Wednesday, October 08, 2008



The emphasis upon salvation throughout the years tends to over focus on salvation as the channel or gateway to heaven. This has become an overriding theme in Christianity and yet is a myth. Salvation is so much more than a gateway to heaven or eternal life.

In the Old Testament Scriptures the concept of Shalom is a primary theme. Shalom is where people experience a peaceful and satisfying relationship with every aspect of life. Shalom encompasses the idea of peace, wellbeing, prosperity, and the experience of God's blessings. Everywhere in the Old Testament, peace and prosperity are seen as God's reward to those whose ways are pleasing to Him. In Proverbs 16:7 it says: "When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him." And in Psalm 128:1-2 it says: "Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours." Where "salvation" or "saved" is used in the Old Testament, it is in a "quite concrete" sense that "covers more than spiritual blessings," such as deliverance from earthly enemies, wellbeing and "the effect of God's goodness on his people". This sense of an all-embracing salvation is continued in the New Testament, even though the more spiritual aspect of forgiveness of sin receives a stronger emphasis today.

Jesus speaks of a wider sense of what salvation means. In Luke 7:50, Jesus says to the "sinful woman" regarding forgiveness of her sins, "Your faith has saved you", and in Mark 10:52 He uses the same Greek word for the blind man to imply restoration of sight. In Mark 5:28, He uses "saved" with a double meaning when he told the woman who had been suffering from bleeding, "Daughter, your faith has healed you, go in peace and be freed from your suffering." The word "healed" there is the word for "salvation". So, physical healing and spiritual salvation are found in the same term. Jesus didn't separate the physical from the spiritual.

Several years ago I delved into the term "salvation" and found several dimensions of its meaning and this revolutionized my thinking. Let me list them out: 1) Salvation means to make wide-This is a freedom from being stuck, from distress and the ability to pursue one's own objectives and unique purpose in life. 2) Salvation means God will come through on your behalf-I love this one. Wait and see the mighty deeds of God. God uses divine intervention in the midst of a crisis. However, He uses divine appointments in the continual process of life. 3) Salvation means safety and security-to maintain life unafraid of numerous dangers! 4) Salvation means healing-This is emotional and physical well-being-wholeness. This is the essence of the Hebrew word Shalom. 5) Salvation means constant redemption-God is true and loyal to His covenant with man and always seeks man's restoration. 6) Salvation destroys the purposes of evil forces-You can count on it. No matter how much evil throws at you, God is there to protect. 8) Salvation means God's love in action-It flows from His love as God is courting and wooing us back to Him. 9) Salvation means the active presence of God among His people-This is one of my favorite parts of salvation. God is present right here, right now, working in and through each one of us.

Jesus never thought of salvation in terms of heaven only. There was so much more to it in His mind and teachings. You see, when you embrace this myth you diminish the fullness of salvation for yourself. With this myth you tend to wait around for the "sweet bye-and-bye" and ignore what's happening now on earth. To hang out with Jesus and walk with Him, you must be present right here, showing up for the divine appointments He continually sets up for you every day. This is what it means to really love Jesus-to love God with all your heart, strength and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.

There is a funny story that sums up this myth. A very religious man approached another man on the street corner and asked, "Do you want to go to heaven?" The man quickly replied, "No!" The religious man was surprised at this answer and said, "I thought everybody wanted to go to heaven when they die." The man replied, "Oh, I thought you were getting up a group to go right now!" That's the experience of salvation right here in the present.

Psalm 62:1-2 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 37:39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. Psalm 40:16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, "The LORD is great!"

Only a god who can bring salvation to me down here right now is worthy of worship! Everything else is just pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking. Jesus, the Savior, is greater than all other gods and is worthy of your praise and worship, because of His salvation.