Salvation: What It Is and Why We Need It

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When it comes to thinking about Salvation, there seem to be two vastly different approaches to the subject.  Although both of these are very broad generalizations…

  • To the “Unsaved,” Salvation is often regarded as either–
    • an antiquated theological doctrine, designed to rob life of its happiness and any sense of personal fulfillment; or,
    • a religious crutch for those who lack the intelligence, sophistication, attractiveness, or success necessary to do life well on their own; while…
  • To the “Saved,” it is seen merely as the means by which—
    • their sins are forgiven and their lives are made right with God; and,
    • their eternal destination is changed from Hell to Heaven.

Of course, the first approach is completely inaccurate and the second one is woefully incomplete.  So, in an effort to correct the former and complete the latter, let’s begin to stretch our Spiritual understanding as we learn What Salvation Is, and Why We Need It.

Salvation

We All Need to be Rescued by Jesus


What Salvation Is
 

For a definition of Salvation, I prefer the one found in my little Webster’s pocket dictionary which defines Salvation simply as “a saving or a being saved” or as “a person or thing that saves.”  I like this definition because “a saving” implies an act“a being saved” implies a process; and “a person or thing that saves” implies that salvation is not something that we can do for ourselves—it must come from a source outside of us.  Essentially, this is what Biblical Salvation is all about; for, in reality it is…

  • The One-Time Act of faith which makes a person a child of God;
  • The Life-Long Process of spiritual growth which follows; one which transforms the character and behavior of that person into that of a child of God; and,
  • Jesusthe One Outside of Ourselves who does all of the saving.


The One-Time Act of Faith

As simple as this may seem on the surface, please don’t let its simplicity blind you to the real significance of this One-Time Act of Salvation; for it is the only legitimate, divinely-authorized way in which a Holy God takes a Sinner, or a person who was…

…dead in the trespasses and sins in which [he] once walked, following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and [was] by nature [a child] of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:1-3)…

…and not only adopts him or her into His family as His own child, but also makes that child a Joint-Heir with His only begotten Son, Jesus!  And, it is through this One-Time Act that a person goes from being alienated from God to being accepted by Him; goes from religious slavery to spiritual freedom, from unrighteousness to holiness, and from certain death to life everlasting!  So, just how does all of this happen?  Well, through the three stages of Salvation known as Redemption, Sanctification, and Glorification.


Redemption and Why We Need It 

Since the definition of Redemption is…to pay off, as a debt; to buy back or recover; to ransom or to obtain the release of a captive by paying the demanded price; to restore to favor… 

Redemption for our purposes is the act by which our sin debt is paid; making us righteous in the sight of God, and releasing us from the penalty and power of sin. 

This act is a necessity for us because while God is holy, due to the sin nature we all inherited from Adam and Eve, we are not.  Therefore, before any of us can be reconciled to God and any adoption can take place, something has to be done about the problem of sin in our lives.

The Heart is Desperately Wicked

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

While most of us are all too quick to deny that any sin problem exists, it is a spiritual reality that from the moment of our births until the moment of our deaths, we are constantly building up a “rap sheet” of offenses against God; that is—through our thoughts, words, or deeds, we are repeatedly violating the laws of God’s righteousness, with these violations all too judiciously being transcribed into our “permanent records.”  This means that we are all lawbreakers from birth, on the run from God, and unaware of the day looming before us when we will be apprehended and called to appear in His court for judgment.

Guilty

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” –Romans 3:23

Sadly, because we don’t realize or accept the fact that we are sinners, or because we think we will be able to appeal to God on the basis of our morality or relatively good works, we mistakenly think that we can safely put this day of reckoning off until after our deaths. But, this is a disastrous decision which will leave us standing before the Righteous Judge of the Universe, alone, guilty, and without any legal representation.  And, once the charges against us have been read—and our appeals of innocence have been proven to be without merit—this Just Judge will have no other choice but to honor the law and sentence us to the death that the law demands—a death which will mean our eternal separation from God and all things holy.

But, there is a way that such a terrible outcome can be avoided. You see, this Righteous Judge is also the God of love, grace, and mercy—the One who was…

… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9)…

…and because of that, He made a way to provide us with an Advocate, sort of a court appointed attorney, who will plead the cases of all those who will come before Him and acknowledge the crimes for which they are guilty—if they will only do so before they die!

Advocate

Jesus is Our Advocate

This Advocate is Jesus, the Son of God, and He can represent a sinner before God because He is the One who came to earth, lived a sinless life which met the righteous demands of God’s law, and then died an agonizing death on the Cross to pay off the sin debt owed by every human being who has ever lived.  Through the substitution of His death for theirs, deaths which the law calls for, He is able to clear the charges against them and offer them a pardon, without so much as a fine to pay!  Once pardoned, and with their sin records expunged by the blood of Christ, they can stand righteous before God, and are in a position to be legally adopted as His spiritual children!


As for Sanctification

Since the definition for Sanctification is …to set apart as holy; to consecrate, or to devote to sacred use…

…Sanctification, for us, is the process whereby a new child of God is set apart for the sacred or holy service of God.

In reality, this is the life-long schooling in righteousness that every child of God must undergo if he or she is to realize the eternal purpose for which they were created.  It begins at the moment of adoption when the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within the heart of each new believer, and He begins teaching him what it means to be a child of God.  He does this by…

  • Training him in the laws of God, and then empowering him to obey those laws;
  • Reproducing the character of Christ in him through the development of the “fruit of the Spirit”–or the character qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control;
  • Empowering him to carry out the work of Christ through the various “giftings” of service imparted by the very same Spirit;
  • Teaching him how to worship God, and how to overcome His enemies through prevailing prayer and persistent praise; and,
  • Helping him learn to die to the things of the flesh so that he can learn to live by the power of the Spirit.

This training—which we will discuss in greater detail in a later session—is designed to totally transform every child of God, until he thinks, speaks, and acts like Jesus; something which, when completed, will prepare him ultimately for his graduation into the glorious and eternal presence of God, his Father.

Glorification

Glorification: The Final Stage of our Salvation


About Glorification…

Since the definition for Glorification is …to give glory to, to honor; to extol; to praise highly

Glorification is what we will experience when, upon our physical deaths, our earthly bodies are replaced by heavenly or glorified ones, and we are ushered into the presence of God where we will receive the inheritance He has promised to His children.

Then, as the legitimate, blood-bought children of God, we will be recognized and honored in heaven, and share in the same glory that is accorded to Christ.  And, having been prepared and equipped through our earthly training process, we will be ready to move into positions of authority as co-regents, or rulers, with Christ, when He sets up His kingdom, first on earth and later in eternity.

As you can see, Salvation is, in no way, just an antiquated theological doctrine or religious crutch for the needy; neither is it merely about having one’s sins forgiven so he or she can bypass Hell and go to Heaven.  It is the one and only way that we can realize our God-ordained destinies of becoming the Children of God—destinies made possible solely through the sacrificial death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ—and ones which will become realities once we have been Born Again.  

 

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A message worth considering from Francesca Battistelli…

 

 

The Fruit of the Fall

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Exiled from the Garden

When we last saw Adam and Eve—at the end of Vignette #3 of God’s One Big Story—they were being evicted from their Garden home for violating God’s one and only condition in their lease agreement, which was to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This tree was one of two special ones located in the middle of the Garden and, by partaking of its fruit, they became guilty of disobeying God, and became sinners with a firsthand knowledge of Evil.  This, of course, meant that they could no longer stay in the Garden, where they would have continued access to the other tree at the Garden’s center, the Tree of Life; for, if they had eaten of the Tree of Life then, they would have lived forever in their fallen states, and would have never known the joy of becoming a redeemed Child of God.

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Cain and Abel in Happier Days

The curtains here at Stage #1 are preparing to open again on what will be Vignette #4 of our Story and, as they do, we hear the voice of our off-stage Narrator bringing us up to date on what has happened since that sad and fateful moment when Adam and Eve were thrust out of their first home—the place where they had only known the Good that life had to offer.  He lets us know that a lot has changed, and that a considerable amount of time has gone by, when he tells us that…

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.’  And again, she bore his brother Abel.  Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.  (Gen. 4:1-2)

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Cain and Abel at Work

It is at this point that the Stage comes fully into view and, while Adam and Eve are nowhere to be found, we see before us two young men in the foreground:  the one on our left is Cain, who is tending to his crops; and, the one on our right is Abel, who is tending to his flocks.  Behind them is a field, and beyond that, at the back of the Stage, there is the Angel with the flaming Sword who is still guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden.  Close to this entrance, there is also a pile of stones stacked neatly in the form of an altar—which, from the looks of it, has been used a number of times in the past.

As we continue looking at the Stage, our characters continue going about their work, even as the lights are dimmed and then relit six times—simulating the passage of six days and nights.  At the end of what would be the sixth day, however, their day-in, day-out routine is interrupted when Cain gathers up a portion of his crops, Abel selects what appears to be the very best—the firstborn—lamb of his flock, and they both head toward the altar at the back of the Stage—the place where they plan to meet with and to worship God, as they offer up to Him their sacrifices.

Cain and Abel9a

Cain and Abel at Worship

When they arrive there, the first thing they do is check to make sure the stones of the altar are clean and that none of them are loose; and then, after going out and gathering up sticks,  they proceed to light the fire for the altar.  Once they have it burning, Cain wastes no time in putting his offering on the altar—an offering which is very quickly consumed by the flames, and one which leaves behind no particularly fragrant odor to enjoy.  Abel’s offering, on the other hand, takes a good deal longer to prepare.  First, he inspects the lamb to make sure that it is unblemished in every way.  Next, he kills the lamb and cuts its body into pieces, draining the blood from it as he does.  Finally, he places the pieces on the altar—being sure to include the choicest pieces of fat—and then pours the blood out on the ground at the base of the altar.  He, now completely covered with the lamb’s blood, stands back, watching as the flames consume his offering, and as its sweet-smelling aroma wafts its way to heaven.

Almost immediately, the Lord lets the brothers know that the sacrifice that Abel made has been found to be acceptable, while the offering made to Him by Cain has been rejected.  When this happens, Cain becomes so obviously angry that it prompts God to question him in the following manner…

God:  Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Gen. 4:6-7)

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Cain and Abel at War

Sadly, it appears that Cain has taken no heed of God’s warning for, as he and Abel are returning from the altar, he begins arguing with his brother.  Although we cannot hear what is being said, we can see that the argument is escalating very quickly—so much so that, by the time they reach the field, Cain has picked up a rock and has begun hitting Abel in the head with it.   After a couple of well-placed blows, Abel’s lifeless body collapses on the ground.   Upon seeing his brother lying there motionless, Cain, seemingly in a state of panic, rushes back to the front of the Stage.  If he had hoped that, in distancing himself from the scene of the crime, he would be able to claim his innocence, he was very quickly and sadly mistaken; for, no sooner than he had arrived, he found that God was there to meet him for the following confrontation:

God:  Where is Abel your brother?

Cain:  I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?

God:  What have you done?  The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.  And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength.  You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.

Cain:  My punishment is greater than I can bear.  Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from you face I shall be hidden.  I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.

God:  Not so!  If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.

At that, we see God placing a mark of some kind on Cain’s forehead—a mark designed to keep any avenger of his brother’s blood (possibly one of their other brothers) at bay.  Once that is done, we watch as Cain calls his wife, gathers up his belongings, and heads off into the distance—to a land east of Eden called Nod.  As he leaves, and as the lights dim on him and his wife, our Narrator offers us some insights into what Cain’s future holds, as he tells us that…

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.  [And] When he [Cain] built a city he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. (Gen. 4:17)

Although we are not told so, we are left to imagine that, in his building of a city, Cain was trying to provide himself with a fortification where he would be safe from anyone seeking vengeance upon him.  We are also not told how he would be making a living, given that his former occupation was no longer a viable option for him.  But, we can wager a guess that, as a result of lives lived apart from God, the end that he and his descendants would eventually come to would not be a good one.  We are given an indication of this as several men and a few women line up on the Stage before us—and, as our Narrator announces that…

To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.  And Lamech took two wives.  The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.  Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.  His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.  Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.  The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Spotlight2aAs our Narrator announces the name of each of Cain’s descendants, a spotlight shines on each one briefly, before moving on to the man in the next generation.  However, when the light shines on the last man, Lamech, we are surprised by his sudden and arrogant outburst to his wives…

Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:  I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.  If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-seven fold.  (Gen. 4:23-24)

If Vignette #4 were to end here, it would be a very sad ending indeed.  But, we are given renewed hope when our Narrator once again interjects…

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’  To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh.  [And] At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord. (Gen. 4:25-26)

Praise God, all is not lost!

 

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Join the Gaithers in “There is Power in the Blood”…