What Does It Mean To Be Saved?

by Rayola Kelley

Q: I am struggling with what it means to be saved. I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, but I do not sense any real changes in my life, which concerns me since I am considered a new creation. Although this question may seem silly, how do I know I am saved? 

A: Your question is not silly. In fact, I wonder how many Christians are struggling with this very same issue, but are afraid to ask the question or have received platitudes when they have pursued it.

       We need to consider what salvation is. It is mainly deliverance.  Salvation works in three arenas. First of all, we have been saved. This points to being delivered from the influence, workings and activities of sin. Sin places us in a state of death, which will influence our preferences, will be present in all we do, and surrounds us in the activities of the world. This salvation occurs at the point of mentally accepting that Jesus’ death on the cross took away our sins, and acknowledging His work and Lordship, which expresses itself through confession.

       The next point of salvation is that we are presently being saved. This means that we are being delivered from the inclination, ways and tendencies of the old life that can easily entice, entrap and enslave us back into the old ways of sin and death. This old life has to do with our fallen state or disposition. Jesus’ redemption clearly calls us to repentance with the purpose of truly addressing our sins, but the call to discipleship addresses our disposition.  It is important to understand that when we accept what Jesus did for us, we must then receive His very life by faith. In other words, we will be living His life in our earthly tabernacles, rather than our life(Matthew 16:24; Galatians 2:20).

       Receiving the life of Christ in this way points to being born again of a new disposition or life. This means we are given a new heart and spirit. The heart will be inclined towards God in obedience, and the new spirit, which has been scripturally identified as being His Spirit, will enable us to interact with God on a spiritual level, as well as establish an inner witness of our new status as a child of God, and serve as a seal of our redemption identifying us to our future inheritance. Since we have been bestowed with a new disposition, we are now considered a new creation. However, this life of Christ must be worked in us through putting off the old in order to replace it with the new. Hence enters the Apostle Paul’s exhortation for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Ezekiel 36:26-27 refer to Hebrews 8:10; John 1:12; 3:3, 5; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:11-14; Philippians 2:12; Colossians 3:6-10).

       This brings us to the final work of salvation. We will be saved from the present world to experience the fullness of the life of Christ in the next world. To ensure such deliverance we must overcome the world through submission to the will of God. This requires us to believe that the Bible is God’s Word; therefore we must assimilate it in our lives as food in order to follow Jesus through obedience into the ways of righteousness.

       With the understanding of how salvation works, we can come to terms with what it means to know if we are saved. To accept Jesus’ redemption, receive His life as a reality into our hearts, and believe His Word about salvation points to active faith. We do not feel that we are saved; rather we choose to believe we are saved because of the Word of God. Believing a matter is more than having an intellectual acknowledgement; it is a matter of knowing something in your heart as being true and completed. Believe has the same connotation as amen or “so be it”. 

       Such belief produces a walk or a life that lines up to what has been received as truth. This is how change and transformation takes place in the Christian. We are inwardly being changed into the likeness of Jesus by His life, while the Holy Spirit transforms our minds or attitudes.  Such changes may be slight at first, but eventually the Christian will be able to note that his or her attitudes about matters are changing, along with behavior. Initially, Christians have a limited understanding of salvation, but as they grow in the knowledge of Jesus, the work of salvation becomes a blessed reality.

       I hope this gives you some insight into the issue of your salvation.