Salvation -- What is it?
By Robert Surgenor
It sounds incredible, yet it's really true! Jonah, a man running away from God, survived three days in a fish's belly! Finally in desperation he cried out, "Salvation is of the Lord. And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land" (Jonah 2:9,10).
What Jonah uttered on that occasion is good theology indeed, and he learned it in a strange school--a fish's belly, with weeds wrapped around his head. I don't know if that word "SALVATION" impresses you, but it certainly conveys a lot to me. The word simply means, "Deliverance, Safety, Preservation." It carries the thought of being rescued from a coming catastrophe and brought into a secure and blessed position--and notice, the Lord is the only One who can accomplish this.
THE DIVINE APPRAISAL
Man is born of a fallen race, condemned because of his participation in Adam's sin, doomed because of the fact that he has only a fallen nature, judged as one who is under the dominion and power of sin, and guilty before God because of his personal sins (Rom. 3:9-23; 5:12). Consequently he is "dead in trespasses and sins," a child of disobedience, by nature a child of wrath, having no hope, and without God in the world. This is the Almighty's appraisal of him (Eph. 2:1-3,12). Unless he obtains God's salvation during his lifetime, he will experience everlasting punishment in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. Cowards deny and scoffers laugh at this truth, but that doesn't change the fact, the reality, one iota. The Holy Bible is mercilessly clear on the subject of eternal damnation and punishment of the lost. A careful reading of Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15 and the Lord's own words in Matthew 24:41,46 and Mark 9:43-48, will prove this.
Man's problem of guilt and sin is so great that he cannot cope with it himself. In no way can he forgive his own sin, impart eternal life to himself, clothe himself with the righteousness of God, or write his name in heaven. God says man is hopelessly "dead" to accomplish anything to better himself spiritually. In view of such a dark picture, man needs deliverance, safety, and preservation. In other words--he needs God's salvation! Since salvation belongs to God alone, He alone can bestow it. Thank God, it is available to all, for God desires all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:4).
THE DIVINE PURCHASE
Human efforts can never purchase salvation. However, God offers it freely, for it has been purchased by the Son of God. This involved leaving the Father's house in heaven, coming to earth to be born of a virgin--then in perfect manhood, offering Himself as a sacrifice for sin at Calvary. "Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). "Christ died for our sins" (I Cor. 15:3). "Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). He "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26), thus satisfying all God's righteous claims against us! Through His death "He became the Author of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:9). The Church does not hold this salvation and dispense it at its whim. Oh no! God righteously would never stand for that! Only God can impart salvation to the lost and perishing--and what a great salvation it is! It provides a dismissal of every charge against the sinner and equips him with eternal life in place of death--with the perfect merit of Christ in place of condemnation-- and with forgiveness and justification in place of wrath! Through the death of Christ, all judgment is so perfectly borne that it can never again be reckoned against the believer. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).
The obtaining of salvation is simple! God says to you, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9) "Grace" means, that in spite of our being so undeserving of salvation, God's unmerited favor bestows it upon us. "Through faith" indicates that faith is the channel, or instrument, through which salvation comes to us. "Not of yourselves" shows it is not our action that saves us. "The gift of God" simply means that God freely offers His salvation as a gift. You cannot work or pay for a gift, for if you do, it automatically ceases to be a gift. God's gift is received free from the Giver. The moment Zacchaeus received Christ the Lord said to him, "This day is salvation come to this house" (Lk. 19:9). Good living, good deeds, and religious observances are all activities that many are depending on for salvation. But God exposes and denounces these by saying, "Not of works, lest any man should boast."
If you are relying on your own efforts to gain heaven, forsake such thoughts, and like Zacchaeus, simply receive the Saviour. If you do, this day salvation will come from God to you! "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2). Do not delay, for "how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:3).