“I thank Jesus at the awards I’m never going to Hell. Call me Zach Morris I’m saving you by the bell.” –Justin Bieber
As an evangelical and especially as a Calvinist, I thought my Biblical interpretations showed God’s grace in the greatest light. I was a believer, a Christian, and nothing I ever did could steal me from Jesus’ sovereign grip. When I was trying to understand Catholicism I said to one pastor, “You know, the Catholic view of salvation—not being assured of heaven—it’s just not as good!”
However, I also saw the confusion that “getting saved” was causing. Many people I know had been “saved” more than once. How? You probably know the answer. A child comes down for an altar call at Vacation Bible School, prays the Sinner’s Prayer, and later gets baptized. However, later in middle school she attends a retreat, sees how she’s grown in the Lord, and say, “You know, I didn’t really know what I was doing in middle school.” So she gets “saved” again. Then in college she develops a new passion for God, look at past experiences, and repeats the process. This is not uncommon. Popular evangelical pastor J.D. Greear humorously describes his experience of getting baptized four times in this clip. Kayne West raps, “I done dirt and went to church to get my hands scrubbed. Swear I’ve been baptized at least 3 or 4 times.” How many times until the Spirit catches?
What sounds like a wonderful celebration of God’s grace—He’s saved me!—turns into confusion. (see current debate in SBC with David Platt). “Am I saved? I still struggle with sin a lot, my life isn’t totally transformed. Maybe if I just study Romans 8 and listen to Matt Chandler enough I will be convinced of my salvation. But maybe I’m not saved… ” It also causes confusion regarding the plethora of verses concerning persevering to the end. (I memorized the entire book of 1 John and came away more confused than when I began).
The Catholic view makes more sense Biblically, historically (try finding anything remotely similar to the evangelical view of “saved” in the creeds), and experientially.
So is Justin Bieber saved? Assuming the evangelical definition of the word, which I reject, the answer is no. Neither am I. And neither are you. God’s grace is still magnificent, salvation is only possibly through Christ on the cross, and by God’s grace alone we are saved, being saved, and if we persevere in His grace, will be saved.