Salvation is a word in the bible that like many others loses its intended meaning when it’s removed from its context. Whenever the bible talks about being saved – we have to ask; saved from what?
The Jewish people were waiting expectantly for a savior to come and liberate them from the Roman Empire, and give Jerusalem back into their hands. They were looking for a King who would save them in a very physical sense from their oppressors, and establish his throne in Jerusalem.
Many of the people were (and many Jews today are) anticipating a Messiah who will save them from all of the sinners around them, but they didn’t really recognize as prominently the necessity of being saved from the sins that affected them internally, those sins that come from inside us, that affect negatively others around us.
Zachariah – a Priest and John the Baptists Father was made mute because he didn’t believe that God was going to give him a Son in his old age. When his son was born too his wife Elizabeth and knowing that Mary was pregnant with Jesus – the first words that came out of his mouth were;
Luke 1:68; “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.”
He then goes on to talk about how John – his son will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way. But I want to talk about the word redemption.
Redemption means ‘to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment.’
As Christians we need to remind ourselves regularly of the fact that a payment has been made for us. We no longer are our own possession; neither are we Satan’s possession, or anyone else’s possession! We have been purchased with the blood of Christ and are his possession.
Horn of Salvation
Zachariah then goes on to describe Jesus as the horn of salvation.
Psalm 92:10; “But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox”.
Micah 4:13; “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hooves bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples”
The horn is a symbol of strength, and is the weapon of the ox – Jesus fought for our salvation both spiritually at the cross where he took upon himself our sins – and ultimately will fight physically at his second coming.
For centuries now there have been debates among Christians surrounding the nature of salvation. Some students of theology have adopted the teachings of John Calvin, while others favored the teachings of Jacob Arminius. Most Christians may have heard these names but have no idea what they taught (and there is nothing wrong with that).
Unfortunately people have begun to label themselves after men and woman of God, just as the early Church did – some saying they followed Paul, others Apollos. We are Christians and should label ourselves after men. Some examples of this include the Calvinists, Arminian, Lutherans, and Wesleyans etc.
An acronym for those that follow John Calvin’s theological beliefs was invented called TULIP:
- T – Total Depravity
- U – Unconditional Election
- L – Limited atonement
- I – Irresistible Grace
- P – Perseverance of the Saints
Many people who follow Jacob Arminius use the FACTS acronym:
- Freed by Grace (to believe)
- Atonement for all
- Conditional Election
- Total Depravity
- Security in Christ
These differences have sparked heated debates between Christians – but the important thing to remember is that love has to be the foundation for every discussion, especially in areas of disagreement!
John tells us that Christians will be known by their love for one another.
I believe that how we are saved is very important, and has some serious ramifications about how we live our lives as Christians – but even more important is to know what salvation looks like in the bible, and do we fit into the category as one who is saved?
Paul writes “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1) “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
There is NOTHING more important that to make our calling and election sure; to make sure that we are in the faith.
Who will not be saved?
Let’s first look at what the scripture says about those who will not be saved! We don’t want to be among them! We also don’t want anyone we know to be among them, and we need to do our best to co-operate with the Holy Spirit to save people. Identifying the characteristics of one who isn’t saved, will help us know who needs saving.
John 3:36; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
Acts 4:12; “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
This means that Muslims, Hindu’s, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics etc. – They all need to be saved!
Everyone who has not been made righteous through Jesus will not be saved.
1 Peter 4:18; “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
Those who profess to ‘walk’ the faith out in Jesus but who have set their minds on earthly things and not on Jesus, those who consider earthly things more valuable than Jesus.
Philippians 3:18-19; “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things”.
Revelation 3:15-16; “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
This church loves other things more than Christ.
Those who profess to be Christians, but who live according to the flesh will not be saved.
Romans 8:13; “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
1 Corinthians 5:1-6; “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Mathew 18:8; “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.”
1 John 3:15; “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
Those who love their life in this sinful, corrupt world will not be saved.
John 12:25; “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”.
What does salvation look like from an eternal perspective?
- Repent and bear fruit/good works
• Have faith and be baptized
• Confess Jesus as LORD
• Do the will of the Father
• Endure in the faith until the end
How many will be saved?
Few people will be saved.
Mathew 7:13-14; “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
To Repent and bear fruit
True repentance produces good works/fruit; it’s not the fruit however that saves us. Isaiah 64:6; “And all our righteousness are like filthy rags”.
Luke 13:5; “unless you repent you will all likewise perish”.
Mathew 3:8; “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance”.
To believe/have faith and be baptized
Mark 16:16; “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
Luke 7:50; “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Jesus said this after a sinful woman repented.
John 5:24; “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
To confess Jesus as LORD
Luke 12:8-9 “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
Romans 10:9; “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Do the will of the father
Mathew 7:21-23; “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Romans 8:13; “For IF YOU live according to the flesh you will die; but IF by the Spirit YOU put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Hebrews 5:9; “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him”.
Salvation is to endure in the faith until the end.
Mathew 24:13; “But he who endures to the end shall be saved”.
Mathew 10:22; “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Mark 13:13; “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Hebrews 3:14; “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-2; “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain”.
“Calvinists, who deny that salvation can ever be lost, reason on the subject in a marvelous way. They tell us, that no virgin’s lamp can go out; no promising harvest be choked with thorns; no branch in Christ can ever be cut off from unfruitfulness; no pardon can ever be forfeited, and no name blotted out of God’s book! They insist that no salt can ever lose its savor; nobody can ever “receive the grace of God in vain”; “bury his talents”; “neglect such great salvation”; trifle away “a day of grace”; “look back” after putting his hand to the gospel plow. Nobody can “grieve the Spirit” till He is “quenched,” and strives no more, nor “deny the Lord that bought them”; nor “bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Nobody, or body of believers, can ever get so lukewarm that Jesus will spew them out of His mouth.
“They use reams of paper to argue that if one ever got lost he was never found. John 17:12; that if one falls, he never stood. Rom. 11:16-22 and Heb. 6:4-6; if one was ever “cast forth,” he was never in, and “if one ever withered,” he was never green. John 15:1-6; and that “if any man draws back,” it proves that he never had anything to draw back from. Heb. 10:38, 39; that if one ever “falls away into spiritual darkness,” he was never enlightened. Heb. 6:4-6; that if you “again get entangled in the pollutions of the world,” it shows that you never escaped. 2 Pet 2:20; that if you “put salvation away” you never had it to put away, and if you make shipwreck of faith, there was no ship of faith there!! In short they say: If you get it, you can’t lose it; and if you lose it you never had it. May God save us from accepting a doctrine that must be defended by such fallacious reasoning!”
— John Wesley
Endurance is achieved by remaining in the word of God:
Parable of the Sower – Luke 8:13; “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.”
John 8:31-32; “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”