What is salvation?
Why do I live? Does my life make sense? What happens to me when I die? Urfragen, probably everyone has ever asked. Questions to which we answer you here an answer that should show: Yes, life has a meaning; yes, there is a life after death. Nothing is safer than death. One day we receive the dreaded news that a loved one has died. It reminds us that we must die tomorrow, next year or in half a century. Fear of dying has driven some of the conquistador Ponce de Leon in search of the legendary fountain of youth. But the reaper can not be dismissed. Everyone comes to death.
Many today place their hope for scientific-technical life extension and improvement. What a sensation when scientists succeed in discovering biological mechanisms that may delay or perhaps even stop aging altogether! It would be the biggest and most enthusiastically welcomed news in world history.
Even in our super-technical world, however, most people realize that this is an unattainable dream. Many cling to the hope of living on after death. Maybe you are one of those hopefuls. Would not it be wonderful if humanity really had some great destiny? A destiny that includes eternal life? This hope exists in God's plan of salvation.
In fact, God intends to give eternal life to people. God, who does not lie, the apostle Paul writes, promised hope for eternal life ... (Titus 1: 2).
Elsewhere he writes that God wants all people to be saved and come to know the truth (1 Timothy 2: 4, translation from set). Through the gospel of salvation, preached by Jesus Christ, God's healing grace had appeared to all people (Titus 2: 11).
Sentenced to death
Sin came into the world in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned, and their descendants did it to them. In Romans 3, Paul declares that all human beings are sinful.
- There is no one who is fair (Verse 10)
- There is no one who asks about God (Verse 11)
- There is no one who does good (Verse 12)
- There is no fear of God (Verse 18).
... they are all sinners and lack the glory that they should have with God, Paul states (Verse 23). He lists evils resulting from our inability to overcome sin - including envy, murder, sexual immorality, and violence (Romans 1: 29-31).
The apostle Peter speaks of these human weaknesses as carnal desires that fight against the soul (1 Peter 2:11); Paul speaks of them as sinful passions (Romans 7: 5). He says that man lives according to the nature of this world and strives to fulfill the will of the flesh and the senses (Ephesians 2: 2-3). Even the best human doing and thinking does not do justice to what is called justice in the Bible.
God's law defines sin
What sin means, what means contravening God's will, can only be defined against the background of the divine law. God's law reflects God's character. It sets the norms for sinless human behavior. ... the wages of sin, Paul writes, is death (Romans 6: 23). This coupling that sin entails the death penalty began with our first parents Adam and Eve. Paul tells us: ... just as sin came into the world through a man [Adam] and death through sin, so death got through to all people because they all sinned (Romans 5: 12).
Only God can save us
Sold, punishment for sin is death, and we all deserve it because we have all sinned. On our own we can do nothing to escape certain death. We can not act with God. We have nothing we could offer him. Even good works can not save us from our common destiny. Nothing we can do by our own power can change our spiritual imperfection.
A delicate situation, but on the other hand we have a certain, certain hope. Paul wrote to the Romans that humanity was subject to transience without their will, but by the one who submitted it, but with hope (Romans 8: 20).
God will save us from ourselves. What good news! Paul adds: ... because creation too will be free from the bondage of impermanence to the wonderful freedom of God's children (Verse 21). Now let's take a closer look at God's promise of salvation.
Jesus reconciles us with God
God's plan of salvation was established even before humanity was created. From the beginning of the world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the chosen sacrificial lamb (Revelation 13: 8). Peter declares that the Christian will be redeemed with the expensive blood of Christ, which was chosen before the world was laid (1 Peter 1: 18-20)
God describes God's decision to provide a sin offering as an eternal purpose that God carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:11). In the coming times, God wanted to ... show the exuberant wealth of his grace through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).
Jesus of Nazareth, incarnate God, came and lived among us (John 1:14). He took on humanity and shared our needs and worries. He was tried like we were, but remained sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Although he was perfect and sinless, he sacrificed his life for our sins.
We learn that Jesus put our spiritual note on the cross (Colossians 2:13 to 14). He has redeemed our sin account so we can live. Jesus died to save us!
God's motive for the sending of Jesus is succinctly expressed in one of the most well-known Bible verses in the Christian world: for God thus loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that all who believe in him are not lost, but rather eternal life to have (John 3:16).
Jesus' deed saves us
God sent Jesus into the world to save the world through him (John 3:17). Our salvation is only possible through Jesus. ... there is salvation in no one else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to men by which we shall be saved (Acts 4:12).
In God's plan of salvation, we must be justified and reconciled to God. Justification goes far beyond mere forgiveness of sins (which is included, however). God saves us from sin and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, enables us to trust him, to obey him and to love him.
Jesus' sacrifice is an expression of God's grace that redeems a person's sins and abolishes the death penalty. Paul writes that the righteousness of one is justification for all people (from the grace of God) that leads to life (Romans 5: 18).
Without Jesus' sacrifice and God's grace, we remain in the bondage of sin. We are all sinners, we all face the death penalty. Sin separates us from God. She builds a wall between God and us that must be torn down by His grace.
How sin is condemned
God's plan of salvation demands that sin be condemned. We read: By sending his son in the form of the sinful flesh ... [God] condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8: 3). This dam has several dimensions. It all started with our inescapable sin, the sentence to eternal death. This death sentence could only be condemned or overturned by a total sin offering. This caused Jesus' death.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians that they were brought to life with Christ when they were dead in sins (Ephesians 2:5). Then a core sentence, through which it becomes clear how we can attain salvation: ... you have been saved by grace ...; salvation comes from grace alone.
Once upon a time, as a result of sin, we were as good as dead, even though alive in the flesh. Those who have been justified by God are still subject to carnal death, but are potentially already an everlasting one.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2: 8: Because by grace you have been saved by faith, and not from you: God's gift is ... Righteousness means: to be reconciled with God. Sin creates alienation between us and God. Justification removes this alienation and leads us to a close relationship with God. Then we are saved from the terrible consequences of sin. We are saved from a world that is imprisoned. We share ... in the divine nature and have escaped ... the pernicious desire of the world (2 Peter 1: 4).
Of the people who are in such a relationship with God, Paul says: Since we have become righteous through faith, we have peace with God dm-eh our Lord
Jesus Christ... (Romans 5: 1).
So the Christian now lives under grace, not yet safe from sin, but continually led to repentance by the Holy Spirit. John writes: But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just that he forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all injustice (1 John 1: 9).
As Christians, we will no longer have a habitually sinful attitude. Rather, we will bear the fruit of the divine spirit in our lives (Galatians 5: 22-23).
Paul writes: Because we are his work, created in Christ Jesus for good works ... (Ephesians 2: 1 0). We cannot get justification through good works. Man is justified ... by believing in Christ and not by the works of the law (Galatians 2:16).
We do justice ... without the works of the law, only by faith (Romans 3: 28). But if we go God's way, we will also try to please him. We are not saved by our works, but God has given us salvation so that we can do good works.
We can not earn God's mercy. He gives it to us. Salvation is not something we can do through penance or religious work. God's favor and grace always remain something undeserved.
Paul writes that justification comes from God's kindness and love for people (Titus 3: 4). It does not come for the works of justice that we have done, but for his mercy (Verse 5).
Become a child of God
Once God called us and we followed the call with faith and trust, God makes us His children. Here Paul uses adoption as an example to describe God's act of grace: We receive a childlike spirit [crowd-transl .: Spirit of sonship] ... by which we call: Abba, dear father! (Romans 8: 15). Through this we become God's children and thus heirs, namely God's heirs and joint heirs of Christ (Verses 16-17).
Before receiving the grace, we were in the bondage of the powers of the world (Galatians 4:3). Jesus redeems us so that we can receive childhood (Verse 5). Paul says: Because you are children now ... you are no longer a slave but a child; but if child, then inheritance through God (Verses 6-7). That is an amazing promise. We can become God's adopted children and inherit eternal life. The Greek word for childhood in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4: 5 is huiothesia. Paul uses this term in a special way that reflects the practice of Roman law. In the Roman world in which his readers lived, child adoption had a special meaning that it did not always have among the peoples who were subject to Rome.
In the Roman and Greek world adoption was a common practice in the social upper class. The adopted child was individually selected by the family. The legal rights were transferred to the child. It was used as an heir.
If one was adopted by a Roman family, the new family relationship was legally binding. Adoption not only entailed duties, but also conferred family rights. The assumption in the child's place was something so final, the transition into the new family something so binding that the adoptee was treated like a biological child. Since God is eternal, the Roman Christians surely understood that Paul wanted to tell them here: Your place in God's household is forever.
God chooses to adopt us specifically and individually. This new relationship with God, which we gain through this, is expressed by Jesus with another symbol: in conversation with Nicodemus, he says that we have to be born again (John 3:3).
This is how we become God's children. Johannes tells us: Look, what love has our father shown us that we should be called God's children and we are too! That is why the world does not know us; because she doesn't know him. Dear ones, we are already children of God; but what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we know that if it becomes apparent, we will be like him; because we will see him as he is (1 John 3: 1-2).
From mortality to immortality
So we are God's children already, but not yet glorified. Our present body must be transformed if we want to attain eternal life. The body of the physical, decaying body must be replaced by a body that is eternal and immortal.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes: But someone could ask: How will the dead be resurrected and with what kind of body will they come? (Verse 35). Our current body is physical, is dust (Verses 42 to 49). Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, which is spiritual and eternal (Verse 50). Because this decay must attract incorruptibility, and this mortal must attract immortality (Verse 53).
This final transformation does not occur until the resurrection, when Jesus returns. Paul explains: We are waiting for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our vain body, that he will become his glorified body (Philippians 3:20 to 21). The Christian who trusts and obeys God already has civil rights in heaven. But only realized when Christ came again
this definitively; only then does the Christian inherit the immortality and the fullness of the kingdom of God.
How grateful we can be that God made us fit to inherit the saints in the light (Colossians 1:12). God saved us from the power of darkness and put us in the kingdom of his dear son (Verse 13).
A new creature
Those who have been received into God's Kingdom enjoy the inheritance of the saints as long as they continue to trust and obey God. Because we are saved by God's grace, healing is completed and completed in his view.
Paul explains: If someone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old has passed, behold, the new has become (2 Corinthians 5: 17). God sealed us and in our hearts as
Pledge given the spirit (2 Corinthians 1: 22). The converted, devoted person is already a new creature.
Whoever is under grace is already a child of God. God gives people who believe in his name the power to become God's children (John 1:12).
Paul describes God's gifts and callings as irrevocable (Romans 11:29, crowd translation). That is why he could also say: ... I am confident that he who has started the good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1: 6).
May the man to whom God has granted grace occasionally stumble: God remains faithful to him. The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) shows that God's chosen and called still remain his children even in the event of missteps. God expects the stragglers to go inside and return to him. He doesn't want to judge people, he wants to save them.
The prodigal son in the Bible was really self-conscious. He said: How many day laborers does my father have who have bread in abundance and I am spoiling here in hunger! (Luke 15:17). The point is clear. When the prodigal son understood the foolishness of his actions, he repented and returned. His father forgave him. As Jesus says: But when he was still a long way away, his father saw him and he moaned; he ran and fell around his neck and kissed him (Luke 15:20). The story illustrates God's faithfulness to his children.
The son showed humility and trust, he repented. He said: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son (Luke 15:21).
But the father didn't want to hear about it and had a feast organized for the returning man. He said my son was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and found (Verse 32).
If God saves us, we are his children forever. He will continue to work with us until we are fully united with him at the Resurrection.
The gift of eternal life
By His grace, God gives us the most expensive and greatest promises (2 Peter 1: 4). Through them we get a share ... in the divine nature. The secret of God's grace is in
a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1: 3). This hope is an imperishable inheritance that is kept for us in heaven (Verse 4). At present we are still saved from God's power through faith ... to the bliss that is ready to be revealed at the last moment (Verse 5).
God's plan of salvation will finally be realized with Jesus' second coming and the resurrection of the dead. Then the aforementioned transformation from mortals to immortals takes place. The apostle John says: But we know: if it becomes apparent, we will be like him; because we will see him as he is (1 John 3: 2).
Christ's resurrection guarantees that God will deliver the promise to us of the resurrection from the dead. See, I tell you a secret, Paul writes. We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed; and all of a sudden, in an instant ... the dead will rise again inevitably, and we will be transformed (1 Corinthians 15: 51-52). This happens at the sound of the last trumpet, just before Jesus returns (Revelation 11: 15).
Jesus promises that anyone who believes in him will attain eternal life; I will raise him up on the last day, he promises (John 6:40).
The apostle Paul explains: Because if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, God will also lead those who have fallen asleep with him through Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Again the time of Christ's second coming is meant. Paul continues: For he himself, the Lord, when the command is sounded ... come down from heaven ... and first the dead who died in Christ will be resurrected (Verse 16). Then those who are still alive at Christ's return will be caught up with them on the clouds in the air, towards the Lord; and so we will always be with the Lord (Verse 17).
Paul asks the Christians: So comfort each other with these words (Verse 18). And with good reason. Resurrection is the time when those who are under grace will attain immortality.
The reward comes with Jesus
The words of Paul have already been quoted:. Because the healing grace of God has appeared to all people (Titus 2: 11). This salvation is the blissful hope that is redeemed when the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ appears (Verse 13).
The resurrection is still in the future. We are waiting, hopefully, like Paul did. Towards the end of his life he said: ... the time of my passing has come (2 Timothy 4: 6). He knew that he had remained faithful to God. I fought the good fight, I finished the run, I held faith ... (Verse 7). He was looking forward to his reward: ... the crown of justice that the Lord, the just judge, will give me on that day, not only me, but also everyone who loves his appearance (Verse 8).
At that time, Paul says, Jesus will transform our vain body ... that he will become his glorified body (Philippians 3: 21). A transformation accomplished by God, who raised Christ from the dead and will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his spirit, which dwells in you (Romans 8: 11).
The meaning of our life
If we are children of God, we will focus our lives entirely on Jesus Christ. Our stance must be that of Paul, who said that he considered his past life to be filth so that I could win Christ ... I want to recognize him and the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3: 8, 10).
Paul knew that he had not yet achieved this goal. I forget what is behind and reach for what is up there and chase after the pre-set goal, the prize of the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus (Verses 13-14).
This victory prize is eternal life. Whoever accepts God as his father and loves him, trusts him and goes his way, will live forever in God's glory (1 Peter 5: 1 0). In Revelation 21: 6-7 God tells us what our destiny is: I will give to the thirsty from the source of living water for free. He who overcomes will inherit everything, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.
Brochure of the World Church of God 1993