The salvation we have by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ is supernatural, but it is not merely something we add to our lives along with many other things — it is Jesus.
It begins with the new birth, continues as we grow in holiness, and culminates in the time of our glorification with Him. Salvation is not what we do, but what He has done for us and who He is in us (John 1:12-13). When we are saved, we surrender to Him. We belong to Him.
There is no lasting or redeeming relationship with God except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Jesus’ name helps define the purpose of His coming: to pay the penalty of sin by dying on the cross (Matthew 1:21, 1 Peter 2:24, Luke 19:10). When the Philippian jailer asked Paul what he must do to be saved, the apostle replied: “Believe in the Lord Jesus.”
God uses His Word to teach us who we are (lost, dead in our trespasses and sins — Ephesians 2:1, Romans 3:23) and show us His solution to our dilemma (John 5:24). How are we saved? Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” We are saved from damnation, hell, and the wrath of a holy God. As Herbert Lockyer noted: “Salvation offers emancipation from the bondage of sin and all its eternal consequences.” We are saved to glorify God, obey His Word, do the good works He has prepared for us to do, and grow in holiness. We can love God and love our neighbor because He lives in us.
Jesus saves. It is God’s work in our lives — and never some work of the flesh — that we may assume justifies us before Him. When we are saved, we are justified (declared righteous in Christ) by God Himself. We have a new standing before Him, and we have the presence of the Holy Spirit in us to guide, teach, convict, comfort and help us.
When I was 13, Preston Garrett led me to faith in Christ in my home. He used John 3:16 as he explained the plan of salvation to me. I knelt on my knees and trusted Christ as my Savior. I was saved. But salvation has three tenses. We are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.
After I began serving as a pastor, I wrote a booklet that I used to help Christians witness. It was based on John 3:16. Rev. Garrett preached at my ordination service. I remember fondly when he pointed his finger at me during that service and said, “Boy, you get on the trail and bark for Jesus!”
Today, I have one of Rev. Garrett’s Bibles, given to me by his widow before her death. I am so grateful that he was faithful to present the Gospel to me. He is in heaven today, but I know he would be the first to say he was only a tool in God’s hands.
Jesus is Savior and Lord. Salvation may seem to have some mystery, and even complexity, in all its dimensions, but the good news is that it is real. Eternal life is not just forever-existence, it is Christ Jesus living in us through the person of the Holy Spirit.
There is a tendency among professing Christians to substitute a cultural religion for a genuine relationship with Christ. Salvation is a relationship with Christ, and anything else is a counterfeit. As we travel through life, we make mistakes, fall short and sin. Yet, if He is our Savior, we can be secure. In Him, we are loved, accepted, forgiven, and so much more. Heaven is a reality we will experience because He is our Savior.
Because we are saved, we can, and we should, share the Gospel of our Savior with others. Born-again people are part of God’s family who want the family to grow.
From beginning to end, our call is to glorify God in whatever we do. We can never repay him, but we can daily surrender our lives in obedience and service to Him. He is worthy, and His Spirit in us gives us lasting worth.
Together we can praise God for His glorious salvation!