What is Salvation

(What are We Being Saved From)

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The story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden is true. However, the specifics of the Genesis account are couched in metaphor. In this garden were many types of fruit trees, including one called the tree of life and another one called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God allowed Adam and Eve to eat freely the fruit of any tree in the garden with one exception. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden. God warned them, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The tree of life was free to them.

Also in this garden was a creature called the serpent. This serpent seemed to be jealous of God and of the manís relationship with God. He was flattering, manipulative, and deceptive. He used these talents to destroy the manís relationship with His God.

By first deceiving the manís wife, he told them that God was lying to them about the knowledge of good and evil. They would not die, but they would become like gods themselves. Plato once said, “Everything that deceives may be said to enchant.” Adam and Eve were enchanted by this serpent and by their lust for this knowledge. They ingested this new wisdom.

Adam and Eve could have had eternal life. The tree of life was free to them. God banished them from the tree of life because they doubted His word (lack of faith). Death was now the fate of man.

And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. Genesis 5:5

Death has always been the penalty for defying God. Even the most God-loving and God-fearing people have failed to overcome this penchant for disobedience. God calls this failure sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5:12

Is death really death, or does the “real you” go on living after your body turns back to dust?

…; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 6:23

The wages (or penalty) of sin is death, but eternal life is a gift from God. Just as Adam had free access to eternal life in the garden, we again have free access to the tree of life, which is Jesus. If eternal life is a gift from God, how can we go beyond death unless He gives us this gift? Here is the purpose for salvation.

Salvation means saving or salvaging. God has a plan to salvage the human race from death. This is why Jesusí death is so significant. We all deserve to die because of sin. Jesus was the Son of God. He never sinned. He was never under the penalty. His life was more valuable than all of our lives together; therefore, His death is worth more than all of ours. When Jesus died, God accepted His death as payment for all our sins.

The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15,

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you,, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits: afterward they that are Christís at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:1-26

If we each had to pay for our sins, we would eventually bring humanity to the point of extinction. This would mean the end of creation. The reason Christ died for our sins was to pay the penalty for us. Godís love was so great He allowed His Son to suffer death to save us from it. Jesus was our scapegoat. In casual conversation, a scapegoat is someone who takes the blame for someone else. Scapegoat actually came from the Bible.

Mosesí brother, Aaron, was the first Levite priest. In Leviticus 16, God commanded Aaron to take two kid goats for a sin offering. He was to cast lots on the goats - “one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.” The goat on which the Lordís lot fell was sacrificed as a sin offering. The scapegoat symbolically carried the collective sins of Israel and was released into the wilderness. Jesus was both the sacrifice and the scapegoat. Just as the scapegoat was allowed to escape from death, Jesus was released from death. He now sits at the right hand of God. When our Savior returns, we will be resurrected (saved from death).

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