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What does it mean to be ‘saved’?


It simply never ceases to amaze me how people view salvation. It’s almost like “I’m saved, but you are going to hell for that slip today!” We really need to grasp the concept of a Gracious God who did not have to save us, but He did everything for us to do just that. We did not deserve even a glance, yet He sent His only Son to die a hideous death on a cross for our sake, so that we, the undeserving, could have eternal life with God.

We were undeserving. Nothing was required on our part except to accept this precious gift. Here, let’s review this:

28 I tell you the truth, people will be forgiven for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
Mark 3:28-29 (NET)

All your sins, even blasphemies, will be forgiven of you.  Everything except for the blaspheme of the Holy Ghost.  (And the larger context here tells us that the blaspheme of the Holy Ghost is the attributing to Satan what is God’s — not just anything that people would decide it must mean!)

What is our part to be forgiven?

And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Acts 2:21 (NET)

30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:30-31 (NET)

That’s it.  Just call upon the name of Jeus; believe upon Jesus and you will be saved!

This is so very important.  It is not of your own righteousness that you obtain salvation.  It is a free gift from God.  Let’s take a look:

8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast.
Eph 2:8-9 (NET)

It is by God’s grace that you are saved.  You don’t have anything to do, to perform; you can’t boast of your salvation.  It was given to you freely, by grace through your faith.  Your faith allows you to accept this free gift from God.

This is important.  You didn’t just decide one day that you needed God. You couldn’t.  He put His faith inside of you and called you to repentance.  What you did with that call came from how you used the faith that was given to you.  You simply could not have come to God by your own will, your own desire, your own needs.  He loved you, even when you were deep within your sin; He loved you so very much that His Son was willing to die in your place to pay for your sins so that you would not have to.  You don’t earn your salvation.  It is a gift.  A free gift.  It is something that is freely handed to you and you do not have to perform to earn it.  Just accept it.

Now, let’s talk about what you can do to lose your salvation.  God gave you a free gift when you did not deserve to get one from Him.  He handed you a free gift because He loved you.

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Rom 11:29 (NET)

Now that is interesting.  This free gift (along with other gifts that He gives you) is irrevocable.  It will not be taken away from you.  Ever.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Eph 4:30 (NET)

If you accepted the free gift, then you were sealed for your redemption.  God doesn’t mess around.  He took on the responsibility of your salvation:  He sent His Son, His Son died on a cross and rose again, you didn’t do anything, and you only had to accept the gift:  take it, embrace it.

21 But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.
2 Cor 1:21-22 (NET)

God established us in Christ, He anointed us.  And then He sealed us which holds us.  We are His.  And He will not let slip out of His grasp.  He sealed us and to show us He means it, He gave us the Holy Spirit as a down payment toward our eternal salvation.

Grace.  Free gift.  Sealed.

Ok.  Let’s tackle this head on now.  Let’s take on a real world problem.  Let us suppose that someone gets saved (really and truly saved for the “maybe he wasn’t saved in the first place” crowd).  And then let’s say that a couple years down the road this person slips up “big time” and takes the Lord’s name in vain or some other such sin.

Still saved?  Lost?

Consider that salvation was God’s gift, not your performance.  You didn’t do anything to get saved and you certainly can not do anything to lose that salvation.  It is a free gift from God.  And now this person we speak of above has broken the third commandment.  Surely this must redirect him to hellfire.

Actually, it doesn’t.  Let me explain.  Prior to God setting in motion the plan for His Son, Jesus, to come to earth to die in our place mankind was wrought with sin.  We were unrighteous.  The bible puts forth the following description:

6 We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind. 7 No one invokes your name, or makes an effort to take hold of you. For you have rejected us and handed us over to our own sins.
Isa 64:6-7 (NET)

We were unclean.  Further, as verse 7 tells us, we could not do anything of our own effort to approach God.  Mankind was engaged in all kinds of sin, from what we could consider the “lightest” of those sins to the most egregious.  So there were probably people on the earth who were taking the Lord’s Name in vain and God still sent His Son to die on the cross for us.

Now apply God’s omniscience to the issue.  Before man was ever created God knew that each of these men would sin and knew the sins that they would commit.  He knew each and every one and He still sent His Son to die for us.  So when Jesus died on the cross He paid for what sins?  Did He pay for only the sins in our past?  How if we weren’t even alive?  Perhaps you’d like to say that the price was not paid until we repent — in which case Jesus sacrifice was ineffective for it needed a work from us; and it implies that we must perform a work to be saved.  Was Jesus sacrifice incomplete?  Was it ineffectual until you performed a part?  God forbid.

No, Jesus sacrifice was totally and completely effectual at the time of the cross and resurrection.  His sacrifice paid for ALL sins at that time.  Don’t take this to the theology of universalism, though.  It was all paid for and done, but it is not effectual in your life until you accept this gift into you heart.  Think of it as a gift that was purchased for you and placed on a table.  The gift is yours.  But it is not effectually in your possession until you accept the gift and go to the table and take it.

So in this way Jesus’ work on the cross and through to the resurrection was complete and done.  He paid the price.  You were in your sin and God called, putting faith enough to respond into your heart.  You now have the facility to make a free choice decision about your salvation:  choose.

Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live!
Deut 30:19 (NET)

So it is set before you and you have the faith that is necessary to overcome sin.  You make a choice for the Lord, a heartfelt and meaningfully desirous choice.  You want it.  God regenerates you.  He changes you.  You now have a new man to walk in — the old man is still there; but you are changed with possibility.  You are now being sanctified.  This word means to be set apart as holy.

Let’s look at this passage to cover the whole process:

3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”
Titus 3:3-7 (NET)

The “new birth” mentioned in verse 5 is regeneration.  Sanctification comes as a part of, yet after, this.  Paul covered it one chapter back in Titus:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. 12 It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
Titus 2:11-12 (NET)

The salvation that is brought to you and me changes us, regenerates us, and causes sanctification for us or the setting aside of us for a holy purpose, thus training us to walk in righteousness and reject godlessness.  But this decision to reject what is of the curse, and the decision to choose to live self-controlled and godly, which comes by our sanctification, is our choice.  And, frankly, sometimes we choose to walk in the curse, or we choose to put on the old man, or without the five cent language, we choose to sin.  It is what becomes wrong in our lives; it is those times when things just don’t seem to be blessed.  God does not capriciously decide that you need to be whacked one day even though you are walking upright and godly.  No, He is good and holy.  This goes into much deeper topics, but in short you have been given dominion in this earth, and once you are saved you still have free choice to choose which road you will walk.  Even though God regenerated you, changed you, you still have the ability to sin and walk into the curse — and from this you will reap the results of the curse.  Look at Deuteronomy 28 (verses 1 though 14 deal with walking in the blessing, and verses 15 onward deal with walking in the curse).



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