BIBLE & THEOLOGY | SALVATION, Part 1 of 2
Salvation – the core of The Salvation Army. William Booth based his ministry on repentance and salvation. In his book “In Darkest England and The Way Out” he said, “My only hope for the permanent deliverance of mankind from misery, either in this world or the next, is the regeneration or remaking of the individual by the power of the Holy Ghost through Jesus Christ. But in providing for the relief of temporal misery I reckon that I am only making it easy where it is now difficult, and possible where it is now all but impossible, for men and women to find their way to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Salvation.
In the following word study, Cadet Joshua Ivany explores the meaning of Salvation.
In this word study I will give a definition of salvation in both the Old and New Testament and give a description of what people are being saved from, within the context of both the Old and New Testament writings. I will also share my personal understanding of Philippians 2:12 as well as the knowledge that I have gained from studying salvation.
If we look at the word salvation, as it is used in the Old Testament, it means being delivered, set free, restored, rescued and helped in times of distress. Throughout the Old Testament we see examples of people being saved individually but we also see examples of people being saved in groups. We see specific individuals finding help in times of distress and being delivered in the face of their very specific problems as illustrated in Psalm 7 when David is crying out to the Lord and says, “ LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me.” This is a personal request that David is bringing to God. Another example of what individuals are being saved from, is the inability to bear children. In the book of Judges, Samson’s mother was unable to have children and in Judges 13:3 it says this, “The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.” Individuals in the Old Testament are being saved from their enemies, their bodies are being restored and in all of these examples, God is helping them in a time of distress.
God also saves people in groups and masses. There are many examples of this but the one that I will focus on is the Exodus. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt and were mistreated and abused. Exodus 2:23-25 says, “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.” God used Moses and Aaron and freed the Israelites from slavery. They were freed from oppression and abuse and God delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians. In these different examples used in the Old Testament salvation seems to be quite visual and can be seen from a real earthly dimension. Of course this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a spiritual dimension as well.
In the New Testament salvation means being rescued, healed, freed, reconciled and redeemed. Jesus plays an imperative role with salvation. His name means, “The Lord is Salvation”. Throughout the New Testament Jesus is referred to as our Saviour, the one who sets us free. The New Testament tends to highlight the general as opposed to the individual needs that make people candidates for salvation. In the context of the New Testament we see that people are being saved from sin. In Matthew 1:21 the birth of Jesus is described, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” In Acts 2:38 Peter says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Romans chapter 3 talks about all of us being sinners and falling short of the glory of God. It is Jesus Christ that saves and frees us from our sins and we see evidence of this in Romans 10:9-10 where it says, “ if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Philippians 2:12 says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” When I read this verse I don’t believe that we are to take this completely literally when it says we should fear and tremble. Often the word fear is associated with negative emotions. When I hear fear I usually think of anxiety and separation. In this verse I don’t believe that it’s the case and in 2 Timothy it actually says that God did not give us a spirit of fear. I believe that fear means reverence and respect. It’s realizing how awesome and incredible God is and to never take Him lightly. When we talk about working out our salvation it means actively pursuing God and trying to live a life of obedience. Philippians 3:13 says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Working out Salvation is striving to live a life that is Christ like. Yes, God is our friend and He brings us comfort but it’s important to find balance and remember that He’s also the creator of heaven and of earth and we need to stand in awe of His presence. This is how I understand Philippians 2:12.
I feel that I have learned a lot during my research for this assignment. I found it fascinating to compare the meaning of salvation in both the Old and New Testament. Often times when I think of a word in the Bible I assume that it means the same thing throughout the entire Bible. This assignment has taught me the importance of researching the meaning of words and knowing the context in which they are spoken. I also learned to look at how God can work with individuals as well as groups. Even in studying the word salvation, I found that the meaning could look different when associated with a specific individual or a large group of people. This assignment has taught me the importance of digging deeper into the Word of God to gain a better understanding of what is being said.
For references click here.
Joshua is also a gifted musician and can often be heard practising in the chapel (much to the enjoyment of those of us near to the chapel).