What Does It Mean To Be Saved?
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the gospel according to Matthew, chapter 1. We are beginning a new series of individual messages which for want of a better term we are going to refer to as Simple Questions Often Asked .

The reason we are discussing these questions is that the answers that are ordinarily given are not sufficient. We need to know what the Word of God has to say. Many of the things that we will say in relation to these questions will be very familiar to many of you, so familiar that you might even say, “I wish we could get on to something deeper,” but we need to recognize that not everyone has these basic facts clearly in mind. If every single one of you, the very moment that I point my finger at you and ask you the question, could give me the answer, chapter and verse, just like that, I could say, “You may be excused; you won't need these messages.” But we believe that God will use them, and we trust that you will keep your hearts open to them.

Matthew 1:

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

We would like for you to notice particularly verse 21:

Matthew 1:

21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Notice the last part of the verse:

Matthew 1:

21…and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Companion Verse

Turn, please, to chapter 4 of the Acts of the Apostles for the companion verse that we want to tie to this one. You will recall that a miracle had been performed. Peter and John were asked by what authority and by what power they had performed the miracle, and their answer is indicated in the paragraph which begins with verse 9:

Acts 4:

9If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Notice particularly verse 12:

Acts 4:

12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Look at the two verses together:

Matthew 1:

21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Acts 4:

12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The Meaning of Saved

We are going to deal with a simple question often asked us, “What does the term saved mean? You say that Jesus Christ came to save us; what do you mean by the term saved ? You say that there is salvation in no other name than the name of Jesus; what do you mean by the word salvation ? What do you have in mind when you use that word?”

We are going to answer the question from the Word of God. The first thing that we would like to suggest to you is related to the literal meaning of the word itself. The English word saved is a translation of the Greek word sozo . The word sozo takes at least four English words to translate it. Those four words are deliver , heal or make whole , protect , and preserve . Deliver, heal, protect, and preserve. We suggest to you that when someone says, “What does it mean to be saved?”, you may say, “It means to be delivered. It means to be made whole. It means to be protected. It means to be preserved.”

To be saved is to be delivered. The initial meaning of the word sozo proposes the need for deliverance, and when we think of the word deliverance , we need to recognize that it is a twofold one. It involves first, situations from which deliverance is needed, and second, someone capable of providing the deliverance. Because it is beyond the scope of this present discussion to examine in detail the qualifications of the procurer of divine deliverance, we would remind you only of the words of the text which we emphasized at the very beginning of our discussion. The Lord Jesus Christ is God's appointed deliverer. There is no other person capable of deliverance, and there is no other one whose deliverance will be accepted by God. That is all you need to know about the procurer of divine deliverance.

“No other name under heaven, whereby men must be saved.” Notice that it does not say, “may be saved”; it says, “must be saved.” No other name than the name of Jesus. Fix that firmly in your mind as we pass on to the situations described in the Scripture from which deliverance is needed for every person born into this world.

The Need for Deliverance

Turn, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 5, as I suggest to you that every person born into the world needs deliverance—listen carefully—from the curse of sin. What does it mean to be saved? It means to be delivered from the curse of sin. There is a reason the curse of sin rests upon every human being, and the first person of that reason is given here in Romans, chapter 5, verse 19:

Romans 5:

19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

For the purpose of the present discussion, notice the first part of the verse:

Romans 5:

19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners,…

If you will read this verse in relation to the entire chapter, you will discover that because Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in direct disobedience to God's revealed will, the curse of sin fell upon the whole human race. You need deliverance from the curse of sin, Beloved, because you are a sinner by nature.

I would like to emphasize that by saying that if it were possible to shut you up in some kind of vacuum from the day you were born to the day you died, where you could see no evil, hear no evil, and do no evil, you would still need deliverance because the curse of sin rests upon you through Adam's disobedience.

This is a doctrine which many people do not like to accept, and they say, “I don't think it is right to condemn me for something someone else did.” Well, don't worry about it; you have done plenty to receive the condemnation of God.

Deliverance From the Curse of Sin

Turn to chapter 3 of the book of Romans:

Romans 3:

23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

I suggest to you that you need deliverance from the curse of sin because the curse of sin rests upon you by nature and because it rests upon you by your own actions—for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Turn with me, please, to the first epistle of John, chapter 3, as I remind you that the curse of sin rests upon you by interpretation of divine law, for:

I John 3:

4Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

That makes it pretty plain. God has laid down his law, known to you as the Ten Commandments , and He said that you and I and everyone else is guilty of transgressing that law. Because we are guilty of transgressing that law, the curse of sin rests upon us and we need deliverance from the curse of the law. Thank God it has been provided.

Turn with me, please, to Galatians, chapter 3, and notice verse 13:

Galatians 3:

13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

God, in His mercy and grace, has delivered us from the curse of sin through the Lord Jesus Christ, but fix firmly in your minds that there is no deliverance from the curse save through the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be saved? It means to be delivered from the curse of sin.”

Deliverance From the Curse of Sin

Turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 2, and notice again what deliverance means as I suggest to you that to be saved not only means to be delivered from the curse of sin, but it means to be delivered from the curse of death, for we read in verse 14:

Hebrews 2:

14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15And [listen carefully] deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

That fear of death hovers over every individual. The Bible has in mind both spiritual death and physical death. Every individual born into the world begins a march to the grave the moment he is born, and unless the Lord Jesus Christ interrupts that march, that separation (represented by death) will be an eternal separation. But when one receives the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, when one is saved, he is delivered from the curse of death. Yes, someday I may die physically, but it will be only my spirit leaving my body. I live eternally because I have placed my faith and my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Deliverance from the Wrath of God

Turn to I Thessalonians, chapter 1, and notice that to be saved means not only to be delivered from the curse of sin, not only to be delivered from the curse of death, but it means to be delivered from the wrath of God. This the apostle, in his first Thessalonian letter, chapter 1, verses 9 and 10, clearly emphasizes. Speaking of the Thessalonian believers, he said:

I Thessalonians 1:

9For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
10And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

Mark what I say to you, Friend: The wrath of God is inevitable unless some deliverance is provided. Every unbeliever will feel the full brunt of the wrath of God, but every believer has the assurance that through the Lord Jesus Christ, he has been delivered from the wrath of God. To be saved means to be delivered from the curse of sin and to be delivered from the wrath of God.

Deliverance from the Power of Satan

Turn to the letter to the Colossians, chapter 1, verse 13, and recognize a truth that all too often is not recognized in relation to the delivering power of God, for this passage says:

Colossians 1:

13Who [This is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ.] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

To be saved means to be delivered from the power of Satan, so that sin need not have dominion over you. I did not say sin will not; I said sin need not—for when we are saved, we are delivered from the power of the Devil.

When we began this discussion, I gave you the four English words which it takes to translate the one Greek word sozo . I said one of them was deliver , and I said another was heal or make whole . I suggest to you that to be saved means to be made whole. I am not speaking of the healing of the body at present, for I do not believe that it can be proven from the Scripture that healing of the body is in the atonement. I do say to you that, thank God, in His mercy and His grace, when it is in accordance with His purpose, He sees fit to lay His hand upon physical bodies and raise them up without the aid of human effort or with the aid of human effort as it seems good to him.

The Energizing Work of the Holy Spirit

When I speak about healing, when I speak about being made whole, I am thinking about the whole man. I am not thinking about physical illnesses; I am thinking about the energizing work of the Holy Spirit described in Paul's letter to the Corinthians which proves that when a man is saved, he is made whole.

Turn to Paul's second Corinthian letter, chapter 5, and notice a simple statement about the energizing work of the Holy Spirit. This describes what I believe the text means when it says that to be saved is to be made whole.

II Corinthians 5:

17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

A more correct rendering of verse 17 is:

II Corinthians 5:

17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

True, he is a new creature, but he is a new creature because he is a new creation. God has made him whole. That is the reason old things pass away, and behold all things are become new. The energizing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ makes possible a new creation. This is the same thing that the Lord Jesus Christ had in mind when He said, as it is recorded in John, chapter 3:

John 3:

3…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

“Verily, verily I say unto you, you must be born again; you must be a new creation…” I suggest to you that to be saved means to be made a new creation. To be saved means to be made perfectly whole.

Divine Protection

Turn, please, to the first epistle of John, chapter 5, as I suggest to you the meaning of the third English word that is involved in the Greek word sozo . Remember, I said that this word may be translated by the English word deliver . It may be translated by the word heal , and by the phrase made whole , and I said it may be translated by the English word protect . What does it mean to be saved? It means to be divinely protected.

Look at the first epistle of John, chapter 5, verse 18:

I John 5:

18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

This is one of those unhappy translations, as I refer to them, in the Scripture—unhappy because the translation does not convey the real truth of the text, and I think in some instances aids and abets a grave error in the minds of men related to the power of God in the believer's life. Did you notice:

I John 5:

18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;…

Look at the word sinneth as I suggest to you that it is written in one of two tenses in the Greek. There are two: one is aorist, one is durative. Let me illustrate it to you this way: If I want to say to you that I am clapping my hands and I express it in aorist tense, I clap my hands once and that's that; that is all there is to it. But if I express it in durative tense, I continue clapping my hands. Now that is not all the meanings of the aorist and the durative tenses, but for this discussion, that is the point I want to leave with you.

This passage of Scripture, “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;” is not written in the aorist tense. If it were, it would say that an individual who is born again, an individual who is saved, cannot sin after he is saved, but that is not what it says. It says:

I John 5:

18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

No one who is born again continues in sin continuously.

I am often asked the question, “How long can a fellow sin before you decide whether he is saved or not?” Thank God, the decision is not mine. I don't need to make it. But I say to you that whosoever is born of God sinneth not, in the sense that I am talking about. We are primarily interested in the last part of this verse. Notice it:

I John 5:

18…but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

The wicked one is the Devil, and he goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He especially loves to devour the choice morsels which belong to the Lord. According to this passage of Scripture, if I am born again, I can keep myself. Did you ever try to keep yourself? Did you? Perhaps I am speaking to some of you who are in the process of trying, and it is a hopeless task, isn't it? Oh, you grit your teeth, you clench your fist, and you say, “I'll not do it,” and hardly have the words left your mouth when you are doing it. You can't keep yourself, can you?

Friend, let me say to you that if you are among those who think they can keep themselves, you are in for a rude awakening. One of these days you are going to fall flatter than flat, and you will know you cannot keep yourself. That is the reason this is an unhappy translation. This is the way it should read:

I John 5:

18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth him, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

The word himself is not there; it is him . Who is the One that is begotten of God? Why, the Lord Jesus Christ. Isn't He the One of whom the Holy Spirit spoke when He said that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son? The One Who is begotten of God keepeth the individual who is born again, and the Devil cannot touch him because Jesus keeps him.

Some of the newer translations of the Bible have made the correction which I have pointed out to you, and I like the way Phillips expresses this verse:

I John 5:

18We know that the true child of God does not sin. He is in charge of God's own Son and the evil one must keep his distance.

The Illustration of Job

I like the last part of that especially, don't you? He is in charge of God's own Son, and the evil one must keep his distance. How beautifully this is illustrated in the story of Job in the Old Testament. You remember that the Devil made his appearance in Heaven, and the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Where have you been?” The Devil said, “I have been going up and down throughout the earth looking things over, and this much I know: Nobody cares too much about You, God; You are fooling Yourself. Nobody cares too much.” God said, “Is that right? Well, what about My servant, Job?” The Devil said, “That is simple. The only reason Job is interested in You is because of what You have done for Him. You have built a hedge about him, and I can't even get to him.” God said, “Take down the hedge.”

Did you notice that Job was not bothered by the Devil one minute until God said, “Take down the hedge.”? The Devil took down the hedge, and he blew up a wind and blew all of Job's property away, and he touched the lives of his children, and Job did not sin against God. The Devil said, “Well, that is simple enough; it is because I haven't done enough to him.” The Lord said, “All right; do some more—but wait just a minute; don't you lay a hand on his life.” You are familiar with the story. The Devil caused a great many things to happen in Job's life, but he couldn't kill him, and this is an illustration of what I say.

Beloved, to be saved means to be divinely protected. It means to be in the charge of God's own Son, and it means that the Devil must keep his distance. I am glad to be saved today and to realize that I am under the divine protection.

The Preservation of the Believer

One other thing I would leave with you. I gave you four words, and the last one I will leave with you is the word preserved . Someone may ask, “Do you believe in the security of the believer?” Yes, I cannot believe in anything else if I believe in the Bible. Someone may ask, “Do you mean you can't lose your salvation?” That is what I mean because the Scripture says that God, in His mercy and His grace, saves us.

The fourth basic ingredient of that word saved is the word preserved . Turn with me, please, to Paul's second letter to Timothy and notice how he expresses it in a way that I trust will be fixed firmly in our minds. Paul is speaking about himself. He is speaking about his hope in the Lord, and he says, speaking of a special trial:

II Timothy 4:

16At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
18And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul's Explanation in Ephesians

That is the word. What did Paul say? “He protects me from immediate danger when no one else is around to protect me, and on top of that, He is going to preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom.” We might say today, “Paul, how do you know that? How can you be sure that He is going to preserve you?” Paul said, “Let me tell you how,” and we are going to borrow the words of Paul from the Ephesian letter for the answer:

Ephesians 1:

13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

No one doubts security after you get to Heaven. I have never heard anyone talk about the loss of security after he gets to Heaven. It is between then and now that worries people. What did Paul say? The now began with the word believed in verse 13, and the climax is reached in verse 14 with the phrase, “the redemption of the purchased possession.” Between the word believe and the phrase, “the redemption of the purchased possession,” there is a guarantee, and that guarantee is the Holy Spirit, “which is the earnest of our inheritance.”

The Holy Spirit is the earnest, the guarantee, of our inheritance. How do I know that I am secure? How do I know that I am saved forever? Because the very word saved includes the preservation of the believer. The guarantee is the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Review

Here is a simple question: What does it mean to be saved? What do you mean by the word saved ? To be saved means to be delivered from the curse of sin, to be delivered from the curse of death, to be delivered from the wrath of God, to be delivered from the power of the Devil. To be saved means to be made completely whole. To be saved means to be protected. To be saved means to be preserved.

A Description of the Way

May I ask another question so that we may tie all the loose ends together, and that is, “How can I be saved?” There are many descriptions of the one way given in the Scriptures. I did not say there are many ways; I said there are many descriptions of the way. There is only one way. One of them is right here in verse 13:

Ephesians 1:

13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

I don't like to refer to steps to salvation because that is misleading, but I am going to use that phrase so that you can think with me. What are the steps to salvation? According to this verse of Scripture, you hear the word of truth. What phase of the word of truth? The gospel of your salvation. The good news of your deliverance. You hear it. You hear it through a preacher; you hear it through a friend; you hear it by radio, by television. However you hear it, you hear the fact that Christ died for your sins according to the Scripture.

Now let me ask you. Let us make this very personal. Have you heard the truth? Christ died for your sins, according to the Scripture. Have you heard that? Well, if you have never heard it before, you have heard it now. Christ died for your sins, according to the Scripture.

Now notice: “After that ye heard the word of truth, ye believed it.” Do you believe it? “Why, of course,” someone might say, “I believe it; anyone would have to believe that there was a person called Jesus and that He died on the cross. Of course, I believe it.” There are multitudes in Hell who believe that. The Devil believes it. Notice the third step: You hear it; you believe it; and then you trust. You commit yourself to it. You rest wholly upon that truth.

Now the fourth step, and that is completely out of your hands: The Holy Spirit seals you. God says to the Holy Spirit, “Go down there in that man's life. Mark him for Me. The Devil cannot touch him.” The Holy Spirit might say, “God, why do You want me to do that?” God says, “Because he heard this morning at Abilene Bible Church that My Son died for his sins, and he believed it, and he said, ‘The best I can, God, I am going to commit my entire life to this truth; I am going to trust it.' Now, Holy Spirit, go down and mark him. The Devil cannot lay a hand upon him from here on out.” That is the simplest approach I know.

Closing Prayer

Will you bow your heads together for prayer. Quietly we wait before the Lord. We would be foolish to bring a message like this without giving you the opportunity to search our hearts. I never presume to know the spiritual condition of anyone. Oh, I could dismiss the service and say, “Everyone here is a Christian.” I don't know that. I have presented the truth. You have listened well and I appreciate it, but now, quietly before the Lord, will you face yourself with this question? Listen carefully: Am I saved? Have I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior? Ask yourself that one question. Don't ask yourself whether you have joined the church; don't ask yourself whether you have been baptized; don't ask yourself whether you are doing good. Just ask yourself this question: Has there ever been a time when I definitely trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior? If there has been, then we rejoice with you. But if you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, will you do it now? You know that Jesus Christ died for your sins. You believe it. Will you trust Him? Not understanding all of the intricacies of it, not understanding all of the details, but believing God's Word is true, will you say, “Here and now I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior.” God bless you.

PRAYER: Father, we thank You today for the privilege of declaring the Gospel. Make records clear. Drive down stakes. Make them real. This we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.


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