One of the most common questions we receive at Lancashire’s Lighthouse Radio/LLR Ministries is one of great importance. ‘What is this salvation you speak of?’. Although answered replying to emails personally I thought it would be a good idea to answer this question on the website for all to see.
In an attempt to simplify the answer I have broken it down into segments which makes for an easier read. Let us start with this.
‘because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’
What Does Salvation Mean?
The simplest definition of salvation is to be delivered (or rescued) from peril. In Christianity it means to be saved by God from the consequences of our sin by faith, it cannot be earned. But the Bible speaks of our salvation in a bit fuller terms than simply being rescued from hell.
When thinking about salvation it’s helpful to think about what we are saved from, what we are saved to, who we are saved by. It’s also helpful to think about our salvation as a past, present, and future happening.
The very nature of the word salvation means there is some sort of threatening or deadly condition which we must be rescued from. What are we saved from then?
Many things, drug/alcohol addiction or shattered relationships. The list goes on. The Bible certainly speaks of God’s redemption from suffering, but this is not the primary problem which humanity faces.
The real problem is sin and guilt. God sent Jesus Christ to rescue us from the consequence of our sin, and everybody falls into the category of sinner. All have broken the law of God. The truth is this, unless you change, you're on your way to eternal hell. You need to be rescued from the consequences of your sin. Those are the principal issues the gospel solves.
We see, then, that salvation speaks of receiving deliverance from our greatest problem; namely, the many consequences of our sin against a holy God. So how does this salvation come about?
In Acts 16:30 a Philippian jailer asks a very important question. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The apostles point immediately to Jesus Christ as the only means by which we can be saved. 1 Timothy 1:15 is clear that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. This means every sinner, if he/she is to be saved will be saved through Christ.
Some people think of salvation as God giving us a clean sheet, offering forgiveness, and giving us a second chance. It is so much more than this. Salvation is not only being saved from something it is also being saved to someone. We are saved from sin and brought to God.
We are saved for a relationship. God has overcome our greatest problems so that we could be brought into a relationship with Him. This is our greatest good. But how does this become ours? Is everyone saved because the work Christ has accomplished?
How Do We Receive Salvation?
Now there’s a question! And what follows a question? An answer! So ask.
Christ has done what is necessary for us to be saved, but that gift is not appropriated apart from faith. This is what the Bible teaches in Ephesians 2. We are dead in our trespasses and sin, and God makes us alive. When our eyes are opened to the truthful beauty of the gospel and Christ's doings, our only response is to respond in repentance and belief.
Repentance and belief are really two sides of the same coin. Repentance means that we are changing our mind about God and about ourselves. We are laying down our own efforts to save ourselves. We are turning away from self-sufficiency. At the same time we are turning towards Christ. We trust that He alone is the one who can save us. We are entrusting ourselves to him.
This is why the Bible says it is ‘by grace through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8). Faith links us to Christ. When we place our faith and trust in Christ the Bible says we are saved. ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,’ Joel 2:32 (also Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13).
However, I believe there is also a warning to heed in Ephesians 2:8-9 ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works.’.
What if you lose your faith? What if you walk away from God? Do you also lose your means to salvation?
Another thing to note about salvation is that the Bible speaks of it in past, present, and future terms. Christ has died in history on our behalf and rose again. In 2 Timothy 1:9 we read of Paul, ‘He has saved us,’. In another sense we are still being saved, what we have is a means to salvation. 1 Corinthians 1:18 speaks of those who are ‘being saved.’ We also see a future component to our salvation. Romans 5:9 says, ‘we shall be saved’
The common thread in all of these tenses of salvation is union with Christ. It is here that our hope for salvation rests. Either we are in union with Christ or we are not.
‘We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does his will, God listens to him.’
It is so easy to get bogged down by doctrine and complicate your salvation, isn’t it better to simplify?
Take a look at Luke 7:50. A woman washes the feet of Jesus with her tears and expensive oils and dries them with her hair. Jesus says to her ‘Your faith has saved you, go in peace’. Nothing complicated there.
Luke 23:39-43. Jesus, hanging on the cross, a thief at each side. One begins blaspheming telling Jesus if you are whom you say you are then save us. The other rebukes these words saying that as thieves they belong on the cross but this Man (Jesus) has done no wrong. He requests that Jesus remember him in His Kingdom. Jesus replied ‘Assuredly, I say to you, you will be with Me in paradise.’
But what about baptism?
Let’s take look at the bible:
Mark 16:16 ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved….’
Matthew 28:19 ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’
Acts 2:38 ‘The Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”’
Acts 22:16 ‘And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
1 Peter 3:21 ‘There is also an antitype which now save us – baptism (not the removal of filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God). Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,’
Baptism is the natural progression to complete your salvation. But what about the thief then? Well, that was still the old laws (Old Covenant).
Do you confess with your tongue that Jesus is the Son of God?
Do you testify of Him?
If your answer is yes to both these questions then welcome to the family.