I grew up in a rural Southern Baptist church where, at the end of the service, you were invited to “come forward” and “be saved.” As a child, I did not think it strange to speak of someone in our church or community as ‘saved’ or ‘not saved’. From my child-like, mostly human-action orientation, ‘The Saved’ were those who, ‘under conviction’ of the Holy Spirit, had repented of their sins, believed in Jesus, (which I assumed happened when someone “went forward”) and, therefore, were going to heaven when they died. (Other than ‘conviction,’ my knowledge of God’s part in all of this was pretty much nil.)
If you had asked me, one of ‘The Saved,’ what I was saved from, I most surely would have said, “from hell.” As a child, that was my completely confident, incomplete understanding. And while I’m positive that I still don’t comprehend all that it means to be saved, I would like to dwell on that topic a bit by contemplating answers to the question, “What are The Saved, saved from?” Why? Because as I come to understand more fully and dwell on what Jesus, ‘The Savior,’ saved me from, my wonder of him increases and I experience many other benefits as well. So for that reason, in hopes that your wonder of Christ will increase and that you will experience many other benefits, here’s my attempt at an answer.
Some things ‘The Saved’ are saved from:
- We are saved from God’s wrath (Rom. 2:8; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 5:8-11).
- We are saved from sin’s ability to overpower and control our inward desires and outward actions (Rom. 6:6-7).
- We are saved from the power of Satan (Acts 26:18).
- We are saved from the burden of having to save our own life (Eph. 2:4-9; Heb. 10:12-14).
- In court language, even though the penalty for our sin is death, we are saved from God’s guilty verdict and the death sentence (Rom. 6:23; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 1:4,8).
- We are saved from a life of bondage that comes from our fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15).
- We are saved from eternal hopelessness (Rom. 8:23-25; 1 Cor. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 2:13-16).
- We are saved from separation from God’s family (Rom. 8:15; Eph. 1:3-6).
- We are saved from our decaying bodies (Rom. 8:18-21; 1 Cor. 15:49-58; Phil. 3:20-21).
- We are saved from hell (Luke 12:4-5; 2 Peter 2:4-9; 2 Thess. 1:3-11).
Knowing what I am saved from increases my wonder of God and provides other benefits?
- Knowing I am saved from God’s wrath, gives me a glimpse of the silencing awesomeness of God’s holiness, the consistency of his righteousness, and the seriousness and exactness of his justice. It helps me fully appreciate the amazing privileged position ‘The saved’ have of standing in peace with a holy, righteous, and just God.
- Knowing I am saved from the power and control of sin helps me comprehend the effective work of God the Son for me in making salvation possible and the powerful work of God the Spirit within me in bringing about my salvation initially and for all eternity. It gives me motivation and confidence to strive toward holiness and simultaneously gives my soul soothing rest knowing that God is powerfully at work in me for the same end.
- Knowing I am saved from the power of Satan, causes me to celebrate the miracle that I have an awareness of the reality of God and his power over all things including evil spirits, strong powerful people, and established systems of thought. It gives me confidence to run to God for real help when we I feel discouraged or oppressed and courage to press on in difficult situations even when there is no reason other than God for believing that I can.
- Knowing I am saved from having to save myself, focuses my eyes on the love, humility, and sacrificial nature of the Son who emptied himself of the rights and privileges that were his by virtue of his being God and who stooped down to enter a human body and world in order to live a perfectly obedient life and to offer himself as the only satisfactory sacrifice for my sin. This reminds me that I am totally incapable of earning favor with God and frees me from striving to win his approval by working or keeping rules. It abates my tendency toward self-righteous thoughts and attitudes; squelches any prejudice or “I’m better than you because …” thinking; and takes away my inclination to feel despondent or despairing because I have failed to live up to a standard.
- Knowing I am saved from a guilty verdict and the death sentence shows me the incredible merger of two seemingly opposed traits – God’s justice and mercy- that seem impossible to extend toward the same subject for the same offense, but that nevertheless are extended toward me, one of ‘The Saved’ for all my sin. This knowledge fuels humility, increases intolerance for my own indwelling sin, and fosters an attitude of repentance in me.
- Knowing I am saved from a life of bondage that comes from my fear of death makes me appreciate more fully the staggering consequences of Christ’s perfect obedience, death, and resurrection without which I would have no hope of eternal life. Knowing my spirit will never die frees me more and more to readily obey God in any circumstance – even in dangerous ones where fear of man overtakes fear of God. Knowing the spirits of Christian brothers and sisters will live forever in God’s presence and favor, gives me comfort and hope when they physically die.
- Knowing I am saved from eternal hopelessness, causes me to marvel at the steadfastness of God who never lies and always upholds his word. This knowledge encourages me to continue to trust God’s promises and obey God in all that life brings my way. It creates excitement for what God has promised since I know I will see God; will dwell with him; will see the earth renewed; and will fully experience the adoption and inheritance that are mine because I am in union with Christ.
- Knowing I am saved from separation from God’s family causes me to experience dumbfounded awe of God’s choice, meticulous planning, and painful effort to make me his child. Knowing that I have an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present good and loving Heavenly Father who chose me, forgives me, cares for my needs, and has an inheritance waiting for me enables me to bravely follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, accept discipline, endure suffering with hope, see myself as part of a larger family – the church – and as a co-worker with them, and enjoy fellowship with God and my brothers and sisters in Christ on a deeper level.
- Knowing I am saved from my decaying body, increases my fascination with Christ’s resurrected and glorified body. It gives me hope that my painfully slow growth in holiness will one day be complete and that, even though my body will physically function and look worse before it gets better, there will be a day when it will get better and stay better – in fact it will shine like the sun. Not only will I be perfectly holy, my body will be restored to its full potential.
- Knowing I am saved from hell causes me to tremble in view of God’s just judgment. It gives me motivation to share the gospel message and to pray for those who don’t know Christ as the one who saves.
I pray that thinking on these things will cause you to marvel at God, inspire you, and free to work for the spread of God’s glory in whatever endeavor you are presently engaged.
If you have more insight into what ‘The Saved’ are saved from, please add your thoughts in the comment section.
Want to know more about:
God’s wrath: God’s wrath against us did not end with the Old Testament. God’s wrath remains on those whose nature has not been changed (Eph. 2:3). In other words, it remains on those do not believe and therefore do not obey Jesus. (John 3:36) It is a wrath that is to come for those who persist in thinking they can earn God’s favor (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7). And it is a wrath that those, who continue doing things their own way with a hard, unrepentant heart, pile up on themselves (Romans 2:5). It is a wrath that is coming because of sin (Eph. 5:3-6). If you would like to learn more, I highly recommend this short interview David Mathis did with Don Carson, a highly respected New Testament scholar.
sin: We are saved from the power of our sinful nature that is naturally hostile to God and that drives all of our sinful actions, desires, and thoughts – that compels us to commit offenses against God (Ps. 51:5; Ps. 58:3; Eph. 2:2-3; Col. 3:5-10). Because, when we are saved we are given a new nature that comes from outside of us – Christ’s nature, we are saved from being enslaved to sin. We are able to overcome the desire (due to the remains of the old nature) to sin and are empowered to not sin (Romans 1:28-32; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:4, 13, 19; Rom. 8:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:17, 21; Gal. 5:16-26; Jam. 1:14-15). Finally, we are saved from the consequence of Adam’s sin that God assigns to us (Rom. 5:12-21; Rom. 6:5-6; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). If interested you can read more about this in the Creating Art from Theology: Artist’s Guide, p. 47 free for download on this site. Also, on the Desiring God site, Dr. John Piper has 150 sermons on the topic of sin. You can find them here.
the fear of death: The Gospel Coalition has some great resources on this topic. I would suggest starting with Martyn-Lloyd Jones sermon found toward the bottom of the page entitled, “The Fear of Death.”the power of Satan: Satan’s power is to keep ‘The Unsaved’ in the dark concerning God (Acts. 26:18) and to hold the reality of eternal death over them (Heb. 2:14). For more resources on this subject, again try the Gospel Coalition. I especially recommend the resources of Sinclair Ferguson, Martyn-Loyd Jones, Tim Keller, and Alistair Begg though I feel confident, all the resources listed there will be helpful.
Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement: Dr. Bruce Ware does an excellent job teaching this – he generally always has good examples you can relate to. Biblicaltraining.org offers Dr. Ware’s FREE Systematic Theology II class where you can learn lots about this topic. If you place orders on Amazon from the link on their site it helps fund this amazing resource.
justification: Why not start with Spurgeon?
hope in God: What better place could you go than to the book of Psalms? Here we find not only future hope in the God of hope but also reasons to hope in the God who gives us hope for today. I would recommend starting with Ps. 42-43.
adoption: I recommend starting with this sermon by Dr. John Piper that compares God’s adoption of us with the human adoption process.
hell: Again, the Gospel Coalition has some great resources on this topic.