What is salvation? Why do people need it?
Salvation refers to the process of saving something from damage and destruction. The Bible teaches that mankind has been ruined by sin. What is sin? Sin is the principle of doing what you want and rejecting God and His Word. Sin is a "me-first" attitude that disregards God's divine authority. It doesn't matter whether the sinner believes in God or not. What he does is still sin. Sin involves following one's own desires even when they are against what God has revealed to be His will. Sin expresses itself in all kinds of "sins" – things like lying, cheating, stealing, lusting, hating, resenting and also worshiping false gods.
According to the Bible, sinners are in trouble. Big trouble. Sin has marred us, twisted us, perverted us and damaged us. It also enslaves us. Sin gives pleasure for a season, but sin is deadly. Sin is so deadly that if someone persists in refusing to turn from its destructive power, God will let eventually them go, and they will go to eternal destruction. So SALVATION is God's work of getting people OUT of SIN, delivered from its horrible consequences and restored so they are no longer damaged and marred. Salvation restores mankind to the place of being a royal child of God – with all that means.
The Bible says concerning Jesus:
"And she [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
Please note that the salvation which God offers through Jesus is not a salvation IN sin, but a salvation FROM sin. Jesus is big enough to transform us, and subdue and eliminate sin from our lives.
Many have taught that believing in Jesus can be done while we reserve the right to keep our chosen sins for ourselves, denying Jesus the right to be King and Lord in our life. A careful and thorough examination of Scripture proves that this is NOT the case. Nowhere is this more plainly stated than it is by Jesus is Matthew 7:21.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father in Heaven."
Salvation then involves more than forgiveness of sin, though that is a big part of it. Salvation involves getting a person from the place where they are a "worker of iniquity" to the place where they habitually "do the will of the Father in Heaven". Salvation cannot be separated from personal transformation, and God wants to do a work of personal transformation in us from the inside out.
We need salvation because we will be completely lost and rejected by God if we refuse God persistently in this life. We will be destroyed eternally, and this is very serious. The Bible gives hints as to just how bad and painful this will be for lost sinners, but words alone, even the words of the Bible, cannot fully convey the incredible LOSS, the incredible DAMAGE, the incredible PAIN this will mean for those who refuse God and refuse His Salvation.
Pictures of Salvation
One of the great pictures of salvation given to us by Jesus is found in the parable of the lost son.
11 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
This parable teaches us that someone who is in the Father's house can walk away and become "lost" and "dead". You might be in the Father's house today. Don't go chasing various lusts and worldly pleasures, lest you too become "lost" and "dead". Sin brought this young man very low. He ended up with nothing, and was hungering for the food given to the pigs. He was in a mess.
Salvation happened for this son when we came to his senses. He realized that even his father's servants were better off than he. He began the journey home to his father, seeking if possible only to be as one of them.
The beautiful thing in this story is that the Father ran to meet the returning son. He ordered that the best robe be put on him, that a ring be put on his finger, sandals on his feet, and that a party be thrown to celebrate his return. This shows with what joy the Father in heaven receives those who truly return to Him. It shows also a something of the restoration that God does for those who return to Him. A restoration of dignity, honor, authority and position. This is all part of salvation.
Salvation includes many aspects. Some of these aspects are doubted by some segments of the church, but the truth is that Jesus reversed the effects of Adam's fall for those who freely choose to consistenly trust and obey God. I would like to list some of the aspects that are included in our salvation.
* Forgiveness. Though we have offended God in many ways, God writes off our debt to Him when we are truly saved, because Jesus paid the price on the cross. Praise God for that!
* Justification. We are legally declared not guilty because Jesus took our guilt on himself at the cross.
* Regeneration. We are born anew on the inside and given a new spirit with a new nature that loves God and enjoys pleasing Him.
* Sanctification. We are set apart to God and made holy. God cleanses us from sin by His blood and by the renewing of our minds through the anointed Word of God we receive.
* Emotional Healing. We are able to cast our pains and burdens upon the Lord, and he soothes our mind and emotions with his healing presence. This process becomes real especially as we consciously forgive those who have wronged us.
* Divine Infilling. We make the Holy Spirit welcome in our lives and He comes upon us, fills us and empowers us to live a totally new kind of life as Jesus did.
* Deliverance from Demons. Evil spirits love to harrass those who ignorantly give them a place through sin or neglect of the truth. Our salvation includes deliverance from all forms of demonic oppression – whether it is internal or external to the believer.
* Deliverance from Hell. We were headed to hell, a place of unspeakable suffering and punishment, but through the mercy of God we now escape that judgment, because of what Jesus has done and because we yield to His Lordship over our lives in the present age.
* An Eternal Inheritance. We will not only go to heaven when we die, but ultimately we will inherit all things on the New Earth which God is setting up for those who love Him. Please read the Book fo Revelation for more details.
* Access to God. Our salvation in Christ gives us renewed access to the throne of God where we can pray, and be heard by the Lord of the Universe.
* Sonship. We become part of the family of God. We are received as Sons, not merely as slaves or servants.
* Divine Help. We have the Holy Spirit as our helper, guide, counsellor and supplier of spiritual riches for this life.
I hope you can see that there is a lot to this salvation that Jesus has offered us at great personal expense to himself. I hope you will take hold of these things and appropriate them all in your life. They are too valuable to ignore. Don't be foolish, quit sin through the power of the Holy Spirit and devote your life to doing the will of the Father in heaven. This is our love response to God for all that He has done for us.