We should understand “salvation” as God’s way for mankind to relate with Him while on earth that prepares us to live with God forever.
In Matthew 9:22, Jesus tells the woman who touched the hem of His garment, “Be of good cheer, daughter, your faith has made you whole.” The Greek word for “whole” in this instance is sozo, which is derived from “safe” and means to save, deliver, protect, heal and be whole. Sozo is the root word for soteria, which is translated as “salvation”.
The study of salvation is “soteriology”, a vast study. Our review is a small part of soteriology.
Salvation is the spiritual relationship between God and man established and accomplished by Jesus. Knowing what God is like is an important part of salvation. The following is a listing of what God’s nature is.
• God is holy, without sin, pure. He is “all just”. • God considers everyone His “children” in the sense that we all originate with Him. • As a “parent”, God wants His children to get to know Him and experience His love for each of them while alive on earth. • God wants all His children to be with Him in Heaven after they die and leave this world. • God describes His very nature as Love. He is the source and embodiment of love. 1 John 4:8 • For mankind to live in God’s presence, we must learn how to relate in love. • God makes children – not slaves. He gives us the right to make our own decisions among moral options. Our “free will” permits us to choose to act lovingly towards others or to seek our own self-centered interests. • God knows all things, even what is our best choice to make at all times. He does not force us to do anything, giving us the opportunity to grow in love. • We should always want to do God’s will, because it is best for us and it comes wrapped in love for us.
Knowing what we are like, our nature, is also essential to understanding Salvation.
• God created us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). We are created with a body, soul and spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:23). • Our soul (or “heart”), is our mind, emotions and will (our thoughts, feelings and desires). • Our spirit is the part of us most closely resembling God’s Holy Spirit, who moves like the wind, the very breath of God, that which is evidence that Life is present. At one time in our life, our spirit was “dead” or non-functioning, and God brought it to life. (See John 6:63, and Ephesians 2:1, 2:5) Note that our souls were functioning as were our bodies at the time described in Ephesians. The only thing left to be made alive was our spirit.
Our spirit, once alive and functioning, may do the following: • grow (Luke 1:80 and 2:40) • be rescued from the influence of the soul by reading the Bible (Hebrews 4:12) • identify and follow what God’s Spirit wants done (Romans 8:16) • pray (1 Corinthians 14:14) • serve God (Romans 1:19) • be provoked (Acts 17:16), be fervent (Acts 18:25), be troubled (John 13:21) be grieved(John 11:33), be restless (2 Corinthians 2:13), • be refreshed by the love of Christians (2 Corinthians 7:13), carry or bring God’s grace(Galatians 6;18), be willing (Matthew 26:41) • doesn’t have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39)
When our non-functioning spirits hear the Good News that God loves us they come alive and enable our souls to respond to God’s invitation to live spiritually. (Psalm 119:5)
Our souls were in pretty bad condition when our spirits came alive! We read: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” – Ephesians 2:1 Also: “…for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,…” – Romans 3:23
And further, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…” – Romans 7:18a God wants His children to live forever with Him in eternity, but a holy God cannot dwell with sinners or their sin. Something had to be done about sin. Our sin did not catch God by surprise! God created man with a free will, the right to choose between living God’s way or our own way, or to choose right from wrong. God knew our souls had the capacity to sin. Our soul can be governed by natural desires or by God’s Holy Spirit. The naturally-led soul is the one described as not having any good thing in it, a sinner. God made a way for his sinful children to have the sin removed. Because of His great love for us, Jesus made a deal with the Father. Rather than us dying in our sin and separated from God, Jesus died for our sins. It’s as if Jesus said, “Father, my life for theirs.” and the Father said “Done”. That agreement between Father and Son is the new agreement or new covenant that took the place of the old covenant which erased sin by sacrificing animals to God. That is why Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Lamb (sacrificial lamb) of God. The blood Jesus shed on the cross covers sin.
No one can cover or pay for their own sin. You cannot earn God’s approval or work your way into heaven.
“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses (works) are like filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6
The only way we can relate with God is by accepting what Jesus did for us. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me”. John 14:6.
Establishing a relationship with God is called becoming “saved”, or being “born again”. We are saved from a lifetime of loss and an eternity separated from our loving heavenly Father. We choose to let our naturally-led soulish nature die so we can be born again or come alive in our spirit. The Scriptures describe how we are to gain eternal life:
“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.” John 3:16
“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 8-10 In simplicity, salvation, (becoming related to God, or born again), is received by believing or accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again. To “accept Jesus” means we acknowledge who He is and what He did for us. He is God, our Lord. He saved us and deserves to be called our Savior. Salvation can also be described as an acknowledgement and reciprocation of love. One might say,“Jesus, You loved me and gave your life for me. I want to love You back and give my life to you.”
The salvation experience has two time dimensions: something happens immediately, and a process is started that ends at the time of our death.
When you “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…” you are saved. Please note the tense; you will be saved (past tense). At that moment your spirit came alive or was “saved”!
but we read in Phillipians 2:12b: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Well, what is it that has to be worked out? It is the salvation of our soul that God says he will work with us to bring about! In theological terms, this process is called“sanctification”. We are invited by God to join with Him in changing our minds, emotions, and will from our sin nature’s control to the control of the Holy Spirit. That is how we make Jesus our Lord after accepting Him as our Savior.
Contrast Scriptural salvation’s terms with the current experience of evangelism which asks people to “ask Jesus into their hearts” as only an emotional response to God’s love.
Scriptural salvation should be based on a recognition of God’s love and a loving response in return.
Scriptural salvation includes commitment to change because our Lord calls for it! In God’s Kingdom, the Lord’s word is law! The Kingdom is not a democracy or a place of anarchy! “But why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46
Salvation is an event for man’s spirit, and the beginning of a process for the soul. Upon salvation, the Father and Son come to live with the believer. Because our God is One God, the Holy Spirit is also resident with the believer, and can provide the believer with guidance.
The Holy Spirit in us can be released through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit empowering us to use spiritual gifts to help others. God’s presence in power to accomplish God’s purposes may be called an “anointing” – the same experience shared with our Biblical ancestors!