What Does God Save Us From?

Posted on March 1, 2014 - Last updated on April 13, 2014

Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to explain to people exactly what the gospel is, because the media has increasingly misrepresented and demonized biblical Christians to the point where too many people have pre-conceived ideas about what they are trying to explain. Another reason that it has been difficult is because many who claim to be biblical Christians are not living lives that reflect biblical Christianity. If a Christian even mentions terms like "salvation" or "born again", it is likely that most people will completely miss the point of what they are talking about, because they have too many pre-conceived ideas as the result of media slander and professing Christians who are not living lives that reflect the life of Christ. But the many misrepresentations of Christianity in our day are in fact confirmations of some of what the Bible said would take place, as I have explained in my article titled Unwittingly Proving The Bible To Be True.

And whether or not people have seen misrepresentations of terms like "salvation" and "born again", they are terms that are in the Bible. In fact, Jesus Himself is the one who first stated "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). The terms "salvation" and "saved" are also used in the Bible, as the following verses show....

Luke 1:77, Acts 4:10-12, Romans 1:16, Romans 10:9-10, 2 Corinthians 7:10, 2 Timothy 3:15, Titus 2:11, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:12, Luke 13:23:-24, John 3:16-17, John 5:34, John 10:9, Acts 15:11, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 5:9-10, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 2:15, Ephesians 2:5-9, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Timothy 1:8-9 and Titus 3:5.

Please take the time to carefully ponder what these verses are actually saying. If you do, you may see that many Christians are not talking about what many have been programmed to think they are when they refer to salvation, or being born again. When many hear Christians using those terms, they misunderstand it as self-righteousness.... yet one of my favorite verses that I posted above is the one that says "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to [God's] mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). The self righteous are those who trust in their own righteousness, not the ones who trust in the righteousness of God. Some may still be wondering what it is that God saves us from, so that is what I will explain next....

Romans 3:10 says "there is none righteous, no not one", and Romans 3:23-34 says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus". So ultimately, God saves us from ourselves. But this next verse also makes it clear that the wrath of God is involved when we are without God's grace....

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him" (John 3:36). So this verse shows that His wrath is already abiding on them, even though they may not be aware of it. It is for this reason that I believe the wrath of God to be partially the natural consequences that come when they are without Him, such as emptiness, loneliness, despair, and an increasingly darkened understanding that continues to bring on the other things that I mentioned. That is all part of God's judgment. This is not to say that those who do have God will never experience sorrow while on this earth, or that they are perfect.... but those who are without Him do not have the same hope, and can only experience consequences that are simply the result of the debased mind that comes from being separated from His presence: "even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Romans 1:28).

So what I hear this verse saying is that God simply gives people over to what they choose. That is a point that people miss when they blame Him for the consequences that they experience from rejecting Him. They experience those consequences not because God is a monster, but because they are rejecting what is essential to our very being! So to blame God for that would be like a thirsty person blaming someone who only wants to give them what will quench their thirst - water: Just as physical water is essential to physically stay alive, the "water of life" (Revelation 22:17) is essential for spiritual life, and without it is spiritual death. One of the Bible's Psalmists must have understood that it is only God who can quench his spiritual thirst when he wrote "my soul thirsts for God" (Psalm 42:2). Part of John 3:36 says "he who does not believe the Son shall not see life". Yet there are plenty of people without the Son (Jesus Christ) who are alive. So the word "life" in that verse can only be referring to spiritual life. And the opposite of spiritual life is spiritual death, which is what Paul meant by the phrase "dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:5). So I hope what I have said thus far will give some people new insight regarding the words "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Surly this would have to mean that the wages of sin is more than just physical death. It is spiritual death as well. This is confirmed all the more when God spoke to Adam and Eve saying "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" (Genesis 2:17). Adam and Eve did not die physically on the day that they ate the fruit, so they had to have died spiritually.

Whether we are lost or redeemed, we were all born with an eternal soul, simply because we were made to live with God forever. This is why Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity in our hearts. So death in it's fullness is not soul annihilation as Seventh Day Adventists and some others believe. Death in it's fullness is what the Bible refers to as "the second death" and "the lake of fire" in (Revelation 20:14-15), and this could not possibly be soul annihilation as some teach since it is also called "everlasting fire" in Matthew 25:41. In the same chapter, Jesus made it clear what the alternative to eternal life is when he said "these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:46). Although some believe that the everlasting punishment is soul annihilation, it would only bring confusion to call the punishment "everlasting" if someone is taken out of existence, and God is not the author of confusion. It could not reasonably be called punishment once they have ceased to exist. And what about those who view suicide as an escape? Soul annihilation would certainly not be any kind of punishment for them - it would simply be the escape they are looking for.

That is just one of the reasons that I view soul annihilation as a dangerous doctrine, although I do think universalism is even more dangerous. However, even though I believe universalism is more dangerous, I also believe the soul annihilation doctrine is more deceptive. The fact that there are cults who teach soul annihilation should be a red flag for others who are not cult members, yet believe the same doctrine. That doctrine (which is commonly called annihilationism) will not be the main focus of the rest of this article, but a couple articles at the bottom of this one have addressed that doctrine in more detail. Both of the articles are by Alan W. Gomes. I may not agree with everything on the site that the articles come from, but I do think that those two articles are worth checking out. Some who believe in annihilationism and universalism may find ways to twist some of the verses that I have posted here to try to make them fit their doctrine, but I believe that anyone who takes an honest look at the verses will see what they are plainly saying.

It seems like one of the reasons that universalists and those who teach soul annihilation have a hard time accepting the doctrine of everlasting punishment (which is the same thing as eternal torment) is because they misunderstand the nature of it (that is also true of some teachers who teach it), but I can empathize with them, because I had a hard time accepting it myself at one time, due to my own misunderstanding. Personally, I do not believe that the flames in the lake of fire are physical. I do believe they are real, but not physical. I believe that the nature of the lake of fire is something that can only be speculated about to some extent, but I also believe that the Bible gives us enough info to let us know that this is not a physical torment. I believe that because it will be non-physical souls in the lake of fire, not physical bodies. And that is one of my reasons for believing that the flames must also be non-physical. I believe that it is non-physical because Matthew 25:41 tells us that it was "prepared for the devil and His angels". Since the devil and his angels are spirit beings, I don't see how they could be tormented by physical flames. I have given some more reasons for my view on this in my article titled The Penalty For Sin Part 1. The Bible also indicates that there will be different degrees of punishment for certain individuals when it says "Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:29). This is another reason that I do not believe this to be a physical punishment.

Even now, many who are without God experience a torment that results from the emptiness that they have without Him, even though they don't realize that to be the cause of their emptiness. And I have been there myself, as I mentioned in My Testimony. They try to satisfy their souls with other things without realizing that only God can ultimately satisfy. Everything else will eventually leave people even more empty than they were before, even though it may fill the void temporary. God is not to blame for that, but it is simply the natural result of spiritual death. And spiritual death is the natural result of being separated from God. I believe that the emptiness that many of the lost feel now is just a small taste of spiritual death in it's fullness, the lake of fire, which is what the Bible calls "the second death" in (Revelation 20:15).

That is simply God giving the lost what they want, which is separation from Himself. I believe that it is a spiritual torment, not a physical one, which is simply the natural result of being separated from what alone can satisfy our souls - God! I believe it to be a separation from Him because He will eventually say "depart from Me you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). The words "depart from me" make it clear that this is a separation from Him. And I don't believe that those who are "cursed" (as Jesus described them in that verse) would be happy with Him anyway. After continual pleading, God can only give people over to what they want, because He does not force anyone to love Him. True love cannot be forced, but it must be a choice that comes from the heart. Once I came to this understanding, it cleared up a lot of confusion that I had. I have noticed that another reason that a lot of people have a hard time accepting the doctrine of everlasting punishment seems to be because of hurt in their life. I am not saying that any hurt that someone has been through is an excuse to reject God's word, but I have definitely noticed a pattern over the years which shows that those who reject this doctrine are often people who have been through a lot of hurt. So once again, I can empathize with them. But I also don't want them to go through any more pain than they have already been through, and they need to examine what is really causing them to reject it. Is it really the Holy Spirit as some of them claim, or their own feelings?

Those who blame God for this penalty are missing the point that He sent His Son to save us from it, and that is what grieves me about the fact that anyone would blame Him for it. They have no idea what they are missing, which is a profound gratitude expressed through the words "we love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19)! We may not fully understand it all, but the fact that God sent His Son to save us from this penalty is enough to let me know that He does not want us to experience it! We can also know that He does not want us to experience it because the Bible tells us that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (See Ezekiel 33:11), He does not afflict willingly (See Lamentations 3:33) and He desires for all to be saved (See 1 Timothy 2:3-4).

So this penalty has nothing to do with God making threats as some people think, but it has more to do with natural consequences. That has been the point of much of what I have been saying here. It also has to do with justice. God is love, but a "love" without justice is not really love at all. If it was about God making threats, then He would have no reason to want to save us from the threats He is making. But the fact that He sent His Son to save us from this penalty shows me that threats have nothing to do with it. Some pastors and teachers may use the doctrine of everlasting punishment for their own personal gain. But anyone who would use it that way is missing the point of it themselves, and I doubt that anyone who would do that even understands the nature of it.

Some of the verses that I posted toward the beginning of this article should let you know that there is nothing you can do to save yourself from this penalty, because Jesus has already fully paid it. That's why Titus 3:5 says that salvation is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to [God's] mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). If you haven't, all you need to do is accept His free gift of eternal life. The fact that all the credit goes to Him for saving us should give us far more gratitude than if we were to earn our salvation (See Romans 4:2-5).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:16-21).

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, (for it is written, "cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree")" (Galatians 3:13)....Christ "bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24).

If you still need more info about salvation, here are some related links....

Christ Died For Our Sins

The Works-Salvation Delusion

The Gift of God

The Gift of God - Part 2

Seeking And Finding God

An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith

The Good Test (Video)

What Does it Mean to Repent and Be Saved?

What is Redemption?

What Is The Gospel?

What Does it Mean To Be Justified by God?

More Resources on Salvation

My Mom's Salvation Page

Gospel Messages, by Bob Hoekstra

More Resources on The Gospel

Questions About The New Birth (MP3)

The Completed Salvation In Jesus Christ, by J.N. Darby

Cornerstone, by Steve Camp (Song on You Tube)

Come Just As You Are, by Crystal Lewis (Song on You Tube)

Resurrection Day Links

My Testimony

The Reason For This Site



The Non-Physical Mind

Is Man Eternal? By Dave Hunt And T.A. McMahon (Radio Show)

Pastors Criticizing Eternal Torment

Diluting the Word of God, by Henry Morris

8 Symptoms of False Teaching, by J.C. Ryle

Rejection of Biblical Inerrancy = All Kinds of Heresy (One of my articles)

Evangelicals and the Annihilation of Hell Part One, by Alan W. Gomes

Evangelicals and the Annihilation of Hell Part Two, by Alan W. Gomes

Change Not Annihilation, by A.W. Tozer

Berean Call Q&A about Annihilationism

"ANNIHILATIONISM" TO ESCAPE HELL (You Tube Video)

From Hell To Heaven, by Roger Oakland (You Tube Video)

Justice, Forgiveness, and Transformation, by Dave Hunt

What Kind of God Would Condemn People to Eternal Torment? By Tim Challies

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