An important part of our salvation is our heavenly Father’s constant care.
Salvation Is For Now, Too!
When we speak of salvation or of becoming “saved,” we tend to think primarily of becoming saved from the penalty of sin and of getting eternal life in heaven instead of a life of suffering in hell.1 Salvation does bring new life, and the new life is the result of new-birth, but being born-again has a somewhat different meaning from “being saved.” The important idea in “being born-again’” is that we are “begotten again” of God (1 Pet. 1:3 JND) and, as a result, we become “children of God” (1 Jn. 3:1-2 NIV). God becomes our heavenly Father and He, being a perfect father, will supply all our needs (Mt. 6:32-33; Phil. 4:19), will comfort us (2 Cor.1:4), and will lovingly discipline us (Heb. 12:10). Loving us with a perfect love, He will guard us, keep us, save us, preserve us from trouble, and if we are in trouble, He will bring us through it or rescue us out of it. All of these things are included in the biblical concept of salvation.
God Preserves Us
An important part of our salvation is our heavenly Father’s constant care: He “watches over all who love Him” (Ps. 145:20). He may allow us to get into trying, even distressing situations, but He is always with us in all of them and He preserves us as we go through them.
Scripture abounds with examples of God allowing His children to experience hard things. The Apostle Paul was allowed to experience all the terrors of a seemingly unending tempest at sea, then shipwreck, and finally having to get to shore by clinging to a piece of wreckage (Acts 27:14-44). But God saved him, and the ship’s crew, through it all. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were allowed to be thrown into a blazing furnace but the Lord kept saving them from the flames without the slightest injury while they walked around in it (Dan. 3:19-26). God also allowed Daniel to spend a whole night confined amidst starving lions but saved him from their mouths (Dan. 6:16-22).
Of course, on those rare occasions when God saves us in an unusual way, we are very aware of it, but there is so much from which He saves us that we are never aware of. Why not? Because from our point of view, nothing happened! He saves us from dangers when we travel (Ezra 8:31), from physical injury, from the elements, and, in fact, “from all harm,” for He watches over our “coming and going” (Ps. 121:7-8).
How blessed we are that He is “God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” (Ps. 68:19) and we can obtain that blessing by imitating the Psalmist who said, “O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you” (Ps. 88:1). We have that wonderful promise that says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Ps. 55:22). How much anxiety we would be saved from if we could say with hymn writer, W. F. Lloyd, “Our times are in Thy hand, Father we wish them there; our life, our soul, our all, we leave entirely to Thy care.”
God Saves Us Out Of Evil
Scripture promises that God “saves you out of all your calamities and distresses” (1 Sam. 10:19). Life brings troubles to everyone, but, unlike the unsaved, we have an all powerful God to turn to for help, and we also have His promise to deliver us from all our troubles (Ps. 34:17,19). However, His deliverance, His salvation, often takes a quite unexpected form, as the history of His people in the Old Testament shows.
Sickness and suffering are common troubles. It is worth noting in this connection that Scripture uses the same word, “sozo” (meaning “to save”) to refer to “salvation” from illness and “salvation” from sin! Hence, “the prayer of faith shall save the sick”2 (Jas. 5:15 KJV). Illness is only one form of suffering out of which God can save us. No matter what the nature of our suffering, we can pray with the psalmist “Look upon my suffering and deliver me” (Ps. 119:153 NIV).
Paul prayed that God would take away the thorn in the flesh which was tormenting him (2 Cor. 12:7-8), and God did deliver him – but not in the way he asked! Instead of taking away the thorn, God gave him the help he needed to endure the suffering it caused. When we pray for relief from suffering, we may receive an answer similar to Paul’s: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). If this happens, it would be quite a challenge to be like Paul, “taking pleasure in what is most trying … that Christ’s strength may be manifested.”3
Suffering can also result from persecution. Enemies of the faith will persecute us openly but those who pride themselves on “being tolerant” will find more subtle but no less effective ways of doing it. Do not think that if you are a good Christian everyone will like you and you will escape persecution. Our Lord says that we can expect the world to hate us, explaining that “if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also” (Jn. 15:18-20). When this happens, we can take comfort in the assurance that “the Lord knows how to rescue (save4) godly men from trials” (2 Pet. 2:9). We know that God can save us from trials, but we are often quite un-prepared for the form the rescue takes. In fact, we may not like it at all!
An especially difficult form of trial to cope with is encountered when people, including fellow-believers, engage in backbiting, speaking evil of us, or railing against us. Christian offenders should be dealt with by the church, but that rarely happens. What do we do then? We do as the psalmist did: “I call on the Lord in my distress … save me, O Lord, from lying lips and deceitful tongues” (Ps. 120:1-2). We need to be aware that God often appears to be slow in responding, and that we then are tempted to take matters into our own hands. That may be why we are told to “wait for the Lord, and He will save you” (Prov. 20:22). Salvation will eventually come, but that can be hard to believe while we are enduring the pain caused by sharp tongues.
God Saves Us From Evil
God not only saves us out of evil, but He saves us from evil – that is, He keeps us from getting into it in the first place. We tend to be confident of our ability to overcome evil, but we should have the humble attitude expressed in our Lord’s model prayer: “Lead us not into temptation but save us from evil” (Mt. 6:13 JND).
Salvation is also to play an active role in the way in which we who are saved live our lives: “Salvation … teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (Ti. 2:11-12 NIV). We have been saved to do good works (Eph. 2:8,10) and to exhibit “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22) in our attitudes and in our actions.
It is easy to cite all these wonderful promises and descriptions of salvation, but in times of trial, we often react as did the psalmists who wrote, “My eyes fail, looking for Your salvation,” and “Why are You so far from saving me?” (Ps. 119:123; Ps. 22:1). And so we have anxiety because we really do not trust God. We know the familiar Scripture that tells us that God “will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts … in the Lord forever” (Isa. 26:3-4), but it is easier to cite than to put into practice. If we trust in the Lord for our life eternal, why not do the same for our life today?
1. Strictly speaking, the unsaved spend eternity in the lake of fire. But “hell” is used here since it has become equated to the “lake of fire” through usage.
2. The role of prayer and faith in healing, and the question of “faith healing” are beyond the scope of this article.
3. W. Kelly, Notes on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 228, Bible Truth Publishers, 1975.
4. The word here translated “rescue” is rhnomai and is, according to W. E. Vine, largely synonymous with sozo, which means to save.
By Alan Crosby
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.