What is Salvation?
In an age where many Christians seem so preoccupied with their emotional struggles, their difficult past, or their supposed
lack of self-esteem, some will even say that "salvation is not enough" for all their needs. Yet, if these people really understood
the incredible things that God has done for them, their life-and attitude would be drastically different.
Everything we need in life
is found in a relationship with
Colossians 2:9 tells us, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is
the head of all principality and power." The word "complete" in this verse literally means "to satisfy," "to finish," "to
fill up," or "to cram full." Just think-as a believer, God Himself, in His fullness, dwells in your life. Do you realize how
significant that is? If we really recognized what took place on the day that we committed our lives to Christ, the less we
would be looking outside of Him and His Word for answers to our problems, and the more we would be thanking Him for the answers
to those problems-and for the power to live out those answers as given through salvation!
What Is Salvation?
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we
have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2
1. Salvation Brings Justification (Romans 5:1 )
Justification is a legal act of God declaring the guilty "guiltless" before God. It is the complete acquittal of the guilty
sinner. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that this justification comes only after our faith is put in God (see Romans 3:24).
For that reason, it is a foundational teaching in the Christian faith. The late English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said,
"It is admitted by all evangelical Christians that the standing or falling in the Church is that of justification by faith."
Satan certainly wants to challenge this fundamental teaching, for he knows full well that if a believer gets hold of it,
it can be life-transforming: "Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified;
and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against
us? " (Romans 8:30-31).
Since the devil doesn't want us to understand this concept, it should make us want to understand it all the more. To do
so, we must look at the two-fold meaning behind "justification."
a Justification represents the forgiveness of our sins.
The day you put your faith in Christ, your sins were instantaneously forgiven! God released you from the guilt and penalty
of the sins you committed.
* "Brothers! Listen! In this man Jesus, there is forgiveness for your sins! Everyone who trusts in him is freed from
all guilt and declared righteous [justified] -something the Jewish law could never do." (Acts 1 3:38-39/Living Bible)
* " will never again remember [your] sins and lawless deeds." (Hebrews 10:17/LB)
* "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? you do
not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl an our iniquities into the depths of the sea. " (Micah 7:18-1 9/NIV)
* "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31 :34 b).
God not only forgives our sins; He forgets them. God has essentially taken our sins, thrown them into the sea of forgetfulness
and posted a sign saying, "No fishing allowed." And God does not want us to remember what He is willing to forget.
If that was all salvation was, it would be more than we could ever hope. But that is only one part of justification. For
justification does not only speak of what God has taken away (our sins); it also speaks of what God has put in its place.
b. Justification represents the righteousness God has "placed in our account"
The word "justified" also means "to put to one's account." When God justifies a person, He does so by placing all of the
righteousness of Christ to that individual's credit. Philippians 3:9 explains: ". . . and be found in Him, not having my own
righteousness, which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith."
Imagine that you were in debt for ten million dollars. Creditors kept appearing at the door. You had no hope of ever repaying
this enormous debt yourself. Then someone came along and paid the debt for you. You were happy to simply no longer be in debt--but
then the person told you to check the balance in your account. When you did, you found a balance of twenty-million dollars!
While the idea of such a thing happening to you may seem incredible, what God has done for you and I through salvation is
even more incredible but it is no fantasy. The moment we gave our lives to Christ, our meager balance of righteousness was
replaced with all of Christ's righteousness.
A Lesson from the Prodigal . . .
This concept of removing sin and replacing it with righteousness is found in the story of the prodigal son (see Luke 1
5:1 1 -32). The prodigal returned to his father's house an acknowledged sinner, simply hoping to be allowed to stay on his
father's estate as a hired hand. Yet, the father did much more than simply welcome his son home. He commanded his servants,
"Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf
here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry" (Luke 1 5:22-23).
This father's actions toward the prodigal raised the ire of the older brother. He was jealous because, in his mind, he
felt that he deserved what his prodigal brother had been given: "Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never
disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of
yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him" (Luke 1 5:29-30/NIV).
This son thought that these things should be given to him for what he had done. But what God gives us has absolutely nothing
to do with that.
2. Salvation Brings Peace, Access, & Hope (Romans 5: 1-2)
* "Peace with God" takes care of our past.
God will no longer hold our sins against us. Knowing that we are forgiven and have the righteousness of Christ placed
in our account gives us an overflowing peace!
* "Access to God" takes care of our present.
We can come to Him any time for the help that we need.
* "Hope of the glory of God" takes care of our future.
One day we will share in His glory.
Knowing that you are justified, at peace with God, can freely enter into His presence, and have the hope of heaven is
more than one could ever hope for. But there's more . . .
3. Salvation Brings Adoption into God's Family
What might be called the final, "crowning" event of our salvation is our adoption into God's family. The famous evangelist
Dwight L. Moody put the process of salvation into six words:
1) Repentance-a change of mind.
Anew life from God.
2) Conversion-a change of life.
Anew mind about God.
3) Regeneration-a change of nature.
Anew heart from God. -
4) Justification-a change of state.
A new standing before God.
5) Adoption-a change of family (or position).
Anew relationship toward God.
Adoption means "the placing of a son." Scripture explains this unique part of salvation:
* " . . . having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of
His will." -Ephesians 1:5
* "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem
those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."-Galatians 4:4-5
In essence, you have been given the full rights of sonship in the family of God as though you were born that way. I can
stand in awe of a God who has the power and desire to forgive me and then put His righteousness to my account. But by adoption,
God is saying, "Don't merely stand in awe of Me Come dose to Me!"
* "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!"'-Galatians
* "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we
cry out, 'Abba, Father."'-Romans 8: 15
The word "Abba" is a Hebrew child's affectionate cry to his father. It would be equivalent to the American word "Daddy."
God wants you to know that He cares about you, and that you have total and free access to His presence at any time.
Regardless of what your Father on earth is (or was) like, you can be assured that your Father in Heaven loves you intensely!
1) He understands you!
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him . . ." 103:13/NIV).
2) He takes care of you!
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after
all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them" (Matthew 6:31-32/NIV).
3) He loves to bless you!
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11/NIV).
Salvation-and all its benefits-is enough for
us in this life. We need nothing more.