How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him? Hebrews 2:3
Salvation is one of the great themes of the Bible, the Word of God. SOS (save our souls) is the distress signal used when there is danger of people losing their lives. Adam's race, lost and perishing, is in need of salvation. Joseph was the first person to speak of saving lives. When he saved his brethren from starvation, he said, "God did send me before you to preserve you a remnant in the earth and to save you alive by a great deliverance," Genesis 45:7.
We have many examples in the Old Testament of how God saved His people from their enemies and other dangers.
However, this great salvation we have before us means more than rescuing people from physical danger.
The very first chapter of the New Testament speaks of the Lord Jesus, "He shall save His people from their sins," Matthew 1:21. This at once lifts the whole matter up to a much higher platform. Here we have God's mighty intervention on behalf of man, for we read that "the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost," Luke 19:10. The announcement of that mighty deliverance is called "the gospel of our salvation," Eph. 1:13. This salvation is so great because of its cost, the life of the Lord Jesus. It reveals the love of God to mankind. It is so great because of its scope, which reaches to all and covers the past, the present and the future. It is so great because it saves not only from the penalty and power of sin, but also from the presence of sin.
Why does man need salvation?
Man is a sinner! The Word of God makes it very clear that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23. Man disobeyed God and as a result death came in. The Word of God is very clear. "The wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23. Therefore, as those that are lost and perishing, we need salvation.
Now we must understand that man is not a sinner because he does sinful things, but he does sinful things because he is a sinner; that is what man is by nature.
In the court of God, we stand convicted of our sins. Sin is a taskmaster and, as a dark cloud, shuts us out from the presence of God, (Genesis 3:23).
Man is spiritually lost because sin separates us from God. No one can argue that he is good. Who is good? Can we say that a man that commits one sin a day is a good man? If a man breaks one law of his country each day for ten years, can we call a man that commits 3,650 crimes in ten years of his life a good citizen?
We must recognize ourselves as lost and in danger of perishing. God's salvation is a deliverance from every peril that could possibly threaten us - whether in the past, the present or the future. Salvation is a term carrying the thought of deliverance from peril, and since sin lies at the root of every peril threatening us, God in His grace provides salvation for us.
What did God do to save us?
God, who created man, knows that man is unable and incapable of saving himself. So God, in His love and grace toward mankind, provided the Savior, the Son of His love, one who is equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Savior was promised (Gen. 3:15; Isaiah 43:11; 49:6,25; 59:16; 61:1; 63:5,9). In the New Testament this Savior was introduced: &"thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins," Matthew 1:21.
This Savior is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.
How is He able and capable to deal with the matter of sin (that separates us from God) and rescue us from eternal death? The only way was for Him to become a man just like us, "&yet without sin," Heb. 4:15. (In Him is no sin, 1 John 3:5, He did no sin, 1 Pet. 2:22, He knew no sin, 2 Cor. 5:21.) Although He became man, He never gave up His Deity. He is qualified to save us because He was God and sinless man in one person. Because the wages of sin is death, He had to take my place and die for my sin.
The Lord Jesus Himself said, "Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down His life for His friends," John 15:13. Because He loves us, He was willing to take our place in death to pay the penalty of our sin. The Lord Jesus was then buried, raised from among the dead on the third day, and now He lives in Heaven providing everything for your rescue.
He is waiting for your cry of SOS.
The question now is how can I obtain this salvation?
We must first acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves, then we need to accept our sinful condition, and finally believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work.
In the Bible we have a man who sent his SOS. He cried, "What must I do to be saved?" The answer was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," Acts 16:30,31. The salvation we are speaking about is eternal. Once you are saved you are saved forever! You never lose your salvation because it is not dependent on you. Just as you cannot save yourself, neither can you keep yourself. The Lord died to save us and now He lives to keep us - He said, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand," John 10:28, 29.
Present salvation or salvation from the power of sin:
Salvation may be spoken of as a past and complete thing, so that believers can speak of themselves as those "which are saved," 1 Cor. 1:18. So when we speak of ourselves as saved, the emphasis seems mainly that once we were trapped in every kind of evil and defilement, but now we are rescued from it all (Titus 3:3-5). Although we can speak of God as the One who "hath saved us," 2 Tim. 1:9, we still live in a world that is full of seductions, with treacherous flesh within and with Satan, the enemy of our souls, without. Therefore, we need to be saved daily. When God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt and they set off on their journey to the Promised Land, there was no doubt that they were saved; they came safely out of the land of Egypt and passed through the Red Sea. But the journey ahead of them was very dangerous; therefore, they were in need of daily salvation. So God ordered Moses to build the Tabernacle, a tent of meeting, where God was present in the midst of His people.
In the Tabernacle, the high priest's job was to represent the people before the presence of God. For us, the Lord Jesus is our great High Priest.
After His death, burial and resurrection, He returned to Heaven and there He lives forever. From there, "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them," Hebrews 7:25. The present salvation, that we need and receive as believers, is based upon the death of Christ, but it actually reaches us by His priestly activities on our behalf.
As He lives for us on high, we are being "saved by His life," Romans 5:10. In order to enjoy this practical, everyday salvation, we are granted the instruction furnished by the Word of God. The Word of God is able to make us "wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus," 2 Tim. 3:15, 16. These verses speak of scripture being profitable not only for teaching, but also "for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
There are many warnings and instructions for us; if we heed them, we shall be saved from all snares and dangers. We are saved daily from the power of sin because the Lord Jesus, as our High Priest, is interceding for us. Putting the Word of God into practice in our lives through faith and obedience, by the help of the Holy Spirit, we experience God's present salvation.
Salvation from the presence of sin:
This is our bright future. The great salvation is, as we have said, both full and complete. It has the idea of saving us from this evil place and bringing us safely home. The Lord Jesus spoke about saving the lost sheep and bringing him home. The Lord promises us, "I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again to take you to the Father's house," John 14:1-3.
It is our hope, for we look for the Savior "&who shall change our vile bodies that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body," Phil. 3:20-21. Now we are waiting for Him to appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation (Heb. 9:28).
The last act of the salvation of the Lord Jesus on our behalf involves the raising of the dead in Christ and changing the bodies of those who are still alive. The Bible teaches that "&we shall not all die, but we shall all be changed," 1 Cor. 15:51.
The final part of salvation depends altogether upon the crowning act of mercy that will reach us; the last delivering act of the Lord Jesus on our behalf. It will involve the raising of dead saints and the catching away of living saints before the full storm of God's wrath breaks on earth. Then the whole heavenly company will be gathered together and given bodies of glory like His own glorious body, and will enter the Father's house.
God's salvation is comprehensive! It deals with our sin and separation from God. It is an eternal salvation - once we are saved we cannot be lost. God also provides us with the power to overcome the power of sin. Finally, Christ is coming again soon to save us from the presence of sin, change us unto His likeness and take us to Heaven. What a great salvation!
Is the Captain of your life willing to go down with the ship for you? Though Christ, the "Captain of [our] salvation" (Heb. 2:10), willingly died, He rose again and lives today (Rom. 14:9).