We’re starting from the basics because even championship teams begin their seasons with the fundamentals. If we plan to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:7), then our championship endeavor has to begin with the fundamentals. And, that’s why we start with the question: “What is Salvation?”
But first, an introduction to “Now What?” a series here on Uncultured Dad that focuses on the basic understanding of the Christian faith. It’s meant for new Christians just starting their journey, as a resource for discipleship, though we’d never hope to be the only source for your growth. It also is for those who have been Christians for a while, but maybe haven’t learned as much as they thought they would about these particular subjects. We’re answering the questions, always through the truth of Scripture, and hope this finds you well on your journey.
The questions we’re answering:
- What is Salvation?
- What is Discipleship?
- What is Sanctification?
- What is Bible Study?
- What is the Church?
- What is holiness?
What is Salvation?
Definition of Salvation
Salvation is the base layer of any belief one can have in Christ. We define Salvation theologically as soteriology, a scriptural basis for what exactly salvation is and isn’t. However, the basic understanding of salvation is simply this: God is holy and created man in his image; man rebelled against God (Gen. 3) severing the relationship between them and their Creator; God’s mercy and grace provided a payment for their rebellion, in the form of his son Jesus Christ, which then offers man the opportunity to partake in that grace.
Importance of Salvation
At the risk of sounding too elementary, salvation is the issue for every man, woman, boy, and girl. At the end of your life, it will not matter the amount of money in your bank account, how many houses you own, or the size of the land in your possession. No, when your time on earth has expired, you will stand before your Divine Judge and the only thing that will matter is one simple thing: have you experienced his grace? This grace, it’s salvation.
The biblical basis of Salvation
The biblical basis for salvation is immense, starting all the way back in Genesis 3 and weaving its way until Christ’s triumphal return in the last three chapters of Revelation. It starts with our need, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and because of that sin, “the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23).
Just as God promised Adam that in the day they ate of the tree they would surely die (Gen. 2:17), so too is the penalty for actions that fall short of the glory of God. Because of our sin, we are separated from God, just as Adam and Eve after their rebellion (Gen. 3:22-24). Jesus told Nicodemus, “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3) and this is the goal of salvation. If sin brings death, salvation brings life; an abundant life according to the Savior himself (John 10:10). This abundant life is a life of joy, perseverance, and ultimate triumph in everlasting life because of the work of Jesus Christ.
How does one obtain Salvation?
Acknowledging one’s need for Salvation
Understanding salvation has to begin with an understanding of our need for a Savior. If we believe there is nothing wrong with us, that we aren’t sinners, we’ll never recognize our actual need for salvation.
To put it simply, you are a sinner. We are all sinners. In fact, this is what the Apostle Paul had to say: ‘’And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that his now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carry out the desire of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3, emphasis added). See the simplicity there: “among whom we all once lived..” Paul tells us that by our nature we are “children of wrath.”
Confessing and Repenting of Sins
There is a bit of human responsibility when it comes to salvation. However, it must be made very clear that we cannot save ourselves. The finished product of salvation was accomplished at the cross, and should we add to that through baptism, good works, or religious tradition we are no longer talking about salvation. Our responsibility comes through confession and belief: “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Rom. 10:9-10).
Believing in Jesus Christ
Notice Paul’s words above, confession begins and ends with claiming Christ as Lord, meaning we submit to his rule as King. This belief is not simply just a statement said once, but a complete and utter lifestyle change, brought about by our commitment to Christ. Jesus even said as much when he said, “If anyone would come after me [belief], let him deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Salvation means believing in Christ; believing in Christ means surrendering to Him; surrendering to Him means you are a disciple of His, who denies yourself and takes up their cross to follow Him.
What are the benefits of Salvation?
Forgiveness of Sins
First and foremost, salvation literally is the forgiveness of sins. Isaiah, long before Christ promised, “…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6).
When Christ was murdered on the cross, he decried, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning the payment had been made to satisfy the wrath of God; the debt we owed due to our sin was paid in full. “…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom. 5:8-11).
Relationship with God
This reconciliation is the mending of the relationship that was broken by Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. The sin they committed has affected us all (Rom. 5:12-21), and severed the relationship between us and our Creator, Yet, through the obedience of Jesus and the justification he brought through His death, the relationship between God and man can be restored. It is the central message of the Bible, we are saved from our sins and God receives the glory.
One of the most famous verses ever spells out the greatest of benefits to salvation: eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This eternal life is spent with God in Heaven at the conclusion of our time here on earth. Peter calls this life an “…inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…” (I Peter 1:4). This life eternal will be spent around the throne of God, worshipping him and praising him as the one who is worthy of that praise and glory—the way that life was originally intended in Genesis 1 & 2.
How does Salvation change our lives?
New Identity in Christ
When we are saved, our identity changes. We are no longer considered a sinner, lost and damned for hell. No, because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are counted as righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). In fact, the change is so great that we are literally considered a new creation in Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). It is through this change of identity that we no longer have to be identified as rebels, but as a royal priesthood; no longer a sinner, but a saint; no longer an enemy of God, but an adopted son or daughter of His.
Empowered to live a life that pleases God
What then should be our response? It’s quite simple actually: worship. The Westminster Catechism begins its creed by asking, “What is the chief end of man?” Then it proceeds to answer: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” It is our imperative as joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:12-17) to worship God by “tast[ing] and see[ing] that the LORD is Good” (Psa. 34:8), which leads to a life that pleases God.
Salvation is the fundamental issue of our lives. It is the one gamble that we cannot afford to take. At the end of our lives, we’re all going to stand before the Divine Judge and the only weight put on the scale will be our uncovered sin or the righteousness that comes through God’s Son. This gift of salvation is a free gift offered by the sacrifice of Christ, no one is excluded from the grace offered, but belief is required. Believe today and allow God’s grace to wash over you, for His glory and your good.