What is Salvation?

I know there are many people in this world who really don’t understand what we Christians mean by “being saved.”  Unfortunately, that includes some Christians as well.  To someone who has not been in Christian circles, or are new Christians, this might be a bit confusing.  I want to take an opportunity to explain salvation.

Let’s start at the beginning.  When God created mankind (Adam and Eve), He created them perfect.  That means that they had not rebelled against God or disobeyed Him; that’s what we call “sin.”  Because they had no sin, they were able to have a direct relationship with God.  He communed with them physically as well as spiritually.

But God created them with “free will.”  This means that they could choose how they lived.  Some might wonder why God would create people with this ability since it was up to Him.  I like to think of it this way.  In order to have true respect, devotion, and love for someone, you must have a choice in the matter.  If you are compelled to be dedicated to them, these characteristics are not involved; you are a slave to the other person’s desires.  With that in mind, God created mankind with the ability to choose their actions so that when they showed Him their love, He would know it was true.

Of course, the other side of free will is that they also had the ability to choose to disobey and rebel against God.  Unfortunately, for all mankind, they did.  Because Adam and Eve did not obey God in the very beginning, the whole world, including all people throughout history, have been born with this rebellion.  We call that the “sin nature.”  In Romans 5:12, speaking of Adam, the Bible tells us…

Romans 5:12
(12)  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

So, what is the implication of this sin nature?  That means that everyone, with only one exception which we will get to later, has sinned (remember that means rebelled against God).  Because we have all sinned, we cannot have a relationship with God.  Why?  Because He is holy, that means “set apart” and without sin; and because He is holy, He cannot have a relationship with sinful people.  If He did, it would corrupt His holiness, and would make Him less than God (but, that’s another discussion).  For this article, what is important to know is that sin in a person’s life separates them from God.  This separation is called “spiritual death,” and is the penalty for our rebellion against God.

Romans 6:23
(23)  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Another thing that is very important to understand at this point is that God loves us, His creation.  He created us to have a relationship with Him; that is our whole purpose for existence.  So how do we resolve the situation?  Since we are sinners, how can we have the relationship with a holy God that He desires?  It may be hard to understand, but God knew that mankind would sin and that sin would destroy the close relationship they had at the very beginning.  God knew this even before He created mankind.  But God knows everything so, from the beginning, He had a plan to provide a way to re-establish that relationship.

God’s plan required a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.  There was certainly no single person who could provide that sacrifice, because we are all corrupted by our sin.  So, God had to send someone who would be independent of the sin nature, but live the same life that mankind lived.  To fulfil that requirement, God sent His only begotten son (that means produced from Himself, also another discussion).  Jesus was sent to the earth to live as a man, to live a perfect life, to be the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.  Jesus was, and is, the only begotten Son of God.  Jesus is at the center of salvation.

John 3:16
(16)  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.

Jesus lived a perfect life (no sin); He’s the only one who ever has and who ever will be able to do that.  He continued in His obedience to the Father even to His death on a Roman cross.  He did this to pay the penalty for all the sins that mankind has ever committed, and ever will commit.  The sinless Son of God became sin and died on the cross for us .  If the salvation story ended there, it would still leave us without a relationship with God.

But God raised Jesus from the grave; brought Him back to life.  Through the power God gave Him, Jesus conquered physical death.  This was God saying, I accept the sacrifice, and mankind’s sin debt is now paid in full.  Not only did Jesus defeat physical death (because all who are saved will receive a new body and live with Him in heaven), but He defeated spiritual death as well.  That means that believers (those who are saved) can have a relationship with God in this life as well.  So, salvation is the ability to have a relationship with God now, spiritually; and have eternal life with Him in heaven.

1 John 5:11
(11)  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

So, there is still a question.  How does a person get this salvation?  It’s not something you can earn; it’s not something you deserve; it’s not something you can buy.  It is given as a free gift from God.  All you have to do is ask for it?

Ephesians 2:8
(8)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

As with any other gift, you have to receive it and open it before you can enjoy the benefits of it.  It’s available to everyone, but you have to believe what is written in God’s word about Jesus and the gift, then you have to make Jesus Lord of your life.  You must become a Christian.  The Bible tells us:

Romans 10:9
(9)  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.

The great thing is that once you are “saved” according to the way God intended, you can never lose that salvation.  God tells us:

1 John 5:13
(13)  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Living the life of a Christian is an ongoing learning experience as you explore this new spiritual relationship with the creator of the universe.  He becomes your Heavenly Father, and you become His child.  As you learn what that means, you will strive to do what God wants you to do.  How better to do grow and develop than by joining and attending a Bible believing church that preaches and teaches God’s word.

We at the Baptist Church at Park Glen strive to be that kind of body of believers; believers who have banded together into a church what is strong in faith and the doctrine found in God’s word.  If you are in the area, come by and visit with us to see if that’s not the case.  If you don’t live close enough and you have questions about this article and what it means, either comment here, or send me an email at info@bcpg.org.  This decision is too important for you to leave to chance.