Summary: What does it means to be saved? The Bible says whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. What does that mean? What did the death of Jesus on the cross really accomplish for us?
As we prepare to receive communion and consider what the death of Jesus accomplished for all who trust in Him, I thought it would be good for us to talk about what it means to be saved. The Bible says whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But what does that mean? What did the death of Jesus on the cross really accomplish for us?
First, it might help us to start with the word Atonement. To atone for someone’s sins meant to satisfy God’s anger by venting it on a substitute instead of the guilty person. This happened in the Old Testament through animal sacrifice. Death or blood was required as payment for various sins, so God allowed His people to sacrifice animals and use their blood to atone for their sins.
-Before the Law was given to Moses, Abraham’s life provides an example of atonement. God had told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah, which is generally thought to be the location of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem today. Abraham trusted God enough to go through with it, knowing that God could raise Isaac from the dead. When Isaac asked where the sacrifice was, Abraham said that God would provide a sacrifice for Himself. If you know the story, when Abraham raised the knife to take the life of his son, the Lord stopped him and told him to take a nearby ram that was caught in a thicket and sacrifice it.
-This is a picture of salvation for us today. We have a death sentence hanging over us b/c of our own sins. We have offended a holy, just, all powerful God through disobedience and disrespect. However, b/c He is also all loving and merciful, He Himself has provided another sacrifice in our place.
-Jesus didn’t just die for us, He died instead of us. His death wasn’t just to help us, it was to take our place so that we could live forever with God and not die in our sins. Someone compared salvation to a parachute. If a person was given a parachute and was told that it would help give them a nice flight, they might not wear it b/c it would be uncomfortable and even bothersome. But if they were given a parachute with the knowledge that the plane was going down at some point during the flight, they would gladly wear it b/c it would save their life.
-So, atonement involves the death of a substitute sacrifice that somehow satisfies God’s justice. But it couldn’t be just any sacrifice. The only acceptable sacrifice had to be innocent. Otherwise, it would simply be carrying out justice against itself. Jesus lived on this earth for some 33 years. He was tempted in every way we are, but never sinned. He was the only one who qualified to be the substitute sacrifice for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
-Now I know that some people object strongly to the idea of a God who would be so rigid and demanding that He would call for the death penalty for sins that we can’t seem to avoid. Yet, what the justice of God demanded, the love of God provided! Jesus took our sin upon Himself and died in our place so that we could live with God and know Him forever. God does not simply throw out justice in order to be merciful. In His wisdom and true character, He satisfied both in sending His Son Jesus to die for us.
-Some believe that Christ’s death on the cross was not payment for sin, but was simply intended to inspire us to change our ways. Indeed the Lord’s death should inspire us to be grateful and to faithfully follow Him, but the Bible indicates that His death in our place was more than a motivational performance. Romans 3:25-26 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
-Others believe that Christ’s death was necessary to pay ransom to the devil, since he had the authority we had given him over us. The main problem most theologians have with this view is that God deceived Satan. God offered His Son in exchange for fallen mankind, which the devil gladly accepted, but He didn’t know He couldn’t keep Jesus in hell, so he lost his prisoners and Jesus. In other words, God deceived him so people could be saved. This view also seems to elevate the devil to a god-like plane where God basically owes him and has to pay him in order to redeem people He Himself created.