Sermon Notes: Life and Teaching – What is Salvation?

1 Timothy 4:16 “Keep on close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

We have to stay rooted in the Bible and let it speak. 

The more I study and read my Bible, the more I realize that I’m as much a product as anyone of a Christian sub-culture loaded with assumed theologies that are multiple steps removed from actual biblical exegesis. 

I’ve brought those assumed theologies to the text and bent the text to fit my theology rather than allowing the text to shape my theology.

I have to repent daily from a tendency to bend the Bible to my assumptions.

Today we want to ask and answer the question: What is salvation?

The reason we need to ask this question is that Scriptures like Colossians 1:13 speak about God delivering us, and Ephesians 2:9-9 speak about us being saved, and we need to know what that means. 

Colossians 1:13-14 (ESV) 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB) 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

In the good news, God has delivered us from a domain that is dark, and saves us by grace, transferring us into his kingdom where we are redeemed. 

That language tells us we were destined for something bad that God delivered us from, and thus the Bible and followers of Jesus refer to being “saved” when we believe the good news. 


When it comes to what salvation is, we must let the Bible speak because the scaffolding of our worldview is at stake. 

There is no good news if there is no bad news that requires God to save us. The good news is only good if there is some bad news for the good to be contrasted with. 

What salvation is, frames the good news the way God frames it, and it must be part of our understanding of all things in order to appreciate rightly what God does for us in the good news and for us to see just how awful sin and rebellion against God really is. 

I still believe many in the church world just don’t believe sin is so destructive that God would need to save us from his own wrath and that God can even be angry because we don’t have a framework for holy anger and that’s because we’ve likely never read through the whole Bible and pruned our own beliefs to match what God says.

Let’s read about salvation in John 3:16.

John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

What does John 3:16 teach us about Salvation?

God loves. 

  1. 1 John 4:7-9
    1. 1 John 4:7-9 (ESV) 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
    2. God is love. That love is defined as sending the perfect eternal Son to take on human flesh and punish the eternal Son in our place for our sins so that through faith in Jesus, the Son of God, we get all the righteousness of Jesus credited to us for believing in him.
      1. God’s love then, is “his self-giving affection for his image-bearing creatures and his unselfish concern for their well-being, that leads him to act on their behalf and for their happiness and welfare.” – Jack Cottrell, What the Bible Says about God the Redeemer (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1987), 336. 
      2. How does God display that love? By sending Jesus on a rescue mission for humans and creation.
        1. God’s love includes both affection and action.
          1. God’s love has compassion, pity, mercy, jealousy, wrath, and tenderness all bundled together. 
          2. God’s love is deep and rich and slandered when I equate love to my enjoyment of a Reece’s peanut butter egg. 
      3. God’s love is not always manifest in good vibes and blanket acceptance of whatever I want God to accept. 
      4. Love is a primary part of God’s nature and is governed by his holiness.
      5. God’s love is manifest in its richness in distinct ways that differ in how he loves those who receive him and those who refuse him.
        1. God can love a repentant follower of Jesus and still love one who will not repent and follow Jesus and that same quality of love can be exercised and felt by God differently with the different responses. Love, yet experienced and responded to differently by God. 
        2. Love embraced and reciprocated grows relational affection so that we can say we know God loves us and we love God.
        3. Love spurned produces righteous anger that, unless repented of, ends in eternal perishing. 

God loves us so much that he made a way for humans to not perish. 

  1. If God makes a way for humans to not perish, why are humans perishing and what is perishing?
    1. Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV) 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
    2. There has been a rebellion from within the hosts of heaven and the Lord’s heavenly council, and free humans are faced with deciding on the good of living in obedience to the Lord or following the rebellion with the hosts of heaven. God warns Adam and Eve if they transgress this one boundary, they will die.
      1. By death, we learn that it’s not instant vaporization or annihilation, instead death is the injection of the curse of sin into every fiber of creation and the breaking of every relational component of creation that will result in the eventual “perishing” of human beings. 
  2. What does Jesus mean by “perish”?
  3. The word Jesus chooses in “perish” means to destroy.
    1. But don’t think destroy as in cease to exist. The Bible does not teach that.
      1. The Bible teaches that those who die without faith in Jesus will live on but do so under the eternal condemnation of God, and that is what Jesus means by “perish”.
        1. We have a “born on date” but we don’t have a “cease to exist” date. 
        2. We will live on forever either in the eternal kingdom or under the righteous judgment of God in the place that was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
          1. Understand that hell is not the Serpent’s realm of rule. God created hell, and he oversees it, and its scope and experience match the offense of rebelling against him.
            1. Hell is God’s idea of justice for those who persist in the rebellion. 
          2. Jesus gives us a glimpse of that existence with the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. 
      2. “Perishing” is a just and right and holy response to the spurned love of God.
        1. Mark 9:42-48; Matthew 25:41-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12; Revelation 20:11-15; Hebrews 9:27-28; Luke 16:19-31
  4. God loves so much that he will allow a man or woman who wants to have things their way apart from Jesus to have eternal justice.
    1. Romans 1:16-32
      1. God provided salvation for everyone who would believe by making his righteous standard known in the law and himself paying for the law’s violations with the atoning work of Jesus. V. 16-17
        1. Why would God have to pay for the law’s violations through the sacrifice of Jesus?
      2. God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of mankind who in their unrighteousness suppress the truth. V. 18
        1. One of the ways that death works itself out in creation is the suppression of the truth of who God is through unrighteousness and ungodliness.
          1. Sin ignores God and suppresses the fact that he knows and that there are eternal consequences for sin. 
        2. The knowledge of God is plain because God has shown it to mankind in all of creation, and mankind has chosen to suppress that knowledge by loving ungodliness and unrighteousness rather than God. v. 19
          1. Sin is an active distraction to keep us from looking at holiness and feeling the distance and need for a savior. 
        3. God has put his attributes on display in creation so that all of mankind has a witness to who God really is and have NO excuse for not seeking God out. V. 20
          1. This revelation of God in creation is enough for accountability, but it is not enough to save. 
          2. That is why Jesus came to provide a saving knowledge of who God is and payment for sin, and that is why belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation. 
        4. People actually know God (not in a saving way, but in a real conscience way), and they choose in their state of sin to not honor God or acknowledge him with any thanksgiving. The result is that their foolish hearts just get darker, and thinking themselves wise, they are actually becoming more foolish. V. 21-22
          1. In this growing folly people choose to exchange the glory of God for created objects they choose to worship rather than God. V. 23
            1. Whether it’s an image made to animate some heavenly creature who is seeking to take glory from God like Baal or whether it’s living vicariously through our children, those without God go only deeper into the hole of sin. 
        5. What is God’s response to this foolish rebellion?
          1. He gives them up to the lusts of their hearts in all the ways they choose to degrade themselves because they chose a lie over the truth. 
          2. God removes the boundaries for human flourishing and lets rebellious people go after their dark desires, and at its most debased, some of those desires are manifest in the exalted act of worship that is procreation by exchanging what God made natural for unnatural affections. V. 26-27
        6. The end result is that God just gives up the rebellious to the depths of where they choose to take the rebellion.
          1. The rebellious not only know it’s wrong but they celebrate it and approve of others who join them in their depravity. V. 28-32
      3. Romans 1 describes the passive wrath of God.
        1. If you want to walk away, he will let you, and you get the natural consequences of rebellion. 
      4. The passive wrath of God leads the active wrath of God, to what John calls in Revelation 20:14, the second death.
        1. The second death is resurrection to judgment and then being sentenced to the lake of fire to eternally pay for refusing the love of God on the cross of Jesus Christ.
          1. It is eternal because no creature can pay the penalty for sin. Only Jesus can actually pay that price. 
      5. Salvation is God’s free offer of rescue from his righteous passive and active wrath at rebels because rebellious mankind stepped on his eternal love in order to delight in his own defilement.
        1. Hell is just and a proper consequence of the refused love of God.

God loves so much that he gave Jesus so that all who believe can have eternal life.

  1. Mankind does not have to perish. 
  2. God so loved the world that he gave the unique and eternal Son of God to die in our place for our sin so that if we believe we can possess eternal life.
    1. What is eternal life?
    2. John 17:1-3 (ESV) 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
      1. Didn’t we just learn in Romans 1 that mankind knows about God from creation? So, how is eternal life knowing God?
        1. Yes, all mankind knows of God in one regard at a conscience level.
          1. Knowing there is a God in one’s conscience is not the same as having a transformed relationship with that God, knowing God personally, and being known by God personally. 
      2. So, in what way is eternal life knowing God?
        1. Man in his sin has enough knowledge of God to be held accountable for what he knows. That’s Romans 1. 
        2. What Jesus does by the cross is reconcile us back to God by removing the guilt of sin when we believe and giving to us his perfection and a new set of desires and the Holy Spirit to animate all of that beautiful new creation stuff.
          1. Now, when God sees us he sees only the perfection of Jesus. 
          2. Now, we have a relationship with God restored that we get to cultivate. We know God.
            1. And you have to cultivate it. 
          3. Now, God knows us.
            1. Galatians 4:9 (ESV) 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
            2. This doesn’t mean that God didn’t know something and now he learned it. 
            3. Paul is speaking of God knowing us in a reconciled way of a restored relationship with us and working only to do us good. God no longer has an adversarial relationship with us.
              1. Romans 8:28 only applies to those who repent and follow Jesus. 
          4. That is the message of redemption in the good news we learned about a couple of weeks ago.
            1. Romans 3:21-26.
          5. In salvation, God begins the redeeming work of sanctification of the whole human, beginning the lifelong work of restoring fully all of the goodness of what it means to be fully human as an image-bearing, co-regent of God on earth in his kingdom. 
  3. How can we summarize salvation?
    1. The following is adapted from the BFM 2000:
    2. Salvation involves the redemption of the whole person and is offered freely to all who will repent and believe the good news of Jesus, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer.
      1. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
    3. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creations in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart made by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
      1. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
    4. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal based upon the satisfaction of his justice in the sacrifice of Jesus applied to all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.
      1. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.
    5. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.
      1. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerated person’s life.
    6. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed in the eternal kingdom of God.
      1. (Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.)


  1. Believe that God is just.
    1. Salvation doesn’t just remind us of another good news presentation.
      1. The presence of salvation in the Bible reminds us that God works justice out, and justice belongs to him, and it’s appropriate for us to rightly work for what is just, holy, good, and healing. 
    2. God is not unjust. He will work out justice either in hell, or people will turn to Jesus to have their wrongs thrown into the sea of forgetfulness, or redeemed domains will set cursed things back to kingdom wholeness, or see that evil gets what is coming to them in other means of his justice.
      1. It becomes our work of faith to forgive as Jesus told us.
      2. We work to set things right by joining Jesus in healing all severed relationships that were cursed in the rebellion and proclaiming the good news.
      3. We leave all eternal working out of justice to God to even things out in this life or in the age to come. 
    3. God will make things right.
      1. Romans 12:19 (ESV) 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
  2. Don’t choose the passive wrath of God today.
    1. For anyone who has never followed Jesus, turn from that sin and all others and follow Jesus today.
    2. If you believe you have gotten away with whatever it is, big or small, it could be that God has just let you go the way you wanted, and has removed all impediments letting you have your unchecked desires until you completely wreck your life or lift your eyes in eternal torment. 
  3. Don’t choose the active wrath of God in an eternal hell by stubbornly refusing to repent of unbelief and following Jesus with a local church. 

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