By Kathy L. McFarland
January 8, 2012
What does salvation really mean?
Many Christians think Salvation is the forgiveness of sin and a ticket to Heaven. Others believe that Salvation cleanses you of sin, and prepares you for the Great Judgment Day, when you are resurrected from your grave and face Jesus Christ for His verdict of life or death. One of the great divisions among Faithful Christians is caused because they define Salvation differently. Usually, unaware that their definitions differ, they condemn each other's doctrines for being legalistic or liberal, and separate themselves from each other in anger.
If only we could get this definition nailed down, and agree on this one important concept in our Christian faith, then many of the splinters and chasms between our Faithful brothers and sisters could be healed. More importantly, our Evangelistic efforts could become more focused, as all the Christians agree on the terminology and add to each other’s ministries as they go out to preach and teach to the unsaved.
The doctrine of Salvation is often wadded up into this big ball that encompasses prayer, baptism, forgiveness, hell, Heaven, faith, peace, righteousness, gifts and evangelism. When we leave our churches prepared to fulfill the great commission of Jesus Christ, to spread the Good News to all corners of the world, Salvation is the one word every Christian, on every Mission, speaks and the one word that cannot be defined confidently because of this confusion.
The word Salvation has become corrupted, as various doctrines of various beliefs defined it differently. Eventually, these different definitions combined, confused and crippled the Evangelist and the sinner, as the unified definitions of Salvation became so confusing that no one dares try to explain it, for fear of looking stupid and faithless. It's time we understand this important concept completely, and reach agreement to the basic tenets of Salvation, so our own Christian walk, and our evangelization efforts are fruitful and reveal the wonderful Grace of our LORD God.
What does it mean to be saved?
The Hebrew word for Salvation that is written in the Old Testament of the Word of God is "yeshuwah" and means literally "something saved" and abstractly "deliverance." The Greek word for Salvation that is written in the New Testament of the Word of God is "soteria" and means literally the act of "physical and moral rescue".
Salvation means deliverance!
In all of my travels, in remembering all of the words spoken by Preachers, Teachers and Evangelists through the Word of God that is the meaning they understood. DELIVERANCE! Every Christian Church, every Christian Leader, every Christian Faithful believes that Salvation means DELIVERANCE!
It is not the definition of the word Salvation that causes the chasms to develop, to misdirect the focus of the Word of God. We all agree on the meaning of Salvation; the disagreement amongst our faithful brethren lies with the things we are delivered from, what results after we are delivered and why we need deliverance in the first place!
What do we need to be DELIVERED from?
Salvation means deliverance from our sinful nature!
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
1. Our souls are not condemned because we do great sin. We are condemned because of our sinful state!
2. All unsaved people do bad actions because their heart, their core, their complete being has sin that originated from Adam's transgression against the Will of God.
3. Some unsaved do really terrible sins, and some unsaved have no sign of the terrible condition of sin.
That does not mean that some are greater sinners than others. Every living human being has the full sinful nature inside him. Some may well be able to subdue those basic instincts, while others are controlled by the same sinful natures to do grievous harm to others; both the noble and the derelict have the same nature inside them. If an unsaved person does not outwardly sin, self-control may be present, but the sinful nature still exists. The actions of the unsaved may well differ in degree, but not in guilt or cause!
4. Unsaved sinners must understand that they have sinful natures, and are unable to save themselves.
5. All human beings begin life with the sinful nature, and fall short of the glory of God.
The LORD God is not present in the sinful realm. Sin is offensive to God. It doesn't matter how much good people do in the world, if their works were done while they harbored their sinful natures, the greatest of works in humanity, religion, science, art, medicine, education and government are made null by the presence of sin. Those who come from families of "good stock," those who are well-educated and able to advance the human condition to rightful places, those who do good daily and give all they have to others, and those who struggle daily to live an honest life, are all short of the glory of God, because they have the natures of sin within them.
Salvation means deliverance from eternal death!
“For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
6. Sinners die, no matter what they do in this lifetime. The wages that come to the unsaved is death. Until death is brought to that sinful nature, then it remains inside the unsaved, leading them toward their promised destiny.
7. It takes more than the death of the sinful natures to give the unsaved hope, however. Unsaved people that die and are placed in their graves, are dead unsaved people. Eventually, the unsaved people will be resurrected to face the Judgment of Jesus Christ to answer for the things they did with their sinful natures, but until then, the unsaved lay dead in their graves.
8. The LORD God gives eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to those who seek deliverance from their sinful natures.
Salvation means deliverance from the ways of the worldly!
“And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
9. The unsaved people with their sinful natures walk according to the course of the world. The "course of the world" encapsulates the entire degrading, grotesque, ugly things that have developed and become perilously established within our world today. They include those very things spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:1-7...
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
...sexual perversion, the sacrifice of our children, the dirty habits of obscene self- love and self-focus are the ways of the world...these are just of a few of the carnal things of sinful nature that entrap the unsaved in these Last Days.
Salvation means deliverance from the control of Satan!
10. The unsaved that are entrapped by their sinful natures, are led by the prince of the power of air. The prince of the power of air is Lucifer, also known as Satan, the Devil.
Salvation means deliverance from the Wrath of God!
11. People with the unsaved and sinful nature are children of LORD God's wrath.
Salvation means deliverance from a lack of faith!
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
12. Salvation can only be received through FAITH. FAITH is the gift of God, given to believers through His wonderful and underserved Grace.
13. The Unsaved cannot give FAITH to themselves. If they could, they would boast of their godly ability. Only the LORD God gives those He Wills the faith to turn toward Him, reject their own sinful natures, and reach toward the righteous and holy nature of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Salvation means deliverance from eternal damnation and a sentence to Hell!
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)
14. Everyone will one day stand before the Judgment Seat of the Lord Jesus Christ and be judged according to their works or their sins.
15. Those works done by the unsaved are nullified and void; thus it is only their sinful thoughts and deeds that are placed before the Judge Jesus Christ. All works of a sinner are vanity. Works are not measured living and righteous when done while the workers had the natures of sin.
16. If the Unsaved maintained their status in their lifetime to their death, then they have no living works that can be measured.
17. Those with dead works, those who chose to go to their grave with their sinful nature and reject the Grace of the Lord God and the salvation through Jesus Christ, will be judged guilty and sentenced to eternal damnation and be cast into the lake of fire.
How does Salvation come to the sinners?
“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)
Salvation comes to believers through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!
18. Through the belief and acceptance of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and His Resurrection from the dead, the unsaved can receive salvation. Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the only salvation can come to them, free them from the sinful nature, and make them whole.
How do the Unsaved receive the gift of Salvation from the LORD God?
19. Salvation is a two-step process. The first step is one of belief, and the second step is one of action. If the Unsaved believe, but do nothing, they remain unsaved. If the Unsaved do not believe, but go through the action of a repentant sinner, they too remain unsaved.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ only!
Steps to Salvation
1. Know that you are a sinner, and cannot save yourself.
2. Confess the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior
3. Believe that Jesus Christ's sacrifice was sufficient to atone for your sins.
4. Be confident that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead.
What are the results of Salvation?
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
21. The confessors of Jesus Christ as Savior are crucified with him. (Note...Our Crucifixion is joined to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ through our Faith. Our Burial is the acceptance of the Baptism of Jesus Christ, which we will speak of in our foundational study of “The Baptism of Jesus Christ”)
Salvation brings more faith and the love of the LORD God!
22. Our crucifixion with Christ allows us to receive more faith and the love of the LORD God.
Salvation makes the Saved holy, unblameable and unreproveable in the LORD God’s sight!
“For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” (Colossians 1:19-23)
23. Salvation establishes peace with the LORD God.
24. Salvation makes Faithful Believers holy, unblameable and unreproveable in the LORD God's sight.
Salvation brings Eternal Life!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
25. Everlasting life is given those who believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the LORD God.
Salvation brings the Power of God to your Life!
“For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:4-5)
26. The Power of the LORD God is with all saved Faithful through Jesus Christ.
What is NOT Salvation?
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].” (Hebrews 4:2)
Salvation does not come to the Unsaved by simply the physical act of uttering words in prayer form! Their heart must be in it with the expression of solid faith.
If the UNSAVED receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and hear with their heart and agree, then their confession will be heard. Without the understanding and repentant heart, the prayers of the Unsaved are worthless.
Salvation is NOT the physical act of walking down the church aisle following an invitation from the Pastor. The Unsaved can be anywhere, at any time, and receive salvation through their belief and confession in Jesus Christ. It doesn't take a church, and it doesn't take people. It just takes a sincere and repentant heart to accept Jesus Christ and be saved!
Salvation is not contingent on great emotion (or lack of) during the conversion experience. Some feel great elation, some a quiet peace, and some don't feel anything at all. It is a uniquely individual experience, and emotions vary with the experience surrounding the conversion as well as from the scars, blocks, and pains hidden deeply within a person from a life hard-lived.
Salvation does not come to a person just because they want to be saved from going to Hell! The question of whether someone would prefer Heaven to Hell is pointless. Anyone would readily choose Heaven if given the ability to discern the differences between the dwelling place of the most Holy God contrasted with the fiery pits of Hell.
Salvation comes to those who accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior; it does not come to those just trying to hedge their bets and cover all bases "just in case".
Does Salvation guarantee Eternal Life?
Yes! Yes! Yes! Your belief in Jesus Christ brings salvation to you, and you are guaranteed eternal life. Your faith in Christ alone is all that is necessary for eternal life.
PRAISE BE TO GOD!
About the Author: Kathy L. McFarland is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Religious Studies from Liberty University. Kathy is a noted expert on Old Testament exegesis, Christian apologetics, and Bible typology and mysteries.