Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into jail, but instead of lamenting their situation they had a little prayer meeting and broke out in song. Then a violent earthquake opened the cell doors and the guard, fearing reprisal, was about to take his life. Paul called out telling him they were all safe and the guard responded asked the crucial question, “What must I do to be saved? Paul’s answer has become the hallmark line on salvation:, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
When we speak of a person being saved it usually means being saved from hell. The answers to “̇When were you saved?” are generally, “When I was 12,” or “During college.” True, we were saved back then, but the time of our salvation needs to go to another question, “What were you saved from?” And while “from hell” is true there is something else we were saved from and it’s important to see this clearly. We were saved from ourselves. In a very real sense our old nature liked to act as a prison so we won’t be free to mature in our Christian experience. We find ourselves shaking our heads in agreement with Paul, who confessed that he didn’t do the good he wanted to but instead did the evil he didn’t want to do (Rom 7:19). I recognize that we are getting into Pauline theology, and this is a dictionary on the Good News, but the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus was one and the same with the Salvation by Faith proclamation announced by Paul. Entrapped by our own fallen human nature but saved from it is another way to describe the salvivic work of Christ.
It is crucial to understand who our enemy is. Satan, Yes, but perhaps equally helpful to understand that he works through the person we used to be. Scripture teaches three stages of salvation. When we put our faith in Christ we were saved from the penalty of sin; during our life, as we gain control over sinful habits, we are being saved from the power of sin; and when its all over and we enter God’s throne room we will be saved from the presence of sin. Like many of you believers, I can look back to the day when I opened my heart to Christ and my name was written in the Book of Life. That is when I was saved from the penalty of sin. Currently I am turning from things displeasing to God as his Spirit brings them to my attention – and that’s salvation from evil’s power. Some day, undoubtedly soon, my salvation will be complete and I will be saved from sin’s presence.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!