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Salvation



Salvation is the work of Jesus Christ.  He died to save us from sin, to give us eternal life, and make us like Him, Full of Grace and Truth.

Christians see salvation as the mission of Jesus to save us from sin, judgment, and Hell and bring us to eternal life. It is a constant and central theme in the Bible. The word appears 119 times in the Old Testament, and 45 in the New.


I was saved in Sunday school during the 1950's. My teachers clearly explained salvation to me and I believed, asked Jesus to wash my sins away, and come into my heart. He did and I trust Him to welcome me to heaven when He calls. (63% of Evangelical Christians accepted Jesus between 4 - 14.)


That salvation has endured and blessed for over sixty years. I have learned more about salvation in those years, so I'm writing this blog today. You can learn about it in the Bible, where salvation is a central theme from Genesis to Revelation.




Salvation in the Old Testament


God created all things good and placed the man and woman He created in a beautiful garden, where He enjoyed them and they Him in perfect harmony. What danger could there be in this paradise? It came from without, from God's Implacable Foe. The devil's opening attack could not be on God, so he chose those He loved, and tricked them into disobeying His word.


God punished him for this, and because He cannot live with sin, He exiled the sinners from paradise. Before He sent them out He made them clothes out of animal skins and promised the woman would have a Deliverer born to her offspring who would crush the devil's head -- this was the first prophecy of the Messiah. God was not obliged to do any of this. He does not have to save anyone, nor can anyone earn salvation. The penalty for sin is death, but put it off with a sacrifice. All of this came from God's grace.


The Reality of the Danger


Apart from the restraining power of God's holiness, sin began to corrupt His creation. The first man born murdered his brother, refused to repent, bred violence, and turned the once perfect world into a scene of wickedness. God pronounced judgment for sin to righteous Noah, offered His grace to all, and provided an ark for salvation. Only eight people believed judgment would come and went into the ark for salvation. When it came, the world was destroyed, and everyone that was in it.


Jesus warned the end of the world would be like this. But that was a long way off. He was not born for another 2500 years. Until then God offered His grace to all who would accept it but few did. The eight souls saved from the Flood began to multiply and fill the earth. God put His rainbow in the sky for all to see and promised He would not destroy the world by water again.


The earth was soon fully occupied by Noah's descendants who forsook the LORD and worshipped false gods, made with hands. In His grace and love, God called a man out of idolatry and promised to make him a great nation. That man believed God, and God counted that faith as righteousness and faith became the vehicle of salvation. We know him as Abraham, the father of faith, and his descendants became God's Chosen People, the Children of Israel.


The LORD saved them from slavery in Egypt and gave them the Law through Moses to teach them His ways. He designed a holy process to worship Him, gave them a land to inhabit, and a King to govern. God gave them His inspired word, the Holy Bible, the final standard of His will and salvation. The Bible records hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah, the Deliverer promised to Eve, fulfilled and confirmed in Jesus Christ.


Salvation in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the Biblical world was different. Greek replaced Hebrew, the Jews the children of Israel, and the Romans were in charge. Into this world stepped John the Baptist proclaiming the kingdom of heaven and urging repentance. He baptized people and a Man John called the Lamb of God. As he did, the heavens opened, the Spirit of God came down as a dove and a voice said, "This is My Belovéd Son."


This situation parallels the one where the LORD spoke aloud His Law to Moses to validate the Old Covenant. Now Jesus recognized this baptism as the New Covenant and began to preach repentance. John's Gospel explains, "Moses gave the Law, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)


Jesus spent three years preaching, healing the sick, and saving sinners. All this was exclusively to the Jews for whom He gave His life on the cross at Calvary. He recruited and trained twelve Jewish disciples to carry on His work, primarily the work of salvation. Four created Gospels, the Greek word for "good news", that spread the Gospel throughout the world.


Jesus gave His people the Holy Spirit who empowered these unlearned disciples to heal the sick, speak new tongues, and preach the Gospel. They/He created the Church, the most powerful vehicle for salvation for whoever will accept God's grace and love.

This salvation was personal, powerful, and immediate. "Today you will be with me in paradise," He told the dying thief on the cross. This was salvation to eternal life but also from damnation. It was free and easy; "Believe." Born of faith but all of grace, as it was in Eden

What of the Old Testament now? The Jews wanted to continue the law and worship given by Moses, and all the first Christians were Jews, most from Jerusalem. They made up the Church and insisted converts become Jews before they could become Christians. Gentile converts were few at first but grew as time passed, the apostles were deployed, and the Gospels spread.




St. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, making four missionaries to them writing fourteen letters to their churches. Through him, the Gentiles broke free from Judaism and brought salvation to those Roman locales when pagan religion was brought down and replaced with the Gospel of Jesus. He expanded on the simple steps that Jesus gave in the Gospel of John with those in his epistles, notably and fully in Romans.


He also explained that salvation is more than escape from Hell. The work that the Holy Spirit begins with conviction of sin and repentance continues to change us into new creatures. To be like Jesus and to exhibit His Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gal 5:23  humility, and self-control. -Galatians 5:23-24


The Apostle John defines salvation as eternal life, that changes us and gives us the confidence to ask whatever we will according to His will. (1 John 5:14) St Peter tells us our salvation is ongoing, and continual and that God keeps us and it, preparing both eternal fullness. Peter 1:5


Jesus Himself affirmed this to John in Revelation, where He reveals His Glory and the glory prepared for us and sets us on thrones to rule with Him. The Bible finishes with this affirmation of the great salvation:


And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. - Revelation 12:10


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