Being saved means being rescued from the eternal penalty of sin. But, is it an event or a process? What must you do to be saved?
[Steve Myers] Are you saved? Perhaps you've had a stranger ask you that before. Bit of an odd question, even if you're a Bible believing Christian. But what does it mean to be saved? Is it an event, or a process? What does your Bible say about being saved?
Has something like this ever happened to you? The other day, I was standing in a long line at the grocery store. There was only this one checker. And I was just kind of minding my own business, kind of looking around and I noticed this man behind me. He caught my eye and I just said, "Hi" and expected to get checked out pretty quick. And then out of the blue he said to me, "Are you saved, brother?" It took me by surprise and I suppose he was expecting a yes or no answer. But I said, "Saved from what?" You know it was a little awkward and fortunately the checker got going and I got in line and went ahead and checked out.
How do you answer that question? How are you sure that you have eternal life? I mean, are you saved? Now if you're religious you'd probably say, "Well, of course I am." But the Bible warns us, "Don't be too sure." I mean, did you know that Jesus Himself taught that there are some who think they're saved, who think they're right with God, but in actuality they're not. So where do you stand? I know back when I was in high school some friends had asked me to go to a Christian music concert. So I decided to go, it sounded like it might be fun. And as the concert went on, the mood music was really moving, it was exciting, it was emotional, it was stirring. And then it came to a point in the concert that the band played this really emotional song and it just about brought the audience to tears. Then the leader began to tell us all how much we needed Jesus and how we better do something about it, or else we could be lost. Well then the invitation came to come forward to accept Jesus Christ as your savior. Now, the next thing I knew, I was answering that altar call and standing right at the front of the stage. They said a prayer for us that had come forward and now I was told, that because I believed, I was now saved. I felt pretty good about that. But then a day or two later, the feeling of it all kind of wore off. I began to realize I'd really gotten caught up in the moment of emotion and I began to think there must be something more to it than that.
Later I learned that the Bible teaches there's much more to it than just that emotional feeling. The truth is so much more encouraging than just a one-time event because God wants to be intimately involved in your overcoming, every single day. So it's essential that you understand what it really means to be saved. So when it comes to that, what does it mean to you? In fact, what does the Bible have to say about it? And after all, saved from what? Now if you pulled out your Bible, oftentimes it calls this whole process salvation. Now salvation is one of those religious sounding words, but it's got a pretty simple meaning. Means to be rescued. It means to be saved from the eternal consequence of sin. Now that's something you need, it's something everyone needs, because the Bible tells us that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." After all sin has consequences and when you live contrary to God's way, there most certainly is an overriding effect of sin.
Now thinking of it in a little bit different way, we sin and there are earnings. Do you know what you earn? Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death." So all earn death and obviously then there is a need to be saved. So that kind of brings us back to that vital question, have you been rescued from the penalty of sin? Or maybe said a little differently, are you saved, brother? I mean, you might say, "Well, I believe, and that's what I was told in that altar call." They said, "All you must do is believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose again, take Jesus into your heart." Of course that didn't seem wrong. I mean after all, doesn't God say He'll give eternal life to those who have faith in Jesus? In that famous passage in John 3:16 says that, doesn't it? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Mean believing, that's what I thought. But is believing all there is to it? And I was told to accept Jesus, and at that point, when you believe in Him then your eternal life is assured.
But you know, I came to understand, that's not exactly all that the Bible has to say about it. In fact, belief alone is not enough. I was taken back when I ran across James 2:19. That passage says, "Even the demons believe and tremble." So it began to make sense that Jesus himself says, "We better not take saving for granted." In fact that was the lesson of a parable that Christ told. You find this story in Luke 13:25. Imagine this scene. You're arriving at the most important banquet possible and it's being hosted by Jesus Christ Himself, something you're really looking forward to, after all you're a Christian. So you get to His home and you excitingly climb the stairs, you walk right up to that door. Now, you're a bit surprised the door's closed and you're outside. So you knock. No response, no reaction. So you knock again. Nothing. You've really knock. Then you call out, "Jesus, open the door. Lord, it's me." Then you hear a voice of Jesus saying, "I never knew you, depart from me." How could that be? What a devastating and shocking situation in which to find yourself. You see in that story, Christ is warning people. He's warning you. Don't assume, don't suppose, don't presume that you'll automatically be in the kingdom, don't take for granted the fact that you may be saved.
Now of course there's no doubt that God gives us eternal life, it's because He deeply loves us. If you remember Romans 6:23, it says, "The wages of sin is death," but it goes on and says, "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." And so we find that eternal life comes as a result of God's grace. It's His gift. It's unearned. It's undeserved. He freely gives it to us. It's not by our own efforts. It's not by our own obedience. So you see, no one will ever be able to brag that somehow He deserves the gift of eternal life. But does God require anything of us to receive eternal life? I mean it's interesting to note that when Christ began His ministry, Mark 1:15, Christ Himself said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel." And of course we have to remember the authority on receiving eternal life is Jesus Christ and His word says, "He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." That's in Hebrews 5.
You see Jesus said it wasn't only about accepting Him or just believing Him, but there's something to do. You have a choice to make. So when you begin to think about that, how does obedience relate to being saved and then the connection to eternal life? I mean, there's no doubt that God wants what's best for you. He wants a better life for you, a different life. In fact, He wants you to be able to understand this whole concept of salvation and being saved and that's why we'd like to offer you "Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion." Now, this study aid will help you really grasp the truth. After all, who are the true followers of God and how is it connected to sin and my responsibility? What about the consequences? What we earn from our sins? Certainly God has a purpose and a plan in mind and you can begin to understand more deeply, if you call us at the number on your screen, we'll send you a free copy of "Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion." Otherwise you could go to our website at beyondtoday.tv. There online, you can read it yourself, download it or order a free copy right there. Because this helpful study aid will certainly help you understand how scripture reveals this process called conversion, and ultimately, how you can be given eternal life.
Now, when you think about that question that I faced, "Are you saved brother?," well we can begin to realize there's more to it than just believing. Certainly you have to have faith, no doubt about that, but there's even more evidence if you look to the beginning of the first century church. In Acts 2, Peter was talking to the crowd that had gathered and they asked him, "What should we do?" And it's interesting how Peter the apostle responded. He said, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." And so we see there's an aspect of seeking forgiveness, changing our mind, repenting and receiving God's Spirit, that's also tied in with this idea of being saved. So when does that all take place, and when do Christians receive salvation? Certainly there are those who think they are already saved, and yet it brings a problem because not all Bible passages say the same thing.
So let's take a moment and look at several passages so we can get the big picture, the full picture, of what salvation is all about. Now when you open up your Bible we can begin to see that it speaks of the fact that we are already saved, that there's a past sense of salvation. Good example, Ephesians 2:8. Here's what it says: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Now, that seems to indicate that Christians have already been saved, they've already received the gift of salvation. So what exactly does that mean and is that the only passage that says that? No, in fact, there're quite a few passages in the New Testament that express that very thought. Another one? Romans 8:24. It says, "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?"
I mean you put these two passages and quite a few others together and they definitely point to that rescue, that salvation has taken place. When? In the past. But is that the whole story? There's also a present sense to this saving and ongoing reality and we can see that in another passage in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 15 right at the very beginning of that chapter. It tells us there, "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel, which I preach to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast to that word, which I preach to you, unless you believed in vain." Now, clearly that passage it talks about salvation here and now, in present tense and in fact it's not the only one. There are many other passages in the New Testament. Another good example is at 2 Corinthians 2:15. It says, "We are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." So these two verses show that salvation is ongoing, it's something that's in the present, present tense, it's currently in progress. And so we had a past sense and we have a present sense, but that's still not the whole story. There is a future sense of Christians being saved, down the line in the future and in fact, Jesus Christ Himself said in Matthew 24:13, "He who endures to the end shall be saved." I mean, Christ was indicating that salvation is somehow yet in the future. He's implying that saving is not quite completed yet. Paul told Timothy the same thing. 1 Timothy 4:16 he said, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
Now, interesting that Paul was talking about not just believing, not just having faith, but there were things that also had to be done in order to ultimately be saved down the line. And so Christians should look forward to the future when they will be saved. Yet, how can we understand? When you put those passages together, they almost sound contradictory don't they? There's past and there's present and there's future aspects to salvation? Exactly.
In fact, we'd like to help you understand how those all fit together. So order our free Bible study aid, "Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion." Call us at the number on your screen, we'll send you a free copy or go to our website at beyondtoday.tv. This Bible study aid will really help you grasp the truth about salvation and your calling. You see coming to Jesus is not just a one-time event that somehow guarantees your salvation, there is an ongoing sense, and you need to understand that. So call us at the number on your screen or go to our website. We'll send you a free copy or you can download it or read it right there on the web. We want to help you find answers and help you to take action, because there is this connection between repentance and faith and belief, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. So be sure and call us at the number on your screen or go to our website at beyondtoday.tv and read for yourself.
Now when you begin to put these three aspects together of a past, present and future, it certainly helps us to understand exactly what salvation is all about. So when we begin to think we have been saved, well how is that possible? Well, think of it in this way. Here's an illustration. Imagine that you're on an airplane and that airplane is doomed, it is going to crash, there's no doubt about it, it is going down. So you grab a parachute and you jump out. You could yell, "I've been saved!" And that's true. You're out of that plane and it's going to crash. You see, there is a spiritual sense to that. That when you're baptized and you come under the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you have been saved from your past sins, all of that past guilt is removed and at that point, you were saved, you were saved from the death penalty. Remember that's what the Bible says, "sin earns us death." So we are on that aircraft going down, but we jump out with that parachute and those past sins are forgiven. 1 John 1:9 reminds us of that very fact. It says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So imagine this, there's nothing that you will ever do that could bring that death penalty on us again. For those past sins, those sins that have already been forgiven, they're gone, they're washed away, we're no longer responsible for those. God has totally removed them.
Now of course it doesn't say we can never again bring the death penalty upon ourselves. That's not the case. It's just that we'll never suffer the death penalty for sins that are forgiven. Forgiven sin, we don't have to worry about that anymore. That's done, that's in the past, we're saved from those sins. Now of course we are being saved, there's a present sense to salvation. Now if you go back to that idea of jumping out of that airplane with our parachute, are you saved ultimately, just because you jumped out of that plane with the chute? Well, of course not. You better pull the rip cord. You've got to do that or you're doomed and that's true, spiritually speaking as well. I mean it is correct to say you're being saved or you are saved for your sins of the present if you deal with them, if you deal with your sins of today. And we've got to realize we are sinners and we have to face and address sin every day in our life, on a continuing basis, on an ongoing basis. And so we have to change our thinking, we have to repent and draw near to God, we have to seek His forgiveness. And when we do, it's like pulling that rip cord. And now we're floating, we find that the sacrifice of Christ is applied to us and once again, we're saved from the death penalty of sin.
Now of course, as we're floating down, that's not a license to relax. No, we haven't touched down yet, we're not on solid ground yet. So the Bible tells us we have to remain diligent, we have to keep living God's way. Romans 8:14 says, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." So we have to allow God to lead us in our life, we have to walk in righteousness, we have to be like Christ. And ultimately then we will be saved, because there is that future sense of salvation, that final saving, that ultimate saving is when you touched down on earth, when you have that safe landing, now I am finally ultimately saved. And so salvation is like that, something to look forward to in the future, you will be saved.
So even though we've been forgiven of past sins and even though we're forgiven for our sins each day, when we seek God's forgiveness there is more. You have to complete the process, there has to be a total change in your nature so that sin is no longer possible. You see, because eternal life cannot be given to beings capable of sinning. In fact, it's the only way for us to be saved from sin and death, to be saved from sinning, and that can't be accomplished as long as we're physical human beings. And so the Bible reminds us that even faithful men in scripture haven't ultimately been saved as yet. Hebrews 11:39 reminds us of all those biblical heroes, the faithful of the Bible, like Abraham and Moses and Sarah. Hebrews says, "All of these, obtained a good testimony through faith," but it goes on and says, "they did not receive the promise," they didn't receive the promise, "God's provided something better that they should not be made perfect apart from us." So you see, they're still looking for that safe landing in the kingdom of God. And so we recognize that salvation really is a process, it's something that happened in the past, but continues on this daily basis, and something ultimately, we look forward to. I mean, is that something you truly understand? Is that something that you really grasp? Because it's something that I hope you really will take the time to understand.
So order our study aid, "Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion." I hope you'll sit down with the study aid next to your Bible, and compare what the Bible really has to say about being saved. This will really help you gain a deeper understanding of God's truth. And you can get it by calling us at the number on your screen, or you can go to our website at beyondtoday.tv, there, you can order it, download it or read it right there online. I hope you'll really begin to grasp how this process of conversion really works and the fact that God really wants you to understand and gain a deeper understanding of His plan and His purpose so that you can really come to a deeper relationship with God. So order your free copy of "Transforming Your Life" today.
Now when you think about that question, "Are you saved, brother?" Well, I learned the best answer. It really depends what you mean. I mean, you can be saved by having your past sins forgiven, by seeking God's pardon, by faith, having Christ's sacrifice applied to you, and ultimately God can remove the penalty for those past sins. But of course you should also be in the process of being saved. Saved from those sins that we commit every day, in the present. That means you must be baptized, you must have the laying on of hands, so that you may receive God's Spirit, so that ultimately you can begin to overcome sin now. And with that laying on of hands and receiving God's Spirit, that will give you the power over sin that you can submit to God's presence in your life and repent and change your perspective and truly begin to seek God in every aspect of your life today. And of course, knowing that you are being saved will really enable you to get back up when you fail and it will empower you to keep on living God's way of life. And then finally, when Christ returns, that's when salvation will become an eternal reality.
Christ said, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Now that should give you tremendous hope. You can live now with the knowledge that there will come a future day when you will never give into sin again. Salvation is that process that ultimately culminates at the resurrection. So finally, when God gives you eternal life, then you can say, "I am truly saved."
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet "Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion." Christian conversion is more than believing a few doctrines and going through a ritual. It's allowing God to change your heart and mind, to turn your world right side up and to set you on a path that leads to eternal life in His family. Are you ready for that change? Order now. Call toll-free 1-888-886-8632. Or write to the address shown on your screen. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. "Beyond Today" magazine, brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet "Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion" and your free one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to beyondtoday.tv.