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What does "Salvation," and being "saved", really mean?

The word "Salvation" has probably turned off more people since its inception than any other word I know of. It use to be a major turnoff for me, I know, simply because it was so over-used by "religious" people who were trying to "save" me from something I didn't even understand.

Keep in mind that there is more to this whole story of salvation, and remember that old, preconceived religious ideas and experiences will be flooding your mind as you proceed into the website pages. Try to keep from jumping to conclusions and making decisions before you get all the facts, even if you have a formed opinion now.

With all of God's ability to create, and having perfect character, there is one thing he COULDN'T DO. Hard to believe? It's true. God could not create PERFECT, SPIRITUAL, RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER instantly in any created, free-willed being. If He could have done so, surely He would have done so with the angels, and then mankind. It would have saved all the suffering going on now, and would not have required the death of his "son," who became the Christ. But, we are getting ahead of the story.

We need to again start at the beginning in order to understand exactly what God's plan really is. The typical story goes like this. God is trying to "save" mankind, in a battle with Satan. Salvation, they say, simply consists of "believing in Christ" and you are "saved." Yet we have to ask ourselves, "What of all those billions who have never heard about this whole story?" Are they doomed? Apparently so. Can you get excited about a being who consigns the bulk of humanity to an ever burning hell simply because they didn't hear about Christ or the plan of God? I don't think so, and neither can I.

Let's see what exactly happened in the creation of man, and his supposed "fall."

(Genesis 1:1-2 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was . . ."

"Was," ({haw-yaw} Hebrew, translated - was, come to pass, came, has been, were happened, become.)

"without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

Most people assume this says God originally created the Earth in a state of chaos and confusion, and then proceeded to change it.

Isaiah 45:18 "For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in "vain," (chaos and confusion) Who formed it to be inhabited: "I [am] the LORD, and [there is] no other."

POINT: The word translated "WAS" in verse 1 should be rendered "BECAME." You can see how it changes the meaning of the verse by inserting was. As the second scripture makes plain, God DIDN'T create the world in "VAIN." The word translated "vain" in Isaiah is the same as the words translated "without form" in Genesis; ({to'-hoo} from an unused root meaning to lie waste; Hebrew, translated, - vain 4, vanity 4, confusion 3, without form 2, wilderness 2, nought 2, nothing 1, empty place 1, waste 1.

1) formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness
1a) formlessness (of primeval earth)
1a1) nothingness, empty space
1b) that which is empty or unreal (of idols) (fig)
1c) wasteland, wilderness (of solitary places)
1d) place of chaos
1e) vanity.

In other words God clearly states He DID NOT create the earth as it is believed to be describing in Genesis 1:2, so what happened? We need to tie in the facts about Satan's rebellion. When Satan made the attempt to knock God off of his throne, the resulting battle destroyed the original creation, including the earth. The other planets, and basically the whole universe, was laid waste. This explains WHY the other planets are so inhospitable, lacking any order to them. Of course, we can't know for sure that the entire universe is laid waste just like our solar system, but it is a good guess that it is in the same state of decay and ruin. Satan hated God's plan and creation so much that he deliberately destroyed all he could. So Verse 3 and on, in Genesis 1, describes the re-creation of the earth and all life on it. It was prepared for mankind.

Genesis 1:20 "Then God said," Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens." :21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. :24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, [each] according to its kind;" and it was so. :25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that [it was] good."

Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. :27 So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

Can you see a pattern here, one that God was making quite plain? In the first few scriptures, God states that he created the animals after their respective KINDS. That is, the cattle after the cattle KIND, the birds after the bird KIND, etc. Then in verse 26, God tells us that THEY (See Christ!) created man after THEIR OWN IMAGE, or another way of saying it is God created man AFTER THE GOD KIND.

Sound incredible? God has a plan to share eternity with other beings like himself. However, before this can occur, these other beings - humanity - must be "proven" in the experience of this physical life. We will now look at scriptures that support this concept and begin to see how awesome this plan truly is, and where our destiny lies.

The most important aspect to any conscious, free-willed being is their CHARACTER. A good definition for character is, "The ability to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil, and to be able to CHOOSE the right consistently, without deviating from that course."

Because God is spirit, He has a set character where He wills to choose the good always. His existence is motivated by love, good and all the things worth experiencing. His nature is perfect. His mind is flawless. In order for other beings to live eternally like Him, they MUST develop the same character that God has.

Genesis 2:16 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, :17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

POINT: This often quoted verse, usually depicted by the "eating of the apple," shows the intent God had. Whether it was an apple is irrelevant. The point God was making was that man was given a choice. He was placed into a position where he had to make right decisions.

Genesis 3:1-6 "Now the serpent (Satan) was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden.? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, :3 but of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die. :4 Then the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. :6 So when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make [one] wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate."

POINT: They failed to make the right decision, the same decision any other human in their place would have made. You see, they were not made complete at their creation. If they were complete and perfect, they would not have made the wrong choice to begin with. So the supposed "fall of man" wasn't really a fall at all. To fall, implies that you are dropping down from a better or loftier state of being. If they were so lofty and wise to begin with they wouldn't have made the decision they did.

You may be asking about now, "Why did God allow Satan to get to their minds and to influence them? THAT, is the million dollar question. The answer lies with Satan's rebellion. Remember, Satan was created PERFECT, but NOT complete. That is, he was perfect as created, but he lacked the completion needed by growth and development in making right decisions.

Satan didn't have any physical flesh to deal with, he didn't have anyone to tempt him to do wrong, he didn't have any weaknesses to "make" him sin or make the wrong decision, yet HE STILL SINNED.

If a being that was created perfect (that is, created perfect, yet incomplete, since the created angels had to make the right decisions as well) yet he still sinned, how much less would mankind be able to make the right decisions? God USED Satan as the instrument (and still is using him) through which mankind's character is developed through the struggles of physical life.

Mankind HAD to be faced with tough decisions, AND be allowed to face Satan's mind and influence in order to learn to overcome that influence, and STILL be able to make right decisions. Let's look at how the Christ, (known as the "Word" prior to his incarnation as a physical human man - see Christ) had to do what he did to pave the way and set the example for us.

One of the most quoted scriptures is the following: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Why did God have to send his "son" to DIE for mankind?

Ezekiel 18:4 "Behold, all souls are mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; The soul who sins shall die."

:20 "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

POINT: Sound familiar? Remember God's warning to Adam and Eve about eating of the one tree? He said they would surely die, and guess what, they're dead, but God was referring to a death that wouldn't end. Satan deceived Eve (Adam wasn't deceived but he ate, too) into taking the fruit, making their own personal decision about what was right and wrong, thereby condemning them to not only physical death, but eternal death (unless later repented of).

Romans 6:23 "For the wages (what one earns for the work they do) of sin [is] death, (not physical death because Christ also physically died but was sinless) but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

POINT: The contrast between life and death, NOT "life," vs. "living forever in hell." Death means death, (see Soul!) and life means life. The penalty God placed on mankind for making the wrong decisions, or being in a state of "sin," was the death penalty. Sin is such a serious thing that God made it clear that anyone who sinned could not continue to exist. He sincerely has too much love to allow someone to be in a state of sin eternally. Wouldn't you prefer death over misery and suffering forever?

1 Cor 15:12 "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13: But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15: 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. 16: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18: Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

POINT: We should note in this passage that the statement that "we are yet in our sins," IF Christ is not raised is telling! It is commonly taught that our sins are absolved by the death of Christ, where Paul shows that to be a PART of the process. We are actually "saved by His Life". Notice the clear definition found in Romans 5:10 " For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Christ's ongoing Service on our behalf before the Throne of God in Heaven and our incorporation of His Life within us is essential to attaining eternal life, not just having our sins forgiven.

God knew that mankind wouldn't pass the test against Satan. That is why scripture states the following:

1 Peter 1:20 "He (Christ) indeed was foreordained (for death) BEFORE the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you."

Revelation 13:8 "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, (the beast) whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

POINT: God was ready to do an incredible thing because He wanted to share eternity with mankind. SOMEONE had to pay the penalty that came upon the head of mankind, or mankind would simply live this short physical life and then simply cease to exist. God could have wiped out everything and tried again, but He KNEW that the development of perfect, spiritual, righteous character was something even HE couldn't create instantly. THAT is why a being who ALREADY HAD that kind of character, had to pay the penalty in our place, FOR US, as part of the bigger plan.

John 1:29 "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

1 Peter 1:19 "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

Philippians 2:6-8 "(Christ) who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, :7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, [and] coming in the likeness of men (flesh), :8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to [the point of] death, even the death of the cross."

POINT: Christ is referred to as the "Lamb of God," and "without blemish." This indicates that Christ was sinless and therefore COULD be the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty which is on every human head who has ever lived or ever will live.

Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

1 John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

POINT: The nature of man is not complete and that is the whole purpose God is working out on this earth.

Ephesians 3:19 "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Ephesians 4:13 "till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;"

John 17:21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, [are] in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."

Philippians 2:5 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,"

1 Peter 2:21 "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:"

1 John 2:6 "He who says he abides in Him (Christ) ought himself also to walk just as He walked."

POINT: Christ lived a perfect life. He didn't deviate from the character of God even though He was tempted in all the basic ways that mankind has been tempted with.

Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but (Christ) was in all [points] tempted as [we are, yet] without sin."

POINT: In order for God to accomplish the task of creating the right kind of character in us, He set up some rules for us to abide by. These "rules" are known as the 10 commandments, but even these only lay out a general pattern of behavior.

Psalm 119:172 "My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments [are] righteousness."

John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth."

Romans 7:12 "Therefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy and just and good."

Matt 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

POINT: As good as the commandments are, they aren't good enough. Christ came to magnify the letter of the law, and to bring it down to the basic foundation of where all sin begins. . .the mind. He makes it plain that it isn't the letter of the law that makes one righteous, it takes an internalizing of the laws. . .written on our hearts (Minds) to accomplish the real spiritual intent of God's law. God's law is simply a reflection of His mind and state of being.

Isaiah 42:21 "The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He (Christ) will magnify the law and make [it] honorable."

Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, (6th Commandment) and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. :22 But I say to you that whoever is 'ANGRY' with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment."

Matthew 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' (7TH Commandment) 28 "But I say to you that whoever "LOOKS" at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (mind)."

Jeremiah 31:33 "But this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

POINT: Essentially, in Matthew 5-7, Christ is magnifying the intent of the Law, taking it from simply observing the letter of the law, and revealing that the intent is for the actual shaping of mankind's mind. This was a huge difference to most people who heard it, and one of the reasons Christ was killed. It is also why this truth is resisted by most religions of the world today.

So where are we now? We have seen that character development is the prime motive God has for working with mankind. However, how is this completely missed by most religions of the world? What is the world's substitute for this truth? As I explained before, the concept of "Accept Christ and you are saved" sounds great. It clouds the actual plan God is working out in mankind. It also eliminates the personal effort involved in this process and the time element necessary to reach salvation... it isn't instant. Once you realize what God is doing, you can see that the "deathbed repentance" often visualized by some is a deception and waters down God's plan and purpose.

Some are quick to claim that mankind can do NOTHING to "earn" salvation. That is true. There is nothing any of us could possible do to deserve to be granted eternal life. You see, the death penalty is already on our heads if we have not acknowledged our state of being. There is nothing any of us can do to remove this penalty. It is final and sure regardless of even living a perfect life from this moment on. We earned the death penalty.

That is where Christ's sacrifice comes in. He PAID the penalty FOR us, ALL OF US, but for sins that are PAST:

Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

His life was worth more than all the human beings combined, BECAUSE He was literally "GOD IN THE STATE OF FLESH." He was no longer the spirit being He used to be. He came to show us the way to God, and to pay the penalty for us. After His death and resurrection to spirit life once again, He now works through His spirit to shape and mold the character of those God calls for that purpose IN THIS AGE.

So how does traditional Christianity miss this plan and simplify religion down to "just believe?"

Romans 10:9 "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

Luke 12:8 "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God."

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Acts 15:11 "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

Acts 16:31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Romans 10:9 "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, 9 "NOT OF WORKS", lest anyone should boast."

2 Timothy 1:9 "who has saved us and called [us] with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,"

POINT: These many scriptures, when taken alone, seem to tell us that belief is all that is necessary for Salvation, but is this really TRUE? What do these verses tell us? They DO tell us that belief, faith and grace are definitely a part of the salvation process, and that works don't provide us with "Salvation." That is true.

However, is this the whole story? Are there any scriptures that tell us that something ELSE is required from by God in order to receive the very grace, faith and belief that is required for Salvation? Let's take a look at a host of scriptures that do just that. Remember, Satan DOESN'T want anyone to understand that there is more to the salvation question. He is quite content to have the majority of humanity in ignorance of the truth of salvation simply because he knows they aren't achieving anything on the road they travel. (Even here, though, Satan himself is deceived and he THINKS he is thwarting God's overall plan.)

Psalm 111:10 "The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do [His commandments.]"

Matthew 16:24 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

Matthew 19:17 "So He said to him. . . But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide [is] the gate and broad [is] the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. :14 Because narrow [is] the gate and difficult [is] the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Luke 13:24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able."

POINT: Remember the "many" who are called, and the "many" who are deceived? If belief and faith were all that is required, why does Christ tell us it is a "narrow and difficult way? Someone is missing something here.

John 6:27 "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."

Acts 14:22 "strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting [them] to continue in the faith, and [saying,] We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."

Romans 2:7-8 "eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath,"

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain [it.]... (Notice that beginning the run doesn't mean you obtain.) :25 And everyone who competes [for the prize] is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a perishable crown, but we [for] an imperishable [crown.] :26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as [one who] beats the air. :27 But I discipline my body and bring [it] into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."

POINT: So far we have seen that there is far more to salvation than simply believing, if you accept the scriptures at all. In the last scripture above, even Paul himself mentions the possibility that he could lose out on eternal life. You can't cast off these scriptures or ignore them without serious consequences.

Galatians 6:9 "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

POINT: This is a big IF. Look at the other warnings God gives.

Ephesians 4:13 "TILL we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;"

POINT: A process of time is involved to become like Christ, which is the ultimate goal we all have.

Hebrews 4:11 "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."

Hebrews 12:10 "For they indeed for a few days chastened [us] as seemed [best] to them, but He God) for [our] profit, that [we] may be partakers of His holiness."

Philippians 2:12 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;"

2 Peter 1:10 "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;"

James 1:22-25 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; :24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. :25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues [in it,] and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."

James 2:17-20 "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. :19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble! :20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"

POINT: The law and personal effort are absolutely necessary for God to be able to shape our character. It takes free choice and free will to be involved in this process, otherwise the goal will never be achieved. The fruit of our lives will be an indication of spiritual growth.

So what is the end result of this process? Let's look at what God directly tells us. In reality there are dozens of other scriptures which refer to action on our part, which you can take a look at later. The whole point is, we have an incredible destiny, if we just accept it.

Romans 8:29 "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

POINT: This "conforming" doesn't come by magic or by a simple replacement of Christ for us. If that were possible, wouldn't God have done it that way in the beginning?

Revelation 21:7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."

Hebrews 2:7-10 "You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. :8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing [that is] not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. :9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. :10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom [are] all things and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

In the above verses, you can see an incredible prophecy regarding mankind. The words "a little " in both places, should be "for a little while." (1024 brachus {brakh-ooce'} a short time, for a little while). This means God temporarily made us lower than the spirit beings known as angels. As the verses continue to explain, Christ was in the same lower state for a little while, but later glorified as a spirit (God) being. WE HAVE THE SAME DESTINY AS CHRIST regarding what we will become like. We will have a higher position and state than the angels.

This is hard for some to comprehend, but if you study the New Testament, you will see plenty of support scriptures that speak directly of our destiny. If you thought going to heaven was exciting, imagine sharing in the very nature of the spirit being we know as God? Being spirit means living forever, being able to move to places with the speed of thought, moving through physical objects, etc.

Another point to keep in mind is that, as Revelation 21:7 tells us, if we make it through the training, we will actually INHERIT ALL THINGS. But WHAT things? Would you believe THE ENITRE UNIVERSE? Well, believe it. God has established the limitless universe as OUR INHERITANCE. Wouldn't you like to have the entire universe as your future playground? Is it possible to even have your own planet, or even solar system? Don't think this is stupid because it is true and exactly what we have the potential to reach. PROVE IT FOR YOURSELF!

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