The next two blog posts will be a little different. Julia’s dad (my father-in-law) has professed faith in Christ last week and even got up and gave his testimony during CBC’s services on Sunday. This is a place he hasn’t stepped foot in for years. I was with him briefly on Monday night and could definitely see a change. With that in mind I was thinking of what true salvation is and the ways salvation changes us. This post will be what salvation is and the following will be what salvation does.
What is Salvation?
A mere decision to a proposition? Not in the slightest. A mere conclusion of logic? Also, no. Salvation of the Bible is something much more than simply a logical decision or a decision of change. The shortest message of salvation I think you can read is found in Acts 16:30-31:
“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
“Believe on” has the idea of trusting on, resting on, trusting oneself to, or depending on. What it doesn’t mean is assenting to, acknowledging that, superficially accepting, or any other form of such things. In Biblical Greek, the word “believe” and “faith” are very closely related (much closer than we know in English). In fact it would be correct to translate Ephesians 2:8 as “For by grace are you saved through belief; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Believing and faith in the Bible are the same thing. This is a much stronger word than what we use “believe” for in today’s English language. We use it to say “to think” or “to assent/accept” and even “to come to understand.” These meanings are not the meaning of “believing on” in Acts 16:31. There is an illustration I’ve heard often of a tight rope walker in the 19th century that goes by the name of Charles Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet). He stretched a tight rope across the Niagra Falls to show his pristine balancing skills. He started across with a balancing pole, then did a back somersault while walking across. Each crossing after that he completed in a different manner: blindfolded, with a wheelbarrow, even making an omelet in the middle of the rope. Then he comes to the crowd that was watching him and asks if they believe that he could carry someone across on his back. Everyone at once screams “YES WE BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!” But then his question changed and was now, “Ok, who will get on my back and cross?” The crowd suddenly went silent. Everyone believed ABOUT Blondin. They saw what he did and believed he COULD do it but no one was willing to believe IN or ON Blondin and get on his back. Many people believe about the Lord Jesus Christ but only those who believe on Him will ever get real life.
“the Lord Jesus Christ” does not say “Jesus” or “the Savior” or even “Christ.” He is the one of whom we read that died and rose again.
Jesus tells us that this is the one who became a man to be the savior. We just recently celebrated the birth of Jesus. Joseph was told “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus tells us of his humanity.
Christ is the anointed one. He is the promised Messiah, the servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 42). It is a shame to proclaim Jesus as a cool, party attending, rebel character that is found being proclaimed in many churches. This is the anointed one, the Messiah, the promised one.
Lord is a term used of one in authority over you, one who you submit and bow to. There are not two separate events of accepting Jesus as your Savior then accepting him as your Lord. Salvation is the acknowledgment of Him as Lord!
So the gospel of salvation is that man is without ability to save himself but upon the confession of helplessness, the repentance of sin, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on Christ (both the person and the work) “you shall be saved.”
Romans 6:17 is Paul looking back to before they were “saved” when he says, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin.” He is commenting on the fact that we were astray from God and servants of sin. Then he reflects on their moment of conversion when he says, “but ye have obeyed from the heart.” The tense of the verb “obeyed” is in the Aorist tense which says it happened at a definite moment of time (the moment of salvation). But what is interesting is the last phrase, “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Salvation is doctrine; it is truth to be received. God has revealed the truth of the person and work of Christ and given man the responsibility to respond to the doctrine. Salvation is truth to be received.
So in the ultimate sense, what is salvation? It is the supernatural work of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is the redemption of a fallen race and is available to all. It is not just giving your life to Jesus or accepting a Savior as I hope I made clear. Now, at Salvation we may not have known everything we were coming into, I know I didn’t. But we can look at that moment and see that all of these things are true and prove true in the life of a true believer. Thank goodness we can say:
“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.”
Next time, we will look at what salvation does. Stay tuned.