"You need to get saved!" thundered the fiery evangelist as sweat fell from his furrowed brow and uncontrolled spit leaped from his lips as he pounded the pulpit.
"You need to get saved!" wrote the angry man on Facebook to the one with which he vehemently disagreed. Of course it was followed by him saying "go to hell" in the next breath to the same person who denied his theology of hell.
We use "get saved" in many ways. Jesus did too. For instance, sometimes he said to one who was healed, "your faith has saved you" and to one that was forgiven, "your faith has saved you."
But sadly, evangelicalism and revivalism adopted this word and gave it a single meaning... going to heaven when you die.
So which "saved" are you talking about? Saved from hell? Saved from sin? Saved from judgment? Saved as in healed? Saved as in forgiven? Saved as in delivered from danger? Saved as rescued from death? Saved to go to heaven when I die? Do they all apply to the same thing? No.
First of all, a huge majority of "saved" scriptures has to do with being rescued from physical danger, physical sickness, or physical death:
Matthew 9:21, for she said within herself, `If only I may touch his garment, I shall be saved.'
Matthew 9:22, And Jesus having turned about, and having seen her, said, `Be of good courage, daughter, thy faith hath saved thee,' and the woman was saved from that hour.
Matthew 14:36, and were calling on him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment, and as many as did touch were saved.
Mark 5:23, and he was calling upon him much, saying -- `My little daughter is at the last extremity -- that having come, thou mayest lay on her [thy] hands, so that she may be saved, and she shall live;'
Mark 5:28, for she said -- `If even his garments I may touch, I shall be saved;'
Mark 5:34, and he said to her, `Daughter, thy faith hath saved thee; go away in peace, and be whole from thy plague.'
Mark 6:56, and wherever he was going, to villages, or cities, or fields, in the market-places they were laying the infirm, and were calling upon him, that they may touch if it were but the fringe of his garment, and as many as were touching him were saved.
Acts 14:9, this one was hearing Paul speaking, who, having stedfastly beheld him, and having seen that he hath faith to be saved,
Were people going to heaven now simply because they touched his garment? Of course not. They were saved from the physical effects of sickness and disease. Same thing with Paul who saw the man who had faith to be physically healed... and then he was.
Luke 8:36, and those also having seen [it], told them how the demoniac was saved.
In what way was the demoniac saved? He didn't answer an altar call and shake a preachers hand while getting "saved" for heaven. He was delivered from the demonic right? But he was also saved from the physical and mental effect they were having on his life... the torment of cutting himself.
Matthew 27:42, `Others he saved; himself he is not able to save! If he be King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him;
The onlookers mocked him for not saving himself from the death and torture of the cross.
John 11:12, therefore said his disciples, `Sir, if he hath fallen asleep, he will be saved;'
In this case the disciples believed if Lazarus was asleep, then he wasn't in danger of death.
Acts 27:20, and neither sun nor stars appearing for more days, and not a little tempest lying upon us, thenceforth all hope was taken away of our being saved.
Acts 27:31, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, `If these do not remain in the ship -- ye are not able to be saved;'
Acts 28:1, And having been saved, then they knew that the island is called Melita,
Acts 28:4, And when the foreigners saw the beast hanging from his hand, they said unto one another, `Certainly this man is a murderer, whom, having been saved out of the sea, the justice did not suffer to live;'
In each of these cases "saved" meant delivered from physically drowning at sea.
The Saving of the Soul:
1 Peter 1:9, "obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls."
The salvation of the soul, is not going to heaven when you die. It means as we trust the person of Christ, we find deliverance from the confusing and sometimes addicting realm of the soul: addictions, thoughts that are compulsive, depression, anger, etc.
Saved From AD 70:
Many other scriptures either directly or indirectly are in regard to the Jews of the first century being saved-delivered from the coming wrath-judgment on the Law system in AD 70. It was where 1.3 million unbelieving apostate Jews stubbornly refused to trust Jesus and ran INTO the city instead of away from it when they saw the Romans coming (Mat. 24).
Matthew 10:22, and ye shall be hated by all because of my name, but he who hath endured to the end [of the Old Covenant Age], he shall be saved. Matthew 24:22, And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would have been saved; but because of the chosen, shall those days be shortened.
Mark 16:16, he who hath believed, and hath been baptized, shall be saved; and he who hath not believed, shall be condemned.
Many have so confused this passage with heaven and some kind of eternal condemnation. But it refers to the condemnation-judgment of AD 70. Baptism doesn't "save" anyone to go to heaven. It meant identifying with Christ, and being rescued from the soon coming wrath on the Law system.
Luke 18:24-27, 24 And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
One of the most confusing things that Christians struggle with is the meaning of "entering the kingdom". Because nearly every reference to that phrase meant entering into the AGE of the kingdom which began in AD 70. Those who believed were already spiritually experiencing the kingdom, but those apostate Jews who did not see it, were being warned repeatedly that the AGE of the kingdom would fully begin when the old earthly kingdom of Judah was removed (AD 70).
Acts 2:21, and it shall be, every one -- whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, he shall be saved.
Peter was applying the prophetic promise of Joel 2:
30 “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
31 “The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As the Lord has said,
Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
Did you notice the last verse? It speaks of the remnant (for more on the remnant click here). This passage is about those Peter said were living in HIS day who would be "saved"- by escaping the soon coming judgment of Rome destroying the city. There are numerous promises in the OT of how God would rescue a remnant of believing Jews from the end of the Old Covenant age (the NT generation).
Acts 2:40, Also with many more other words he was testifying and exhorting, saying, `Be saved from this perverse generation;'
Deuteronomy is one of the most often quoted chapters from the Law by the Apostles because it describes the "latter end" of Israel-Judah, i.e., THEIR END TIMES. It refers to a very specific perverse generation in the "end times" of the Law. Paul and Jesus (Mt. 17:17, Phil. 2:15) both quote the following verses to apply the fulfillment in THEIR generation.
Deut. 32: 5, But are a perverse and crooked generation... 19 “The Lord saw this, and spurned them Because of the provocation of His sons and daughters. 20 “Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; For they are a perverse generation, Sons in whom is no faithfulness...29 Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would consider their LATTER END!
Notice too that Peter said they are to "save themselves" i.e. this is not about being "saved" and going to heaven which is all by grace. It meant to separate themselves from the coming and final judgment. It meant to "snatch some from the fire" as Jude says.
1 Thess. 2:14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who [the apostate Jews] killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men...hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath is coming upon them [your Jewish persecutors] to the utmost. 2 Thessalonians 2:10, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
In each of the cases above, Paul promised deliverance from their Jewish persecutors on the day of Christ, Day of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:3-10). Because of what eye-witness historian Josephus tells us, between 39-41 AD Caligula demanded that his statue be placed in the temple...an act that nearly started a war. They thought this was the man of sin. Then somewhere between 48-52 AD there was such a riot in the temple that nearly 30,000 people perished, which looked like the temple judgement. These events had similar associations with the prophecies of Jesus so they were quite concerned why they still were suffering persecution. Paul told the Thessalonians that many Jews in the future would experience the wrath of AD 70, but sadly that they did not love the truth enough to be saved from it.
What is also extremely important is that Mary and Joseph were told to name their son Jesus, "for he will SAVE HIS people from their sins." He came to his Jewish family, his covenant people, to rescue them... not for heaven, but to rescue them from how their violence and hatred were going to rouse the Romans to completely destroy their city and way of life forever.
SPIRITUALLY SAVED JOINED to AD 70
Which leads us to passages that are ambiguous because there may be some that essentially say that by aligning in faith with Christ, they were also being delivered from the soon coming wrath of God against the Law system of the temple, sacrifices, priesthood system, etc. The word "perish" isn't a spiritual term, but a literal term to describe the death associated with AD 70.
Notice Jesus words to them (not us) warning them of perishing in a literal death just like the others: Luke 13: 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell YOU, no; but unless YOU repent YOU will ALL LIKEWISE perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless YOU repent YOU will ALL LIKEWISE perish.”
Romans 5:9, much more, then, having been declared righteous now in his blood, we shall be saved through him from the wrath; (for more on wrath click here)
John 3:16-18, 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
There was a literal perishing coming, and trusting in Christ would save them from it, but woven within this is the idea of "world" or "kosmos"... telling them that God loved more than just the Jews, but the entire cosmic order.
So God was doing something spiritually for the entire created order, but also as Jews reminding them that the Law's own judgment would cause some to perish if they did not trust Christ. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 16:27-28, "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” The judgment was to come in their lifetime, not ours.
What about the Philippian jailer? We love to immediately turn this into a spiritual passage, but pay attention to it. As Paul and Silas are imprisoned and begin singing songs an earthquake shakes the building and the prison doors swing open. The jailer, realizing that anyone escaping would result in his death by the government suddenly hears Paul comforting him. Acts 16:
27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Was he asking to be saved from the "earthquake God" he perceived to be ending his world? Was he asking to be saved from killing himself? Was he asking to be saved from his perception that Paul and Silas were like gods and were responsible? There was no preaching of the gospel, no record of him preaching in the prison first, nothing but Paul encouraging him to believe in Jesus. Of course believe in Jesus, but exactly what does believing in Jesus in THIS CONTEXT save him from because Paul did not preach or teach anything. Was it he heard of the wrath to come and this seemed like it? There seems to be no context for being saved from "sin"! Trusting Jesus to keep him from being killed by the Roman government? Maybe all those ideas are included.
We must also remember that the Jews crossed land and sea to make converts that were "twice the sons of Gehenna" as they were according to Jesus. Acts tells us the story of how Peter went to the home of a Roman Gentile who worshipped God. They were called God-fearers. Acts 10:1-2, "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always." This jailer could very well have been one of those converts which needed to know the end of the Law system was coming soon.
The jailer passage and the Cornelius passage both speak of their "household" being saved, just as in the story of Jericho where the woman who hid the spies and her "household" were saved.
Besides the fact that "going to heaven" isn't mentioned in any passage in Acts or even the Bible connected with the word "saved".
Once more slightly ambiguous passage:
Romans 10: 9 that if thou mayest confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and mayest believe in thy heart that God did raise him out of the dead, thou shalt be saved... 13 for every one -- whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, he shall be saved.'
This is the same scripture Peter quoted in Acts 2 about AD 70, whose origin is in Joel 2:32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be [saved] delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, As the Lord has said, Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls."
It should be no surprise that in the very next chapter Paul is quoting OT passages that specifically speak of the remnant of Israel being saved and applying it to their generation. So when it says "so all Israel will be saved", it means in context, all the remnant will be saved from Jerusalem's destruction, just as God promised. They would be saved by from it by believing in Jesus Christ. Romans 11:26, "and so [in this manner] all Israel shall be saved, according as it hath been written, `There shall come forth out of Zion he who is delivering, and he shall turn away impiety from Jacob,"
Paul made a statement that is still controversial today. He said in 1 Timothy 4:10, For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
I know some will shout, "universalism" as if they actually know what that means (universalism is an eschatology, not a soteriology). But he is already the Savior of all, because there is nothing left for him to do spiritually speaking. Our role is to fix our hope on him and believe what he has done.
Contrary to modern evangelicalism, Ephesians 2, Colossians 2, and 2 Corinthians 5 all teach that because Jesus is the Son of Man, incarnating God and mankind together in his body, when Jesus died within the "Last Adam" all died. When Jesus was made alive, all were made alive together with him. When Jesus was raised and seated we were all included.
I shared this in another blog, but it is so clear, I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would deny it... except for fear of losing their own opinion. Spiritual salvation is pure grace:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even WHEN we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 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. Eph. 2:4-7
"When" is an adverb of time that modifies this whole passage. It says "turn around and look at the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus because at the same moment WHEN that it was happening to Christ, it was happening for all humanity.
The Greek for "made us alive with" is a single word, suzóopoieó and means "From sun and zoopoieo; to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively) -- quicken together with." Humanity was made alive when Christ was made alive!
Then "raised us up with" is also a single Greek word, sunegeiró, meaning, "From sun and egeiro; to rouse (from death) in company with, i.e. (figuratively) to revivify (spiritually) in resemblance to -- raise up together, rise with."
And "seated us with him", is again one compound word, sugkathizó, "From sun and kathizo; to give (or take) a seat in company with -- (make) sit (down) together." This word is used in Luke 22:55, "And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them." They didn't sit together hundreds of years later. It happened at that moment. In the same way, using the same word, you sat down with Christ at the moment that HE DID! Not when you believed. Notice Peter afterward sat down with them and that is a different word altogether.
Each phrase in Greek denotes that the action happened at the exact same moment in conjunction with what happened with Christ. You died with him, you were buried with him, you were raised and seated with him. As the Son of Man he represented you in his INCARNATION so that what happened to Jesus Christ happened to the whole of humanity at the exact same time!
Everyone was "in Christ" because Paul said "Christ died for all, therefore all died." That could only happen if all humanity was in Christ on the cross.
The gospel is a proclamation of that truth so that we can believe it, and know God for ourselves. We hear, "You are forgiven, you are accepted, you are perfectly and unconditionally loved, you are right with the Father, you are redeemed completely and solely through the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!" We hear that message and the Holy Spirit seals it in our hearts as we believe the truth of our salvation (Eph. 1:13).
Of course there are many more scriptures tied to "salvation", "saved", "delivered", etc. but here is the summary. "Saved" means delivered from sickness, disease, physical death, guilt, or condemnation.
But without careful understanding of the cultural and historical context of each passage it is easy for us to embrace an idea that it applies to the same thing in every verse, i.e. going to heaven when we die. While that is true some speak of "eternal life" none speak of going to heaven when we die. When we believe the gospel, we experience eternal life now which culminates in the afterlife.
Some passages confirm our being "saved" as past tense through the incarnational work of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Other passages are about the destruction of Jerusalem.
Interestingly enough, there seem to be no scriptures I can find that join the word saved with "hell" which should challenge the motive for and the way of sharing the gospel.
What are the implications that you are drawing from this article?
There are many ideas here that you may be discovering for the first time. My website is dedicated to the restoration of the optimistic gospel. There is a new day dawning in the world as God is opening the eyes of the blind across the globe. So here are a few articles that will clarify some things above:
The Remnant: Only a Few Will Be Saved?
WANT MORE OPTIMISTIC GOSPEL MESSAGES? SIGN UP FOR MY BLOG AND GET A FREE COPY OF JESUS' OPTIMISTIC KINGDOM.
JUST LOOK FOR THE RED ARROW.