In general terms, salvation is being rescued (or saved) from a difficult or desperate situation.
From a Christian perspective, salvation, or rescue, occurs through Jesus.
The purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth was to die in place of all of us for the wrongs we have done. In essence, he paid our fine and did our time, so that we won’t have to. If we accept this gift or act of Jesus’, it makes us right with God the Father, who is perfect, thereby allowing us to be with him for all eternity.
It’s easy to accept this gift (it’s free) and start on a journey with Jesus. Jesus simply said, “Come, follow me,” (Mark 1:17).
The phrase “eternal life” occurs 42 times in the Bible. What exactly then is eternal life?
Some suggest eternal life is synonymous with heaven. If we believe in Jesus, we will go to heaven when we die. That is eternal life.
That’s a good start to our understanding of eternal life, but that’s not all there is to it; there’s more.
As I read the Bible, I see eternal life beginning now, here in this world. We learn this from the apostle John, whose references to eternal life are often present tense.
When we follow Jesus, eternal life begins immediately, right now, today. Eternal life begins here on earth through Jesus and continues into heaven when our physical bodies die.
If you follow Jesus, are you enjoying eternal life today?
[verses about eternal life in the NIV Bible, John 5:24, John 3:14-21, John 5:39-40, John 3:34-36]
In one Paul’s letters, he says something that is quite curious and strange. He tells readers to “work out your salvation.” [Philippians 2:12]
Ugh? Didn’t Paul also write that we are saved through faith and not by our “works” (that is, not of our own doing or striving)? [Ephesians 2:8-9]
So, if we can’t earn our salvation, why do we need to work it out? Is Paul confused? Is he schizophrenic? Is this a paradox?
Actually, I think it’s a matter of timing.
First, we need to follow Jesus — by faith. We don’t need to do anything else to get God’s attention or earn his affection. There is no working involved in being made right with God. That means it’s a gift — we didn’t buy it and can’t earn it; it was given.
The second part is our response. Out of sheer gratitude for the gift, we can opt to respond by behaving differently. I think this is what it means to “work out our salvation,” that is, to cultivate it or complete it.
Consider what if I gave you a million dollars. Would your attitude towards me change? I think so. You might want to find out more about me, learn why I did it, and maybe help me in my future philanthropic efforts.
In essence you might be working out my gift to you. It’s still a gift, but one that evokes a grand response.