|Many people refer to themselves as “born again” and “saved.” Those who think of themselves as “born again” also consider themselves “saved.”|
Whether thinking “saved” or “born again,” people think of salvation (a future entry into the Kingdom of heaven) as absolutely certain. This thinking results because man’s doctrines confuse a future event, “born again,” with a present event.
Man’s teachings also mistake being “saved” as found in Ephesians 2:5 and 8 with a future salvation. There is a future salvation, so what does Paul mean by, “I tell you, now is the time of Yahweh’s favor, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Corinthians 6:2?
|Three Salvation Tenses|
In his book, Major Bible Themes, Lewis Chaffer says there are three tenses of salvation: past, present, and future. For the past tense he writes, “There are certain Scriptures which, when speaking of salvation, refer to it as wholly past, or completed for the one who has believed.”
For the present tense he says, “This aspect of salvation has to do with salvation from the reigning power of sin.”
And, for the future tense, “The believer will yet be saved into full conformity to [Messiah].”
He cites Scriptures for each of these tenses but does not quote them. He takes it for granted that his readers will look them up and read them to verify the tenses of salvation.
Merely referring to a Scripture without quoting it may be taking a lot for granted, but the procedure has to be followed in this article too. Quoting each reference would make this work too long and cumbersome. Therefore, only the few Scriptures needed to maintain continuity and clarity are quoted from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
It is hoped that the reader will study the referenced Scriptures. Yahweh will reward an earnest search of the Bible by revealing a scripturally sound reason for accepting or rejecting any idea presented.
He is not pleased with off-hand belief or disbelief because too many are deceived into rejecting truth and believing lies through a careless attitude toward His Word. That is why He tells those who seek truth to “prove all things.”
In All the Doctrines of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer also says there are three tenses of salvation. He refers to them as “The Grades of Salvation.”
He writes, “It is to be feared that not all evangelicals fully understand the implications of salvation. Too often it is confined to what takes place in the initial experience of conversion. [Messiah] is accepted as Savior, and with the guilt and burden of sin removed, the confession is made, `Praise [Yahweh], I have been saved.’ And there the matter rests.
But, the teaching of the New Testament is, `I have been saved: I am being saved: I have yet to be saved.’ If we fail to recognize these three aspects, tenses or gradations of salvation, then ours is not the realization of the uttermost salvation [Yahweh] has for His own.”
Note how Mr. Lockyer also equates “saved” with salvation! Is saved really a synonym for salvation? Do the two words mean the same thing in the Bible? Do they mean the same thing in English? The English definitions of the words saved and salvation are: Save, saved — to rescue from danger or possible harm, injury or loss. Salvation — the act of saving or protecting from harm or loss; the state of being thus saved or protected.
The theological definition is deliverance from the power and penalty of sin. The two words do not mean the same thing in English but they are so closely related that Bible authorities use them interchangeably. Do they do this because they misunderstand what the Bible is telling us about salvation? When is a person rescued from the danger of sin?
It is the forgiveness of sins at baptism in Yahshua’s Name that rescues (saves) the individual from the danger of losing salvation.
What is it that delivers the baptized believer from the power and penalty of sin? It has to be the influence of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit in the heart (grace) that is given by the laying on of hands after baptism! This is salvation in the present tense.
|Save and Salvation in Greek|
Do the Greek words translated saved and salvation mean the same as the English words? Sozo (Strong’s No. 4982) is the Greek word translated saved in most New Testament Scriptures. Sozo means to save or rescue. Matthew 10:22 indicates that Bible writers did equate being saved with the resurrection experience of entering into eternal life.
The person who endures to the end will be rescued, not from transgression of the law, but from bondage in the flesh which is enmity to Yahweh and His law.
To receive this salvation a person must not only endure in faith (conviction of the truth and the assurance of receiving the promise), but also in righteousness in Yahweh’s eyes, which is obedience to His law. It is obedience that brings forth fruits of repentance and proof of our love for Yahweh, 1John 5:3.
Soteria (Strong’s No. 4991) is the Greek word translated “salvation.” Strong says soteria means “rescue,” “safety,” and “deliver.” These meanings are about the same as sozo, but Thayers Greek- English Lexicon says that soteria means “deliverance, preservation, or safety.”
It is deliverance from bondage in the flesh that the person who overcomes will experience as being “born again” at the resurrection. Entering into eternal life is generally the only thing associated with the word “salvation” regardless of whether or not the salvation referred to in the Bible is the end-time experience.
This confusion does not result from mistranslation, but from misunderstanding the meaning and usage of the word. There is a present-tense usage of the word salvation in the sense of being delivered from bondage to sin, and a future tense in the sense of being delivered from bondage in the flesh to the world.
Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt is salvation in the past tense and a type of the deliverance (salvation) Yahweh’s people expect to experience in the future. The time between Moses and the first coming of the Messiah typifies the time in which we live, meaning the time between the first salvation with the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and the second salvation with the Second Coming of the Messiah in the Spirit at the resurrection.
Yahweh does not wish any should die the second death. He has therefore preserved the writings of the prophets and apostles for our study so that His people may understand the dangers that threaten our future salvation. The past is no threat to a person who has received the first salvation (deliverance from bondage to sin).
It is the misunderstanding of our New Covenant relationship with Yahweh that endangers a person’s future salvation. This misunderstanding gives Satan a decided advantage over baptized believers. For this reason, this exposition will not say much about the details of salvation, but will concentrate upon the misunderstandings that result from teaching man’s doctrines about salvation.
|Examples Reveal the Distinction|
Read Matthew 19:16-21 and think about the way in which the words “saved” and “salvation” are misapplied. When the young man asked Yahshua what he must do for eternal life, Yahshua told him to obey the commandments. The man’s response was that he had obeyed the commandments from his youth and he asked what he still lacked. Yahshua’s response was, in effect, if you want to be perfect then sell your possessions and follow Me.
Why didn’t the man ask, “What must I do to be saved?” Why didn’t Yahshua simply say, “If you want salvation, follow Me”?
The answer is that the man wasn’t asking to be rescued from sin. He wanted to know what he must do to be born again! Neither was Yahshua talking about deliverance from sin. He was telling the man to obey the commandments and if he wanted to be perfect in obedience, he should rid himself of material possessions that prevented him from following Yahshua.
Now read Acts 2:22-39. When the crowd asked Peter, “What shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Yahshua the Messiah for the forgiveness of sin and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Baptism rescues men from the danger of sin – saved! The gift of the Holy Spirit is deliverance from the bondage of sin — salvation!
Yahshua and the young man were talking about a future salvation — deliverance from bondage in the flesh that will occur at the resurrection. Peter and the crowd were talking about something that happens now and makes the day it happens the day of salvation. They were talking about deliverance from bondage to sin.
Read 2 Corinthians 6:2 again. This is only one example of how misunderstanding the concepts of “saved” and “salvation” leads people into believing that Yahshua and Peter were referring to the same thing but weren’t, and how even scholars think of “saved” and “salvation” as synonyms, but they aren’t.
Our dissertation on grace ended with, “The Spirit dwells in the believer’s heart and the individual’s spiritual influence comes directly from the heart. Yahweh’s grace!” It was pointed out that this influence is evident in a person’s way of life.
Knowing that the New Testament writers were not referring to “unmerited forgiveness of sin” when they wrote the word translated grace, and knowing what sin, law, and faith meant to them, we should be able to study out and understand what they are telling us about salvation.
Objections no doubt will be raised to our understanding of salvation and the danger of losing it. So will the claim that our Scriptures are twisted in an effort to support what many will consider heretical ideas.
The loudest and most vociferous objections will probably come from people who seldom object to Scriptures quoted out of context with meaning twisted to support man’s doctrines. Efforts to untwist Scriptures back to their original meaning are most strongly resisted by those who fear having their complacency disturbed.
The reader is not asked to believe the ideas presented here; only to use them in a study of Scriptures to see whether some very puzzling aspects of faith, grace, and salvation do not vanish when they are applied.
|Passages All Agree|
The message of truth is taught to people who have grown beyond being “babes in the Word” by taking a little from here and a little from there.
Thus, by intersecting a line from Scriptures that speak of salvation in one place with a line that speaks of salvation in another place, we come up with the following summation from Ephesians 2:1-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 and 6:2.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient… gratifying the cravings of a sinful nature… we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His love for us, Yahweh, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Messiah even when we were dead in transgressions…. And Yahweh raised us up with Messiah and seated us with Him.. .in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Messiah Yahshua. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Yahweh, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are Yahweh’s workmanship, created in Messiah Yahshua to do good works, which Yahweh prepared in advance for us to do.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from Yahweh who reconciled us to Himself through the Messiah and gave us a ministry of reconciliation: that Yahweh was reconciling the world to Himself in Messiah, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Messiah’s ambassadors, as if Yahweh were making the appeal through us…we urge you not to receive Yahweh’s grace in vain. For he says, `In the time of My favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of Yahweh’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
Knowing what the words translated “faith,” “grace,” “law,” and “salvation” meant to Bible writers, we can understand that the expression, “It is by grace you have been saved through faith” does NOT mean we have received salvation by unmerited forgiveness of sin.
|Spirit Bestows Righteousness|
We should understand that it is by Yahweh’s divine influence that He rescued us from the danger of eternal death because of our conviction that Yahshua is the Messiah and our assurance that Yahshua will raise us from death in the resurrection. We receive unmerited forgiveness of sin at baptism and it is forgiveness of sin that reconciles us with Yahweh.
Before baptism we were objects of His wrath because we served the spirit of disobedience to satisfy our sinful natures. It is Yahweh’s Spirit that strengthens us and opens our eyes and minds to distinguish good from evil, Hebrews 5:14. It is Yahweh’s Spirit that enables us to discern between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve Yahweh and those who do not, Malachi 3:18.
Forgiveness of sin is a gift given through the Spiritual influence (grace) of Yahshua the Messiah, Romans 5:15-17. We did not earn forgiveness of sin by our own efforts to obey Yahweh’s law. It was given because we repented (turned away from) our transgressions and accepted Yahshua’s sacrifice as our sin offering.
We then received another gift through the abundance of Yahweh’s influence (grace). This gift is righteousness. It is the influence of Yahweh’s Spirit that enables us to continue in righteousness by obedience to the law.
We do not retain this righteousness by our own efforts any more than we gained it. If we resist Yahweh’s Spirit and turn back to serving the spirit of disobedience we will lose the gift that we are commanded to allow to reign (be the dominating influence and have supreme control) in our lives, Romans 5:17.
This is why Paul can say in Romans 7:6,
We have been released from the law so that we serve in a new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
The meaning has to be that we have been removed or taken away.
He can’t possibly mean that Yahweh has set aside the law for those whom He has given His Spirit. If he did, Paul couldn’t say, “Therefore do not let sin [transgression of the law] reign [dominate and control] your mortal body so that you obey its [sin’s] evil desires,” Romans 6:12.
Can the phrase “serve in a new way of Spirit” mean anything other than “obey the spiritual intent of the law” rather than merely the written letter? We are created in Messiah to do good works and to be ambassadors in a ministry of reconciliation. This is the same ministry mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3:6, where we are told that Yahweh has made us ministers of a New Covenant — not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
All baptized believers in the New Covenant are Yahshua’s ambassadors and expected to do good works in the ministry of reconciling the world to Yahweh.
What are the good works we are to do in this ministry? They are to bear witness to the truth and, by example, demonstrate that obedience to the law is not an unbearable burden.
Why is it that people are always quick to associate “the letter kills” with the letter of the law, but never comprehend that the Spirit gives life through the spiritual law, Romans 7:14?
|Spiritual Body Never Vacant|
“Submit yourselves, then, to Yahweh. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James writes in 4:7. Paul writes, “Quench not the Spirit” (KJV). The NIV translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:19 reads, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” Satan’s spirit is the spirit of disobedience.
It follows that Yahweh’s Spirit can be considered the Spirit of obedience. Quench. Resist. These words are telling us that the believer can negate either spirit.
Yahweh does not force even a baptized believer to obey Him. There isn’t a single Scripture that says, even by implication, that Yahweh forced anyone to obey His law, not even Yahshua the Messiah. The body is a spiritual temple that is never vacant (1 Cor. 6:19). It is either occupied by Yahweh’s Spirit of obedience, or it is occupied by Satan’s spirit of disobedience.
When the spirit of disobedience is resisted by repenting of sin and turning to be baptized in Yahshua’s Name, the evil spirit leaves. The temple is cleansed by forgiveness of sin and Yahweh’s Holy Spirit moves in. From the moment the spirit of disobedience is forced out, Satan never ceases to tempt the believer to resist (quench) Yahweh’s Spirit and willfully turn back to become enslaved again by sinning (transgressing the law).
If the Spirit of obedience is in turn forced out by the uncleanness of continued sinning, the evil spirit returns and the person’s spiritual condition is worse than it was before baptism, Matthew 12:43-45.
Yahweh has promised that He will not allow Satan to tempt anyone beyond his ability to resist the temptation, and He has also promised that He will always provide a way for the tempted individual to avoid sinning.
We also have Yahweh’s promise that He will never fail us or leave us, Hebrews 13:5. Hence, we should understand that once we become indwelt by Yahweh’s Spirit of obedience, that He will never withdraw His Spirit influence (grace) from us unless we willfully quench that influence — putting the Holy Spirit out of the temple of our body. People who believe that Hebrews 13:5 means that Yahweh’s Spiritual influence will abide with them if they continue to sin after learning the truth are ignoring Hebrews 10:26-27.
|Pulled Back and Forth|
Read what Paul wrote to the Galatians in 4:8-11. These people must have been unwittingly quenching Yahweh’s Spirit, for he said to them,
Formerly, when you did not know Yahweh, you were slaves to those who by nature are not elohim. But now that you know Yahweh — or rather are known by Yahweh – how is it that you are turning back to those weak, miserable principles [basic principles of the world, verse 3]. Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Before Paul preached the Good News to these people, they had been following the ways of the world in gratifying the cravings of their sinful natures. After baptism and receiving Yahweh’s grace, they began following in Yahshua’s footsteps and observing Yahweh’s Feasts, Sabbaths, and New Moons.
Paul is not upbraiding them for keeping Yahweh’s days. He is warning them that by clinging to or turning back to worldly ways they are in danger of becoming enslaved again by the spirit of disobedience.
Paul’s statement would have been much less ambiguous and not so seemingly contradictory to other statements and actions if he had simply said, “Now that you are observing special days, months, and seasons, why are you turning back to the miserable principles and practices of the world? I fear I have wasted my efforts on you.”
The day we were baptized into Yahshua’s Name was the day we received Yahweh’s favor and reconciliation by forgiveness of our sins. The day the Holy Spirit entered into the temple (our body) was the day of our salvation in the sense of deliverance from bondage to sin.
We have not yet been born again! We are still in the flesh and waiting for the end-time salvation that will deliver us from this bondage to the flesh. To be “born again” (correctly, “begotten from above”), one first must be made a spirit being, John 3:6, 8.
That deliverance will occur at the resurrection. Read l Corinthians 15:46.
As in almost everything else with a dual meaning in the Bible, there are two salvations. The first is physical and the second spiritual.
Acknowledgement: This article is made available by Yahweh’s Assembly in Yahshua for our edification and salvation of our souls.