What Salvation Means to Me
Writing a post about the meaning of salvation feels like a mammoth task. It is a fundamental concept in the Christian faith, so there are legions of authors, theologians, preachers, and people like me who’ve said something about salvation.
After two false starts, I concluded that no lofty explanation, emotional expression, or thesis worthy piece will do. The only thing that will is what it means to me. Which, as I sit here typing this, I realise is what it’s all about.
So, here are the four things that salvation means to me.
What salvation doesn’t mean
I know, it’s a weird place to start, but it sets up the other three meanings beautifully. To me, salvation isn’t about the moment of death and the supposed “enter password here” that follows.
For many years, and this is especially true for me growing up, salvation meant that you were right with God and that you’ll go to heaven. This was the most important reason for believing in Jesus, and this is usually the place where alter calls start. (Do you know where you’ll end up when you die?)
There are two problems with this way of thinking about salvation that used to cut me down at the knees
The first is – Do I even have the right password? Like, seriously, who says my denomination has the right combination of doctrines? Or worse, what if Christianity isn’t the password at all? And if it is, what happens if I am sinning while I die? Will there be a moment where I can say, “Oops, sorry.”?
The second is that it makes the here and now seem trivial, and that everything you do needs to be good enough to enter the pearly gates. If you take a moment to think about it, Ancient Egyptians had the same type of belief system.
The here and now didn’t matter much, so you had a free pass to exploit, collect and kill as much as you needed to make sure you have a happy eternity.
Which brings me to the foundation of what salvation means to me.
We have been saved from Egypt
It is the moment your life started moving out of Egypt, away from slavery (in whatever way shape or size that may have been). Or it was just a moment of quiet crisis where your heart turned to Him, but years later you know that you know you left Egypt).
This is also the moment that your life’s radical directional change had nothing to do with you. I have no idea how it works, but I know everyone who has had this moment, is confident in the fact that there was a ton of grace involved in getting there.
Like Israel, there was nothing we could have offered to God to save us. But He had seen our misery, heard our crying and was concerned about us and so, He came down to rescue us from our suffering (Exodus 3:7-8).
Also, like Israel, despite some of our intentions about going back, God doesn’t allow it. There is no going back to Egypt, there is no going back to slavery. The Red Sea parted, drowned the Egyptian army and that’s the end of the story. Our salvation, in this sense, is perfect and complete.
But then there is the bit after Egypt, which is where most of the trouble comes in.
We are being saved
You can take the person out of Egypt, but you also need to take Egypt out of the person.
You know what I’m talking about here, don’t you? You’ve had that life changing moment, but man, that addiction is hard to break.
Or, you feel out of control of your finances and drowning in debt.
You’re emotionally volatile and your relationships keep falling apart. Yet, you know you believe in Jesus, but you just can’t beat that part of you that doesn’t.
But there is a slight difference in the “have been saved” and “are being saved”: we’re part of the process. God is still very much in it, but here we enter a partnership with Him.
In Philippians that Paul writes:
“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:4 – 6
In Psalm 37, David also gives us this hope:
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:Psalm 37: 6 – 7
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
From my own life, I can say this with confidence – the things that tripped me up 5 years ago, no longer do. There are things that tripped me up 6 months ago that no longer do. And I am so grateful for the mercy that made that happen.
But I can also say with confidence – I am far from perfect. Which brings me to the third meaning of salvation.
We will be saved
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!Rom 5:10
This meaning of salvation is the one that helps me look at my life, and the world with hope. It invests in my heart a deep sense of peace.
Whether it is being saved this side of the veil, or when we die and we need saving of a different sort, I can rest in this.
Because I’ve been set free from Egypt, reconciled with God to enjoy a relationship (and partnership) with him, I can rest knowing that when whatever comes, I will be saved.
Be blessed, and may you discover the continuous joy of salvation – past, present and future.
This post was written with the help of these sources:
- Tim Mackey’s Series – Heaven & Hell that can be found on Exploring My Strange Bible
- Marcus J. Borg – Speaking Christian (Salvation chapter)