To non-believers, the word can be mistaken to solely mean "rescued from Hell". Being rescued, or saved, from Hell is indeed a wonderful thing, but as I read Sinclair Ferguson's thoughts today, I was reminded --that is really not the whole picture of this word "saved".
In his book, The Christian Life, Ferguson writes that the salvation of God affects believers, and saves us, in these ways:
- We are being saved from the distortion & disfiguring of sin. Though we are sinners by nature, God's salvation makes us a new creation. Over the course of our lives, God transforms us (sanctification) so that we look more and more like Jesus. This does not mean that we achieve perfection, but that as we spend years abiding in Christ, our Potter shapes us and softens us to reflect the image of God.
- We are saved from the dominion of sin. The Bible tells us we were once slaves to sin, but now we are slaves of Christ. We like to use the word "servant", but really, the word "slave" is a more accurate translation. As believers, we are bought with a price, and become Christ's bondservant. And the beautiful irony is this: by becoming slaves, "we may live freely for God." We are purchased from the darkness and enslaved to live in the light!
- We are saved from the power of Satan. There is a real and present enemy, and he seeks to devour us like a lion seeks to consume his prey. In Christ, we are freed from Satan's grasp, and while he still seeks to harm us, he cannot claim us as his own, because we belong to Christ alone.
- We are saved from the real, and terrifying, wrath of God. In this present age, it is considered a social faux pas to talk about God's wrath, even in church. Many people believe that the fact that "God is love" overrides his other character qualities. But while our Father is loving, He is also just and righteous, and our sin deserves his wrath. When we are hidden in Christ, our sin is also hidden in Christ. His perfect nature transforms our unworthiness; His sacrifice covers us and makes us fit to enter the presence of God. The people of Israel had an ever-present picture of God's holiness as only one priest, after ritual cleanings and sacrifices, could enter God's presence one time each year. The opportunity to be in God's presence, and make requests of Him, was a rare-- and frightening-- proposition because of the reality of God's wrath. Being in God's presence is only possible if God's wrath over sin has been satisfied by a perfect sacrifice-- which was done, once for all, in Christ.
I am so thankful for the way truth and doctrine ultimately lead to hope and confidence in God. Being "saved" is such a beautiful truth-- not just a word, and not just salvation from some eternal destiny, but a current, present gift that affects every day of every believer in Christ!