The Meaning of Salvation
What does it really mean to be saved? A perspective of practical life and salvation
2001 William R. Cunningham
You might have heard the statement, "I'm saved, sanctified, and Holy Ghost filled." I'm sure you have seen the bumper stickers that pertained to salvation such as the "JESUS" plates. There are many clich 's that are used to identify oneself as being "saved." However, what does that really mean? What does it mean to be saved?
There are many teachings that pertain to prosperity and "Christian living." However, many wonder if they are really saved and many even doubt their salvation due to the many things that they hear regarding good works. I believe that it is very important that we know what salvation is and the meaning of that salvation. There is a lot behind salvation that is provided to us by Jesus Christ. There is much more to salvation then going to heaven. We live now so salvation pertains to the now and not merely the hereafter.
This lesson is a basic overview of the meaning of salvation including practical aspects. We will briefly go over salvation as it is defined and we will discuss the meaning of salvation to our lives. In addition to these, we will discuss the practical aspects of salvation, i.e., the impact that it has on our lives now.
First let's define salvation so that we are speaking on common terms. The word salvation means the acutely dynamic act of snatching others by force from serious peril. In its most basic sense, salvation is the saving of a life from death or harm. Scripture, particularly the New Testament, extends salvation to include deliverance from the penalty and power of sin.
The word salvation is translated from several Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible. For reference I will also include the Old Testament words.
1. Yeshuah - safety, ease (Genesis 49:18, Psalm 3:8)
2. Yesha - Safety, ease (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:2)
3. Moshaoth - Safety, deliverance (Psalm 68:20)
4. Teshuah - Safety, ease
5. soteria - Safety, soundness (Luke 1:69, John 4:22)
6. soterion - Safety, soundness (Luke 2:30)
Salvation implies that we were delivered from something and delivered to something else; otherwise we could say that our salvation would be incomplete. First let's discuss the purpose of salvation. I would like to present to you a summary of what salvation was intended for based on a scriptural bird's eye perspective.
THE PURPOSE OF SALVATION
I believe that there is a twofold purpose of salvation, which is derived from the definition of salvation. The twofold purpose is listed below.
We are saved from the bondage of sin and we are saved to the Kingdom of God. The point is that being delivered doesn't necessarily put you in a better position then you already were unless you are delivered to a safer place. So salvation delivers us from a dangerous place to a safe place.
Let's discuss these two briefly and then focus on the second purpose, namely to be reconciled to God.
Consider the following verse of scripture.
Matthew 1:21 (NKJV) And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
The Greek name Ie sous is the equivalent of the Hebrew name Yeshua, meaning "The Lord Shall Save." Now the Bible says that Jesus will save us from our sins.
We have to remember that sin entered the world through Adam. Life entered the world through Jesus Christ such that all who believe would be saved from death, the penalty for sin. Consider the following scriptures.
Romans 5:9 (NKJV) Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Romans 5:19 (NKJV) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
We have been saved from the wrath of God because we were sinners by nature, which is due to the sin of Adam. You were a sinner, if indeed you are saved, and now Jesus Christ delivered you from the impending judgment against sin. Consider the following scripture.
Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So salvation saves us from the penalty of sin, which is death.
Saved To: Our Reconciliation
Now consider the following scriptures.
2 Corinthians 5:19 (NKJV) that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV) Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
Reconciliation is the establishment of friendly relations between parties who are at variance with each other, making peace after an engagement in war, or readmission to the presence and favor of a person after rebellion against the person.
Interesting facts: In 1525 William Tyndale, in his translation of the New Testament from the Greek text, attempted to discover an English word that would express the true meaning of the Greek katallage as well as the Latin reconciliation. Unable to find the word, he coined one. The word he coined was atonement (at-one-ment), and he used it in Romans 5:11. The King James Version committee followed Tyndale and used atonement. More recent versions and translations have returned to "reconciliation," largely because the word atonement has been encumbered with various theories of atonement.
The Greek word katallage basically means "change" or "exchange." In the context of relationships between people, the term implies a change in attitude on the part of both individuals, a change from enmity to friendship. When used to describe the relationship existing between God and a person, the term implies the change of attitude on the part of both a person and God. The need to change the sinful ways of a human being is obvious; but some argue that no change is needed on the part of God. But inherent in the doctrine of justification is the changed attitude of God toward the sinner. God declares a person who was formerly His enemy to be righteous before Him.
So we have been put on friendly terms with God through Jesus Christ. We are now righteous if indeed we believe in Jesus Christ. Consider also the following scripture.
John 3:3 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
We have been saved to the Kingdom of God in general. We were once partakers of the world of darkness and now we are members of the city of light, namely the Kingdom of God. This is all part of our reconciliation. We are saved to the Kingdom of God and thus reconciliation to God.
WHAT SALVATION MEANS TO US
Now many Christians will give you a textbook explanation or meaning to what it means to be saved. Some might say that the saved will go to heaven. Others might say that we have been saved from sin. However, I believe that salvation means a lot more than these definitive statements.
I have already stated that salvation means that we have been saved from the penalty and bondage of sin and that we have been saved to reconciliation to God. Sure we know the importance of being saved from sin. We can thank God for that and offer Him praises and worship. However, the practical part of this is that we have been reconciled to God. The greatest thing about salvation is that we have been reconciled to God!
Our salvation is not to obtain riches, glory, wealth, and good health. Those are not the meaning or purpose of salvation. The meaning of salvation rests in the fact that God wants a relationship with the human race, His creation. The true meaning of salvation can be found in the fact that God desires or wants us! God wanted a relationship with you and I so He sent His son Jesus Christ to die for you so that you could be righteous before Him. God was "attempting" to make us lovable. We could not stand before God in the sinful state that we were once in. God therefore offered a way for us to be conditioned so that we could stand before Him and commune with Him. Do you want God? He wants you.
Above all else, salvation means that we can be with God. We can commune with Him and talk to Him as though we were unblemished by sin, which we are through Jesus Christ. Salvation means that we are with God!
PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF SALVATION
Now let's look at some practical things that pertain to the meaning of salvation, and thus reconciliation to God.
One of the things that our salvation gives us is hope. Paul says that we have a hope of salvation.
1 Thessalonians 5:8-10 (NKJV) But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
Regardless of how bad things may seem to you today, you can be assured that the best is yet to come. That hope will help you to get through your situation-good or bad. The main thing here is that salvation gives us hope for the eternity that we will spend with God.
Hope is also important in our lives right now. Hope isn't something that only pertains to the time we will spend with God in eternity. As a matter of fact, the eternity that you will spend with God started the moment you were saved. The present should not be neglected or disregarded just because most of that eternity will not take place in your present condition (on earth in the flesh). We are alive now in a particular situation and circumstance. Sure hope of the future life with God in heaven is great but we need not suffer due to neglect of this present time. Therefore, hope applies to the various things that you would like to achieve now.
How would you feel if your best friend was a millionaire and he or she would give you any amount of money or resources if you asked? You would feel confident to pursue your goals because you have a hope of success. You know that your provisions are assured because your best friend has all the resources that you could ever need or want. Similarly our hopes and dreams can be manifested because God is with us, if indeed we have been saved. We can always look to the Father to provide for us and to give us success. However, this doesn't mean that we don't have to work because we will have to work and work hard. We have a hope because we know that God is with us.
What are your aspirations? What things would you like to accomplish? Well the number one thing on your list should be an intimate relationship with God. I believe that the key to life is to know God, that is, to have an intimate and genuine relationship with God. Your objective for this relationship is merely to be WITH God and not to get stuff from Him. You want a lasting and fruitful relationship with God because you love Him and you just want to be with Him. This is a true heart condition of love towards God. Consider the following scripture.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
God's Kingdom and His righteousness should be the number one priority of your life. Sure you will desire many things but most of all you want to be with God.
To be saved is to live. The Bible declares,
John 3:16-17 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
To be saved means that we have eternal life. This eternal life is the life of God that dwells in us such that we will spend an eternity with Him. This is the true meaning of life, namely reconciliation to God for all eternity.
Consider the following scripture.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
If the Lord is the Spirit and we are with the Lord, then it follows that we are in the presence of liberty. Of course salvation liberates us from the wages of sin and all things pertaining to sin. We are free. However, this freedom is actually freedom to do what God says. We could not obey God while still sinners and bound to another way. It is only after we are born again that we can do what God says or even want to obey Him.
You are free to follow Christ! You don't have to live according to people's ideals, ideas, and doctrines. You can be free to live according to the word of God. No one need bind you because you have been freed from Christ. Therefore, salvation means freedom to do what God says and freedom from the bondage of all else. Salvation means liberty.
Now there are many Christians that believe that they should do whatever an authority figure in the Christian community says. This is not true. Our first allegiance is to God not men and women. The principle authority in our lives is Christ not people (not that Christ is not a person). Now the freedom that we have from God enables us to be free from the teachings of others. Men and women can only say What God says. Anything other than what God says might useful but does not have to be obeyed.
You will become bound to a church, pastor, or other religious authority if you do not understand the freedom that you have in Christ. Your freedom helps you to remain with God at all times. Your freedom sets the stage for you to obey God. This translates into a more fulfilled life in that you are driven to do what God says and live according to God's way.
Fellowship With God
The greatest thing that salvation means is reconciliation, which I have stated many times already. We can now enjoy fellowship with God since we are now partakers of the light. We can enjoy a wonderful relationship with Christ and just enjoy a friendship that will last a lifetime, i.e., eternity. What could be more beautiful and lasting than fellowship with God? Nothing! Imagine being able to commune with the creator of all that exists. We take this for granted. We have a friendship with the creator of all things and the sustainer of life! This creator wants a relationship with us. What else could be more beautiful and meaningful than that? We are important to God and so much so that Christ died for us. We have fellowship with God. We know God. We love God. All of these are part of our salvation. We can't say that we know God if we are not saved. We can't say that we know God if we do not love Him.
What is the meaning of salvation? We should know what salvation is before we can really answer that question. Salvation is to be delivered from impending death or judgment from God due to our sinful nature. Salvation is to be snatched from death. This salvation means that we are now reconciled to God. We have been bought into fellowship with Him and now He looks at us through Christ, which means that we can stand righteously before the Father.
We have been saved from death and saved to life. Salvation means that we are with God. We have hope because God is with us. We have life because the life of God is in us. We have fellowship with God now that we have been reconciled to Him. Fellowship with God means that we are free. We are free to obey Him and free from all else that would interfere with our relationship with God. So salvation really means that we are with God and what could be more beautiful than that! So live your life like you are with God and He with you. Live your life as if God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, loves you and cares for you. Live like you have fellowship with Almighty God! Amen.
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