What does salvation mean?
Most of us want it, others actively, while others do not even think about it. Perhaps the most common definition of human salvation is that you go to heaven after death. Generally people believe they have an immortal soul; good people can get to heaven after death and bad sinners, in turn, will have to suffer eternal agonizing fire in Hell. Many churches teach that after having received Jesus in your life and after you have been forgiven your sins, you have received salvation. Some even believe that once you are saved you are permanently saved. In the Middle Ages, salvation could be bought with money or at least shorten the time spent in the purgatory. When using indulgences the time in purgatory was shortened, and then people finally got to heaven.
Everyone must die at least once. Salvation means, that one does not have to face the second death, but the righteous will receive eternal life – i.e. immortality.
… unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
1 The 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Rev 2:5 Therefore, remember how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. If you don’t, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent. (Rev 3:19)
At the moment we are living in a similar Laodicean church. We are not cold nor hot. We are indifferent and numb. Maybe we go to church once or a few times a year and we think that’s enough. Church services are similar one after the other, often especially televised church services are for the most part singing and playing, entertainment. Bible teaching is not part of today’s church service.
There are verses in the Bible that could lead to the conclusion that salvation is quite simple and easy: Rom 10:13 for “whoever will call on the name of the lord will be saved.” Is that all it takes? Take for example 1 Jhn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult. Or this one: Heb 5:9 once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him – You need to obey Jesus to be saved.
Or then it is difficult: Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to tribulation, and shall kill you; and you will be hated of all the nations for my name’s sake. 10 Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. 24:13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved. Or: 1 Pet 4:18 If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will happen to the ungodly and the sinner?
John the Baptist will surely reach the kingdom of God/Heaven among the first, right? Let us read what the following Matthew’s verses tell us. Mat 11:9 But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has appeared who is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least important person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
How does Jesus characterize John the Baptist? He is more than a prophet. I will send my angel … And yet: Verily I say unto you, there is no greater among those born of the wives than John the Baptist; but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Does this mean that the kingdom of God has really high admission requirements when John the Baptist would be least in the kingdom of heaven? Or how can this be interpreted? After contemplating this, I came to the conclusion that the earthly John is compared to the heavenly powers in the kingdom of God. The saints of God’s Kingdom will be powerful servants of God. Among them, says: Rev 2:26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. 27 He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have received of my Father: These saints of the Revelation who rule the Gentiles – one over five cities, another one over ten cities – are not only great in the spiritual sense, but also powerful in carrying out their mission. No man, not even John the Baptist, has had such powers, and in that sense, the kingdom of God has a higher status over the people of the land, no matter how righteous they are otherwise. Mat 11:11 must therefore not be interpreted as imposing an absolutely impossibly high standard for the salvation in God’s kingdom. Below I will write what the Bible says in more detail.
I’ve taken to the next section plenty of quotes from the Bible; they tell you what the Bible says about salvation. What should we do to save ourselves?
Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and many are they who enter in through it. For narrow the gate and straitened the way that leads to life, and they are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)