The Biblical Meaning of Salvation (14:3)

As we considered last time, we have all sinned and we continue to come short of God’s glorious ideal (based on Romans 3:23). You recall that sin is rebelliousness and disorderliness. Sin is cheating on our relationships. Sin is knowing what’s right to do and not doing it. Sin is a breakdown of trust. We have so damaged ourselves that, left alone, we would die. Would it be enough for God to say, “I forgive you?” Would forgiveness alone heal the damage done? Or would we still die?

If you believe that eternal torture is the penalty for sinning, then forgiveness would be your primary concern, so God won’t have to torture you after all. Just think how that cruel teaching about eternal torture has cast its hellish shadow over the picture of God and the plan of salvation.

If you are afraid of God, then it is wonderful to hear Him say, “I forgive you.” And He has said that, hasn’t He? Many times. But heaven is not going to be filled with pardoned criminals. It wouldn’t be safe. Heaven will be filled with healed, changed, trustworthy saints. God proposes to set right everything that has gone wrong, to completely heal the damage done by rebellion and distrust.

It is most significant to know that the word “salvation” means, essentially, healing. To be saved is to be healed. In a more legal understanding of the plan of salvation, to be saved is more to be forgiven. It is like having your fire insurance paid up, so you can be admitted to eternity. In the trust/healing model, on the other hand, salvation means healing the damage done. This is made plain in many places in Scripture.

Let’s use Luke 18:42 as an example. In the King James Version, Jesus said to the blind man: “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.” But in the New International Version, it reads: “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” The Greek word is exactly the same, sôzô. This word is sometimes translated “I save” and sometimes “I heal.” This double meaning of sôzô can be found multiple times in the New Testament (Luke 7:50; 8:48, 50; 17:19; see also Acts 16:30, referenced above). Luke’s wording is powerful evidence for the trust/healing model of salvation. But there is much more.

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