John 3:16, Everlasting life.
What is Salvation?
The dictionary defines the word salvation as “the deliverance from the power and effects of sin.” In a general sense, salvation is “preservation from harm, ruin or loss.” Relating the first definition, which is biblical in nature, to the second definition, which is generic in nature, we see that salvation is the deliverance or preservation from the power of sin, which causes harm, ruin or loss. Salvation and redemption are synonymous terms in biblical Hebraic thought. We will discuss the idea of redemption below.
So what is sin that it causes harm, ruin or loss, and what is being harmed or being lost such that we need deliverance? Very simply, Scripture (the Bible) defines sin as the violation of YHVH Elohim’s (the LORD God’s) Torah-laws (1 John 3:4). What is YHVH Elohim’s Torah-law? It is the instructions, precepts or teaching of YHVH as found in the first five books of the Bible, which can then be expanded to include the entire Bible or Word of YHVH. Man is commanded to live by every word found in Scripture (Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4). Man is to hear and do the Words of YHVH (Deut 6:4), place YHVH’s words in his heart (Deut 6:6), teach them to his children (Deut 6:7), and to make them the basis for all that he does and thinks (Deut 6:8). The words or laws of YHVH Elohim can be summed up as loving YHVH and loving one’s neighbor (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18; Mark 12:30; John 14:15). The cornerstone of those laws is found in the well-known ten commandments as found in Exodus 20. They are…
- I am YHVH your Elohim.
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not take my name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day to keep it set-apart.
- Honor you father and mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not lie.
- You shall not covet your that which belongs to your neighbor.
The first five statements constitute loving YHVH Elohim, while the last five constitute loving one’s fellow man. These ten statements are but the beginning of YHVH’s laws as outlined in Scripture, which if man break, man is guilty of sin. There are 613 such laws in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and more than 1050 in the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament). This may seem like a lot of laws for man to have to follow, but in reality, it is nothing compared to the hundreds of law books that constitute the laws of most nations on earth. Whole law libraries are established to contain them all!
As civil governments have established laws to maintain order among the inhabitants of a society, and as all societies impose penalties upon its citizens for breaking those laws, the same is true of YHVH’s divine laws. Scripture teaches that the results of breaking Elohim’s laws (i.e. sin) is death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23), and that all humans have sinned (Rom 3:23). Because YHVH has imposed a death sentence upon every one because of sin, eternal death is the harm, ruin or loss, from which man needs deliverance, redemption or salvation. The Bible teaches that salvation is deliverance from that death, and that those who are saved will be granted eternal life or immortality because the death penalty has been lifted from them. Therefore, those who are saved from death, the result of sin, will be given immortality (Rom 6:23).
How can man receive salvation from the wages or penalty of his sin, which is death? Let’s now explore this concept.
Steps to Salvation
The Bible states that man has a sin problem (read Romans chapters 1 through 3), and that man must take certain spiritual steps to rectify this problem. Here are these steps:
One can have their past sins forgiven by placing their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), the son of Elohim who took man’s sins upon himself and died in place of man to satisfy the divine and legal judgment against sin (i.e. the violation of the Creator’s laws), so that man could pass from death to life (John 3:16). What is sin? We sin when we break YHVH’s commandments as revealed in the Bible, the Word of Elohim (1 John 3:4). When men turn away from committing sin and place their faith in Yeshua, Scripture promises that man will experience forgiveness resulting in a glorious spiritual relationship with our Father in heaven leading to eternal or everlasting life (Rom 3:21–5; 6:23).
Next, we need the divine Spirit of Elohim living within us to overcome the power of our sin-inclined flesh nature and to change our sinful ways and to walk in accordance with YHVH’s Torah-commands, which show us how not to sin (Rom 6–8).
When we place our faith in Yeshua we are separated from this world spiritually and become part of a new kingdom — a spiritual body called redeemed Israel or the church (Rom 9–11; Eph 2:11–19). As such, we need to spend time with like-minded believers in Yeshua (Heb 10:25; 1 Tim 3:15).
We need to live a godly or righteous life in accordance with the Word of Elohim. How can we know how to do this? We learn how to live righteously as we study YHVH’s divine Word regularly, so we will know how to walk in accordance with the life-giving and blessed commands of our loving Creator (Eph 5:26; Rom 12–13).
We need to commit to being a follower or disciple of Yeshua and to put our love into action, by growing spiritually so that we can help others to find their way out of the same spiritual pit of sin and death from which we have been delivered or saved (2 Tim 2:15; Rom 14–15).
Subsections of Salvation
The biblical idea of salvation is an over-arching concept that has subcomponents. Let’s explore these various parts, which when synergistically combined form the whole picture of salvation.
The word justify according to Webster’s Dictionary, means “to show to be just, right; to free from blame or guilt.” Justification is the process by which sinful humans beings are made acceptable to a righteous and sinless Elohim. Justification is by grace or is a free gift (Rom 3:24) unlike all the other religions of the world where one has to work to receive immortal life. Elohim extends his grace, and it is man’s responsibility to receive it by exercise believing faith. Salvation is not based on man’s works, for he cannot earn it (Eph 2:8–10).
Paul tells us that through Yeshua Elohim is reconciling the world to himself and not imputing man’s sins (violation of Torah) to him (2 Cor. 5:19). This reconciling covers all our past sins (Rom 3:25) which we have confessed, repented of and turned away from (Ps 32:5; Prov 28:13; 1 John 1:9).
When Elohim justifies a man, he charges the sin of that man to Yeshua (the Savior and Redeemer, 2 Cor 5:21). Justification is based on the righteous, Torah-obedient life of Yeshua and is a free gift to men and will led to eternal life (Rom 3:21–26; John 3:16) if a man stays faithful to YHVH his entire life (Matt 10:22; 24:13; Rom 2:7; Rev 2:7; 3:21).
Justification saves us from the judgment or wrath of Elohim (Rom 5:9) against sin (i.e. the violation of his Torah, 1 John 3:4), and results in our being at peace with him (Rom 5:1) resulting in our obtaining access to his grace (Rom 5:2). Grace is not only YHVH free and unmerited pardon from our sins, but it’s also the free gift of his Holy Spirit living in our lives and divinely enabling us to walk in accordance with YHVH righteous standards henceforth.
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines redemption as,
[D]eliverance by payment of a price. In the NT, redemption refers to salvation from sin, death, and the wrath of Elohim by Christ’s sacrifice. In the OT, the word redemption refers to redemption by a kinsman (Lev 25:24, 51–52; Ruth 4:6; Jer 32:7–8), a rescue or deliverance (Num. 3:49), and ransom (Ps. 111:9; 130:7). In the NT it refers to loosing (Luke 2:38; Heb 9:12) and loosing away (Luke 21:28; Rom 3:24; Eph 1:14). The NT emphasizes the tremendous cost of redemption: ‘the precious blood of [Messiah]’ (1 Pet. 1:18; Eph. 1:7), which is also called an atoning sacrifice, ‘a propitiation by His blood’ (Rom. 3:25). Believers are exhorted to remember the ‘price’ of their redemption as motivation to personal holiness (1 Cor 6:19–20; 1 Pet 1 :13–19) The Bible also emphasizes the result of redemption: freedom from sin and freedom to serve Elohim through [Yeshua the Messiah our Master].
A redeemer is one who redeems someone in need of redemption or salvation. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary: defines redeemer as,
A redeemer is one who frees or delivers another from difficulty, danger, or bondage, usually by the payment of a ransom price. In the OT the redeemer could function in several ways. He could buy back property (and even enslaved people) sold under duress (Lev. 25:23-32). He (usually as owner, not as a relative) often redeemed from the Lord dedicated property and firstborn livestock (Lev 27:1-33; also Exod 21:28–30).
Boaz’s function as redeemer for Ruth (Ruth 3:13–4:10) is well known, as is Job’s resurrection hope in Elohim, his Redeemer (Job 19:25). Elohim Himself is the Redeemer of Israel, a fact mentioned 18 times — especially by the prophet Isaiah (Ps 78:35; Isa 41:14).
In the NT, [Messiah] is viewed as the ultimate Redeemer, although the Greek word for redeemer is not used. [Yeshua] gave His life ‘as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). Thus, the apostle Paul speaks of believers as having ‘redemption through His blood’ (Eph 1:7).
The biblical concept of redemption involves three things. It involves the exchange of one thing for something else and the use of power or authority to make it happen. The children of Israel, for example, were enslaved in Egypt and were powerless to free themselves. YHVH by right of his divine power and authority brought judgments upon the Egyptian slave masters, and through the shedding of the lamb’s blood redeemed Israel exchanged Israel’s slavery for freedom. This was a prophetic picture pointing to something at a higher spiritual level and an event that was yet to come. It is this. YHVH delivers, saves or redeems any sinful men who place their trust in the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of Elohim who paid the penalty of death for man’s breaking Elohim’s laws by allowing himself to die on the cross. At the same time, YHVH destroyed the devil’s death grip on sinful man. Several passages in the Testimony of Yeshua speak about this spiritual transaction.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Pet 1:18–19)
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify Elohim in your body, and in your spirit, which are Elohim’s. (1 Cor 6:20)
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. (Eph 1:19)
In Revelation 20:10 and 14, YHVH judges sin, death and Satan who have been men’s spiritual slave masters.
The word reconcile according to Webster’s Dictionary means “to make friendly again; to settle a quarrel; to make something consistent.”
The following is the paraphrased definition of reconciliation from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Biblically, it is the process by which Elohim and man are brought together again. Elohim and man were alienated from one another because of YHVH’s holiness and man’s sinfulness. Though YHVH loves the sinner (Rom 5:8), it is impossible for him not to judge sin (Heb 10:27). Therefore in biblical reconciliation, both parties are affected. Through the sacrifice of Messiah, man’s sin is atoned and YHVH’s wrath is appeased. Thus a relationship of hostility and alienation is changed into one of peace and fellowship. Man is reconciled to YHVH through the person and work of Yeshua the Messiah (2 Cor 5:18). Paul regarded the gospel as the “word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). And knowing the terror of YHVH’s judgment Paul pleaded, implored, and persuaded men: “Be reconciled to YHVH” (2 Cor 5:20).
Sanctification is the process of YHVH’s grace by which the saint (i.e. one who is saved by Yeshua the Redeemer or Savior from sin’s death penalty) supernaturally is separated from an overwhelming innate tendency toward sinful thoughts, words and actions, and becomes dedicated to live according to YHVH’s righteous laws. Accomplished by the Word of YHVH (John 17:7) and the Spirit of Elohim supernaturally at work in the life of the sanctified one or saint (Rom 8:3–4), sanctification results in holiness, or purification from the guilt and power of sin. We can further define sanctification in the following ways:
Sanctification is spiritual separation from the world and being set apart for YHVH’s service.
Sanctification is a process by which YHVH purifies the believer or saint and is based on the sacrificial death of Messiah the Savior (Eph 1:4; 5:25–27; Tit 2:14). The offering of Yeshua’s body (Heb 10:10) and blood (Heb 13:12) serves to purge our conscience from “dead works to serve the living YHVH” (Heb 9:14). Because our cleansing from sin is made possible only by Messiah’s death and resurrection, we are “sanctified in Messiah Yeshua” (1 Cor 1:12; Acts 20:32; 1 Cor 1:30; 6:11).
Sanctification involves YHVH and man working together:
We are sanctified by Abba Father (Jude 1), Yeshua (Heb. 2:11) and by the divine Spirit of YHVH Elohim (2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2).
We are commanded to be perfectly holy (1 Thess 4:7). We are to be sanctified completely (1 Thess 5:23). Sanctification is a process that continues throughout our lifetime (Heb 10:14). Believers are commanded to be holy (Lev 11:44; 1 Pet 1:15–16), to be perfect (Matt 5:48), and to present their bodies as slaves of holiness (Rom 6:19; 1 Thess 4:3-5). The believer in Yeshua is commanded to be believe in Yeshua since we are sanctified by faith in him (Acts 26:18). Through the divine empowerment of the Spirit of Elohim, we must put to death the evil deeds of the body (Rom 8:13). (Excerpted from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 948)
This is the nexus and apex of all things for the believer. All the above come together resulting in eternal life as sons and daughters of YHVH in his eternal kingdom (John 1:12; Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:50–57; 1 Thess 4:13–18; 1 John 3:1–2; Rev 20:4–6; 21:1–4; 22:12–14).
Assurance of Salvation—You Can Know For Sure If You’re Saved
Once one has followed the biblical criteria for becoming saved or redeemed from sin, one doesn’t have to wonder if one is saved or not. There are numerous scriptures that tell us that if after having met the requirements for receiving the free gift of salvation, as one continues to walk in faithful and loving obedience to Yeshua the Messiah, one can be certain that after death, eternal life will be one’s reward. Here are a few of those scriptures.
1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of Elohim; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of Elohim.” The word know (Greek: eido, Strong’s G1492) means “to see, to know, to perceive with the mind, to understand, to know both by knowledge and inclination; to know intuitively as contrasted with the Greek word ginosko (Strong’s G1097) which means to know experientially.”
1 John 3:1–2, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of Elohim: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of Elohim, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” The word now (Greek: nun, Strong’s H3568) means “present, immediate.” The word to know (Strong’s G1492 is eido, which we define above.
1 John 4:17–18, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
John 3:15–16, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For Elohim so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 5:24, “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 6:40, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (see also verse 47).
John 8:51, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”
1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” The word death (Gr. thanatos) means “death, natural or temporal death, physical death; also eternal, spiritual or the second death.” By contrast, the word life (Gr. zoe) means “life in the spirit and soul as distinguished from bios or physical life.”
Romans 10:9–10, “…thou shalt be saved.” The word saved (Gr. sozo) means “delivered, healed, preserved, made whole.”
Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21, Whoever shall call upon the name of YHVH shall be saved.
Romans 1:16, The gospel of Messiah … is the power of YHVH unto salvation to everyone that believes.
Ephesians 2:1-10, We’re quickened and raised up together to seat in heavenly places with Messiah….
2 Timothy 1:9–10, Who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling.
Mark 16:17, The Great Commission tells us that he that believes in Yeshua and is baptized shall be saved.
Many more Scriptures could be given.
How Are We Saved?
The Christian church has come up with various formulas to “get a person saved” such as altar calls and saying the sinners prayer. There are no examples these kinds of things in the Bible. Instead, the Scriptures give us general guidelines and examples to follow. There are no formulas. What follows is a list of examples from the apostolic writers of how people were saved in early church era.
For example, in Acts 2:14–37 we read that Peter preached the gospel and that the hearers were pricked in their hearts (verse 37). This resulted in a spontaneous, Holy Spirit-led response on the part of the hearers of the gospel or good news message of salvation. After this, the people were baptized for the remission of sins in the name of Yeshua and subsequently received the Holy Spirit (verse 38). All this happened on the same day (verse 41). When directed by the Holy Spirit, spiritual transformations can happen quickly!
A little later in Acts chapter three (verses 11 to 26), Peter preached another short sermon and then invited the people to “repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.” This resulted in about 5000 people coming to faith in Yeshua (Acts 4:4).
Next in Acts 8:4–17, we find that the gospel was preached (in Samaria) and people believed it and were baptized. There were no altar calls; only a spontaneous reaction to the preaching of the good news of the message of salvation through faith in Yeshua, who died on the cross in man’s place paying the death penalty price of man’s breaking the laws of Elohim.
A little later in Acts 8:26–38, the Ethiopian eunuch heard the message of salvation through Yeshua and asked to be baptized (verse 36). He is told to believe with all his heart that Yeshua is the Son of YHVH (verse 37). Baptism occurs on the spot (verse 38).
Then in Acts 10:34–43, Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius and his family and friends. Peter declares that whoever believes on Yeshua shall receive remission (or cancellation of debt) from sins (verse 43). The Spirit of Elohim then fell on those who heard the gospel preached (verse 44). The gift of tongues occurred as a manifestation of the Spirit of Elohim (verse 46). In this case, baptism for the remission of sins occurs after receipt of Holy Spirit (verse 47). The scriptures clearly show that it doesn’t matter which order one follows (there are no formulas to receive salvation) — baptism first followed by the receipt of the Holy or vice versa. The main thing is that one gets their heart right with Elohim, which involves repenting of sin, and putting one’s faith in Yeshua as their Savior or Redeemer and then becoming a follower or disciple of Yeshua.
Finally in Acts 16:30–33, we read that after the gospel was preached to the Philippian jailer, Paul immediately told him to believe on Messiah Yeshua and affirmed that he would be saved. In this case, baptism for the remission of sins occurred immediately.
Paul describes the salvation process in the most simple terms in Romans chapter 10.
[I]f you confess with your mouth the Lord Yeshua and believe in your heart that Elohim has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.… For whoever calls on the name of Yehovah shall be saved.” (Rom 10:9–13)
In Paul’s mind, however, there is more to salvation than just believing in the name of Yeshua. Anyone can believe anything for a moment, but this doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the long term! In the same chapter, Paul links belief in Yeshua to Torah-obedience. In verse five, for example, Paul quotes Moses who speaks about living a righteous life of Torah-obedience. What’s more, in quoting Moses from Deuteronomy 30:12–14 who is speaking about the Torah-law, Paul, interestingly, substitutes the name “Yeshua” for the word “Torah.” In Paul’s mind, belief in and obedience to Yeshua, the Living Word of Elohim who was made flesh (John 1:1, 14) is equivalent to the belief the Torah-law, which is the Written Word of Elohim. Therefore, when, in verses 9 to 13, Paul makes his well known declaration about “how to become saved,” he is linking belief in Yeshua directly with obedience to the Torah as the standard of righteousness to follow as evidence of one’s salvation. Elsewhere, Paul declares that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8) the result of which is walking in good works (Eph 2:10). John echoes Paul’s understanding when in the book of Revelation, he defines the end time saints as those who keep the (Torah) commandments of Elohim and who also have the testimony or faith of Yeshua (believe in the gospel message, Rev 12:17; 14:12).