as Group’s Children’s Ministry Champion. She’s responsible for development and innovation of new resources.

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