(ˇBased on the interesting dialogue between Christ and the rich young man!)
By Mario A Olcese
Christian theology teaches that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. But, What does the Bible really mean with the word salvation? From what would we have to be save, and for what? It is necessary to answer these questions with the Bible and not accordingly to the ideas of tradition.
The Savior of Men
The Bible talks us that there is one that saves men, and that one is the Creator, God the Father. He says: “... Then all mankind will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isaiah 49:26). "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16,17). So we see that the Father is the Savior of all men through His unique Son, the Lord Messiah Jesus.
Salvation from Condemnation
In the previous biblical text of John 3:16, Jesus says that He came to the world to save sinners from condemnation or from doom. But, what did the world do to merit the condemnation? Two verses later Jesus answers: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." (v.19). It is clear that Christ came to save men that were in spiritual darkness and that were doing bad things. In this account, Jesus came to save the sinners that were, in fact, already convicted for God.
Paul will say latter: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Yes, the gift of God is everlasting life by means of Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. And it is that sin's payment is death, and as they all have sinned (Romans 3:9), then we all are doomed for death. But Jesus took our sins and paid them for us dying on the cross of Calvary. His death gave us life, and it canceled the outstanding debt that we owed God. The only thing that we are supposed to do for our part is to accept that payment that Christ paid for us, and as retribution, serve Him for life, as a symbol of gratitude. We were slaves to sin, but Jesus set us free through his expiatory sacrifice. Now you, and all men, have a new opportunity to approach God and live as new men and in sanctity. Now God has gone back to welcome us in his breast, as that father did with his repentant lost son in the famous parable of the Prodigal Son.
There Still Remains a Future Salvation
Even though Jesus saved us from our crimes and sins passed, nevertheless, it still remains that our salvation must be culminated. In fact, we have not yet received all our salvation. Surprising, but real! Let's see what Paul says : "So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring SALVATION to those who are waiting for him" (Hebrews 9:28 ).
Let's take note that Christ's first coming had to do with sin. This means that Christ's first coming was in order to treat the subject of the sins of the world, and to cancel them with his death on the cross. Now, His second coming is no longer for dying for the sins of the world, but to complete His salvation for those whom He has forgiven for their faith and good works. This means that Christ will complete the process of salvation for those that have accepted Him as their Savior, at all the times and places, and that have lived as they should during his absence. Also Peter says with regard to this matter: “who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).
What does Future Salvation Mean?
So far we have seen that there are: a past salvation (Luke 23:35), a present salvation (1 Peter 4:18), and even another future salvation (Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 1:5). Also we have seen that the past salvation has to do with our past sins and God's pardon. Nevertheless, there are few people that know of what the future salvation is all about.
Some suppose that we are already saved, and that another salvation is not necessary to wait. These people suppose that the ones that be meant to be in grace will go to heaven once physical death happens unexpectedly to them. According to these believers, Jesus did not talk about any future salvation, ignoring Hebrews 9:28 and 1 Peter 1:5, and of course Matthew 24:13, texts that affirm that there will be a future salvation when the end comes.
The Bible is clear about what the future salvation is all about. Nevertheless, only few have noticed that that future salvation is hidden in Jesus dialogue with the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-25. Yes, in this short dialogue the significance of the true future salvation is hidden. Only those who examine the Bible with prayer and with the aid of the Holy Spirit's help can discover it
You must open your heart and mind to reflect, unbiased, upon the main verses of the mentioned dialogue. We are going to write them just as they appear in the Bible:
"16And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain ETERNAL LIFE?"
17And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."
18Then he said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS;
19HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
20The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?"
21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
22But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
23And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the KINGDOM OF GOD."
25When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can BE SAVED?"
Here there are THREE KEY PHRASES that clearly define what future salvation is all about. Those phrases are: ETERNAL LIFE (Verse 16), KINGDOM OF GOD (Verse 24), and BE SAVED (Verse 25). These three sentences have not been noticed by the majority of Bible students, thus failing to understand what future salvation was for Jesus and His disciples.
The rich young man wanted to inherit EVERLASTING LIFE, but he was not willing to give everything to the poor in order to follow Christ. Jesus, it seems, needed to say that a rich man will hardly enter the KINGDOM OF GOD. The disciples then ask Jesus: “Then who can BE SAVED?” Now, What is salvation according to this dialogue? The answer is as clear as pure water. You will have to open your heart and mind to understand what our Lord is teaching to all of us. The formula is this: The only thing you have to do is to accommodate or arrange the three KEY SENTENCES: Eternal Life, Kingdom of God, and be Saved. What is the result? Salvation is then ETERNAL LIFE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD or TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH ETERNAL LIFE This simple explanation is not known to millions of Christians. Most Christians believes that salvation is to be with God in heaven (the third heaven). But this is not what Jesus says. Here Jesus speaks of a kingdom and of a future salvation that will come with the second coming of Christ. Then Rev. 12:10 will be fulfilled. This verse says: “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ”. Take note here that salvation is correlated with the kingdom of God and the authority of Christ. Salvation and the Kingdom walk always side by side. Of course none of the dead saints have inherited the kingdom, but they will be raised from their graves to be included in it in the parousia of Jesus.
If a Bible student compares Hebrews 9:28 and Matthew 25:31,34, he will discover than the salvation of the faithful will happen immediately with the second coming of Christ. This means that these people will inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. This is Jesus true and pristine gospel that needs to be preached all over the world (Matt. 24:14)!
Christ and His Kingdom are the more important themes of the Bible, since they are mentioned so often from the beginning to the end of it. Jesus began his ministry preaching the kingdom of God (Mark 1:1,14,15). Also his disciples preached it (Luke 8:1-2; Luke 9:1-2; Acts 8:12; Acts 28:23,30,31). It was also the last thing that Jesus taught to his disciples, just before going up to the Father (Acts 1:3).
The apostle Paul preached it as part of his ministry to the gentiles (Acts 28:23,30,31; Acts 19:8; Acts 20:25). Also He said that in order to be included in it one must first suffer tribulations in this life (Acts 14:22). He affirmed that it is impossible to inherit the Kingdom with our mortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50). He clarified that the dead and the living would receive transformed bodies at the second coming of Christ in glory (1 Corinthians 15:42, 52).
Will you Pass Up This Great Salvation?
Paul says: "how shall we escape if we ignore such a great SALVATION? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him" (Hebrews 2:3). Now I ask you: Will you pass up this great salvation of God, that is also intended for you ?. Do not postpone your decision to earn that present and future salvation, because tomorrow may be too late. For that reason Paul tells the Corinthians: "...now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of SALVATION" ( 2 Corinthians 6:2b).
See Harley's Article How Does One Become a Christian?