2 Corinthians 6:2 “For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
What does it mean to be saved? This question is a dilemma that many have wrestled with. Many have assumed what they thought it meant, yet even in the church, the way it has been perceived has varied.
When I was young, I remember the calls to salvation after an impassioned sermon. People were invited to raise their hands if they wanted to “be saved”, and whether they fully understood what they were being saved from or not, it sounded like a good idea.
The pastor would then ask everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes, then the music would start playing and to all who desired to partake, the call to raise their hands would lead many to respond. The pastor would have everyone repeat the “prayer of salvation” in unison and as the lights came up and everyone opened their eyes, a cheer of clapping would then ensue, and voila, everyone who repeated the words were saved!
I used to think, “I need to memorize this special prayer”, so if I meet anyone who wants to be saved, I’ll know what to have them say.
I’ve learned a lot about salvation since then, including the fact that magic words are not part of the criteria for God to rescue someone from the scourge of sin and its consequent punishment….Hell. If speaking words are what saves you, then we could all ‘earn’ our salvation by just reciting the prayer.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Speaking words to be saved would qualify as works.
So if salvation isn’t in reciting some incantation, what is it then? Who can be saved? What are we being saved from? These are all legitimate questions that many have asked. Truth be told, it’s always best to find out what something means from the one who is offering it up!
Revelation 19:1 “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!”
Job 34:10-11 “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding:
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
And from the Almighty to commit iniquity.
11For He repays man according to his work,
And makes man to find a reward according to his way.”
Psalm 62:7 “In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.”
So after a very brief survey, we see where salvation comes from, clearly it comes from God, not from men. Now the question, who can be saved?
Romans 10:12-13 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Psalm 7:10 “My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart.”
2 Timothy 2:10 “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
The pattern we see here is, all who call on God can be saved. What has been another major point of contention is, (who God calls) to be saved. Who are the elect? The ones who have been saved! How do you become one of the elect? The answer: by responding to the call with acceptance.
Some have claimed that God only calls certain people, the ones He wants to save, hence the entire Calvinism argument of election. What they miss is the understanding of God’s nature in relation to mankind. God’s nature is love, and God expressed His love to us by sending His Son Jesus, to be a sacrifice for our sin. What does Jesus say about who He came to die for?
John 10:9-10 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
later in this same teaching Jesus reveals who are His sheep; “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand, and I and My Father are one.”
*Those who hear His voice are the ones who are His, not the ones singled out, not the ones who look good or are rich or do good works.
Hebrews 3:14-15 “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
How do we hear God’s call?….We listen. His call goes out to everyone, to all who would believe. John 3:16 reminds us that that “whosoever believes in Him will be saved.”
How do we respond to God’s call? For one, it is acknowledging Jesus as LORD. There is no other name by which you can be saved.
Romans 10:9-10 “that 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. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
For two, salvation comes to those who believe. Belief is a reflection of the heart. If you want to know what someone truly believes in, watch their life, you will see a reflection of their hearts come through their actions.
How do we come to God? I like what God said in Isaiah 57:15 “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
So we see here that we must first understand where salvation comes from; Jesus Christ alone, who God calls….everyone, how we respond to His call; with humility and contrition, (which is repentance), and now we see what happens when God does save us.
Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
2 Corinthians 5:5 “And God has prepared us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a pledge of what is to come.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who[d] is the [e]guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
So we see here that the mark of salvation in someone’s life is the Spirit of God. We see this evidence of the Spirit by the fruit they bear in their life, their desires, whom they look to associate with, where their passions are invested, by conviction of sin. The Spirit of God is evident to those who have discernment. I know when I see the Spirit being manifest in someone’s life because I know God. There are gifts of the Spirit also, some people are given certain gifts and others another gift, these can all reveal God’s presence but not exclusively. The enemy can mimic tongues, prophecy, even righteousness, and when we rely on judging another’s salvation by one of these exclusively, we may judge foolishly.
Ultimately, it’s not up to us to judge another’s salvation, Jesus made this very clear. Why? Because we cannot see into another persons heart and make that distinction. The idea of judging others is a topic for another day, so we leave the judging up to God, who will one day judge both the living(those saved), and the dead(unsaved), 1 Peter 4:5.
So if you want to be saved from sin and the consequences of sin which is Hell, I encourage you to follow this course. Pray as best you can, God knows your heart, He is less concerned about what you say and more concerned about what you mean. Trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, forgive others as Jesus is now forgiving you and accept the grace He offers.
When you come to Jesus in humility, God will breath His Holy Spirit into you and you will begin the journey of eternity. Your life will never be the same. You will see and know your creator, He will show you the path He has had for you from your inception and will never leave your side, that is His promise.
He loves you more than you’ll ever know.