1. Salvation does not mean Born Again
Yeshua means salvation, therefore Jesus saves people! Any true believer would agree with this – the author included. Jesus saves people from sins, this is equally true. Jesus’ reconciling us to God through the cross is essential and saves us from future 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 the word salvation and what it correctly means. We will find that salvation is theologically 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‘? ‘Baptism is a requirement of salvation’ is another error that has arisen, as a result of 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), and so we need to answer the question, what does the Bible teach us about salvation?
I will show you that having a salvation experience may lead to being born-again, but on its own, 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.
This is very important for those who are 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 Christian, or 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 that it is to be during accepting Jesus as Lord.
B. Greek for Saved
g4982. 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
h3444. 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 succor: — x at all, avenging, defend, deliver(-er), help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save(-iour), get 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, 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
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 is what his Hebrew name Yeshua means. Remember that Jesus atoning work has not yet been completed in the following examples, which I will discuss 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 definitely 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.”
This woman has been saved from natural death, and the consequences of sin – rejection by her peers. But not sin itself.
B. Invalid at the Pool of Bethesda
Jesus also finds a man by the Pool of Bethesda that has been an invalid 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
This man has been saved 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 important to note that not all sickness is a consequence of 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. This is what repentance means, to change the way that we think.
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.”
Zaccheus is saved from the consequences of his greed and selfish ambition: broken relationships, loneliness and wrong mind-sets.
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.
Peter, like my colleague in a car, is saved 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 to be saved 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 they were born again and entered into sonship. But salvation is related to the generation they were in, 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 saved 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. Yet they hadn’t seen the rest of the things that were going to happen to this generation that 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:
“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 – was about to happen! Yes they were being born-again, but that was not Peter was saying they were being saved from. They are being saved from the coming judgment on Israel within 40 years – one generation. And of course that happened finally in AD70, exactly one generation.
When they saw the armies surrounding Jerusalem in AD67, 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
The Roman armies were called back to Rome, and the believers fled the city of Jerusalem and were saved from a horrific massacre in AD70 when Jerusalem was sacked 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)
We are saved from the consequences of sin – the second death – to enter into eternal life through the New Covenant and the associated sacrifice – Jesus’ atoning 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 were 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 we are being saved, it is not in the past, it is in the present.
I. Jesus death reconciles us to God. In this scripture, Paul is talking to people who are already born again. We will look at Reconciliation under Covenantal Atonement.
II. His resurrecting power saves us. At new birth the Spirit of God breathes new life into you. 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 own salvation: Our own deliverance from a wrong mindset or making wrong 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 own 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 through making wise choices on how we live, does. For example, eating healthy food and drink to prevent diabetes or cancer.
10. “Saving” Grace
A. In Grace 102 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 your sins, yet we have seen this is not the case. There is no doubt that Jesus saves us from ours sins but building a simplistic theology to try and make it easy for people to understand has a huge negative effect in discipling them. It raises the questions and confusion I referred to in the introduction.
Certainly 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 saving 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
- Your belief in Jesus saves you 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 scripture upon which much 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
Because of the Lutheran theology being so adamant that the new birth is not by works (which is true) the translation reflects this teaching. However let’s look closely at the Greek text
Firstly we need to understand that this letter is being written to a specific audience. Jews were teaching that we need 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 free 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 used as the present tense! We need to realise that translators sometimes translate out of the theology they have been taught.
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”:
As we explained above salvation does not start at the cross, but at His resurrection. Looking at this verse we see exactly the same thing. Salvation is carefully placed between His resurrection and His enthronement. It is the same with us. Salvation is because God wants to give us more authority.
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 definitely is not by our own 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 the James 5:15 is the word grace. However we learnt in Grace 101 that grace is a gift that benefits the recipient. So 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 free gift.
B. Work Out our Salvation Through Victory Over Sin
But we can work out our character so we can be seated in the heavenly places – 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, or speak maliciously against another, or engage in acts of sexual immorality. A defiled person cannot be given greater Godly authority. So working out your 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 is a result of sin, so how do we work out our salvation when it relates to sickness?
This is through watching what we confess with our mouth. Not saying things like, “I have cancer”, instead saying maybe “I am in the process of being healed”.
13. Leading a New Believer
A. Correct Terminology
It may surprise people that I do not refer to “salvation” in my evangelism meetings. Instead, I refer to the new birth, new creation, being born-again, entrance into 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 people who attend.
B. Power Evangelism
First I share a message that God has laid on my heart for this group of people. Usually it is a simple message from the gospel, or it may be a 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 greater healings. After that I start 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 in accordance with the New Covenant.
C. Prayer for New Disciples of Jesus
I invite them to join me in prayer through the following statements:
- 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.
- They choose to change the way that they think and that Jesus is now Lord of their life
- They choose to give Jesus their sins in exchange for His righteousness
- That all their sins are now forgiven and forgotten by God
- they now welcome into their life the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
- they choose to enter the family of God through the Spirit of adoption
- that they 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, moslems 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.
- It 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.
I would like to suggest that using the term of salvation to refer to the born again experience when a person enters into the family of God can cause a lot of confusion and therefore should not be used as a definition of the entry into the family of God. Simply use the term ‘Born Again’, or ‘Becoming sons and daughters of God’.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries / Dr Neville van Eerten 2021