You Have Been Saved ...
At some time, somewhere, you’ve probably heard the question, “Are you saved?” Often a very sincere individual whose life appears to literally radiate with love and piety, whose interest in others is above any doubt, asks you the question, “Are you saved.” Frequently one hears a report like this. “Our son was saved last night in our revival.” Or, perhaps something like, “Isn’t it just too wonderful for words, our neighbor who died last night was saved just before he went on to his reward -- he accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior.” All of those statements are sincere and reflect honest convictions about the most precious part of human existence -- salvation. But what is really meant by, “Are you saved,” or “he was saved,” and similar expressions?
Are you saved? If so, how do you know you are saved? Can a person be saved and not know it? These are questions I believe you will agree are worth investigating. And, the best part of all this is that the Bible has an answer for us -- if we are willing to accept it. You see, salvation is a Bible word, but it was borrowed from the normal workaday world. It is a word that describes a rescue from danger. Mr. R.C.H. Lenski, a very fine Bible student, wrote, “The verb SODZO (save) signifies to deliver or rescue and to place in a position of security, soundness, and joy.” (Interpretation of First Corinthians, page 627).
In salvation there is a deliverance or rescue from danger and to safety. A valiant fireman strains every part of his body to enter a raging inferno to bring a trapped family to safety. That’s physical salvation. A doctor uses all his skill and power to operate on a critically ill person and is successful. That is also physical deliverance or salvation. An inspired man in the first century, directed by the Holy Spirit, preached the gospel of Christ to thousands of people, and many of them listened, believed, and put into practice what he said. They were saved from their sins. That is spiritual salvation. So, you can easily see that salvation is the most valued part of human life, either physically or spiritually. But, let’s look a little further.
Now we know what we are talking about when we hear salvation mentioned. It would be impossible not to know one was saved from sin as much so as being unable to know one was saved physically from some life-threatening peril. However, with salvation from sin there is a slight problem. Feelings are not reliable as evidence of salvation. Feeling right is not to be equated with being right. There is a very vivid biblical illustration of this. Do you remember the story of Joseph and the coat of “many colors?” You probably remember that Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons. This favoritism evoked some envy in the other eleven and they sold their own brother as a slave to some Midianite traders, thinking no doubt that they would be bothered no more with this spoiled younger brother.
How were they going to cover this up and explain it to Jacob? Humans have a natural tendency to cover all sinful actions. That usually brings the worst out of us, especially when we try to hide our ungodliness. They took this coat, which Jacob would instantly recognize, and dipped it in the blood of an animal. They took it to Jacob and asked, “Do you know whether it is your son’s (notice not our brother’s) tunic or not” (Gen. 37:31-32). Jacob was stunned, devastated, and crushed. He knew full well the tunic was the one he had personally given to Joseph. Joseph was no doubt dead. He said, “Without doubt, Joseph is torn to pieces” (Gen. 37:33). And do you know how he felt? He mourned many days and would not be comforted. His feelings told him his son was dead -- his feelings lied to him.
The beautiful study of Joseph goes on. He worked his way up from slavery to a high position in the government of Egypt. He became Pharaoh’s right hand man, his lieutenant governor. This news reached Joseph’s brothers and they had to go back now to Jacob and tell him that Joseph was not really dead, that in fact he was alive and well and had become one of the most powerful men in the most powerful nation on earth at that time. Would you expect Jacob to believe that? Would you have believed it, were you Jacob? Let’s see his reaction. Let me just read the record. I am reading from Genesis 45:25-26. “Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him saying, ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.’ And Jacob’s heart stood still, because he did not believe them.” See just how strong feelings based on false evidence can be? Jacob was given false evidence, believed a lie and his feelings confirmed it to be true. He was told the truth and refused to believe it. His feelings deceived him both times. There is a great lesson in this for all of us.
We dare not lean on our feelings to know we are saved. No man can even believe he is lost, based on feelings alone, much less feel he is saved, and be absolutely sure he is correct. Yet there is a very simple way to know for sure. That way is to examine the evidence presented. In the case of salvation, there are two possible sources of evidence. One is a divinely inspired source; the other is a humanly devised source. None of us have to be told which one is the wise course to follow.
Human evidence promises salvation on such things as “Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.” “Let Jesus come into your life and take control,” “Surrender your heart to Him and He will speak to your heart the sweet words of comforting salvation.” We have heard all these sentiments expressed one way or another. But the sad thing is, no one ever goes further to explain how accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior. They never give Bible evidence as to how it is done. If it is explained at all, it either ignores divine evidence from the New Testament, or only partially uses it. Example: Let Jesus come into your heart -- how? The Bible says it is by faith (John 1:11,12) and men say it is “by faith only.” Notice the difference? The Bible says that our hearts are purified by obedience to the truth (1 Pet. 1:22) and men say, “Obedience is optional.”
The Bible shows that obedience consists of faith that acts, and men say that obedience is not really required for salvation. You see, if men would say clearly that obedience to the commands of Christ is essential, they could not rule out water baptism to the penitent believer for salvation. The vast majority of religion today does, however. But listen. As Jesus was about to ascend to the Father, He gave final instructions to the apostles. He said, “Go teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you (what had Christ commanded them? -- baptism) and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
A person can know he or she is saved when false evidence is rejected and the truth is accepted. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). My friend you can know the truth -- there need be no guess work or doubting. Just take the New Testament, read what Jesus said about being saved and do it. Read Mark 16:15-16 -- that which is often called the great commission. It reads, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned’.” A simple statement like that defies misunderstanding; it is so plain and simple. It is essential for a believer to be baptized in order to be saved and when a baptized believer is asked, “Are you saved,” he can truthfully say, “absolutely.” He does not have to base it on feeble and fickle feelings, false and fake evidence -- he stands on the solid rock of what the Lord Jesus Christ said with His own mouth.
Now, how is it with you? You may have felt secure in the Lord for a number of years. But you may very well be in the same condition of Jacob all those years he believed a lie. Paul commanded, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5). Why not do some new and fresh investigation of your own condition.
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