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 assumptions about salvation come from false teachings, and the way to everlasting life becomes muddied along the way.
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 people fully understood what they were being saved from they responded because it sounded like a good idea.
During a given service, the pastor would ask everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes, the music would start playing and to all who desired to partake of the call they would raise their hands and repeat a prayer. The pastor would have everyone repeat the “prayer of salvation” in unison and then as the lights came up and everyone opened their eyes a cheer of clapping would 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 how to lead them.
I’ve learned since then that just saying a set of words are not the reason God rescues someone from the scourge of sin. 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, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Speaking words to be saved would qualify as works.
So if salvation isn’t just received by 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 source.
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!”
Salvation is not offered by the church, a priest, or anyone who calls themselves a christian. Salvation comes from God alone and only He determines the criteria for entry.
Psalm 62:7 “In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.”
The ability to approach the throne of God has been made possible through the Son of God. The sacrifice Jesus made upon the cross at Calvary was the final Word that brought access to God. Sin requires a sacrifice, death is the requirement for breaking God’s law and only Jesus could complete this work.
Since Jesus made a way for people to be found justified before God, the question now remains as to who can receive it?
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. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Jew and Greek was an old saying that meant that everyone had access to the grace now given. People didn’t have to be considered one of “God’s people”, to qualify for God’s love, they only had to recognize where salvation is found.
Psalm 7:10 “My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart.”
Since we have no way to defend ourselves before God our judge, we needed an advocate who would go before us—Jesus fulfilled the role perfectly.
The way of eternal life has been established by Christ alone, the path to forgiveness can only be found along the path that He made ready.
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.
For He repays man according to his work,
And makes man to find a reward according to his way.”
God’s way must become your way….not the other way around. Too many people want to dictate God’s standard for what salvation entails, placing themselves in positions of authority they attempt at making the criteria man centered rather than God centered.
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 of God’s Word is that all who call on the Lord can be saved. What has been a traditional point of contention is, (who God calls) to be saved. Who are the elect?
The simple answer is, the elect are 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 is often missed 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. The 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 people….
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My 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, while 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?
By 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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Salvation comes to those who believe.
Belief is a reflection of the heart. If you want to know what someone truly believes, watch their life, you will see the position of their heart determining their actions.
Since the heart is what God looks upon, the way we come to God is found in who we really are.
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.
The heart that longs for God is found in Christ alone. The old selfish, prideful darkened heart of sin is made new when the Spirit of Christ comes into it.
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.”
The Spirit becomes the guarantee of our salvation. Our darkened heart of sin becomes a heart purified by the blood of the lamb.
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.”
The true mark of salvation is the Spirit of God that indwells the true believer. We see the evidence of the Spirit by the fruit people bear in their life, their desires begin to change, those they look to associate with starts to look different, and they are convicted of sin. The more we see the Spirit being manifest in someone’s life the more we recognize the change that has occurred.
Ultimately, it’s not up to us to judge another’s salvation, Jesus made this very clear. Why? Because we cannot see into another person’s 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 with sincerity, 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 eternal life, your life will never be the same. You too can see and know your Creator, He will show you the path He has for you from your inception and He will never leave your side—this is His promise.
He loves you more than you’ll ever know.