What Does It Mean to be Saved?

This entry is part 25 of 57 in the series Mysteries

Question Twenty-Five

What Does It Mean to be Saved?

One of the most common questions that comes up when anything from the Bible is discussed is:

“Are you saved?”

I have an unorthodox approach on many lines of thought and my dialog in a discussion may go something like this.

Him: Are you saved?

Me: I’m saved from a number of things. What did you have in mind?

Him: Are you saved from sin?

Me: What do you mean by that?

Him: Well, I mean, are your sins washed away?

Me: And what do you mean by that?

Him: I mean that if you accept Jesus into your heart your sins will be forgiven and you will be saved.

Me: It doesn’t say anything in the Bible about accepting Jesus into your heart.

Him: Sure it does.

Me: Where?

Him: (He looks but can’t find it for it is not there.)

Me: Look, You’re just not clear what it is I’m supposed to be saved from.

Him:  Are you an idiot? You need to be saved from your sins.

Me: And what is sin?

Him: Everyone knows what sin is.

Me: Then you should be able to tell me.

Him: Sin is the transgression of the laws of God.

Me: Does that include all the laws of the Old Testament such as putting gays, witches, disobedient children and Sabbath breakers to death? Are you a sinner because you do not put your neighbor to death who goes to work on the Sabbath?

Him: Well, no.  The law of Christ superseded those draconian measures

Me: So what law can I break that would be considered a sin?

Him: Any of the Ten Commandments

Me: I thought the Ten Commandments came from the Old Testament.  Are you saying they are a part of the Law of Christ?

Him: Well, Jesus supported obeying the Ten Commandments.

Me: So are the Ten Commandments the Law of Christ we are supposed to obey?

Him: They are not specifically the Law of Christ.

Me: So what is it in the Law of Christ that was supposed to have replaced the Laws of Moses that will be sin if transgressed?

Him: (He does not have a clear answer.)

Me: Let me help you out here. Let’s read the words of Jesus. He was asked, “Which is the great commandment in the law?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt 22:36-40

Would you agree then that all the commandments supported by Jesus “hangs” or is summed up in these two commandments?

Him: Yes, I suppose.  That seems to be what he is saying.

Me: Jesus reinforced this idea when he said, “ Matt “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matt 7:12

So to sin then I would have to violate the spirit of these two commandments.  For instance, if I stole something from my neighbor that would violate the idea of loving him as I love myself, correct?

Him: Yes, I suppose.

Me: To better understand sin it may be helpful to examine the Greek from which the word was translated. The word “sin’ in the New Testament comes from HAMARTIA which is derived from HAMARTANO which means “to miss the mark.” In other words, when the Greeks 2000 years ago shot at a target with an arrow and missed they “sinned” (HAMARTANO) or missed the target. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon tells us that the Greeks also used it to mean “an error in understanding.” I suppose that if you error and miss the truth you are missing the mark, wouldn’t you say?

Him: I suppose.

Me: So when we sin we are really making an error and not seeing or acting on what is true. Do you agree?

Him: Sounds right.

Me: If we apply this understanding then we could say that when we are saved from sin we are saved from error. In other words, salvation is seeing and acting on what is true rather than illusion. Do you suppose this is why Jesus said, “The truth shall make you free?” (John 8:32)

Him: Interesting to think about.

Me: That was almost the same as saying, “The truth will save you.”

What do you suppose is the main error that Jesus came to save us from?

Him: I suppose it would be errors that take us away from loving God and man.

Me: Yes, and there is one huge error, above all the others that takes us away from that love. Do you recall what Jesus often said about the sins of the people he healed?

Him: He told them that their sins were forgiven.

Me: Yes, and right after he told them that they were healed physically. Do you suppose they also felt different within themselves?

Him: I would imagine there was a big difference.

Me: And what would that difference be?

Him: Before their sins were removed they probably felt weighed down with guilt. I’m sure it was a great relief to have that removed.

Me: I agree.  Does guilt serve any useful purpose rather than make us feel sick emotionally and physically?

Him: It makes us realize the seriousness of our sins.

Me: But it also paralyzes us and takes us away from the love of God and man. Now remember the original Greek for sin meant to “miss the mark.” When the Greeks shot at a target and missed they were said to have sinned. Let us suppose we have two archers trying to perfect their aim.  The first one feels no guilt when he misses and the other one does. Which one will perfect their shooting first?

Him: Probably the one without the guilt.

Me: Yes. When the one without the guilt misses he may get a little irritated with himself but he immediately picks up another arrow and tries again.  But imagine the other guy missing and then feeling weighed down with guilt because of his error. He may feel unworthy to shoot again until he feels punished.  It may be a month before he shoots again. How long will it take this guy to become a perfect shot?

Him: Quite a while, if ever.

Me: In fact, it would be plain silly to punish yourself with guilt just because you make a mistake, wouldn’t it?

Him: But many would not change their ways if they didn’t feel guilt.

Me: And you have just struck on the great error that Jesus came to save us from. To understand, consider the archers again. They both want to be perfect in their craft. Guilt has nothing to do with this desire.  It exists independent of guilt. The one who allows guilt to get in the way is at a standstill in his progress.

This same principle applies to any error we make. Let us look at two men who decide to be better people. The first has made a lot of mistakes but realizes that feeling guilty does not change the past and just moves ahead correcting his mistakes and doing his best.  The second man also has a lot of mistakes in his past but feels very guilty when reflecting on them. He doesn’t feel worthy to move ahead. His guilt makes him feel like he needs to be punished first and he feels paralyzed with fear. Which man is taking the most common sense approach?

Him: I never thought of it that way, but I suppose it would be the first.

Me: Do you recall a popular greeting Jesus made when encountering his disciples?

Him: He often said, “Peace be unto you.”

Me: Yes, and he is also called the “Prince of Peace.”

Could his disciples accept the peace he offered if they were weighed down with guilt?

Him: Probably not.

Me: Considering this line of reasoning we can conclude that all the acts and teachings in the life of Jesus had the great purpose of removing our greatest error.  His salvation was to save us from the error of guilt, for when guilt is removed the door to peace is open to us. Is this not wonderful knowledge?

Him: You’ve guided me toward some interesting thinking but I doubt if many regular Christians will accept it.

Me: All have difficulty thinking outside the box, but truth cuts its own path and it is always just a matter of time before it is accepted.


Copyright by J J Dewey 2014

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3 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to be Saved?

  1. “Him: Well, no. The law of Christ superseded those draconian measures

    Me: So what law can I break that would be considered a sin?

    Him: Any of the Ten Commandments”

    Perhaps it is just a matter of taste but the middle line would pehaps sound better if it were reworded to:
    “Me: So what law can’t I break as that would be considered a sin?”

    This is also clearer IMO.

    1. Actually, I was trying to hone down an item that would be considered a sin. That’s why I worded it that way.

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