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When the bible speaks of salvation, what are we being saved from? The bible teaches that we are being saved from the consequences of sin, which are spiritual death and wrath. These consequences affect everyone in the world without salvation.
Salvation is one of the pillars of Christianity. If we believe in Christ and follow him, we are saved. Salvation is the gift that Jesus gives us through his crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. Salvation means that we are being saved from the work of sin in our lives.
This emphasis on being saved is unique to Christianity. It implies that the world is on a destructive path of sin. We are born into sin and need deliverance from it. We can't overcome it ourselves, and therefore we need the grace and mercy of God. Salvation is the bond that is the foundation of our relationship with God.
At its root, salvation is a simple concept. To be "saved" means that one is delivered, preserved, or protected from some kind of harm. The verb that's usually translated as "save" [Greek: sodzo] means to deliver or protect (literally or figuratively), heal, preserve, save or make whole. This word "sode-zo" tells us that when we are saved we are being given safety, protection, preservation, and deliverance by God.
As popular as the term "saved" is among Christians, there isn't enough attention given to what it means. What exactly are the consequences that we need to be saved from? Are the consequences immediate or long term? Are they worldly, spiritual or both?
God certainly does deliver people from worldy trials and distresses, "But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth..." (Acts 5.9 KJV bible).
However, as 2nd Timothy tells us, salvation is not a deliverance from troubles of the world, "Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound" (2nd Timothy 2.9 KJV bible).
Salvation is best understood as spiritual deliverance from sin. Being saved from our sins means that we are protected from the progression of sin in our lives. The journey of salvation is a deliverance from the power of sin in us.
What we are being saved from is the destruction and wrath that comes from sin. In being saved, we are preserved from the oppressions and tribulations that children of wrath must endure. This is true for all people, regardless of their place in the world.
While there are many possible consquences of sin, there are three stages that can be identified in the bible. These three stages are relate to the dispensations of time between now and the eternity.
The first stage relates to our current times. Right now we need deliverance from spiritual death. Spiritual death is the sting of sin, that works in us and in the world. God saves from the sting of death.
The next stage relates to Christ's return at the end of the age. At this stage, the wrath of God will manifest upon a world of sin. Those who are saved will be delivered from this tribulation.
Finally, the last stage is Judgment Day. All nonbelievers will be spiritually resurrected and judged according to their deeds. So this final stage is the most perilous of the three, because of the possibility of eternal damnation. The other stages build up to this final event when evil is removed from the world.
The first consequence of sin is death. Obviously, this isn't physical death, because even people who are saved die in the flesh. Rather, we are being saved from spiritual death, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2.1 KJV bible).
Without Christ we are dead in our trespasses, but with Christ we are spiritually resurrected from death, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6.23 KJV bible).
This is why James says that to convert a brother is to save a soul from death, "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death..." (James 5.19-20 KJV bible).
Spiritual life and death can be difficult concepts. Jesus speaks many times about eternal life, but his words are often misunderstood. How does one know if they're dead? Are people dead if they're leading happy and successful lives?
Spiritual death is a bitter hopelessness that many of us feel. Its a confused state of weakness and frailty. Our thoughts are controlled by lies, traumas, and fears. We can't overcome the past or resist evil influences. Sometimes we realize that we need to change, but we have no strength to do it.
Spiritual death affects all souls that are estranged from God. However, many people don't realize they're dead because they've conformed to the world. They find passions and vices in the world that satisfy them. They don't see the spiritual decay that they need to be saved from.
Other people delude themselves that they are alive. Maybe they think they are enlightened, or they've found their own inner truth. Such ones are spiritually blind to the power of death working in them.
Spiritual death is part of this age of sin. The Serpent is a predator who feeds from it, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1st Peter 5.8 KJV bible).
The Devil's children are like their father, because they also prosper in spiritual death. They hide in darkness and use lies and deceit to serve themselves. They bring destruction into the world and take advantage of lost souls.
Many souls prefer the darkness of the world to the light of God, "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3.20 KJV bible).
However, by grace, God leads some out of the decay of the world. He guides some to the light of Christ; bringing deliverance from the law of death. Death has no claim over believers.
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8.2 KJV bible). "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8.34 KJV bible).
After spiritual death, the next consequence of sin is wrath. The time of wrath is a season of grief and torment that will come upon the world of the ungodly. It will happen when Jesus returns with the Kingdom.
"Then you will begin to say, We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets. And He will say, I tell you I do not know you, from where you are. "Stand back from Me all workers of unrighteousness!" There will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrust outside" (Luke 13:26-28 LITV bible).
The wrath of God will manifest at the return of Christ. For the world it's a period of revelation, upheaval, and devastation (Revelation 19.15). Its a time when the nations are shattered to pieces, and demonic powers are slain (Daniel 7.11).
"And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6.16-17 KJV bible).
However, those who are saved have nothing to fear during this time. For the redeemed its a time of joy and salvation. It begins the birth of a much better world that's free from the deception of evil. This is the Millennium Age when God's Kingdom overcomes the world.
God's people aren't appointed to the season of wrath, but to deliverance, "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1st Thessalonians 5.9 KJV bible).
As the world progresses sin becomes stronger. The world will enter a time of full rebellion, when the Antichrist appears. This is a season of great evil and deception (see Will There be a Rapture?). After these woes the evil will be purged in a great conflagration, which is the Day of the Lord.
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels: In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2nd Thessalonians 1.8 KJV bible).
The last consequence of sin is the most perilous. It's the White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20.11-15. This is the final stage of tribulation that unbelievers will endure. While some will receive the salvation of eternal life, others will receive eternal damnation.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13.47-50 KJV bible).
John 5.28-29 speaks of this tribulation, which for many will be a final outpouring of wrath, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5.28-29 KJV bible).
Here Jesus describes the White Throne Judgment. At this time, he will raise up the dead out of Hades; symbolized here by the graves. For the some it will be a resurrection unto life, but for others it will be a resurrection unto damnation. Some unbelievers will be forgiven, but others will take part in the second death.
Those who are being saved should not be fearful. Rather than spiritual death, they have eternal life. Instead of God's wrath they have rewards. They have nothing to fear because they're being delivered from the wrath and destruction that comes upon the world.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5.24 KJV bible).
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