A couple of weeks ago we took a look at what our Testimony is. Today, I’d like to discuss the question of “When were you saved”. In an effort to answer this question, we will be searching the Scriptures. As we work through this, a question I’d like to ask of you is, “what is the thought driving the question of the moment of salvation?”
What is Salvation? From What are We Saved?
As we have seen already, the ultimate Salvation is from the penalty of Adam’s sin in the Garden. That sin that plunged all of creation into a curse of sin and bound it for judgement and destruction.
Genesis 3:17-24 (ESV)
17 And to Adam [God] said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Man was forced out of the Garden of Eden, the ground was cursed, and death entered the world (Romans 5:12-14). Sadly, now that sin had laid claim to mankind, things became much, much worse as sin worked its will in our flesh, so all of creation was cursed.
Genesis 6:5-8 (ESV) 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Judgement. It is here we see how our sin affects the heart of God. Up until this point in Genesis, we see how sin has affected mankind, and how sin has affected creation. But here, in this passage we see that our sin has grieved the very heart of God. To the point that He regretted making man on the earth, for the weight of their sin and the judgement that was due man for his sin was exceedingly and abundantly great and terrible. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. God had promised salvation in His judgement on the serpent (Gen 3:15). What follows is our first picture (a foreshadowing) of God’s plan of Salvation for mankind. To highlight that understanding of the text, let’s turn to 1 Peter 3:
1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV) 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Ultimately, God’s Salvation is from His wrath which we rightly deserve. Christ bore the punishment for our sin so that in Him we are made righteous.
At What Point Was Noah Saved?
Getting back to the topic for the day, think about the flood. Think about Noah. At what point was Noah and his family saved? How you initially answer this question will reflect your fundamental theology. Regardless of your initial answer, I want to encourage you to look at some possible answers based on some of the differing Christian viewpoints regarding the moment of salvation.
- When God told Noah and his family to leave the ark. The argument here being that Salvation isn’t complete until the Judgement is fulfilled. God did not permit Noah and his companions to leave the ark until “it was finished”.
- Genesis 8:15-22 (ESV) 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark. 20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
- When Noah completed the ark according to God’s commandment. God spoke to Noah and commanded Noah to build an ark according to His plan. Noah had to finish the ark, make the provisions commanded of him by God, and then he and his family had to enter the ark when God commanded. Once Noah entered the ark his salvation was assured for the Hand of the Lord was upon the ark.
- Genesis 7:1-5 (ESV) 7 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” 5 And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.
- When the Word of God came to Noah, he was saved by God. God, in His regret and grieved heart, saw Noah and called him to be saved so that His Will for creation might be both preserved and fulfilled. In calling to Noah, God already planned to save him and his family and was ready to establish a covenant with Noah and his family.
- Genesis 6:11-18 (ESV) 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
I believe that neither of these answers is more correct than the other, provided we understand this foreshadowing correctly. The Way of Salvation was provided by God, not Noah. Salvation belongs to the Lord God.
Psalm 3:7-8 (ESV)
7 Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV) 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
When Were You Saved?
By now you probably know where I am headed. As long as the Way of Salvation is clear (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) then the “when” might have a few good answers, differing in perspective rather than substance. I will again offer a few Biblical answers of “when” in a manner similar to how we broke down the question of Noah’s salvation from the flood. However, since the account of the flood is a type and shadow of the Way of Salvation, they won’t match exactly.
- At the Cross. Since the Way of Salvation was made by Jesus Christ as He bore the punishment for our sin, presenting Himself as the pure and spotless Lamb of God, the final sacrifice, there is no mistaking the Truth of this as an answer to “when” we were saved.
- John 19:28-30 (ESV) 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
- Hebrews 10:8-14 (ESV) 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices,which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
- When we first believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Placing ourselves for a moment into the sandals of those gathered on the Day of Pentecost, pierced through the heart by power of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Gospel by Peter, we find that moment when we ask, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
- Acts 2:38-41 (ESV) 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
- At the Resurrection / The Day of Christ’s Return. While the Way of Salvation was completed by Christ on the cross, we must stand until the end to know we will be Saved. Not that we do it by our strength or by our works, but by faith. We must remain in Christ to the end.
- Revelation 20:4-6 (ESV) 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
In the same way that we hold all biblical answers to the question of Noah’s salvation as accurate, we also hold to each of the affirmations of when we are saved. All of this academic search is aimed at one conclusion, that our salvation is an eternal event that should not be pin-pointed to a singular event in time and space. The only moment in time that transcends time is when Jesus declared “It is finished” and died on the cross. That moment transcends time, in that His sacrifice paid for the sin of mankind from the time of Adam to the Day of His return. As such, Christ’s work on the cross is not limited to a one-time application of faith locked into a moment in your brief sojourn through this life. Christ’s work on the cross is timeless and His forgiveness is assured and His atonement for your sin is available today in the same way that it was yesterday. In fact, until the day we finally put off this sinful flesh, we will need to be forgiven of our sin every hour of every day, by the same once-and-for-all act of Christ on the cross.
1 John 1 (ESV) 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (ESV) 6 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Luke 9:22-27 (ESV)22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Faith is more important than a date marked on a calendar of a singular prayer or confession. Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a daily walk of self-denial, repentance, and acceptance of the Grace and Forgiveness of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Today is the day of Salvation, repent from the works of the flesh, and live by the Spirit. So that when your time on earth is drawing to a close, you will be able to declare what the Apostle Paul wrote in his closing chapter of 2 Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:5-8 (ESV) 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist,fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord,the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
May the Lord bless you and keep you until the Day of His return,
In Christ Jesus,