I had a great conversation with a church member the other day. It had to do with a very difficult time in her life, when she discovered that her husband had been cheating on her for ten years of their 22 year marriage. She told me how devastated she was and that she thought she had a great marriage, a "brandy bunch home" in her words. She proceeded to tell me how her husband was a good man, that he prayed everyday and went to church every Sunday...that "he was SAVED." That statement caught my attention. After our conversation, we prayed and she thanked me graciously for listening and we went on with or day, but I kept thinking about that comment, "he was SAVED".
Being a Wesleyan chrisitan, I have a different perspective on what salvation is and how it is obtained, than maybe my more reformed friends do. First of all salvation is more or less a destination versus a condition, but it is in a sense a condition and a destination, much like hell is a condition and a destination. Wesley taught that salvation was a processes which concluded with the entire sanctification of the believer and absent from that entire sanctification we are not actually saved. That women's husband was not saved, is cheating on your spouse something someone who is entirely sanctified would be doing? No. I am not saved, you are not saved, unless you are entirely sanctified, which according to Wesley is possible in this life, but unlikely.
What we experience as believers that so many churches miss interpret as salvation is assurance, assurance that we are justified by grace and being sanctified through our faith. The women from the church, her husband, he was justified by grace, but he was not saved, for if he were actually saved, that is, entirely sanctified, than he would not have cheated and hurt his wife the way he did. The key to sanctification is this, perfect love. Perfect love is when we love God with all that we are and when we LOVE EACH OTHER AS WE LOVE OURSELVES. Had he husband loved her the way he loved himself, he would have never cheated.
Most of us are very far from being saved, but this does not mean we do not have assurance that we are reconciled (justified) to God. We are going on to perfection, to salvation, to entire sanctification, but one prayer and even years of devoted service to prayer, does not mean we are saved. I look forward to the day I am saved, to the day God's love is made perfect in me, but that day is not today, and I don't know when it will be, but some day it will happen. Until then I will continue to be sanctified and perfected in love, working towards salvation.