What is salvation?
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
As we prepare ourselves to worship the Lord this Sunday, Palm Sunday, the issue of salvation seems unrelated. But, I suggest to you that the issue of salvation is never unrelated! The people of Jerusalem cried “Hosanna” as Jesus rode into the city. The meaning of their cry was “Save us now we pray!”
Of course, salvation can be applied to any dire circumstance. In Jesus’ day the people sought to be delivered from Roman rule. Every adverse circumstance of life drives us all to seek deliverance, another word for salvation.
Eternal salvation is to be delivered from the wrath of God. The Bible refers to this salvation in three ways. Salvation is a past event, an ongoing condition and a future hope. “For by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:8, “… (the gospel) by which you are being saved…” 1Corinthians 15:2, and, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13.
All too often pastors, like me, ask the wrong questions. That is, we sometimes ask questions that others aren’t asking. I began to wonder if my title may be the wrong question. I remember my life before Christ broke in and must admit that the question of salvation never entered my mind.
Before I became a Christian, my response to the question of salvation would certainly have been, “I don’t need to be saved! I’m doing fine.” If someone would have asked me, “Brother, are you saved?” I would have probably laughed and/or been offended. The problem now is that I know the truth about myself. I was far from fine. I needed to be saved; to be continually delivered and to have the certain hope of heaven. I was blinded by sin. I was dead in sin and unable to see my need to be delivered.
By God’s grace, I know the profound nature of the question. The following statement may offend some. Yet, it must be stated because it is the truth revealed by God. Ultimate salvation is being saved by God from God. John 3:16, because God the Father chose to demonstrate His love, He gave Jesus so that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. God must cause an individual to see his need. When confronted with his sinfulness, a jailer cried out to the Apostle Paul and his companion, “what must I do to be saved?” The answer given to him is the timeless answer for all. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your whole household” Acts 16:30-31.
When the Apostles Peter and John were confronted by the religious authorities in Jerusalem for proclaiming the bodily resurrection of Jesus, they told them God’s command for salvation. They said, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven (Jesus) given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12.
Now the hard truth, salvation is by God from God. All men are born dead in sin. There are no natural children of God. The children of God are adopted. God alone must save men and women from His wrath. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus that all men are naturally children of God’s wrath. He said that God is “rich in mercy”. He extends grace to those whom He chooses. Therefore, salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. God has given the only means to be spared His wrath which is God’s expression of His holiness against sin.
Years ago I was teaching a Bible study concerning salvation and a young woman got visibly upset with the term “the wrath of God.” She said to me and to the entire class that her god was a god of love. I responded saying that truly God is love. And, God is holy. The holy God and sin cannot co-exist. Nothing imperfect can enter heaven. This isn’t my opinion. This is simply the clear teaching of the Bible. The depth of God’s love cannot be understood apart from knowing the holiness of God.
Jesus, the full revelation of God, the second person of the Trinity, will come again to judge all mankind.
So then, “Brother, are you saved?” You will either experience the wrath of the Holy God or His steadfast love forever!