We have discussed the essential piece of spiritual armor mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 6:17 – 17 And take the helmet of salvation,… As the helmet of the Roman solider protected him from deadly blows to the head in the heat of battle, so our salvation provides life-saving protection when Satan attacks.
In a fuller consideration of this helmet, we will take a closer look at what the apostle says is the helmet itself – salvation.
What does it mean to be saved?
I. The story of the Bible: Our salvation through Christ is the central theme of the Bible. God’s word is not simply a history book, although it contains perfect accounting of historical events. It is not a science book, even though its scientific references are without error. It is more than poetry, proverbs or wisdom literature.
A. The Bible is a book about salvation. It depicts the real problem facing humankind and the divinely arranged solution. It chronicles man’s spiritual departure from fellowship with the Creator through willful transgression from the Law of God. It also tells us what God has done to remedy the estrangement between God and the sinner. It is a story about salvation.
II. Five Concepts of Salvation: Five key words are used in the New Testament to describe the richness of salvation in Christ. These words depict different, yet complimentary images of our salvation. These words describe us both before and after salvation.
A. Justification: the sinner stands before God guilty and condemned, but is declared righteous. Rom 5:18 – 8 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
1. Justification is described by Vine’s as “being the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge, the pronouncement of the sinner as righteous…” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) Strong’s defines this word as an “acquittal (for Christ’s sake).. “to render (i.e. show or regard as) innocent.”
2. The guiltiness of man is integral to this image. We are condemned by God’s objective law, and cannot claim innocence before God. Rom 3:19-20 – Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. …23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
a. Do you recognize your personal guilt before God? Job asked God to help him know his transgressions and his sins (Job 13:23). Those who are unwilling to acknowledge their sin, are not only dishonest with themselves (1 John 1:8 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.) but we cut off God’s willingness to save us. The Psalmist of the 68th Psalm speaks of God as a “Father of the fatherless, a defender of widows”, who “sets the solitary in families and brings out those who are bound into prosperity”, but “the rebellious dwell in a dry place” (Ps 68:5-6). God’s blessings are withheld. Ps 34:18 – The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
3. How are we justified? We are made innocent through the blood of Jesus. Romans 3:24-26 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
a. Paul says that God sent Jesus to be a propitiation by His blood, so that God could be just in justifying us. The term “propitiation” describes the effect of the blood of Jesus in our behalf. It is a word that means an appeasement (satisfaction of wrath) and implies enmity or animosity. My personal sin has created a need for propitiation, or satisfying sacrifice, because God, as a just God, must punish my sin. When Jesus died He paid the price that was demanded by God’s justice. His blood propitiated God, and rendered Him propitious (gracious) toward us.
c. In all of the Biblical images of salvation, (which we will consider) the blood of Jesus (the cross) will be evident. It is a common thread throughout.
d. Our justification is everything. If we are not justified, then we cannot be anything but lost eternally.
B. Redemption: In the image of redemption, the sinner stands before God as a slave, but is granted his freedom. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary calls redemption “deliverance by payment of a price”. The gospel is a true emancipation declaration. But freedom is not free.
1. The term Redemption comes from a Greek word which literally means “a loosing”, particularly by paying a price. As Unger explains, it is: “…a comprehensive term employed in theology with reference to the special intervention of God for the salvation of mankind. Its meaning centers in the atoning work of Christ as the price paid for human redemption, and on account of which Christ is called the Redeemer. But along with this are other conceptions relating to the necessity for redemption, also the various stages and measures in the redemptive economy and the effects of God’s gracious work.” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 915).
a. The need for redemption implies a present bondage or obligation. Here again our understanding of salvation begins in a proper assessment of our condition before God.
2. In the Old Testament redemption was applied to property, animals, persons, and the nation of Israel as a whole. The freedom under consideration (from debt, slavery, obligation) was secured by the payment of a price, at times called a ransom.
a. Under the law, men were able to redeem property, animals, and even other individuals (slaves, prisoners, indentured relatives) who were legally obligated to God or in bondage for other reasons. But God alone is able to redeem from the slavery of sin (Psalms 130:7-8 – 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption. 8 And He shall redeem Israel From all his iniquities.)
b. The primary depiction of redemption in the O.T. is Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. Deuteronomy 15:15 – You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.
- The Exodus is a story of salvation – “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”. The freedom of Israel becomes a real image of what God will provide for all through Christ. All of the ingredients of the Passover looked forward to the ultimate redemption and spiritual freedom of God’s people.
3. Jesus connected His work with true freedom in John 8:32 – 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The Jewish leaders responded by declaring “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus’ response: “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (v. 33-34) Not only did they misrepresent their own history, they failed to recognize the enslaving power of sin.
a. Paul described the conversion of the Roman Christians in the redemptive terms of freedom vs. slavery. Romans 6:18-22 –18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
- Most people on earth live in slavery. Unlike political slavery, they choose to be in bondage. Paul speaks of men “presenting” the members of their bodies as slaves of uncleanness and lawlessness. The gospel (truth) could make them free, but as those of Jesus’ day they are unwilling to abide in Jesus’ words. (v. 31, 43)
4. The New Testament emphasizes the tremendous cost of redemption. 1 Peter 1:18-20 – 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
a. notice again that our salvation is dependent of the blood (death) of Calvary. Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
- How can we fail to rejoice, having been freed from the oppressive bondage of slavery to sin
Tonight: part two of the images of salvation.
Conclusion: “I shouldn’t be alive”– stories of people who almost died in the most difficult circumstances of survival. Some common threads:
- All made choices that led to their ordeal. They should have died.
- Almost all thought they could save themselves in the beginning. They would not have been saved without their efforts.
- But in the end they were saved when all hope in their own efforts was gone. They lived because someone showed up to rescue them. They all have saviors. So it is with us. We have a Savior; A Justifier; A Redeemer. Put your hope in Jesus. Obey Him today.