What does it mean to be “saved”? Where did the term “saved” come from? When people hear the word “saved,” they often think of the TV preachers asking if they’re “saved.” Is the term biblical?
“Saved” comes from the word salvation, as in having salvation. Salvation, meaning eternal life, is a major theme throughout the Bible. So the question is, what are we saved from? Believers are saved from the righteous judgment of God. You may say, “But I’m a good person!” For God’s judgment to be righteous, it must mean that we deserve His judgment. Is that the case? Let’s go to the Scripture and see.
First of all, we have to understand the attributes of both God and man.
Attributes of God and Man
- …is righteous:
“The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” – Psalms 145:17
- …is holy:
“For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy” – Leviticus 11:44a
- …is perfect:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
- No one is righteous:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” – Romans 3:10
- No one does good:
“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” – Romans 3:12
- All have sinned:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
The Transgression of Sin
Have you ever told a lie? I sure have. What does the Scripture say about liars?
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8
The point is that any sin, regardless of it’s severity, is enough to condemn a person to hell. God demands perfection, as he is perfect. Nothing short of perfection is worthy of eternal life in heaven. So being “saved” means just that – we are saved from God’s righteous judgment on us sinners. How does a sinner ever meet the standard that God sets for eternal life? How can a sinner ever be “perfect”? The answer is imputation.
Imputation is basically transferring something to another person. Consider the consequence of Adam’s fall on all of mankind:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” – Romans 5:12
The death and sin was imputed to all of mankind through the fall of Adam. In other words, all of mankind became stained with sin because of Adam’s transgression against God. What is the good news in all this? The good news is that Jesus has provided our escape from this sin:
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:5–6
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” – Romans 3:24–26
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” – Romans 5:17–19
By the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, He appeased the wrath of God in our place. His sacrifice was propitiatory. In other words, Jesus took the judgment of God for our sins in our place. In all of history, God has demanded a blood sacrifice for sins. And without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus was the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29)
Imagine you are on trial for a crime. You are found guilty, and the penalty is death. But Jesus comes along and takes the penalty in your place. As a result, you get to live. This is exactly what Jesus has done. This is what it means to be “saved.”