Choosing Christ isn't always easy, but once we've chosen to accept Him, believe in Him, and live for Him we begin the journey into understanding this gift of salvation we've just received and its benefits. God provides us with wisdom to help us understand what salvation is, why we need it, why we should want it, and how to apply it.
What is salvation?
In the Old Testament there is a Hebrew verb “yasha” translated salvation which means help, deliver or save, and the noun version means preservation from danger or suffering. In the New Testament we find the Greek “soteria” which means deliverance, and is related to the personal, spiritual deliverance through repentance and faith in Christ.
Salvation: Personal, spiritual deliverance from sin and death; rescued from the danger of eternal separation from God
'And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ' Acts 4:12 ESV
'For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” ' Romans 10:13 ESV
How does salvation occur?
Salvation occurs when we repent and place our full trust and saving faith in Jesus and begin to experience the blessings of salvation. When we do this, we are justified and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
Repentance: A radical change from living in sin to living in Christ
'“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ' Matthew 3:2 ESV
'I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” ' Luke 5:32 ESV
'God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. ' Acts 5:31 ESV
Justification: To be made right in the sight of God through saving faith in Christ
'for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, ' Romans 3:23-24 ESV
'because, 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. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” ' Romans 10:9-11 ESV
Regeneration: Holy Spirit indwelling repentant sinners and breathing eternal life into their soul, making them new in Christ
' 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 is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— ' Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV
When we put our full faith in Christ, believe in His life, death and resurrection, and place our full trust at His feet we have saving faith; the faith that leads to salvation. Saving faith happens when we not only trust Him, but we believe in who He is and His works, and live in a way that displays our faith, and honors Him and this gift of salvation, fully intent on setting Him as priority in our lives and as the superior example for ourselves. Obedience to Him should be a result of our love and belief that He is the Way, Truth and Life.
Putting our saving faith in Christ brings us into relationship with Him, which also gives us a personal relationship and connection with our Heavenly Father who blesses us with the gift of His Spirit to guide us and change us to be more like Christ.
Why do we need salvation?
Once we repent and are justified and regenerated, we then go through the life-long process of being made holy, being gradually made whole and complete in Christ. We are called to “pick up our cross and follow after Christ” (Luke 14:26-28), meaning we must follow Christ in all things, knowing that there will be a personal cost paid sometimes but no matter how hard it gets we must continue on in faith, following Him no matter what, no matter how hard it gets, no matter who we lose in order to gain a relationship with Him who is greater than and Ruler of all things.
Sanctification: The process of spiritual growth and development by which we are purified of sins and transformed to become more like Christ, holy and complete
'So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. ' Romans 6:11 ESV
'And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ' Philippians 1:6 ESV
'“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? ' Luke 14:26-28 ESV
'how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, ' Hebrews 2:3 ESV
We need salvation because it is the only way to be saved from our fate of spiritual death from our sins and being eternally separated from God. If God is good and God is love then being eternally separated from Him is to be eternally separated from love and goodness. We were created to be in relationship with Him and because sin entered the world God prepared a way to bring us back to Him. A relationship with God is the only way to be made complete, fill the voids humans experience on their own, find our purpose and the meaning for our lives, and rest in His love and goodness. In order to live a truly satisfying life we must come into this relationship through saving faith, love and devotion to living for Him.
'But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ' John 1:12-13 ESV
'for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. ' Galatians 3:26 ESV
Why would I want salvation?
Salvation is the only way to be made right with God, and is only possible through the way He provided in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was God’s chosen way of saving us, but He also gives us the choice to accept His way to Him. God did not want to force us into this relationship, instead He wants us to choose Him out of love and gratitude to Him for all that He has done and continues to do for us.
When we've made this commitment to live as Christ, giving our lives fully to God, something incredible happens. We are restored to God and freed from slavery to sin, no longer under the power of sin which leads to spiritual death. Sin's power over us and our lives is dead and we are given God's own armor to fight against Satan and his lies. We cannot fight sin on our own, but only through the saving power of Christ.
God breathes His life into us, washing us clean from our sin in the blood of Jesus the holy and perfect sacrifice, and fills us with His Spirit, blessing us with His power, love, armor, protection, provision and promises. In accepting and believing in His Son we open the door to all that God wants to bless us with and we gain a new identity as His child. These blessings are part of the sanctification process and prepare us for the day of glorification, when we will get to be face-to-face with our Lord and Savior, having been made holy and complete in Him.
Glorification: The ultimate salvation that occurs when we are face-to-face with our Savior in His coming Kingdom.
'For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. ' Romans 8:29-30 ESV
'who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, ' Philippians 3:20-21 ESV
'For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, ' Ephesians 2:8 ESV
How do I live saved?
Once we begin the sanctification process we are transformed from our former self and made to be more like Christ. We should then seek God and His Word for instructions, wisdom, and relational growth. Through prayer and scripture we get to learn more about who He is, who He calls us to be, and how we’re called to live. We are designed not only for relationship with Him but also with others in the family and body of Christ. We should spend time with God and in His word, and we should also spend time in fellowship with His people. By these means we get to come closer to Him, learn how to live better, learn to recognize God speaking and working in our lives, and also learn how to share His truth better, further and deeper so as to grow the body of Christ for the glory of God.
God will give us each a personal mission as well as instruct us in how Christ followers are supposed to live. We are not intended to do this alone and must always rely on God’s truth and fellowship to help us cling to our faith and not let the world pull us away, causing us to drift from Christ and neglect this gift of salvation. Anchor yourself in Christ through a strong prayer life, constant heartfelt time in His word, and learning and growing with His people. We should spend time with Him every single day fully intent on learning to be more like Him all the time, and apply what we learn as we learn it.
'For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ' Romans 1:16 ESV
'So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ' Romans 10:17 ESV
'Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. ' Matthew 3:8 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22 ESV
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2 ESV
Salvation is our personal, spiritual deliverance from sin through repentance and saving faith in Jesus. We are justified through our salvation, which is to be made right with God due to our faith, and regenerated by receiving the Holy Spirit who gives life to our soul. God then sanctifies us, working in us to become more like Christ every day until the day of glorification when we are completed, standing face to face with Jesus in His coming Kingdom.
Salvation is needed because it is and the only way to be saved from our fate of eternal separation from God and enter into this personal relationship with Him, receiving the sanctification and glorification that is promised. God wants us to choose His salvation because we love Him and are grateful for what He has done for our sakes. We are called to live faithfully to Him, fully intent on honoring and glorifying Him and becoming more like Him all the time. Our belief in Him is to be displayed in the way we live, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in all things, sharing the truth of the gospel with others, and growing the body of Christ.
' “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ' John 3:16-18 ESV