Saved - a Baptist term
We are going to look at the subject of salvation. We can be very thankful that it is something simple enough for a child to grasp. And yet the more deeply we look at all it includes, it becomes a rich and profound subject with aspects that we can only begin to understand in this mortal world.
The word itself
In the New Testament, salvation is the result of what God has done for the individual. It never is the work of the individual for God, or his work for himself.
Works pleasing to God are made possible by salvation - but these good works add nothing to the all-sufficient and perfect salvation of God. Cults add to or take away from this simplicity.
When used in the New Testament, the word salvation may indicate all or a part of the divine undertaking. When talking about the work of God, the whole transformation is meant, from being lost and condemned to the final appearing in the image of Christ in glory. This larger use of the word, combines in it many separate works of God for the individual, such as Atonement, Grace, Propitiation, Forgiveness, Justification, Imputation, Regeneration, Adoption, Sanctification, Redemption, and Glorification.
This great transformation represents the greatest thing the infinite, omnipotent God can do for man: well summed up in I John 3:2 - "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; for we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
Salvation, then, is revealed in the Scriptures as having three tenses: the past - that which was accomplished in and for the one who has believed at the moment of conversion. 2nd, the present - that which is now being accomplished for the one who has believed - the process of sanctification; growing in Christ-likeness. 3rd, the future - that which will be accomplished to complete the work of God in and for the one who has believed - glorification.
I. The child of God was saved from the guilt and penalty of sin when he believed: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
II. The child of God, through faith, is being saved from the power and dominion of sin: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17); "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14) "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16).
III. The child of God, begotten through faith, saved from the power of sin, is yet to be saved from the presence of sin, by being brought into the presence of God. Described in I Peter 1:4,5 - "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
Some passages mention all these together: Philippians 1:6 - "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." I Corinthians 1:30 - "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption."
The natural man is completely occupied with the things of the world, things that can be seen and by nature he is blind to spiritual and eternal things, which are not seen. To that person, it is practical and reasonable to live better, to reform, to join the old - Adam Improvement Society. He sees little value in the appeal in the Bible for personal faith in the saving power and grace of God. Many find great satisfaction and reason for pride in their being moral and pious in their religion. But, they are going about to establish their own righteousness.
The Bible teaches that apart from Christ, all are lost. There are no in-betweens. For instance, John 3:18-20 - "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." John 3:36 - "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
In order for one to be saved he must see himself as God sees him, and then accept what God has revealed in the written Word. He has to see that there is nothing he can do to save himself.
It is in the Cross of Christ that God made salvation of sinful man possible. The message of the Cross has three aspects.
1.) Love - John 1:18 - "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Jesus was to reveal the true emotions of the Father "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son."
Every moment of Jesus' life on earth was showing God's love - but one event in His ministry was to show the true nature of God's love - "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us." (I John 3:16.) "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be a propitiation for our sins." (I John 4:9,10.)
When this message gets through to a person's heart, he sees something far beyond the range of human knowledge - and so far-reaching in its value that it goes beyond questions of life and death. God's perfect and final revelation of His love is in and through the cross, and whosever's heart accepts this message receives all the consolations of grace within a life of trials and afflictions.
What the cross teaches us about sin. First, Jesus chose to die; no one made Him do it. John 10:17,18 - "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
God was solving the great problems created by human sin - "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21.) In the crucifixion - even as the love of God was revealed - so also was the desperate evil and wickedness of man. All the acts leading up to and concluding in the crucifixion reveal the sinful nature of every human being, in rejecting Jesus. Those who continue in unbelief "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame."
The righteousness of God is declared in the cross of Christ. "To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." (Romans 3:26.)
God had always looked toward the time a perfect and sufficient sacrifice for sin would come. The blood of bulls and goats had not taken away sin, but was the divinely appointed symbol of the blood that Jesus was to shed.
Looking at the perfect sacrifice that was to be, God had passed over the sins of those who presented the symbolic innocent sacrifice. This was God's promise, in the fullness of time, to meet all the needs of the sinner. When the true and all-sufficient sacrifice was accomplished, that sacrifice stood as full proof that God had been righteous and just in all the generations in which He had acted in view of that great event yet future.
The great dilemma was - God is love and He loved man the sinner. But God is holy and righteous and just. He cannot treat sin but one way - to punish. So the question: can sin be righteously treated as sin and still leave a way to save the sinner?
God cannot and will not change His very character. He must satisfy His love by saving those condemned by His righteousness. He did this by meeting all the requirements of His righteousness through the cross of His dear Son.
As the righteous Judge, He pronounced the full divine sentence against sin - death, separation from Himself. As the Saviour of sinners, He sent His Son from heaven who took upon Himself the death penalty His righteousness had imposed. All that righteousness could demand has been supplied by the Judge Himself, for it was God Who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.
How could God remain just and still make the sinner just, who He loved with an everlasting love? It was in the divine councils from before the foundation of the world. This is the good news of the Gospel. God's judgment against sin has been perfectly met. Christ was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He became a curse for us. He bore our sins in His Body on the tree. He was made sin for us. He tasted death for every man.
The reasonable requirement is that we believe that message. This is the only way one may enter into God's saving grace.
Before He dismissed His Spirit, as He hung on the Cross, Christ said, "It is finished." This was the divine announcement of the fact that sin had been judged. The transaction was complete and the ground for salvation of every sinner was accomplished.
Three very important words show us the character and extent of the work said to be finished:
I. Reconciliation - in the New Testament it means a complete and thorough change in a relationship accomplished by the actual removal of the cause of the strife, so making reconciliation. The best Scripture that explains this is II Corinthians 5:18,19 - "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
If you admit that Christ died for all, then the value of that death has provided for all. This began in the councils of God, ordered to meet the righteous requirements of Himself. The value of that death has no limit. At the same time, it must be said that Jesus died for each individual. The greatest thing that can be said about any person is that they are one for whom Jesus died.
Reconciliation. God thoroughly changed us in relation to Himself through Christ. Paul adds: "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold all things are become new."
The world of man is thoroughly changed in relation to God by the death of His Son. God Himself is not said to be changed. God took upon Himself what was needed to mediate between His righteousness and the world of sin.
All who are saved have received a ministry from God.
There are two aspects of this reconciliation. That which took place at the cross - God, in Christ, thoroughly changed the relation of the whole world to Himself, so that He does not count their trespasses against them.
Second is that which takes place in the individual, who through the message of the sacrifice of Christ, responds to the appeal from God. Such a person sees the love and grace of God, in removing forever their judgment and doom, by the death of His Son, and trusts His Saviour for everything.
The second word is Redemption - to deliver from bondage by paying the price demanded by the owner. Man was in bondage to sin. God's Law demanded the death penalty for sin. To deliver man from this penalty, this bondage, blood had to be spilled. "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." (Leviticus 17:11). "This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:28); "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ." (I Peter 1:18.) "Thou wast slain, and hath redeemed us to God by thy blood." (Revelation 5:9.)
In the death of Christ full redemption by blood has been paid, to provide for the whole world.
Redemption is also by power. It has the power to redeem and set free. This is individual and is the blessed experience of all who put their trust in the divine Redeemer.
Redemption also makes possible individual forgiveness - "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Ephesians 1:7.)
Redemption may then be considered in two aspects – first, through the cross the ransom price has been paid for all. 2nd that which may yet be done for the believer in the further work of redemption which is shown in the transforming and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.
The redeeming work of Christ is our only deliverance from the hopeless state of the lost.
The third word - Propitiation - to make favorably inclined. It refers to the divinely provided place of meeting between God and man. The mercy-seat of the Old Testament is spoken of (Hebrews 9:5) as a place of propitiation. There, covering the broken law, was the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, and there the Shekinah light indicated the very presence of God.
There, because of the death typified, indicated by the sprinkled blood, a holy, righteous, and just God could meet a sinful man, favorably without visiting judgment upon him. In turn, the sinful man could meet God without fear.
The New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ was set forth by the Father to be a propitiation through faith in His blood. I John 2:2 - "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world."
The blood-sprinkled body of the Son of God on the cross has become the divinely provided place of meeting where a guilty sinner can come to God without fear, and the righteous God can receive that soul, apart from all judgments and condemnation.
We need not look for any leniency from God, for He has provided every needed grace by the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son. God has provided the propitiation, the way not to be just forgiven, but also to be justified - to be made just before God when we rest our case on the divinely appointed propitiation, Jesus Christ.
Only through Him can God act favorably with complete kindness and great blessing toward us.
The work of the cross is finished. This is God's great act of reconciliation and He is said to be waiting for man to be thoroughly changed by the message of the Cross.
This is God's great act of redemption by the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, and He is awaiting man's act of faith toward Jesus, that He might with the power of the Spirit, transform them into the very sons of God.
This is God's great act of propitiation in providing a righteous judgment against sin in the cross of Christ, but He awaits the individual to accept and stand on the fact that their sins have been judged at the cross.
The cross was a reconciliation from God toward man. The cross was a redemption from God toward sin. The cross was a propitiation provided by God for man toward God. All these were undertaken for every member of the fallen human race. God has provided every possible mercy. Those who go to perdition, must reject and deny and resist all of these things.
While we hear many formulas for Salvation from different groups, the Bible teaches there is one condition of Salvation: "believe". That is all a sinner can do and all a sinner must do. This is believing the New Testament record that God has given His Son. Here it is stated that God has entered into all the needs of our lost condition in sending Jesus to live a life of perfect obedience to God, to die on the cross for our sins, and to arise to be a living Saviour to all who put their trust in Him.
It is quite possible for any intelligent person to know whether he or she has given such confidence to Jesus Christ. To say "I know whom I have believed." Have you placed your eternal welfare in the hands of Jesus Christ?
John wrote his Gospel for a clearly stated purpose -
"But these are written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name."
If you have believed Jesus, the following things are now true of you, as well as every believer:
1. We are in the Eternal Plan of God, from before the foundation of the world.
2. We are reconciled to God.
3. We are redeemed by God.
4. We are brought close to God by propitiation.
5. Our sins have been washed away by Christ's Blood.
6. We have received a new life, in accepting the death of Jesus.
7. We are free from the Law.
8. We are children of God.
9. We are adopted and as adult sons.
10. We are accounted righteous by God in Christ.
11. We are justified.
12. We have continual forgiveness for sins.
13. We are brought close to God and can experience this.
14. We are delivered from the power of Darkness.
15. We have been translated into the kingdom of Jesus.
16. Our lives rest on the foundation of Jesus Christ as our Rock.
17. We are called a gift from God to Jesus.
18. We are circumcised spiritually in Christ.
19. We are partakers of the Holy and Royal Priesthood.
20. We are a chosen generation and a peculiar People.
21. We have continual access to God.
22. We are within the "much more" care of God, being objects of His love, grace, power, faithfulness, peace, consolation, and intercession.
23. We are His inheritance.
24. He also promises us an inheritance.
25. We are partners with Christ, in life, in position, in service, in suffering, in betrothal.
26. We are citizens of heaven.
27. We are of the Family and Household of God.
28. We are light in the Lord.
29. We are vitally united to the Father, Son, and Spirit.
We are members in Christ's body
Branches in the Vine
Stones in the building
Sheep in His flock
A part of His bride
Priests in His kingdom
Saints of the next generation
30. We are blessed with the "First Fruits" and the Earnest" of the Spirit. We are born, baptized, indwelt, filled, and sealed by the Spirit.
31. We are potentially glorified.
32. We are complete in Jesus.
33. We possess every spiritual blessing, in Christ.
Paul says in Philippians 1:6 - "He that hath begun a good work in you, will perform it, until the day of Jesus Christ."
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.