Monday, March 2, 2009

SALVATION Word Study Devotional

“I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!” (Genesis 49:18 - NKJV) An incredible word, in both Hebrew and Greek, “salvation” means “to be delivered or saved (from)” In Hebrew it’s yesh-oo-aw (SH#3444), from which we get, Joshua (SH#3091) = Jehovah (has) saved (or, J. will deliver); Isaiah (SH#3470) = Yah (has) saved; and, Jesus (SG#2424; from Hebrew SH#3091) = Jehovah (has) saved. Thus, when we speak of salvation, we speak primarily of the saving (or, deliverance) of man from his peril (his bonds) into the safety of God’s place or presence. In the Old Testament, “salvation” is primarily referred to being delivered (or rescued) from bondage, from defeat by an enemy. It is rarely referred to being saved from our sins, except maybe in some abstract sense. Curiously, God uses a form of the word to prophetically describe the rescue of “My people” from their “Baals” (idolatry) into a betrothal of eternal “righteousness,” “justice,” “mercy,” et al., where they will call God, “My Husband” (Ishi, SH#3469), and “my God!” (Elohim, SH#430 = the Almighty, the Supreme Deity; cf. Hosea 2:1-23). “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation” (Psalm 118:14).

Salvation, in Greek, is soteria (SG#4991), meaning: rescue, safety, save, et al. It is from another Greek word for “deliverer” and “savior.” So, in both Old and New Testament usages, we discover that salvation has a primary meaning of a rescue—a deliverance, a saving—from a perilous place (or position) of bondage into a place (or position) of safety and protection. From a spiritual standpoint, salvation is a place (or position) of complete safety, victory, prosperity, and health. (Cf. SG#4982: sozo = heal, preserve, to be whole.) From both testaments, it is an experience—an event—from which we observe great adulation and worship to God from those being rescued (delivered or saved).

Let’s compare the above word meaning and recipient experiences of salvation with a typical view as shown in some gospel tracts. Many times, salvation is illustrated by showing sinful man on one side of a level and safe plateau, ending at an abrupt precipice. Beneath the precipice is a chasm of flames arising, depicting hell. God, however, is located on the other side of the chasm, on an equally level and safe plateau. Only when the cross of Jesus is placed over the chasm can man “come over” to God’s side and be saved; an easy picture to draw or illustrate. However, I see a disturbing flaw in this depiction: it brings God down to man’s level, on an equal plateau, to save him. This is not a good “visual” illustration of the word meaning for salvation. Explain please?

In order to present salvation as relevant, or acceptable, it is our tendency to make the experience easy to grasp and accept. In doing so, we fail to show lost mankind in need of a deliverance—or rescue—from a perilous position. The whole earth has been condemned by God for a future judgment; it has been corrupted by man’s rebellion. Man does not now reside on a safe plateau, separated from God’s safe plateau by a hell-inflamed chasm, needing only the cross of Jesus to go through to be with God. To accept this visual of salvation means that now a saved man has “peace with God” on His lateral plateau. However, this is not a good illustration, because it illustrates the salvation experience to be a lateral conversion of plateaus where man may now see himself safe on earth with material (or, temporal) prosperity, satisfaction, and health, with a material dwelling place in heaven to go to someday. But until then, salvation means that all things will go well with man while living on this earth on God’s plateau. I call this a “man-level salvation.”

Let’s compare this “level” of thinking with the Scriptures. First of all, take the example of the earthly life and dwelling of Jesus. When you do, you’ll discover that nothing Jesus said or did match the above mentality of which I describe. His message and ministry of salvation were to get man to turn from this world and to turn to God’s kingdom now. His salvation would bring man peace with God, only if man could see his sin payment satisfied with God from above, from a higher level. Jesus taught His followers to look beyond the world into God’s place (or position) for salvation. “You are from beneath;” said Jesus to the Pharisees. “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23; cf. Jn. 19:11).

Salvation from God is one that transfers man from an out-of-this-world mentality into a spiritual mentality that is from above. It is not a “come over,” lateral move, to experience and receive God here on this earth, on our level; it is a rescue from above into the safety and security of God’s place and position. The “heavenly places” are “in Christ,” where He is currently “seated” (Eph. 1:3, 20). Salvation that is from above places me into this spiritual body of His, called “the church,” (Eph. 1:22, 23) where I now exist, seated in the “heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6). Christ is the “head” (Eph. 1:22; 5:23) over His body and I fit somewhere in it, which is not designed from beneath, but from above. The beauty and majesty of genuine salvation is when man sees everything about himself, from an “above” perspective, as a member of Christ’s church, His body.

Notice what the multitude exclaimed before God’s throne: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10); and again: “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down’” (Rev. 12;10). What was the multitude excited about? Answer: “Salvation” from above. Were they shouting about the beauties of heaven? No! They were shouting about “Salvation”! Were they running around heaven looking for their “mansion,” or their friends and family? No! They were gathered around the throne, having a spell over “salvation”! When they saw the throne of God and the power of Christ to save, they knew they were at their eternal home, safe and secure from the power and kingdom of darkness that reigned on the earth below. It was the “accuser” who was “cast down” to earth. Read verse 12 of Revelation 12: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

I have seen and experienced the beauty of the ocean and waterfalls of Hawaii; and I have seen and hiked among the majesty of the Alaska Range. I have seen the sun arise from the Atlantic and set into the Pacific—even at 30,000 feet! But all that I have seen and experienced in this world pales in comparison to what I have found in Jesus. Salvation is found only in the One who has delivered me out of the darkness of this world and has transferred me into the heavenly kingdom of His love and presence (Cf. Col. 1:13).

Do you have a salvation that has taken you “out of this world”? Did you invite God to “come over” to your place and help you make it through this old world, or, did you see the world and all of its sin and then find the rescue and saving offer from God through Jesus? Do you agree with Paul concerning this world: “Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish [dung], that I may gain Christ”? (Phil. 3:8) You can’t take the dung with you, so why squabble over it? (The more you mess with it, the more it stinks!)

The salvation from above is God’s plan of rescue from this sin-diseased world, having used a sin-cursed cross, with a sinless sacrifice hanging on it: the only begotten, perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. He does not offer you salvation that helps you “make it” down here; but He offers a salvation that sends your spirit and soul to reside in the heavenly places in the resurrected Christ. When you finally see yourself there, right now…nothing—absolutely nothing!—can shake you down here. Now that’s a salvation from above!