Salvation: what it is and what it is not
Updated: Sep 14
“Though the Bible was written over sixteen centuries by at least forty authors, it has one central theme--salvation through faith in Christ.” – Max Lucado
It was 2010 and I couldn’t sleep as I wrestled with questions and thoughts about eternity. The prevailing question being: “Where will I go for eternity?” Would I go to Heaven with God or hell with Satan? I didn’t know.
Amid this tension, I recalled a word from the pastor at the church I rarely attended. He asserted that spending eternity in Heaven is only through salvation and salvation is only through faith in Christ and what He did on the cross. I wasn’t much the bible scholar, but I began to pray to a God I hardly knew and asked “Lord, I don’t know much of anything. But I do know that you love me and died for me. I believe that 100%. I’m sorry for my mistakes and ask that you save me and become my Lord and Savior.”
I didn’t earn many style points, but Christ saved me that day. I started that prayer headed for Hell and ended it headed towards Heaven. The tension left, my thoughts were clear, and I knew, without a doubt, where I would spend eternity. I knew I was saved.
Unfortunately though, salvation, being one of the greatest principles in the universe, is one of the most misunderstood as well. Which, if no one provides clarity, can become a significant issue. An eternal one. So, below I will provide some insight as to what salvation is and what it is not.
What Salvation is
· Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences. We are all sinners. We all make mistakes like stealing, lying, operating in sexual promiscuity, being selfish and so on. These sins can keep us from spending eternity with God. We are literally “saved” from our own evil actions. (Rom. 3:23)
· Salvation comes solely through Christ and what He did on the cross. He died on the cross about 2000 years ago for the primary purpose of taking our place as far as punishment goes. Three days later, He resurrected from the dead – conquering sin and death. Basically, showcasing his triumph and providing a path for us towards Heaven. (Rom. 6:5-6)
· Salvation results in eternity with God. Also, it gifts us with the Holy Spirit that empowers us to do the work of God in the world. (John 14:25-27)
· Salvation comes from repenting (to make a conscious decision to change behavior) of sin, confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord and believing that He died for our sins. (Rom. 10:9)
· Salvation is a GIFT. It sounds crazy because it is. It is literally God giving His Son in exchange for you to have an opportunity to not die and go to hell! (John 3:16)
· God wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4)
· EVERYONE can be saved – no matter their past (John 3:16)
What Salvation is NOT:
· Salvation isn’t given to anyone who doesn’t trust Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It is not universal. This might seem harsh, but “believing in God” is not salvation. People who practice other religions aren’t saved either. It is reserved for those who trust in Christ. (John 14:6)
· Salvation is not based on what you do, but what God has done for you. Meaning this: No matter how much you go to church, read your bible, pray or how nice you are – that doesn’t result in salvation. There are people who sit in churches every week who are headed for Hell. You get saved by faith in Christ alone, not by works. (Eph. 2:8-9)
· Salvation is not about making bad people good; it’s about making dead people alive. This is not merely behavior modification, it’s a heart change. God is in the business of saving souls, not just morality makeovers. (Eph. 2)
· Salvation is not about religion or rules, it’s about a relationship with Christ. Instead of thinking about all things you need to do, focus more on all that has already been done for you by God. (Rev. 3:20)
In sum, Salvation is the greatest gift. But, let it never be misconstrued. It is such a precious principle, that watering it down, selling it short or even over complicating it can disrupt someone’s entire eternity.
My hope is that if you’re searching for answers like I once was that this post provided you with some clarity and a direction to move towards. If you’re a Christian who’s reading this, share this with someone who is searching. Use it as a guide for future conversations as we all seek to make God known with our lives. After all, He died for us so the least we could do is live for Him.