What Does It Really Mean To Be Saved?
God loves me. He is my Lord. Do you really believe these statements to be true?
Jesus Christ came into the world to convince us, to persuade us, of the truth of these statements. Salvation is offered to anyone who will believe or accept that Jesus Christ, God's Only Begotten Son, came to die with the expressed purpose of giving us eternal life. When we accept this gift of God's grace we are restored to the relationship with God that we were created to have.
Our relationship with God was severed when we refused to trust God. This led to our disobedient acts and life styles. The Bible teaches that blood had to be shed in order for us to be forgiven and restored to this relationship. Jesus gave up His position in Heaven and came to earth to offer Himself as that sacrifice that would satisfy God's just nature and allow Him to offer our restoration to a relationship with Him and forgiveness for all sin as a free gift.
When we believe these truths and accept this free gift we are saved. This means we begin to live in that relationship with God. We begin living as if God loves us. We begin living with Him as the Lord of our lives, trusting him to lead us each and every day.
If we are not seeking to live in this relationship... if we are not working at this relationship there is a question about whether or not we have really accepted the gift. Have we really been restored to a proper relationship with God? Are we really trusting God if we do not follow Him? Do we really believe He is Lord if we are not doing what He tells us to do?
Our passage of Scripture today, summarizes these truths. Read with me from Ephesians 2, beginning with verse 1.
2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV
There are several things I want to point out today in this passage. First I want us to look at the last word in verse 2. The word is disobedient.
Ephesians 2:2 “disobedient” - The Greek word is apeitheia (ajpeiqeiva)))).
This word in the Greek is closely related to the Greek word pistis (piVsti$) which means “faith”. It is a form of the word for faith with an alpha, or Greek “a” tacked on to the beginning. The Greek alpha makes the word a negative of that word. A good translation is disbelief. It can also carry the idea of disobedience and is frequently translated that way as it is here in Ephesian2:2 in some if not most translations. The idea I get from this word is the idea of “rebellious or obstinate disbelief”.
Think about that for a minute. “Rebellious or obstinate disbelief” – Would it not be safe to say this is a “refusal to believe”? There is a rebellion in that idea. The disobedient Paul is talking about is those who refuse to believe the truth about God and therefore disobey Him.
So how does knowing this help me in my walk with the Lord? It helps me to understand my relationship with Him. Look at what Paul was saying:
2:1 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (or those who refused to believe and as a result disobeyed God).”
This is how we lived before we came to Christ, before we were saved. We were following the enemy, Satan. We were dead to God. We had no relationship with Him. All we had to look forward to was the wrath of God. We did not believe that God loved us. We did not accept the truth that He is Lord.
Instead we lived to gratify ourselves. We lived to please ourselves instead of living to please God. We did not seek God and ask Him for guidance. We lived as people who do not know God. We lived as people who did not care what He wanted for our lives. This is what it means to be lost, to be unsaved. This is what it means to be bound for hell. Paul said “we were by nature objects of wrath” (verse 3). The only thing we had to look forward to when we face God was judgment, damnation, HELL. People who do not accept God's gift of salvation and trust Him as the Lord of their lives will die and go to Hell.
What are we praying for? Does this not break your heart? Do you understand this? If you are not living in a relationship with God you do not have eternal life. If you are living in a relationship with Him, He is your Lord and you are seeking to follow Him. How do you do that? You go to church, you pray, you read your Bible so God can help you understand His will for your life.
You forgive other people as you have been forgiven. You love God and you love other people. You live, not for yourself but for God's glory! You give tithes and offerings because you are part of a family group that is trying to win people to Christ. If the family group you are in does not try to win people to Christ find another one that does, or help the one your in to begin trying to persuade people to believe the gospel of Christ.
Before you knew Him you were disobedient, that is, you refused to trust God and because you did not trust Him you disobeyed Him.
But now... Now we choose to believe. We are no longer refusing to trust God. We are working with Him, or allowing Him to work in us. We have submitted to the Lordship of God through Jesus Christ. We believe He loves us and that Jesus died to make living with and for Him possible once again.
All we had to look forward to before was the wrath of God... His judgment of us.
But now we have chosen to accept the gift of God and we choose to believe that He loves us. Paul says we cannot earn this gift. We cannot be good enough to deserve it. We cannot do enough good things to outweigh our bad things. We cannot earn or deserve to be restored to this relationship with God that He offers as a free gift.
All we can do is choose to believe instead of refusing to believe. This is how we get started in this relationship with God. This is how we are born again as Jesus called it in John's gospel. This is how we receive this gift.
Now we can begin to develop in our relationship with Him. We can start learning to walk in step with the Spirit of God instead of following our own way, or the way the world teaches us to live.
We can commit ourselves to following Him completely. We can offer our lives as living testimonies of His grace and mercy... as living sacrifices to God to bring about His plan and purpose for the world and for us as individuals in the world.
Paul says something two times in these verses. Once in verse five and again in verse 8. Do you know what the phrase is I am talking about: “It is by grace you have been saved.” Grace: what is grace?
In Bible College I learned the dictionary meaning of grace: unmerited favor. That is a good definition if we take the time to really understand it.
I have come to understand that grace is the work that God does in our lives. Let me say that again, Grace is the work that God does in our lives. It is how He looks at us. It is how HE sees us, how He thinks of us. Grace is God at work in our lives.
Salvation comes to us when we accept grace as a free gift, when we accept or allow God to work in us. What is it we really get when we are saved? We get forgiveness of our sin and are saved from God's wrath so we won't go to hell. That is a good thing. But there is so much more to it than that. We get God Himself, living in us and working with us to bring about His plan for us and for the world.
Trusting in God means we accept Him as the one who forgives us, but He is also the one who loves us and wants to teach us how to live as He made us to live. Trusting God, being saved, is living in a relationship with God. Grace is what we get when we place our trust in God and accept that He loves us and leads us.
If all salvation means to you is that you are not going to hell, you have missed the best part of the gift God is offering to you. Actually there is some question about whether or not you are really saved.
What do I mean? God's greatest desire for us is that we choose to love Him. Jesus said that loving Him was the most important commandment, right? But if all we want is a get out of hell free card, who are we loving? Have we really put our trust in God and accepted the gift that HE is offering? The gift is freedom from the wrath of God, but it is also being restored to a right relationship with God. A right relationship with God would include that we are living to love Him.
What are you living for? Who are you living for? What are you praying for?
We were created to do good works. However, we are not saved by works.
When we are saved, we begin living in, or living out the restored relationship with God. We begin walking in the Spirit. We begin following Jesus. These are the good works we were created in Christ Jesus to do. Walking with God. Walking in step with the Spirit. Living as servants of God. Seeking Him and following wherever He leads.
We are not saved by good works, but if the works are not there, you need to question what you are trusting God to do. Are you seeking to honor Him and live for His glory? Or have you just purchased fire insurance?
What does it mean to be saved? It means we are trusting God and living in a relationship with Him. Does that describe who you are today?