Monday, March 21, 2016

What Does it Mean to be Saved?

Since Easter is coming up I thought this would be a good topic to talk about.  What does it mean when someone says "I'm saved"?  Saved from what?  Do we really need to be saved from something?

I don't like the whole "Jesus comes into your heart" thing.  Maybe that's just me, but when someone says "If you ask Jesus into your heart you're saved" sounds confusing and childish.  Let's take this step-by-step though.

What do we need to be saved from?

When God created the world, he created angels as well.  The most beautiful angel, Lucifer, was vain and wanted God's throne to himself.  So he rebelled against God as well as a third of the angels.  God sent them all to earth as punishment and Lucifer's new name is Satan, which means "the adversary."  Satan is the devil, and the angels who fell from heaven with him are demons, which serve him.  God created man and woman (Adam and Eve) and they were to take care of a garden they were placed in and the animals there.  But they were not supposed to eat from a certain tree, all the other trees they could eat from, but not this one: the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or they would surely die.  Suddenly, a serpent appeared to the woman and tempted her to eat from the tree.  Eventually she gave in and ate from it.  She even convinced the man to eat from the tree as well!  The serpent wasn't just any serpent though, it was Satan in disguise.  After the man and woman ate from the tree, their eyes were opened to things they didn't know of before.  They knew they did something wrong, they disobeyed God, and they were naked!  They tried to hide themselves when God called out to the man, "Adam, where are you?"  Adam responded, "I heard you in the garden, so I hid because I was naked."  God replied, "Who told you that you were naked?  Did you eat from the tree I told you not to eat from?"  At this point you'd think Adam would be wise enough to just admit his wrong-doing, but no, he turns to the woman and says, "It's the woman YOU gave me!  She gave me the fruit!"  Then the woman says, "It was the serpent!  It deceived me!"  Neither of them would admit their wrong-doing.  So God turned the serpent and cursed it.

"Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel."

To the woman he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

To the man he said, "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it for the rest of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and dust you will return."

Because of this, they were driven out of the garden.  After this first action of rebellion against God, we all rebel against God now.

As it is written: "There is not one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God."
- Romans 3:10-11

We are cursed beings for the things we've done.  We are slaves of Satan.  There is no escape.  We may think we're free, but we are in prisons that we have made for ourselves.  This is what we needed to be saved from.  Could anyone actually save us?  Yes.

God wants to be close to us, but because we rebelled against Him, we turned our backs towards Him.  How could He save us?  He sent His Son, Jesus (Yeshua) in the form of a baby.  Jesus was God, but also human.  He was not half-God half-human, he was fully God and fully human.  I know it's a bit confusing, I don't really know how to explain it.  But Jesus performed many miracles.  He healed people, he cast demons out of people, he fed thousands of people, he walked on water, he brought people back from the dead, and so much more!  He was also tempted just like us.  For forty days he was in the desert being tempted by Satan: not once did he give in!  He hung out with the people the religious people thought were disgusting and despicable.  He loved people.  The religious people didn't like him, they hated him and plotted to kill him.  This was God's plan all along.  His Son would be the scapegoat for us.  He would be punished with what we deserved.  That's exactly what happened.  Jesus' friend Judas Iscariot betrayed him and turned him over to the religious leaders.  The religious leaders condemned him to death.  They brought him to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.  He washed his hands and said, "Do with him what you want.  But I am innocent of this man's blood."  So Jesus was mocked, spat on, beaten, flogged (severely), forced to carry his own cross up a hill, and crucified.  They put a crown of thorns on his head.  They nailed his hands and feet to a cross.  They stripped him of his clothes.  He was humiliated.  He was given a criminals punishment when he did nothing wrong.  People hurled insults at him.  "He saved others, why can't he save himself?"  There were two thieves crucified next to him.  One of them said, "If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us!"  The other thief backfired, "Don't you fear God?  He was sentenced to the same punishment we got!  But he didn't deserve this, we did!"  He turned to Jesus and said, "Remember me when you go into your kingdom."  Jesus answered, "I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."  Jesus then cried out, "Tetelestai - It is finished."  The thieves legs were broken so they would die quicker, but when the guards reached Jesus, he was already dead.

These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, "Not one of his bones will be broken."
-John 19:36

They stuck a spear in his side to make sure he really was dead.  They buried his body in a tomb one of the religious leaders who followed him bought.  Three days later, his body was no longer there!  The guards panicked.  The women who were going to anoint Jesus' body were frightened as well.  An angel appeared to them saying, "He is not here, He has risen!"  The women told Jesus' best friends - his disciples, that Jesus was back.  Peter and John ran to the tomb and saw it was empty.  Jesus appeared to them!  Thomas didn't believe them until Jesus also appeared to him.  He said, "Put your finger in my hands or on my side.  Don't doubt anymore."

With Jesus taking our punishment, he broke the hold Satan has over us!  The bondage we were under, the chains that could not come off were broken!  We are free in Jesus!  We can now be close to God again!  Through Jesus, God extends His hand out to us and says, "Follow me."  But we have a choice.  Are we going to follow Him?  Or are we going to keep our backs turned?  We are saved if we take His hand and follow Him.  But if we refuse and continue to choose to rebel against Him, we are still cursed.  I choose to follow Him.

1 comment:

  1. This is good. I think you could improve further by looking at what role the nation of Israel plays in this and what this has to do with the Kingdom of God.