Over the years, the term salvation has been both overused and misused to the point where the original meaning of the word has been all but lost. The deception of the false gospel that is currently being proclaimed in most denominations has led many people away from a true understanding of salvation. In today’s church, if one simply believes the “gospel” that Jesus died for their sins and was resurrected from the dead, if they profess him as Lord, and “accept him in their heart,” then they are “saved.” Saved from eternal hellfire and torment, that is. This understanding of the gospel and salvation however, could not be further from the truth. And it is of utmost importance to understand the true meaning of salvation in both the Old and New Testament, in light of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word yosha’ is the primary word for salvation. As stated in the Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, the word yosha’ “has a root meaning of “broadening” or “enlarging” and can connote the creation of space in the community for life and conduct.” This concept of salvation is a frequent occurrence in Israel’s history. Countless times the Israelites are faced with an adversary or circumstance that appears insurmountable, but God intervenes and delivers His people, instead placing them in a situation of safety and prosperity. The term salvation can also be applied to describe the restoration of people’s relationship with God. Harper Collins states that the “goal of such deliverance is the establishment of God’s kingdom reign among His people and other nations of the world.” This eschatological perspective of salvation is perhaps the most familiar perspective in today’s church, though the mainstream churches are teaching a completely perverted message about the gospel and salvation.
In the New Testament, Harper Collins states that “God’s intent to “save” or “rescue” (the meaning of the Greek root sozo) is identified with the person and ministry of Jesus.” However, the problem is that the Church today has strayed away from the teachings of Jesus and is preaching a different gospel.
The gospel is not that, “Jesus died for your sins so that you can be saved from hell and go to heaven.” In fact, the disciples were sent out to preach the gospel long before Jesus told them he was to be crucified. In Matthew 16:21-23, Peter even rebukes Jesus for saying that he was to be crucified. Obviously, if the disciples were unaware of Jesus’ impending death and resurrection, that could not have been the gospel message that they were preaching.
The gospel message that Jesus proclaimed is found in Mark 1:14-15, where it says that he “came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.’” He also taught in his Sermon on the Mount that the righteous would inherit the earth, which is in accordance with Old Testament Scriptures like Psalm 37:9 that say “evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” He made no mention of living in heaven forever. Psalm 115:16 says that the highest heavens belong to YAHWEH and that the earth is man’s inheritance. Thus, the gospel message announces future reign of God in the coming Kingdom of God that is to be established on the earth at
Jesus’ glorious second coming.
There are many in the church today that believe that Paul preached a different gospel, a gospel about Jesus and not the gospel of Jesus. However, from Scripture it is clear that this is a fallacy because Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that the death and resurrection of Christ were of “first importance,” not that they were whole the gospel. In Acts 19:28, Paul “entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.” At the end of Acts, Paul’s message still has not changed, and in Acts 28:31 it relates that while he was in Rome “he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.” It is important to note the distinction between the subject of Paul’s preaching, which was the kingdom of God, and the subject of his teaching, which was Jesus Christ. So it is possible to see that Paul proclaimed the same gospel as Jesus, the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
The gospel of the Kingdom is the only gospel that should be declared because as Paul contends in Galatians 1:6-9, there is only one gospel, which is the gospel that Jesus preached. That is the gospel that we are urged to obey, for Paul writes in Romans 1:16 that “it is the power of God for salvation.” In II Thessalonians 1:8, Paul reveals that God will deal out “retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Hebrews 5:9 further clarifies that Jesus “became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation.” Understanding and obeying the gospel of the Kingdom is imperative for eternal salvation and life in the Kingdom; it is necessary to not only believe the words of Jesus but also to act on them and obey them, because his words are the source of our eternal life and salvation.
Harper Collins also writes that a “‘saved’ life is seen in the context of a life that is ‘redeemed’ in relation to God, oneself, and others in the community.” According to Romans 5:9, we are redeemed and our relationship to God, though once broken through sin and disobedience, is restored through the blood of Christ, saving us from the wrath of God. It is only by the grace of God that we are saved, Ephesians 2:9 says that “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Jesus is our righteousness, and through loving obedience to him and his teachings, we have entrance into God’s kingdom. As Acts 4:12 proclaims, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we may be saved.” However, nothing unclean may enter into the kingdom, as evidenced by
1 Corinthians 6:9 where Paul writes that “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God,” so according to Philippians 2:12, we must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” The gospel of the Kingdom of God can be understood as the answer to the question of “why” people need salvation, and forgiveness through Christ provides the answer to the question of “how” one enters the Kingdom.
In conclusion, salvation can be understood as either divine deliverance from a situation or an adversary or as an act of restoration of the relationship between the Creator and His creation. In regard to the eschatological perspective of salvation, salvation must be understood in light of Jesus’ gospel message of the earthly Kingdom of God that is to be established at his second coming. Because nothing defiled may enter into the Kingdom of God, salvation through obedience to Jesus Christ is the only way one can enter into the Kingdom of God. Despite the delusion and confusion in the world today, there is only one gospel and one hope for salvation.
By Bethany Reise
Since the dawn of creation, God’s original intention was to dwell and fellowship with mankind. Adam was the first man created by God from the dust and placed in the Garden of Eden to tend it and take care of it. Everything that God made was good, and man was made in the image of God. However, Adam and his wife disobeyed and rebelled against God when they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, after being tempted by the serpent. Thus, sin entered God’s perfect creation for the first time and Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. ... The world became exceedingly wicked to the point where God was going to destroy the whole world with a flood. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD and faithfully obeyed His command to build an ark, and a remnant of people was saved. Despite their salvation from destruction, mankind continued in sin and rebel against God, as seen in the tower of Babel where man tried to exalt himself as God and build a tower into the heavens. God miraculously confused the languages of the people and they were scattered. But despite their disobedience and rebellion, God still loved mankind and set in motion His plan to restore the broken relationship.
In an act of grace, God chose and called a man named Abram from Ur of the Chaldeans to “go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you” (Gen 12:1). God promised to make him a great nation and make him a blessing to all the families of the earth. Abram responded in faith and left with his wife and all of his possessions to go into the place where God was leading him. When Abram reaches Canaan, God tells him that he has reached the land of promise and will give it to him and his descendants after him forever. However, at this point Abram and his wife are very old and have no children. God promises Abram he will have a child of his own body as his heir and that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in heaven. Abram believes God, and it is credited towards him as righteousness. After many long years, God visits Abram and makes a covenant with him and changes Abram’s name to Abraham. God promises that He will be the God of Abraham and his descendants forever. He also promises that Abraham will be the father of many nations and have all the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession. Abraham receives the command of circumcision as the sign of the covenant between God and His people. God also promises that Sarai, whose name He changes to Sarah, will bear a son and be the mother of many nations. In time, Sarah bore to Abraham a son named Isaac, and from him the descendants of Abraham multiplied to be greater in number than the sand of the shore.
However, according to Hebrews 11, Abraham is still waiting to receive the promise, because he ... [was looking for a country] prepared in heaven to be revealed in the age to come.
Romans 4:13 says that “the promise to Abraham [and] to his descendants [was] that he would be heir of the world.” This was his hope, the same hope that is available to the all of the heirs of Abraham who are heirs by faith. In this way, God extended the promise of Abraham to all nations because He has declared that all of those who are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” as Galatians 3:26 says, are “Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:29). When Jesus taught and preached during his ministry on earth, he confirmed the promises to Abraham. He preached that people should repent and believe the good news. This good news that he preached was the gospel of the Kingdom of God, a message about the reign of God that is to be established on the earth at the end of time. It includes the hope of the future renewal of the earth where Christ will reign with his saints who will be kings and priests to God. Through repentance from sin and salvation through faith in Christ, the descendants of Abraham will finally inherit what was originally promised, fellowship with God in the land of promise.
By Bethany Reise
(However I have done some editing)
Please see also A Little Leaven…And We All Go To Heaven?