…and the transaction so quickly was made, when at the cross I believed…
~lyrics, “Heaven Came Down”
The moment of salvation is an invisible transaction. For some people there is an inward witness that verifies that step of faith.
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
But for some people, there is a desire to understand the underpinning of how that invisible transaction takes place. An entire branch of theology is devoted to this:
~noun Theology.— the doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ.
(NIV)Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up…
7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
The concept of the invisible transaction was once entrenched through a hymn written by William Ogden in 1887 that was popular in some circles, the chorus inviting you to…
“Look and live,” my brother, live,
Look to Jesus now, and live;
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”
Youth ministries in the late 1960′s borrowed a phrase from a popular Clairol commercial and suggested that the invisibility of the transaction was such that “only your hairdresser knows for sure.” In other words, there isn’t necessarily a physical manifestation of salvation.
But as with so many things in God’s kingdom, there is a balance to be found on that issue, since the visible manifestation of salvation ought to be the presence of the fruit of the spirit.
Ultimately, the invisibility of the salvation transaction ought to be central if putting our trust in Jesus Christ to both redeem us and then from that point guide us is to be considered part of the realm of faith. You don’t get a certificate, or a wallet card — though sadly, some churches do just that — when you decide to become a Christ follower.
We cross the line of faith to become Christ followers at some point, but the line itself remains seen only in the spiritual world.