“Believe in the Lore Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household”(Acts 16:31).
“Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation”(2 Corinthians 6:2)
Salvation is making someone get out of his bad situation such as poverty, difficulty and sickness etc. For instance, there was a child who had fallen into a well and was dying. A brave and righteous man noticed it and jumped into the well to save the child. He was able to save the child’s life. The child received the salvation; the man gave the salvation.
This story is a good model of the ministry that God did in this world. But salvation in Christianity has a bigger meaning that just saving someone from physical danger.
“As we already studied in the previous lesson, an angel said to Joseph when Jesus was born, “She will give a birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”(Matthew 1:21). Saving humanity from sin was Jesus’ mission-the purpose of His time on earth. And the word Jesus itself means: Jehovah is salvation. His work was to free us from our sins and to save us from our unhappiness.
There are two parts to salvation from sin. The first is to get out of the sinful life or forsake sinful habits. The second one is to avoid the miserable destiny that results from sin.
Today we try to get out of all the things that resulted from our sin-uncertainty, fear, disappointment, suffering, sickness, war and death.
However, we cannot remove the results of sin without removing the reason for it. So, if we want to be saved from misery and unhappiness, we have to leave the sinful life first. We need to acknowledge that we are sinners and are motivated to separate ourselves from sin. Though one has the desire: it is not enough. He has to have an experience of repentance and rebirth from heaven.
Some people make up their minds and say; I will give up all my bad habits. For example, smoking or drinking, drugs, being quick-tempered or gambling and so on. But the decision is like a sunken rope so it can’t last long. As the saying goes, a resolution is good for only three days. It is impossible for us to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken by ourselves. Our hearts are evil and weak and we cannot change them. There must be a power from above. The apostle Paul, who was such a good man, said in desperation, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
Every one of us can do nothing but cry out like him, because our burdened hearts keep us from doing righteous things. Paul also said, the burden of guilt made him a prisoner of sin. He recognized he was supposed to die in sin. “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it”(Romans 7:14, 19, 20).
In Hellas, which is modern-day Athens, the capital of Greece, we can see a very awkward fossil in a museum. It is a fossil of two men. In the olden days, the people of Hellas made a sinner die loading a dead body on his back. The dead body poisoned the sinner, so he would die in suffering.
Maybe, Paul wrote with this terrible punishment in mind, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
He knew that we, humans would become corrupt. All of us are born with the sin from Adam and have this sinful tendency. So, there is no one who has no sin. Paul said, “There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12),
Therefore sinners should receive the wage and the result of their sins. Not only the pain and the death on the earth but also the second death, that is, everlasting destruction is waiting for sinners. Then, do we have to perish without any hope?
Someone who became aware of his desperate circumstances, cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”(Acts 16:30).
When the apostle Paul visited the city of Philippi, he met a jailer who was about to kill himself in despair and hopelessness. Paul stopped the jailer and he asked Paul what he could do to be saved.
We also have to ask ourselves how we can be saved. Is there a good answer? Paul gives the answer to those who seek it. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household”(Acts 6:31).
Believing in Jesus is the only thing that can save human beings from despair. Why? There is no other one who can save us from our sin. It is impossible for us to escape from our sins. Our hearts are evil and we cannot change them. Jesus came to this world as a human being and experienced all the temptation and sufferings. But He overcame all of them as the only sinless being. With the sinless life He can redeem us and also give us the power to overcome sin.
Therefore, the apostle Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Through His righteousness, sinful human beings who are sinful were justified. By this we can be closer to God, as if we were sinless. There is another phrase, “For if, when we were Gods 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!” (Romans 5:10). It means that we became enemies of God because of our sin but we were washed and brought into harmony with God by the blood of Jesus.
In addition, we are reborn with a new heart by the resurrection of Jesus. We are never to be servants of sin. This is the salvation from sin. Paul mentioned, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”(Ephesians 2:8).
As we mentioned before, believing or doing right cannot be done by only our will. There must be a power that can activate the will. If it were not a serious awareness of our sin and desire to be faithful in our hearts, or if it were not a motivation to make us acknowledge, that we would never believe or do righteous things. Of course we have the right to take or leave the motivation or desire, however only God can do it. Therefore believing is also a gift form our merciful God.
What is the faith that saves us from our sins and its result? In Hebrews of the New Testament, it says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”(Hebrews 11:1).
When we have faith in His power; He helps us in the things that we can see, thus inspiring us with confidence in Him concerning what we can’t see. Then, what can we believe and see?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”(Hebrews 11:6).
Therefore we must believe in God, and believe that He will care about and reward those who follow Him. Moreover, we must believe that the Son of God, Jesus died because of our sin. Faith is not just believing the fact. Children rely on their parents because they know their parents will give them the best. We have to do likewise. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”(Romans 10:17).
By hearing we come to know the truth of the Bible, by inspiration we can be made sure of the truth. Our belief will be improved finally building a strong foundation. In short, we can reach a faith while we strengthen and develop our hearts to accept the truth of the Bible and have spiritual experiences. John said, “yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”(John 1:12).
It means believers who accept Jesus will get an authority and privilege as children of God.
It is written in revelation, “here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”(Revelation 3:20).
Jesus has always been waiting for us to open our hearts. As soon as we open the door, he comes into our hearts doors and enjoys fellowship with us. Jesus always told His disciples, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you… I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”(John 15:4, 5).
A life in faith is a life in certainty and a life of trust, to state more clearly it is a life combined with Jesus. When we live in Him, powerlessness will change into power, impossibility will change into possibility.
Our evilness will be gone; we will be ruled by the righteousness of Jesus. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”(Galatians 2:20). And he also said about the power of a life in faith, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”(Philippians 4:13). It shows what the power of Jesus can do in our lives.