Author: Ron Graham
Synonyms: Deliverance, rescue, preservation in peril
Greek References: soteeria 4991, cf 4990-4992,4982
Scripture: Mark 16:15-16, Romans 1:16, Philippians 2:12, Titus 2:11, Hebrews 2:3
Related ideas: Wrath, lost, way, escape
Lesson Synopsis: Christians talk about salvation, the Saviour, and being saved. However, the meaning and doctrine behind these terms is not aways well understood.
Christians commonly talk about "salvation", their "Saviour", and the need to be "saved". But these Bible terms are meaningless to many people. Even some Christians are vague about what doctrine lies behind these terms.
At the height of the storm on Lake Galilee the disciples cried out, "Lord save us! We are perishing!" (Matthew 8:23-27). You know what they meant. To be "saved" means to be rescued and spared, to escape death and ruin, to be preserved from perishing.
The "sheep that was lost" would certainly have perished if it had not been found by the shepherd. To find it was to save its life (Luke 15:3-7). It's appropriate to speak of being “lost” as the opposite of being “saved.”
To say a soul is lost is to say it is going to perish. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Having sent his Son to die on the cross, God is able to "save" all who were perishing. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save" them (1Timothy 1:15).
Now let's ask, "What are we saved from?" A child rescued after it has fallen into a swimming pool, or someone pulled back who was about to walk in front of a bus, has experienced salvation. But what is it that we are saved from in the salvation Paul had in mind? The answer is, we are saved from the wrath of God in the day of judgment (Romans 2:5-11). Everyone (including you) has the need of that salvation (Romans 3:23)
This meaning (as we said before) is generally not well understood. Some folk wrongly imagine that on judgment day God will put their good deeds in one side of his scales of justice, and their evil deeds on the other side of his scales, and their righteousness will balance their wickedness. But when they are "weighed in the balances" they will be "found wanting" because God will put all their deeds together in one side of his scales. In the other side of his scales he will put his perfect and holy law. They will fall short of this perfect standard, even if they are guilty of offending God's law in but one point. They will not stand justified before God (Rom 7:12, Romans 3:19-20).
That problem has a solution (Romans 3:23, Romans 7:22-25). We can be justified (made right) and thus saved from God's wrath. We cannot accomplish this by ourselves, but through Jesus Christ, by virtue of his death (in which he shed his blood), his resurrection, ascension, and his intercession for us (Romans 5:6-11, Romans 8:32-34). That is the means, the only possible means, by which we can be saved.
God, in making it possible for the "lost" to be "saved" showed his love for the world. But God's love has its complement, namely God's "wrath", and this is what God "saves" us from.
In our next three lessons we go into depth concering these two complementary sides of God's nature, and how they are reflected in his plan of salvation and the covenant that puts his plan into effect.