I have been saved. I am being saved. I will be saved.
God inhabits eternity. He sees the end from the beginning. Revelation 13:8 states that Christ, the Lamb, was slain from the foundation of the world. And yet the Bible says, today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Eternal life comes through belief in the son. 1 John 5:11-13 says that if you have the son you have life. If you don’t have the son you don’t have life. Jesus, in John chapter 3, said that God loved the world and gave his son so that if we would believe on him we would have everlasting life. But if we don’t believe we are condemned. We are condemned because light came into the world, Jesus was the light, and we loved darkness more than we loved that light.
So what does it mean to believe on the name of Jesus? Before Jesus was born, it is recorded in Matthew 1:21, that the angel told Joseph, “you shall call him Jesus because he shall save his people from their sins.” He doesn’t just save us from the eternal penalty of sin, death and hell, but he saves us from the commission of our sins as well. Jesus said he was the way, the truth, and the life and that no man comes to know the Father in Heaven except through Jesus (John 14:6). To believe on him is to believe that he is what he said he was, that he can do what he said he would, and that he has the power to deliver us from our sins, now, here in this life and into eternity.
Someone once asked Jesus this very question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” And his answer was “Love.” Love God with all of your heart, with all of your mind, with all of your strength, with everything that is within you. And love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said, if you love me you will keep my commandments (John 14:15, and following). Peter confessed this: You alone, Jesus, have the words of life.
But how does Christ save us from our sins? It is the power of his spirit within us that empowers us to overcome that natural tendency within us to sin. Well, what is sin, then? Sin is selfishness. Sin is doing what you want instead of what God wants. Christ in the garden before going to the cross is our example. It says that no one has ever struggled against sin the way he did. And what was his prayer? “Not my will, but your will be done.” That sounds like the way he taught his disciples to pray, too. “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven.”
Jesus said in Luke 9:23 that if anyone wants to be like Him, they should deny themselves and take up their cross and die. Paul understood this when he writes in Romans chapter 6. He says that when you are dead sin no longer has any power over you. When you die to yourself you can no longer sin. When we partake of Christ’s death we also partake of his resurrection, and just like Christ rose, we too rise up in a newness of life, no longer slaves of sin. He concludes with verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
He goes on to describe in Chapter 7 this struggle within us as a slave to sin. The good we want to do, we can’t do it. The bad that we don’t want to do, that’s what we end up doing. He says there is a war within us, between that natural tendency of our flesh to be selfish, and that spark of God within all of us that inspires us to do good. But he says we are powerless to overcome on our own this sin nature. He cries out, “Who shall deliver me from this body of death!?!”
And Chapter 8 answers! It begins with an exclamation that it’s only through the power of Jesus, through belief in that holy power, that we overcome our sin. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Christ makes us free, but there is still something we have to do. We have to walk after the leading of his spirit and not after the lusts of our flesh. Then God’s Holy Spirit resonates with the spark of his spirit within us and confirms that we are indeed the children of God (vs. 16). This is what John understood when he wrote “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his [God’s] seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).
The only way we have salvation for eternity is if we are walking in salvation now, today, here on this earth, in this sinful body. To be saved is to be surrendered to Christ, for Jesus to be the most important thing in our lives. To love him more than we love ourselves.
Post Script – The good news is that God knows we live in a sinful body. That’s why the Bible says “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Jesus taught that if someone sins against us 490 times in one day we should forgive each time. How much more will God forgive us if we truly repent. Paul said, where sin abounds, grace abounds that much more. The power of God’s grace is stronger than sin. Not that we should take that as an excuse to sin. Indeed, if God’s grace is working in us it will free us from sin, and we will be neither barren nor unfruitful and purged from our sins (2 Peter 1:2-9).