Have I told you lately how much I love reading the Bible? The Bible is the most exciting book I've ever read. And Jesus Christ is the most exciting person I've ever met. If you want adventure, the Bible is the most adventurous book in the world. If you're bored, it will completely take the boredom out of your life.
Many times God speaks to us in the form of a verb tense. I kid you not. Why, just this morning I was perusing the Greek of Acts 2.
Did you know that verse 47 contains not one but two examples of a verb tense that implies continuous action?
These verbs are referring to processes.
Isn't that amazing? Not only did the Lord keep adding new converts to the church, but these new believers are described as those who are in the process of being saved. Now, Luke could have written, "The Lord added to them daily those who were saved." Instead he wrote, "And the Lord kept on adding to them daily those who were being saved." This, in fact, is the way Wuest renders this verse.
Why, then, do the NIV, the NLT, and the ESV render the first verb simply as "the Lord added"? It's beyond me! We need to understand that evangelism was taking place in the early church regularly, daily even. We also need to understand that there are three tenses of salvation. It has past, present, and future tenses. When we came to Christ, we were immediately justified. There is no process in justification, just as there are no degrees of justification. But note: As soon as we have been justified, the second tense of salvation begins, and we call it sanctification. Sanctification is a process, going on all the time. Finally, when Christ comes again, the third tense of salvation will happen and we will be glorified, at which point our salvation will be complete. Someone once asked Bishop Westcott, that great Greek scholar, "Excuse me, bishop, but are you saved?" He answered:
In his answer he gave the three tenses of the verb "saved"!
Now, here are two truths that can really change your life. Jesus is the one who adds and adds and adds new members to his church. Evangelism is ultimately his work, not ours, though indeed he has ordained us to be the ones through whom he will do this work. But it never stops being his work! In addition, when Jesus saves us, he calls us to a process of being changed into his image. He says to us, "Now your attitudes and actions and thoughts must ALL be changing for the better. Yes, you must become a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature, my very own nature!" I never feel my own heartbeat without being reminded of the Person who is living in and through that very heartbeat. Thank you, Jesus, for never leaving us in doubt as to what's right and what's wrong. Thank you for making it so plain how we your followers can grow in our love for you and for others. And thank you, Lord Jesus, for continuing to add new members to your church through evangelism. What a privilege to be able to have the joy of sharing the Good News with others!