What Is the Meaning of the Word ‘Salvation’ for Christians?

In his book Spiritual Exercise, Watchman Nee shared what it means when a Christian says that he/she is saved:

Now let us be clear as to the meaning of the word “salvation” in the Bible. What is the objective of salvation? This may not be easily understood by new believers because they lack an accurate knowledge of what salvation is. According to the Bible, salvation is related to the world, not to hell. The opposite of eternal life is perdition (perishing), while the opposite of salvation is the world. We are to be saved out of the world. As long as we belong to the world, we are in the state of perdition.

Let us notice the four cardinal facts concerning the world as shown in the Bible: (a) The world is condemned or judged before God, (b) the world lies in the evil one, (c) the world crucified the Lord Jesus, and (d) the world is an enemy to God. Please note that the world not only sins, but has also crucified the Lord Jesus. It is therefore God’s enemy. These are the four cardinal facts of the world as God sees it. All who are in the world, irrespective of their personal conduct, are already judged and thus in perdition.

What is wrong with people in this world is far more than personal unrighteous acts of behavior. Their very position is wrong before God. How can a person forsake the world if he is still keenly aware of its loveliness? But one day he is made to see the wrong position of the world before God. However lovely the world may be, it has to be forsaken. So salvation deals with deliverance from an improper relationship with, and position in, the world.

What is meant by salvation then? To be saved is.to be released from that fraternity, that position, and that relationship of, in and with the world. In other words, I come out of the world. People are usually most concerned with their personal justification, but they need to be reminded of the place from which they have been saved. Salvation is to be saved out of the world, not only out of hell, for the world is under the judgment of God.

Is Eternal Life is a Gift That Can Be Obtained by Any Sinner Unconditionally?

Is eternal life a gift that can be obtained by any sinner unconditionally? According to the late George Jeffreys (1889-1962), who was one of greatest evangelists of the 20th Century, the answer is ‘no’.

The idea that eternal life is a gift that can be obtained by any sinner unconditionally is as false and unscriptural as the notion that it can be merited by works. The forgiveness of past sins is only granted to those who, by the grace of God, decide not to continue in sin. How utterly helpless and hopeless any earthly Government would be if it released all its prisoners and allowed them to continue as aforetime breaking the laws of the land. Civilisation—yea, the whole world—would soon be reduced to a state of irrevocable ruin. The sinner at conversion enters into a new life, which reveals itself in the changed deeds of his body. Before conversion he is a drunkard, after conversion a sober man; before conversion he is a thief, after conversion he is honest; before conversion his lips blaspheme, after conversion they praise God. The change is at once admitted because his body acts differently. The body is the medium through which the new life is made manifest. (Healing Rays by George Jeffreys)

Young Lady Feared Come Forward during an Alter Call Because of Her Fiancé. This is What Happened at Her Deathbed

Is your boyfriend or fiancé holding you back from becoming a Christian? If so, please read this story that was narrated by the late RA Torrey in his book, Heaven or Hell.

The fear of man ensnares people to their eternal ruin. Many men and women lie in Christless graves and will spend a Christless eternity because the fear of man kept them from the acceptance of Christ. One night after speaking, I gave the altar call. Among those who were moved by the Spirit of God was a young woman. She rose to her feet and started to come to the front. The young man who sat beside her touched her arm. He was engaged to marry her. He said, “Don’t go tonight. If you will wait for a few days, I may go with you.” For fear of offending her fiance, she sat down.

I went back the next week to speak at the same place. At the close of the meeting two young women came and said, “Oh, Mr. Torrey, just as soon as you can get away from the meeting here, come with us. There is a young lady who was going to come forward the other night, but the young man to whom she is engaged asked her to wait. She did wait, and now she has scarlet fever. She probably won’t live until morning. Come to see her just as soon as you can get away from the meeting.”

I left as soon as I could. I entered her home and went into the room where the poor girl lay dying, hardly recognizable as the same person, but perfectly conscious. I urged her to accept Christ.

“No,” she said, “I was about to receive Him the last time you were here. I didn’t repent then. I am dying; I can’t repent now.”

I begged her. I knew it was her last hour. I did everything, but she would not yield. When I left that room of awful darkness, a young man in the hallway grasped me by the hand. He was shaking like a leaf. “Oh,” he said, “Mr. Torrey, I am engaged to marry that girl. Now she is dying without Christ. She is lost, and I am to blame. I am to blame.”

The Spirit of God is moving on this earth with mighty power. Many of you are on the verge of a decision for Christ. Don’t let the fear of man frighten you from taking your stand now.

You Cannot Be Born Again Without First Dying to Self

In an earlier article, I had touched on the importance of being born again as a condition for inheriting eternal life (Proof text — John 3:3 [NLT; with emphasis mine]: “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.””). Now, let me show you what it means to be born again.

However, a person cannot be born again, unless he/she first dies:

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3; New American Standard Bible; emphasis mine)

You might ask, “What do you mean to say that I must die? Are you asking me to commit suicide?

No! (and God forbid that you attempt suicide!) It is to self that you must die of, as the Aramaic Bible in Plain English version of Colossians 3:3 makes clear: “For you have died to yourselves and your lives are hidden with The Messiah in God.” (emphais mine)

The specifics of what this entails is detailed for us further in the chapter:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10; NIV)

In addition, you need to die to the things of this world:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2; ESV)

But you might protest and say: “What you ask is very difficult to do!

Indeed, it is, which is exactly why the Lord Jesus Christ told those who wished to be His disciple to “count the cost“:

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-33; Authorised KJV; emphasis mine)

Cheap Grace versus Costly Grace (An Essay Written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

We live in a world where many pulpits are teaching “cheap grace” — an imitation form of grace. In the essay below, WW2 martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, compares “cheap grace” with true and costly grace, that is able to save the soul

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the church’s inexhaustible treasury from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace. In such a church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the incarnation of the Word of God.

Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of grace! That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

A Costly Calling

Costly grace, on the other hand, is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock (Matthew 7:7-8).

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: “Ye were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world. It is therefore the living word, the Word of

God, which He speaks as it pleases Him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus; it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

The Terrible Price of Cheap Grace

Cheap grace has been disastrous to our own spiritual lives. Instead of opening up the way to Christ it has closed it. Instead of calling us to follow Christ, it has hardened us in our disobedience. Perhaps we had once heard the gracious call to follow Him, and had at this command even taken the first few steps along the path of discipleship in the discipline of obedience, only to find ourselves confronted by the word of cheap grace.

The only effect that such a word could have on us was to bar our way to progress, and seduce us to the mediocre level of the world, quenching the joy of discipleship by telling us that we were following a way of our own choosing, that we were spending our strength and discipling ourselves in vain—all of which was not merely useless, but extremely dangerous. After all, we were told, our salvation had already been accomplished by the grace of God.

The smoking flax was mercilessly extinguished. It was unkind to speak to men like this, for such a cheap offer could only leave them bewildered and tempt them from the way to which they had been called by Christ. Having laid hold on cheap grace, they were barred forever from the knowledge of costly grace. Deceived and weakened, men felt that they were strong now that they were in possession of this cheap grace—whereas they had in fact lost the power to live the life of discipleship and obedience. The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works.

Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was hanged in April of 1945 for allegedly taking part in the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer publicly spoke-out against Adolf Hitler soon after his rise to power, and today, Bonhoeffer is still remembered for his courage in speaking out against the tyranny of the Nazis and their leader. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

How to Inherit Eternal Life

The bible teaches us that to inherit eternal life, we need to take the following 4 steps:

Step 1:   Believe in Jesus Christ

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:40, NIV)

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31, NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved… for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13, NIV)

Step 2:   Repent / forsake all your sins

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32, NIV)

But unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Luke 13:3b, NIV)

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38, NIV)

Step 3:   Be baptised

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38, NIV)

Step 4:   Lead a pure life (by constantly yielding to the Holy Spirit)

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7, NIV)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22, NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8, NIV)

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:15, NIV)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5, NIV)

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:19-24, NIV)