Sometimes I wonder if we realize what a really big word salvation is. What does it mean to be saved? What’s the meaning of salvation?
It means safe. But it also mean healed. It means forgiven. It means adopted. It means having been made whole. It’s a big word. It means that we are restored in our relationship with God. We’ve been given life with God now, and we’ve also been given the gift of eternal life with God in heaven forever. So salvation is big. Salvation is a gift of God. It’s not something that we can earn, even though that’s the way many people feel about it. It is not something we can achieve, but something that has to be received. And we need to have that straight
from the very beginning.
Salvation can come instantaneously, as it did for Zacchaeus when
Jesus entered into his house. Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). It can come in a moment of realization and faith. But it is something that is lived out over the course of a lifetime. There’s a story about an old English bishop who was walking down a London street when a sidewalk evangelist said to him, “Sir, have you been saved?” The old man’s answer is significant. According to the story, he stopped and thought and then in a very gracious way said, “Yes, I have been saved. I am being saved, and I shall be saved.” What did he mean? He meant he could look back on a moment in time when he put faith in Christ and turned to him in faith and hope, and he experienced salvation. But he also meant that salvation was something he was living and experiencing more of every day. And salvation was something he was going to enter into more fully when he went to be with the Lord in the next life.
Salvation begins when God opens our eyes to begin to grasp how much we need Christ. As long as we think we can save ourselves, the way is closed off. Being saved is like being in the midst of drowning and realizing you can’t save yourself and someone has to come along and rescue you, and you just have to relax and be rescued because you’re over your head and you can’t swim and you’re going to drown otherwise. The only thing I can contribute to my salvation is my own sinful nature. It’s about coming to God with an awareness of our humble need—coming in faith, repenting of my sins, and laying out before God my sense that I need him. That’s the beginning of salvation.
Paul says in Romans 10 that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. We live in a time when many people reject the idea that faith in Christ is necessary in order to become a child of God and an inheritor of eternal life. And yet Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” He is our pathway to salvation.
This was the message of the apostles. As Peter preached in Acts 4: “There is no other name by which we may be saved.” Salvation comes through Jesus Christ.