The original word for salvation (soteria, G4991) means deliverance in the sense of being rescued. Jesus is the Deliverer who rescues us from our enemies, saves us from our sins, and delivers us from the evils of this present age (Matt. 1:21, Luke 1:71, Gal. 1:4). Salvation looks like Jesus (Luke 2:30) because he alone is the author of our salvation (Acts 4:12, Heb. 5:9). He is the Savior who saves our souls from death (Ps. 33:19, 116:8, Jas. 5:20).
The Savior of our souls
The world is a hospice, a home for the terminally ill. No matter how good or moral we are, death is the end result for all of us (Rom. 6:23, Heb. 9:27). But the good news is it doesn’t have to be this way (John 3:17).
The gospel is the happy announcement that a Savior works in the hospice giving eternal life to the terminally ill. He has a 100 percent success rate, and he will gladly treat anyone who wants to be treated. This Savior is so good at what he does that he can revive the worst, the sickest, and most hopeless case in the ward. No one is beyond his skill or reach.
Saved by grace (through faith)
Manmade religion says we can save ourselves, but salvation is entirely of God (Php. 1:28, Rev. 19:1). It is only on account of his grace that we may be saved (Acts 15:11, Eph. 2:5, Tit. 3:5).
The gospel reveals the saving power of God for all who believe (Rom. 1:16). Who is saved? It is the one who trusts in the Savior (Acts 16:31). Our part is to believe that God saves. Jesus said, “He who believes in me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).
The resurrection is the key to this. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates that the Savior has broken the power of death and is able to give new life to all who would have it (Rom. 5:10). A dead savior saves no one, but a risen, living Savior is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through him (Heb. 7:25).
Is everyone saved?
Some say that the whole world is saved. But if that were true, why would Jesus say, “if anyone enters through me, he will be saved” (John 10:9). And why would the risen Lord commission us to preach the good news to all creation so that whoever believes might be saved (Mark 16:16)?
If all are saved, why would the apostles risk life and limb preaching that we must be saved (Acts 2:40, 4:12, 11:14, 1 Cor. 10:33, 1 Th. 2:16)? Why would they write letters telling us that God wants us to be saved and that he commands people everywhere to repent and believe in the name of his Son in order to be saved (Acts 17:30, Rom. 10:9, call1 Tim. 2:4,1 John 3:23)?
The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people (Tit. 2:11), but not all receive it. Consequently, not all are saved. Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved … (John 10:9). Trusting in the Savior is the requirement for salvation (Acts 16:31). Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21, Rom. 10:9, 13). “With the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:10). If you have called on the name of the Lord, you are saved. Believe it.
Salvation is more than forgiveness
Salvation often appears to us as the forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77). Forgiveness means God has dealt with your sins once and for all and no sacrifice for sins remains (Heb. 9:12, 26, 10:18). This is truly good news, but salvation includes much more than forgiveness. The verb which is commonly translated as save in the Bible (sozo, G4982) means to save from sins (e.g., Matt. 1:21), save from death (e.g., Matt. 8:25), and to save that which is lost (e.g., Matt. 18:11). It can also mean healing, deliverance, and wholeness.
During his time on earth, Jesus revealed the gospel of salvation through signs and wonders. When he healed the sick, he sozo-ed them; he healed them of sickness (Mark 5:23), delivered them from oppression (Luke 8:36) and made them whole (Matt. 9:21). God does not merely forgive us of our sins; he provides everything we need for health and wellbeing (Eph. 1:3, 2 Pet. 1:3).
We are encouraged to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (see entry for Php. 2:12). We don’t work for salvation but to work out in our lives that which God has already provided. Fear and trembling are involved because faith sometimes runs contrary to what our eyes and ears are telling us. If the doctor says you have a week to live, your emotions will react with fear and trembling. You will have to strive to enter his rest in the midst of your trouble. It’s not wrong to be fearful, but in the presence of these feelings, work out your salvation anyway. Take the faith-risk. Fix your eyes on Jesus. You will be blessed if you do.
God doesn’t do half-jobs. When he forgave you, he forgave all your sins for all time. And when he saved you, he saved you once and for all time. This is why Jesus is known as the author of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). Salvation is being put into Jesus (2 Tim. 2:10). Those in Christ are eternally unpunishable and eternally secure (1 John 4:18). One with the Lord, his future is ours. We are as secure as the Savior himself.
Noah’s ark provides a picture of your salvation (Heb. 11:7). When the flood comes, it does not matter how good a swimmer you are; it only matters how good your ark is, and Jesus is our unsinkable ark.
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