Yeshua means salvation; therefore, Jesus saves people from their sins! Jesus’ reconciling us to God through the cross is essential and keeps us from eternal separation from God. Salvation is much more than just being “saved from sin”. We have equated salvation to the born again experience, yet this is theologically inaccurate.
In this first lesson, we define salvation and what it correctly means. We will find that salvation is an incorrect terminology for being born-again and show that salvation is not through the cross. Then we will look at the new birth, or being born again, in the next lesson, “Salvation at New Birth”.
A. Why It Is Important.
There is a lot of confusion around salvation. Conversations abound around comments like, “once saved, always saved”, or “losing one’s salvation”, and does “salvation require work”? As a requirement of salvation, baptism is another error that has arisen due to this limited theology on salvation (soteriology).
B. Rectifying Confusion.
This confusion is genuine because of the misunderstanding of the term salvation. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33), so we need to answer the question, what does the Bible teach us about salvation?
We will see that having a salvation experience may lead to being born-again, but on its own, it is not a complete description of:
- being born-again, (becoming a new creation with a new heart, through the Holy Spirit entering that person)
- becoming a Christian – (a disciple of Jesus and believing that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father except through Him), and
- being a son and daughter of God.
Preventing confusion is very important for not yet believers or new Christians because they will see scriptures like “work out your salvation”. Therefore, suddenly they think they need to do something to earn their right to be a son or daughter of God.
2. Defining Salvation
A. Greek for Salvation.
Salvation means (Gk: σωτηρία sōtēria;) rescue or safety (physically or morally): — deliver, health, salvation, save, saving. The root word is of a deity saving or rescuing.
That is ALL it means; there is no requirement to be while accepting Jesus as Lord.
B. Greek for Saved.
σώζω sōzō; from a primary σῶς sōs (contraction for obsolete σάος saos, “safe”); to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.
In a very general term, the word saved occurs throughout scripture, without being in context with Jesus atoning work on the cross. For example:
Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent.Mark 3:4
3. Jesus’ Name means Salvation
Jesus’ name is Yeshua in Hebrew, which means salvation. This word gives us clues to what He saves us from.
A. Hebrew for Salvation.
יְשׁוּעָה yešû‘â; feminine, passive participle of 3467; something saved, i.e. (abstractly) deliverance; hence, aid, victory, prosperity: — deliverance, health, help(-ing), salvation, save, saving (health), welfare.
The root word for salvation is:
h3467. יָשַׁע yâša ‘; a primitive root; properly, to be open, wide or free, i.e. (by implication) to be safe; causatively, to free or succour: — x at all, avenging, defend, deliver(-er), help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save, saviour, get the victory.
Preachers of the gospel have inadvertently and simplistically limited salvation to Jesus saving us from our sins. Yes, he does rescue us from our sins through reconciliation, but there is much more to salvation than this.
4. Salvation is Not Limited to Jesus
A. Jesus is our Saviour.
but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,2 Timothy 1:10
B. God is our Saviour.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,1 Timothy 1:1
Therefore salvation is not limited to the cross.
5. When Does God Save Us?
A. Whenever Anybody Calls Upon the Name of the Lord Jesus.
And it shall come to passActs 2:21
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
Let’s give a true-life example where a car accident happens to a colleague of mine, and the car is in deep water. He was not yet born-again, but he knew about Jesus. As a result of the pressure from the water, he could not open the doors. As the water was entering the inside of the car, he cried out to Jesus to save him. Suddenly he heard the voice of Jesus saying, “What are you going to do with your life?” Then Jesus challenged the man to follow him. He was not yet a believer in Jesus, yet suddenly the doors were free. Jesus saved him, yet he was not a Christian. I am sure you can think of times in your own life or the lives of others who called upon Jesus to save (deliver or protect) them from disaster or accident before they became a new creation.
6. Biblical Examples of Salvation
In the following examples, Jesus is showing that He is Saviour, which we have seen as his Hebrew name Yeshua means. Remember that Jesus has not provided atonement in the following examples discussed in Section 7.
A. Woman Caught in Adultery.
Jesus saves a woman caught in adultery by rescuing her from her imminent death by stoning. She was not yet a believer, but she had a saving experience! Jesus then instructs her to go and sin no more.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”John 8:10-11
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Jesus rescues this woman from natural death and the consequences of sin – rejection by her peers. But not sin itself because Jesus has not died yet. Because He had not died, he could not atone for sin yet.
B. Invalid at the Pool of Bethesda.
Jesus also finds a man by the Pool of Bethesda that has had a disability for 38 years. So after instructing him to rise and take up his bed and walk, the man walks away. Therefore, Jesus has saved the man by rescuing him from a life of sickness and despair.
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”John 5:8
He was not yet a believer, and he didn’t even know that it was Jesus who had healed Him. Because, later, Jesus finds the man at the temple and instructs him to sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to him.
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”John 5:14
Jesus saves this man from a lifetime of physical impairment. In this case, the sickness was a consequence of sin. Jesus saved him from this consequence of sin. However, it is essential to note that not all illnesses result from sin.
C. Zaccheus the Tax Collector.
Jesus saves (rescues) Zaccheus from a lifestyle of sin by extortion and deceit. He was “LOST” in his mindset of greed and selfish ambition. Zaccheus change of mind is what repentance means.
But Zaccheus could not have been born again because Jesus had not died and risen again.
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”Luke 19:8-10
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;
for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus saves Zaccheus from the consequences of his greed and selfish ambition: broken relationships, loneliness and wrong mindsets.
D. Peter Walking on Water.
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”Matthew 14:28-32
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save (sozo) me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Like my colleague in a car, Jesus rescues Peter from drowning and the consequences of his unbelief.
7. Salvation in the First Few Days of the Church
A. Message to the Jews.
Acts 2 is the start of the church. Peter is preaching to the Jews:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Acts 2:22
B. Saved from a Perverse Generation.
He tells them by calling on His name, Jesus will save them from a perverse generation!
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.Acts 2:40-41
And as a result, three thousand were saved from the perverse generation. Yes, the three thousand were born again and entered into sonship. But salvation is related to the current Jewish generation going through the Jewish wars and great tribulation, not the new birth.
Next, we find:
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.Acts 2:47
Peter has explained what salvation relates to: saved from the perverse generation. Why would they need to be protected from that generation?
C. What they Needed to be Saved From.
Because Peter has explained what is going to happen to that generation:
I will show wonders in heaven aboveActs 2:19-21
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
The Jews had witnessed amazing things. The veil split in two, an earthquake, darkness, people coming out of graves, 500 people had seen Jesus after His death. There was still much more that generation would go through Jesus prophesied to in Matthew 24.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.Matthew 24:34
D. Salvation from the Great Tribulation.
Peter is declaring with boldness what Jesus was prophesying would happen within one generation:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.Matthew 24:29
The Great Tribulation would happen to that perverse generation! (And note will never happen again).
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.Matthew 24:21
And now Peter is saying that the sun will turn dark again, the moon will turn red again. Peter is warning them that which Jesus had prophesied would happen to that perverse generation! Yes, they were born-again, but that was not what Peter said Jesus would save them from. Jesus was going to protect them from the coming judgment on Israel within 40 years if they obeyed His instruction to flee the city of Jerusalem. And of course, that happened finally in 70CE, precisely one generation.
When they saw the armies surrounding Jerusalem in 67CE, Josephus teaches us that they felt compelled to leave the city.
Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),”then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.Matthew 24:16
Caesar called the Roman armies back to Rome, and the believers fled the city of Jerusalem. The believers’ departure saved them from a horrific massacre in 70CE when Titus sacked Jerusalem and the temple destroyed.
8. The Finishing of our Faith – Entry into Eternity.
receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:9
The context of this verse as found in v3-4 clearly shows this is referring to our eternal life after our physical body sleeps (death).
9. Theology of Jesus’ Salvation
A. When did it Come into Effect?
The Bible teaches us that only after Jesus died and rose again did salvation (to be rescued or delivered) from our sins become available. We see this teaching in more detail in God’s Plan for Kingdom Rule.
She (Israel) bore a male Child (Jesus) who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. …Revelation 12:5,10
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
In other words, only when Jesus had gone into heaven carrying His blood in His resurrected body can people be born again. Therefore none of the people in section 6 was yet born again.
B. We are BEING Saved Through His Resurrection Not the Cross.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.Romans 5:11
As we can see in this scripture, Paul explains how Jesus’ resurrection life saves us. Salvation is not in the past (the cross); it is in the present (resurrection life).
Jesus’ death reconciles us to God. In this scripture, Paul talks to people who are already born again. We will look at Reconciliation under Covenantal Atonement.
His resurrecting power saves us. At our new birth, the Spirit of God breathes new life into us. The process of salvation now starts.
We will look at this in detail in Salvation at New Birth.
C. After the Time When we Become a Son or Daughter of God.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.1 Corinthians 1:18
We see in this verse that the process of salvation starts once a person is born again, and we need to be active participants in our salvation: Our deliverance from a wrong mindset or making bad choices.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;Philippians 2:12
So here is another example of how Jesus is instructing someone to work out their salvation. Reconciliation with God requires no work because Jesus’ atoning work did that. But, changing our mindsets, living a life of victory, and walking in divine health by making wise choices on how we live, such as eating healthy food and drinking to prevent diabetes or cancer.
10. “Saving” Grace
A. In Grace When Born Again, We Found that There is No Separate “Saving Grace”.
Reformed and pentecostal theology has focused on Ephesians 2:8 as a result of the Lutheran Reformation – salvation by grace through faith and not by works. This theology has wrongly summarised salvation as being saved from our sins, yet we have seen this is not the case. There is no doubt that Jesus saves us from our sins but building a simplistic theology to try and make it easy for people to understand has a substantial adverse effect on discipleship. It raises the questions and confusion I referred to in the introduction.
Indeed, Jesus atoning work on the cross to bring to pass the New Covenant has saved us. But that is not a complete description of what salvation means, as we have seen. As in the other examples above, Jesus saved the people from something.
B. Saved FROM Something.
- The adulterous woman was saved from being stoned; by Jesus’ wisdom.
- The invalid’s faith in Jesus saved him from a life of sickness.
- Zaccheus’ repentance (change in thinking) saved him from broken relationships and loneliness due to his wrong mind-set.
- Peter’s belief in Jesus saved him from drowning.
- Salvation for the Jews from the Great Tribulation
- Our belief in Jesus saves us from judgment on the Day of Judgement and from the second death – separation from God. This salvation is different from all the other examples, in that it has eternal consequences that the other’s don’t have.
11. A Closer Look at Ephesians 2
We need to look at the cornerstone scripture of reformed and pentecostal theology has been built.
A. For by Grace you Have Been Saved.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,Ephesians 2:8
The translation reflects this teaching because the Lutheran theology is so adamant that the new birth is not by works (which is true). However, let’s look closely at the Greek text.
Firstly, this letter is written specifically to the Jews. Jews taught their followers to perform works to partake of the benefits of the kingdom of God. So the context is Paul arguing that entrance into the family of God is a gift. The focus is on grace, not on being saved.
C. Grammar Tense.
Let’s look at the grammar tense for the words:
For by grace, you have been saved through faith. The root word for ‘you have been’ is one word in Greek:
g1510. εἰμί eimi; the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist (used only when emphatic): — am, have been, x it is I, was.
Do you notice that it is the present tense? It is not past tense. Everywhere else, it is present tense! We need to realise that translators sometimes translate out of their beliefs.
D. Preceding Verses.
If we look at the context, we get further insight into when salvation occurs:
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,Ephesians 2:4-6
Looking at it in the Greek, we see that the placement of the phrase ‘by grace you have been saved’ is purposefully put between being “made us alive with Christ” (His resurrection) and “raised us up together”:
In this verse, salvation is between His resurrection and His enthronement. Jesus received His authority after His resurrection at His coronation. The same applies to us once we become a son or daughter of God. God’s continuing work of salvation is because God wants to give us more authority as sons and daughter’s with authority over the Father’s house, through Jesus’ name.
E. A More Accurate Translation of Ephesians 2:8
By grace, you are being saved through faith.
Remember that salvation starts with His resurrection power after being reconciled (atoned for) to God. That is not by our works.
Let’s look at another similar verse that will help us understand, this time from James:
And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.James 5:15
Notice that the prayer of faith WILL save. The only component missing between this verse and James 5:15 is grace. However, we learnt that grace is a gift that benefits the recipient. So we can conclude that grace is released through prayer.
12. Salvation Requires Work
That is why He tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;Philippians 2:12
A. Reconciliation Does Not Require Work.
We can not work out our reconciliation because that is a gift of grace through faith in Jesus – our reconciliation to God is a gift.
B. Work Out our Salvation Through Victory Over Sin.
But we can work out our character to be seated in the heavenly places – therefore we receive more authority.
That is what it means when Jesus says:
So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”Matthew 15:16-20
So a person is defiled when, for example, they steal, speak maliciously against another, or engage in acts of sexual immorality. A defiled person cannot receive greater authority. Working out our salvation (Which means victory) by getting victory over sexual thoughts, false witness, blasphemy, evil thoughts, you will receive greater authority.
C. Work Out Our Victory Over Sickness.
Not all sickness results from sin, so how do we work out our salvation related to disease?
We work out our salvation from sickness by watching what we confess with our mouths.
For example: After we have prayed for healing from cancer, we need to replace all negative phrases like: “I have cancer” with a positive phrase that declares a prophetic statement: ”I am in the process of being healed from cancer”.
13. Leading a Believer into the New Covenant
A. Correct Terminology.
My evangelism meetings may surprise people that I do not refer to as “salvation”. Instead, I refer to the new birth, new creation, being born-again, entering the kingdom, becoming a son or daughter of God through Jesus Christ. And I often say that Jesus will save them from sicknesses, sins and torments. When I use these terminologies at large meetings, God confirms His word by healing up to 40% of the attendees.
B. Power Evangelism.
First, I share God’s message in my heart for these people. Usually, it is a simple message from the gospel, or it may be prophetic preaching. After that, I start to pray for the sick, with or without words of knowledge. Because I have a gift of healing for backs, I usually start with that to build up the faith level of the people to receive more extraordinary healings. Then I begin to call out diseases as the Lord leads. I then give people the opportunity to become a son or daughter of God. Once I have explained the gospel, I pray with them per the New Covenant.
C. Prayer for New Disciples of Jesus.
I invite them to join me in prayer through the following statements:
- I believe in Jesus as the only Begotten Son of God;
- that He died and rose again on the third day for their sins, sicknesses and torments.
- And I choose to change the way that I think and that Jesus is now Lord of my life.
- I choose to give Jesus my sins in exchange for His righteousness.
- All my sins are now forgiven and forgotten by God.
- Now I welcome into my life the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- I choose to enter the family of God through the Spirit of adoption.
- And I now personally know the Lord-
- and have eternal life.
In the crusades, we have between 30 and 65% of people accepting Jesus when we pray in this manner, Muslims included.
- Salvation simply means to save, rescue or deliver from some danger, disease or fear.
- Whoever calls on the name of Jesus will be saved, even if they are not yet a Christian, or in the process of accepting Jesus as Lord, or a mature believer.
- Salvation starts at Jesus resurrecting work, not His atoning work
- We are in the process of salvation is what Ephesians 2:8 teaches( if correctly translated).
- Sozo means salvation from sickness, consequences of sin, difficulty, disaster and torment.
- We need to work out our salvation through victory over sin and sickness.
Referring to salvation as the born again experience can confuse. Salvation is not limited to entry into God’s family. Using the term ‘Born Again’ or ‘Becoming sons and daughters of God’ is preferable and accurate.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries / Dr Neville van Eerten 2022