"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31)
This lesson is the second in a series on what "to be saved" means in the Bible. The first lesson described what "to be saved" means in the Old Testament (Ref. 1). This lesson describes what "to be saved" means in the New Testament.
This lesson uses scripture quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) (Ref. 2).
Consider. What do the words, "to be saved," mean to you? How does a person become saved?
1. "To be saved" in the New Testament means "to be delivered out of danger into safety" and "to be made well or whole."
The Greek word, sózó, translated as saved in Acts 16:31 occurs over 100 times in the New Testament (Ref. 3). Sózó (pronounced sode'-zo) means to deliver, heal, make whole, preserve, and save (Ref. 3). When God saves us, God delivers us out of danger into his provisions (safety).
Items "a," "b," "c," and "d" below provide examples from the New Testament for what it means to be saved.
a. Jesus saves people through storms
(1). Jesus saved his disciples when they were afraid
Matthew 8:25-26 -- "And they went and woke him, saying, 'Save us, Lord; we are perishing.' 26 And he said to them, 'Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?' Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm." (Read the entire account: Matthew 8:23-27.)
(2). Jesus saved Peter when he doubted
Matthew 14:30-31, brackets added -- "But when he [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord, save me.' 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' " (Read the entire account: Matthew 14:22-33.)
Notice in these examples that Jesus saved them even when they had little faith. Let that thought encourage you and calm you in whatever storm you are going through.
b. Jesus saves people when they are lost
Luke 19:8-10 -- "And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.' 9 And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'" (Read the entire account: Luke 19:1-10).
In Luke 19:10, the Greek word for lost, apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee), has a more severe meaning than just needing directions to point the way. Apollumi (being lost) implies to die with the implication of ruin and permanent (absolute) destruction by experiencing a miserable end (Ref. 4). Jesus Christ came to save Zaccheus, you, and me from experiencing ruin, permanent destruction, and a miserable end.
c. Jesus saves suffering people and makes them well (healed and whole)
The Greek word sózó which means save also means make well, heal, and restore to health (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Ref. 3). The New Testament strongly teaches the healing nature of being saved.
(1). Jesus healed the woman with a hemorrhage
Mark 5:33-34, brackets added -- "But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well [saved you]; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.'" (Read the entire account: Mark 5:25-34.)
(2). Jesus healed Bartimaeus from blindness
Mark 10:51-52, brackets added -- "And Jesus said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' And the blind man said to him, 'Rabbi, let me recover my sight.' 52 And Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well [saved you].' And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way." (Read the entire account: Mark 10:46-52.)
(3). Church elders are to pray for the sick to be restored (saved)
James 5:14-15, brackets added -- "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save [restore] the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."
When you are suffering and need healing, seek the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer and faith, and trust him for the results.
d. God will save people who call on him from the day of the Lord and from the wrath of God against sin
(1). People who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved from the day of the Lord
The prophet Joel describes the day of the Lord in Joel 2:30-32. In Joel 2:31, he describes the day of the Lord as "great and awesome [where awesome means to be feared]" (Ref. 5). Then, Joel adds "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved [delivered, escape]" (Joel 2:32, brackets added; Ref. 6). On Pentecost, the Apostle Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:17-21.
"Calling on the name of the Lord" means "to adore and worship" the Lord and "to invoke" [petition, appeal to, and make an earnest request to] the Lord in prayer (Ref. 7, Ref. 8).
God has promised -- people who call on him (adore, worship, appeal to, and pray to him) will be saved. When you believe in Christ, the time of his return will be a time of salvation, not a time of fear. Thank God and rejoice in that promise.
(2). God will save believers in Christ from the wrath of God against sin
Romans 5:8-10 -- "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."
According to HELPS Word-studies, the wrath of God refers to God's fixed, controlled, passionate feeling against sin (Ref. 9). As believers in Christ, we are justified [made righteous] by the blood of Christ (Ref. 10, Romans 5:9). That is why we who believe in Christ will be saved by him from the wrath of God against sin (Romans 5:9-10).
2. Biblical Principles about Being Saved
a. God was so moved by his love for the world that he has already provided the way for the world to be saved
John 3:16 -- "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
b. God sent his Son not to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him
John 3:17 -- Jesus said to Nicodemus, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him." Nicodemus, a Pharisee (John 3:1), may have been expecting a Messiah that would destroy Israel's Gentile enemies (Ellicott's Commentary on John 3:17, Ref. 11). Jesus came at that time not to initiate the final judgment of the world, but to provide the way for the people of the world -- Gentiles and Jews -- to be saved.
c. For those who believe in Christ, God has saved us from our former life of sin
Romans 5:8 -- "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Ephesians 2:4-5 -- "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved."
d. God has provided his Son, Jesus Christ, as the only way by which people are saved
Acts 4:10,12 -- The Apostle Peter referred to Jesus Christ of Nazareth when he said, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
e. Our only "to do" to become saved is to believe in Jesus Christ, God's Son
Acts 16:30-31, brackets added -- "Then he [the Philippian jailer] brought them [Paul and Silas] out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' 31 And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.'"
The Greek word for believe means trust in, have faith in, and have confidence in (Ref.12).
3. Salvation Prayer
Apply. If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, tell him you are sorry for all the sins in your life (1 John 1:9), and put your faith and trust in him. Tell Jesus that you believe in him and that you believe he died for you (Romans 5:8). Tell Jesus that you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). Thank Jesus for being your Savior and Lord.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13).
"What Does 'To Be Saved' Mean in the Old Testament?" (Psalm 18:3)
"God's Offer of Salvation and Eternal Life" (John 3:16)
"I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies." (Psalm 18:3)
This lesson explains what "to be saved" means in the Old Testament of the Bible. In the Old Testament "to be saved" means to be delivered by God into safety.
This lesson uses scripture quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) (Ref. 1) unless noted otherwise.
Consider. What do the words, "to be saved," mean to you in the religious sense?
1. "To be saved" in the Old Testament means "to be delivered"
The Old Testament Hebrew word for saved is yasha, pronounced (yaw-shah'). Yasha means to deliver (Ref. 2). To be saved means to be delivered with the implication of being delivered by God into safety. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance translates yasha as help, preserve, rescue, be safe, and savior (saviour) (Ref. 2). Brown-Driver-Briggs adds the meanings of to make wide, spacious, and liberate (Ref. 2).
Items "a" through "d" below provide examples from the Old Testament for what it means to be saved.
a. Delivered by God from all enemies
Psalm 18:3 -- "I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies." David wrote this psalm of deliverance early in his reign when God had recently delivered him from the Philistines as well as from Saul (2 Samuel 21:15-2 Samuel 22:4). In Hebrew, the tenses of David's calling upon the Lord and being saved are frequentive (present), describing "David’s habitual experience of God’s readiness to answer prayer" (Ref. 3).
b. Delivered by God from all foes - physical and spiritual
(1). Calamities and distresses
1 Samuel 10:19 -- The prophet Samuel said to the Israelite people, "But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands."
Psalm 34:6 -- David writes, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles." Note that this verse does not say that as God's people we will have no troubles. This verse says that God hears us and delivers us out of our troubles.
Exodus 14:29-30 -- "But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore." God saved the Israelites that day to make his power known -- to them, to succeeding generations, and to us. See Psalm 106:7-12.
2 Chronicles 32:22 -- "So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side."
(4). Wounds and sicknesses
Jeremiah 17:14 -- The prophet Jeremiah writes, "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise."
The Lord saved (delivered) Hezekiah in two respects - first, from his enemy, Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32:22), and second, in regard to his health (Isaiah 38:19-20). For background on Hezekiah's illness, prayer, and healing, read Isaiah 38:1-8.
(5). Wild animals
Psalm 22:21 -- David writes, "Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!"
(6). Sin, Idols, and Moral Troubles
Ezekiel 37:23 -- "They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." The context of this verse is the reunion of Judah and Israel into one kingdom, one nation. See Ezekiel 37:15-22.
2. God invites people to be saved (Old Testament)
a. God is our Savior (Saviour). There is no other.
Isaiah 45:21 -- "And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me."
Compare Isaiah 45:21 with Acts 4:10, 12.
b. God invites all the world to turn to him and be saved.
Isaiah 45:22 -- "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!"
Becoming saved in the religious sense requires turning away from our false gods and sins and turning towards (by implication, facing) God (Ref. 4). "The direction to look to God for salvation implies a deep conviction of helplessness and of sin; and a deep conviction that he only can save" (Ref. 5).
God extends the invitation of salvation to all the world. Compare Isaiah 45:22 with John 3:16.
c. God desires to save people despite their (our) sin and rebellion.
Psalm 106:6-8 -- "We have sinned like our fathers, We have gone astray, we have behaved wickedly. 7 Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. 8 Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, So that He might make His power known."
Compare Psalm 106:6-8 with Romans 5:8-9.
d. Our response as God's people to being saved is to rejoice and to praise God.
Isaiah 25:9 KJV (italics added) -- "And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
Isaiah 38:20 NIV -- "The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord."
Psalm 95:1 -- "Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Apply. Turn to God, and he will save you from your idols and sins. Pray to God, and he will deliver you out of your troubles as he has promised (Psalm 34:6). Rejoice in God your Savior, and praise him for his salvation.
"God's Offer of Salvation and Eternal Life" (John 3:16)
"What Does 'To Be Saved' Mean in the New Testament?" (Acts 16:31)
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)
God has made believers in Christ alive together with Christ. We identify with the resurrection of Christ, and God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life.
Consider. If you are a believer in Christ, how would you describe to an inquisitive unbeliever or a new believer what it means to be "made alive together with Christ"?
1. Who is Paul writing to?
Paul begins his letter, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 1:1). The Greek word for saints is hagios (hag'-ee-os) which means different or holy. Christians are different from the world because we are like the Lord (Ref. 1). Clearly, Paul is writing to believers in Jesus Christ.
2. What was the former spiritual condition of the Ephesian believers before God made them alive together with Christ?
Paul writes, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world ..." (Ephesians 2:1-2). In the same way, without Christ, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We inherited our spiritual "deadness" from Adam (Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:6). Romans 5:12 says, "When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned" (Romans 5:12 NLT).
Trespasses are a lapse or deviation from the truth, a slip-up, or an error that can be unintentional or willful (Ref. 2). Sins are thoughts, words, or deeds where we miss the mark or target (Ref. 3).
3. Even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, before we were in Christ, God loved us.
God's divine attributes of mercy and love moved God to plan for and provide for our salvation (Ephesians 1:3-5, Ephesians 2:4-5, Colossians 2:13-14). Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus said about himself, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17).
4. Together with Christ, God has made us alive.
Ephesians 2:5 tells us (believers) that God has made us alive together with Christ. In the Greek, the verb does not just say "made alive." It says, "made alive together with" (Ref. 4). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines this verb, suzóopoieó (sood-zo-op-oy-eh'-o), as "to reanimate conjointly with, (figuratively) -- quicken together with." As believers in Christ, we identify with and are co-joined with Christ in his resurrection. Paul writes, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
5. When God makes us alive together with Christ, God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life.
When we believe in Jesus Christ and in his resurrection, God makes us alive together with Christ. God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life (Romans 6:23). Eternal life begins for the believer when they put their faith and trust in Christ, and continues after their physical death (John 11:25-26, Ref. 6).
Being made alive in Christ results in a new quality of life. The Greek word for eternal in eternal life is aiónios, which means perpetual, unending, age-long (Strong's Concordance, Ref. 5, Ref. 6). Aiónios includes the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting (Ref. 5, Ref. 6). "Aiónios does not focus on the future per se, but rather on the quality of the age it relates to. People who are alive spiritually in Christ live in eternal life right now, experiencing this quality of God's life now as a present possession" (Helps Word-studies, Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
Apply. If you already are a believer in Jesus Christ, praise God that God has made you spiritually alive together with Christ. Thank God for the quality of new life that he has given you in Christ. If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, put your faith and trust in him today. He will forgive your trespasses and sins. He will make you spiritually alive together with himself, and he will give you a new quality of life -- eternal life.
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
"Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life (Job's Question, Jesus' Answer)" (Job 14:14, John 11:25-26)
"Jesus Christ is the Life - John 14:6"
"Jesus is the Way to Heaven" (John 14:6)
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation." (Psalm 68:19)
This lesson explains how God, our majestic Lord, willingly comes beside us and invites to cast (throw) our burdens (load) onto him.
Consider. What burdens, or load, are you carrying today? God is willing to share your burdens. Will you cast your burdens on God today?
God as Our Majestic Lord
The same God who is willing to carry our burdens is also our majestic Lord. In the first half of Psalm 68 (Psalm 68:1-18), we see David's emphasis describing the majesty and power of God. The name, Lord, is the English translation of the Hebrew word, Adonay (ad-o-noy'), and is a proper name for God (Psalm 68:17-19, Ref. 1). See in your mind the image of God leading his people in the wilderness, with cloud by day and fire by night (Psalm 68:7, Exodus 13:21). See in your mind thousands upon thousands of angels and chariots attending God in holiness at Sinai (Psalm 68:17, Deuteronomy 33:2). See in your mind the day the Bible describes in Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8 when Christ ascended on high leading a host of captives.
God as Our Burden Bearer
Notice the abrupt change in verse 19 to the wonderful thought, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden" (Psalm 68:19). God, the Lord (Adonay), is blessed (adored with bended knees) and daily (day by day, continually) bears our burden (carries our load) (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3, Ref. 4). The same God who majestically led his people through the wilderness comes beside us today and willingly carries our baggage. "What a thought that is - a God that carries men's loads!" (Alexander MacLaren, Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
The ultimate fulfillment of "Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden" (Psalm 68:19), occurs in God's Son, Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied, "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4). The Apostle Peter writes, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross" (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus invites us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened (weighted down), and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, italics added, Ref. 7, Ref. 8). For those who trust in him, Jesus Christ is our Lord and our burden-bearing Savior.
What We Should Do with Our Burdens - Cast and Release them onto the Lord
God lovingly invites us to cast our burdens onto him. God wants us to cast our burdens on him because he cares. Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament cast means to throw or fling (Ref. 9, Ref. 10). The two disciples who brought the colt to Jesus cast (threw) their outer garments (cloaks, robes) onto the young animal in their reverence and love for their Lord before Jesus rode into Jerusalem
(Luke 19:35, Ref. 10, Ref. 11, Ref. 12). Unlike fishing where we cast our weighted line into the sea and then pull it back to cast it again, casting our burdens on the Lord should be a one-way trip -- "cast and release," not "cast and retrieve."
Let God help you. Cast (throw) your burdens onto the Lord, and release them to him. Trust him to carry your load (Psalm 68:19). He will care for you (1 Peter 5:7). He will sustain you (Psalm 55:22). He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Listen - "I Must Tell Jesus" Music Video
For an uplift, listen as Delores "Mom" Winans sings "I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus, I cannot bear my burdens alone ..." Here is the link:
Apply. Whatever your burdens are, take them to the Lord in prayer. Cast all of your burdens on him, and trust him to carry your load.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace ..." (Ephesians 1:7)
This lesson explains the New Testament biblical definitions of redemption, forgiveness, trespasses, and sins.
Consider. Think for a moment. How would you define redemption in your own words? How would you explain your redemption through Christ to an inquisitive unbeliever or a new Christian?
1. Redemption is the action of buying back or repurchasing what was previously forfeited or lost.
The transliteration of the Greek word for redemption in Ephesians 1:7 is apolutrosis (ap-ol-oo'-tro-sis) (Ref. 1). The Strong's Concordance definition of apolutrosis is a release effected by payment of ransom (Ref. 1). Helps WORD-studies adds that apolutrosis (redemption) literally means buying back from, repurchasing what was previously forfeited (or lost) (Ref. 1). Note that Jesus said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
In the New Testament, the primary idea in "redemption" is deliverance from a bondage, the bondage of sin itself (Ref. 2, Titus 2:13-14, Hebrews 9:13-15). "Into that bondage man has plunged himself; God’s mercy redeems him from it at an unspeakable price" (Ref. 2, Romans 5:12, John 3:16, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
2. Jesus Christ Has Paid the Ransom Price -- His Blood -- For Our Redemption
Jesus said, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). The transliteration of the Greek word for ransom is lutron (loo'-tron), which literally is the ransom money (price) to free a slave (Ref. 3). Jesus Christ has paid the lutron, the ultimate "liberty price" -- the blood of Christ -- to purchase (ransom) believers, freeing them (us) from all slavery to sin (Ref. 3).
1 Peter 1:18-19 -- "Know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish."
Hebrews 9:11-12 -- "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption."
"Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand’ring from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood" (Robert Robinson, the hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" - Ref. 4).
3. As the result of our redemption by Christ, believers in Christ have complete forgiveness of our trespasses and sins - past, present, and future.
In Christ, we have complete forgiveness of our trespasses and sins. Christ procured the forgiveness of our sins by his full, perfect, and sufficient offering (propitiation) of himself for the sins of the human race (Ref. 2, Ref. 5, 1 John 2:2, 1John 4:10).
The Greek word for forgiveness in Ephesians 1:7 means sending away, releasing from obligation or debt, and pardon (Ref. 6). Trespasses are a lapse, slip-up, or error that can be unintentional or willful (Ref. 7, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:1-2, Colossians 2:13-14). Sins are thoughts, words, or deeds where we miss the mark or target (Ref. 8, Matthew 26:26-28, Ephesians 2:1-2, Colossians 1:12-14).
In Acts, a Gentile named Cornelius sent for and invited the Apostle Peter to speak to his relatives and friends (Acts 10:30-32). Peter spoke the good news of Jesus to these Gentile people. Peter concluded his message with "And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:42-43, italics added).
4. As believers in Christ, we have redemption and forgiveness of our trespasses and sins because of the grace of God.
Our redemption is a free gift by God to us, believers in Christ, according to the riches [abundance, wealth, fullness] of God's grace (Ref. 9). The Apostle Paul teaches us, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7, italics added).
The grace of God is a gift to us. Paul writes, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24, italics added).
The New Testament Greek word for grace is charis, which means a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, favor, and kindness (Ref. 10).
Even though God's grace-full gift of redemption to us, believers in Christ, was free, that free gift of redemption was immensely costly to God (John 3:16, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Summary. Redemption is the action of buying back or repurchasing what was previously forfeited or lost. Redemption is a release effected by payment of ransom. Jesus Christ has paid the ransom price -- his blood -- for our redemption. As the result of our redemption by Christ, believers in Christ have complete forgiveness of our trespasses and sins - past, present, and future. As believers in Christ, we have redemption and forgiveness of our trespasses and sins because of the grace of God.
Apply. How will you purpose to live today and each day in light of your redemption by Jesus Christ, God's Son? Give thanks for God's gracious gift.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Consider. God is the source, the originator of all true comfort. God comforts us, his people, in our affliction. God expects us, his people, to comfort others in their affliction.
God is the Source of All True Comfort
The Apostle Paul joyfully begins the main body of this letter with, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3). Let's discuss this opening verse in three parts.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul begins with the language of a heart which is full of joy and that bursts forth with gratitude (Ref. 1). Paul has a comfort which he recognizes comes from God (Ref. 2). Paul shows us that it is possible and proper to bless God (praise God - Ref. 3) when we, God's people, are experiencing affliction. Paul uses the same opening phrase in Ephesians 1:3.
The Father of mercies. Our heavenly Father is the originator, the begetter, the source of mercy and compassion (Ref. 4). As our heavenly Father, it is God's nature to impart mercy and compassion to his children. The Greek word for mercies in 2 Corinthians 1:3 is oiktirmos (oyk-tir-mos'). The short definition is pity, compassion, favor, grace, and mercy (Ref. 5). The long definition is "visceral compassions -- the deep feelings God has for all of us, and powerfully shows and shares in those following Him" (Ref. 5).
And the God of all comfort. God is the source of all true consolation and comfort. In the same way that God is the Father of mercies, God is the God of all comfort because it comes from him. There is no other real source of comfort but God; and "he is able abundantly and willingly to impart consolation to his people" (Ref.1). The Greek word for comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3 is paraklésis (par-ak'-lay-sis), which means coming along side, encouragement, consolation, and comfort (Ref. 6).
"Comfort" is a great theme of 2 Corinthians. In the New American Standard Bible, the English words "comfort," "comforts," and "comforted" occur 10 times in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 alone.
God Comforts Us in our Affliction that We May Be Able to Comfort Others
Now, let's discuss the next verse, 2 Corinthians 1:4, in three parts.
Who comforts us in all our affliction. As the God of all comfort, God comes along side and encourages us -- all believers in Christ -- in our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:4, John 14:16-17). The Greek word for affliction is thlipsis (thlip'-sis), which means tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, "without options") (Ref. 7). Paul and his co-writer, Timothy (2 Corinthians 1:1), openly tell us from their personal life experience that they had felt an ever-continuing comfort flowing from God.
So that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction. Paul and Timothy knew that God comforted them not just for their own benefit, but that God's comfort might flow forth to others through them (Ref. 2). In the same way, Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that as disciples and followers of Jesus, the affliction we experience is part of our "schooling" and training to sympathize with and comfort others (Ref. 8). Our life's experience with affliction coupled with God's power flowing through us helps us not only to sympathize with others but also to speak a word in season to those who are weary (Isaiah 50:4). This is the very essence of the work of comforting (Ref. 2).
With the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. The best comfort that we as Christian believers can provide to others comes from God, not from the world. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can communicate uniquely to others the forgiveness, the acceptance, and the hope for eternal life that comes only through faith in Christ (Ref. 1, Ephesians 2:8-9). Let us remember Jesus' final words of encouragement to his disciples. "These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Apply. Pray, and thank God that he is the source of all true comfort. Thank God for how he has comforted (come along side, encouraged) you in the afflictions you have experienced. Ask God to bring to your mind someone you can comfort (come along side, encourage) in their affliction. Think specifically how you can best comfort them, for example, listening to them, offering to pray for or with them, and sharing a verse of scripture that has been meaningful to you in your times of affliction. Follow through on God's leading.
Image: GoodSalt.com - used under license
"And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!' 43 And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'" (Luke 23:42-43)
Read: Luke 23:33-43
Consider. For the person who puts their faith in Jesus, upon the death of their body, their soul goes immediately to be with Jesus in Paradise.
Two thieves were crucified with Jesus that day - one on the right and the other on the left (Luke 23:33). Both thieves were next to the One who could save them. Yet, one thief hurled abuse (literally, blasphemed) at Jesus (Luke 23:39, Ref. 1). The other, penitent thief recognized that he himself was guilty yet Jesus was innocent. The penitent thief said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!" (Luke 23:40-42). To this thief, the penitent thief, Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Jesus' promise to the penitent thief has brought hope to millions of believers over the centuries since Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus' promise to the penitent thief brings believers hope today as we consider the destination of our souls upon our death and the destination of the souls of our loved ones.
In the next two sections, I would like to focus on two important points, or "take aways" from Jesus' promise to the penitent thief.
Paradise is Where Believers Will Be with Jesus After Death
Jesus could have told the penitent thief, "Today you will be in Paradise." But Jesus did not say that. Jesus said, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43, underline added).
Paradise in Greek is paradeisos (par-ad'-i-sos), which is "an ancient Persian word meaning 'enclosure, garden, park'" (Ref. 2). Paradise is mentioned in the New Testament only three times - in Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7.
The Apostle Paul expressed his desire (his passionate longing) to be with Jesus after his death when he wrote, "But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" (Philippians 1:22-23, Ref. 3). Likewise, the early Christians were encouraged, that when they were absent from their body, they would be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8, Ref. 4).
Note that Jesus' promise to the penitent thief, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise," did not apply to the unrepentant thief who verbally abused Jesus and did not believe in him. Scripture teaches that the souls of the unrighteous go to the place of torment Jesus described in Luke 16:22-26 . There they await judgment and the second death (Revelation 20:11-15). It is far better to believe in Jesus during our earthly lifetime and to have his assurance that upon the death of our body our soul will be in Paradise with him.
The Souls of Believers Immediately Enter Paradise to be with Jesus After Death
Jesus told the penitent thief, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43, underline added). Not tomorrow. Not some time in the future. Today. Jesus spoke to the penitent thief in language that he would understand. Even though their dead bodies would be on the cross or in the grave (Luke 23:50-53), the souls of the Savior and the penitent thief would be alive and in Paradise together that day (Ref. 5).
Another biblical example illustrates a believer's expectation of going immediately to be Jesus upon his death. At the time of his death from stoning, Stephen the martyr said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!," and then he died (Acts 7:57-60).
Apply. Let the words of Jesus to the penitent thief comfort you as you consider the destination of your soul upon your death. "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Put your faith and trust in Jesus who is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. You will receive God's gracious gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23), and upon the death of your body, your soul will go to Paradise to be with Jesus.
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
This article teaches about the biblical passages that Isaac Watts referred to when he wrote the poem that we now know as "Joy to the World."
In 1719, Isaac Watts published a poem about Psalm 98:4-9, Psalm 96:11-13, and Genesis 3:17-18. He titled the poem, The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). Today we know that poem by the title, "Joy to the World," from the first line of the first verse:
"Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing." (Ref. 1)
More than a century later, in 1836, Lowell Mason set the words of the poem, "Joy to the World," to music (Ref. 3). Musically, Mason borrowed the first four notes for his tune from the chorus, "Lift Up Your Heads," in Handel's Messiah (Ref. 1). As of the late 20th century, "Joy to the World" was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America" (Ref. 1).
Scriptures for "Joy to the World"
Psalm 98:4-9 KJV -- "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. (5) Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. (6) With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King. (7) Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (8) Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together (9) Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity."
Psalm 96:11-13 KJV -- "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. (12) Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice (13) Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth."
Genesis 3:17-19 KJV -- "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
The beautiful carol, "Joy to the World," that we love to sing at Christmas actually is more about the second coming of Christ than the first (the incarnation - John 1:14). Psalm 98:4-9 and Psalm 96:11-13 glorify Christ's triumphant return at the end of the age. The Apostle Paul, writing after the first coming of Christ, tells us the whole creation still groans and is subject to corruption (including destruction and decay) (Romans 8:21-22, Ref. 4). The time still is in the future when the sea will roar in praise, the floods will clap their hands, and the "trees of the wood" will rejoice when Christ comes to judge the world (Psalm 98:7-9, Psalm 96:12-13). Verses 1 and 2 of "Joy to the World" look forward to this time of rejoicing.
When Christ comes again he will establish his reign upon the earth. He will judge (the Hebrew word means to act as law-giver, judge, governor) the world with righteousness, truth, and grace (Psalm 98:9, Psalm 96:13, John 1:14, Ref. 5). Verse 4 of "Joy to the World" expresses this truth.
Genesis 3:17-19 describes the curse that God announced to Adam after Adam had sinned by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. This passage specifically mentions the curse on the ground, the sorrow that Adam (mankind) will have toiling the ground, and that the ground will grow thorns (Genesis 3:17-18). In Verse 3 of "Joy to the World," the hymn looks forward and says, "No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground." When Christ comes, he "will make his blessings flow ... far as the curse is found." We can receive Christ's blessings now and become free from the eternal curse of sin by putting our faith, confidence, and trust in him today (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:23-24, John 11:25-26).
Hymn Writer and Composers for "Joy to the World"
Three different men from three different backgrounds have collaborated in mind and spirit to create the carol, "Joy to the World," that people have enjoyed for more than 180 Christmases.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was an English Independent (Congregational) minister, theologian, and a prolific and popular hymn writer. Watts composed more than 700 hymns (Ref. 2). Many of his hymns remain in use today including "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "From All That Dwell Below the Skies," and "Marching to Zion" (Ref. 2).
Lowell Mason (1792-1872) was an American choir director, music educator, and composer in Boston and New York City (Ref.3). In 1836 he rearranged a section of Handel’s "Messiah" to fit the words of "Joy to the World." That familiar hymn tune we sing today for "Joy to the World" is named Antioch (Ref. 1). Lowell Mason also is known for his hymn tune, "Nearer, My God, to Thee," and for the melody he created for the nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (Ref.3).
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was a German, later British, Baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London (Ref. 6). Handel composed his masterpiece oratorio, Messiah, in 1741 (Ref. 7). Lowell Mason's Antioch tune for "Joy to the World" borrows the first four notes from the chorus, "Lift Up Your Heads," in Handel's Messiah (Ref. 1).
Even though Isaac Watts wrote "Joy to the World" about the second coming of Christ, "Joy to the world" applies to us today when we celebrate the first coming of Christ. First, our hearts are to "prepare him room" (Luke 2:7, Verse 1). Second, we are to celebrate the "wonders of his love" (Verse 4). The Bible tells us about God's wonderful love -- "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Have you prepared room in your heart for Jesus? (Luke 2:7)
Have you received Jesus who came to save you and me from our sins? (Matthew 1:20-21)
Are you prepared to meet Jesus Christ joyfully when he comes to judge the world? (Psalm 98:4, 9; Psalm 96:11, 13)
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. (7) If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6-7 The Living Bible)
This scripture is special to me. Philippians 4:6-7 is the first scripture passage I memorized after committing my life to the Lord in 1974. My thirst for the Word began then. My wife and I both memorized this scripture at the urging of our first Adult Bible Study teacher, "Bruce." Bruce continually quipped, "When in a fix, Philippians 4:6."
This article essentially is a reprint of an article I wrote in the 1982 time frame for our church newspaper, "The Good News."
Worry still is a major issue for people. In fact, worry is rampant. Worry is nearly universal in our American lifestyle; it certainly affects non-Christians, but it also affects Christians. Non-Christians do not have the resources to draw upon that we have -- namely, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, His word, and the Christian support community. Oh how miserable it must be to live and not know Jesus Christ!
Pray about everything
First, Paul tells us we are to pray, and not only to pray, but to pray about everything, and that includes praying about everything that worries us. God is not too busy to hear our prayers -- He is always available. Too often we are too busy to avail ourselves of His time. Furthermore, our God is concerned about all of our life, down to the smallest detail. He wants us to cast all of our anxieties on Him, not just the emergencies (1 Peter 5:7 ESV).
Tell God our needs
Second, we are to tell God our needs. I find it interesting that although God knows everything about us, including our thoughts and concerns, Paul instructs us to tell God our needs. There are many fine ways to pray -- in church, in groups -- but I believe the key is to have a foundation of private and personal prayer with God on a frequent and regular basis. Prayer with the body of Christ is uplifting and necessary to our spiritual well-being, but there is no substitute for quality time spent alone with the Lord.
Thank Him for His answers
Third, we are to thank God for His answers. We are to pray with thanksgiving in our hearts. An attitude of thanklessness on our part -- for God's blessings and provisions for us and for His answers to our prayers -- is a major hindrance to an effectual prayer life and hampers the development of a close relationship with God. Each day as we pray it is helpful to recall the things we have previously prayed about, and to thank Him for His answers -- and for those answers which are still "on the way."
Experience God's peace
Fourth, God promises us peace -- a wonderful peace in our hearts. He promises that His peace will guard our hearts (Philippians 4:7 ESV). The Greek word for guard is phroureó, which means to be a watcher in advance, to mount guard as a sentinel, and to protect (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 1). God's peace guards our hearts and keeps our thoughts quiet.
This peace, God's peace in our hearts, is so precious that man's mind can never produce it -- it is given by God. And, the only way we can receive it is to trust in Christ Jesus. There is no other way to receive the "peace which surpasses understanding" (Philippians 4:7 ESV) than to trust personally in Jesus Christ. We do this by placing our complete reliance upon Him as a person and on His word -- we place the care of our whole being into His hands.
With the world, there is worry. In contrast, as followers of Jesus Christ, we can pray about everything, tell God our needs, and thank Him for His answers. Then His peace will keep our thoughts and our hearts quiet and at rest as we trust in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 TLB).
"Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. (14) Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; (15) and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. (16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (James 5:13-16)
This article presents five Biblical keys to effective prayer -- pray with other Christians, pray in faith, confess our sin, pray in the will of God, and pray in the name of Jesus. This article also discusses the results of effective prayer.
Prayer is one of the most important topics we will ever discuss as Christians. Prayer is communication with God. Prayer helps us receive God's peace and healing in the midst of our problems and concerns. Prayer helps us discern God's will for our lives. Prayer encourages others, protects others, and empowers others to further the ministry of Christ in the world.
It is to our advantage to learn to pray effectively. Why? Because "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16).
The Bible gives us guidance in how to pray effectively.
The Keys to Effective Prayer
This section presents five keys to effective prayer. The first two keys are based on James 5:14-15.
1. Pray with other Christians. James 5:14 instructs us, "Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they [third person plural] are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14, brackets added).
Of course, God hears our prayers when we are alone and are praying in secret (Matthew 6:5-6). However, Scripture also teaches us that it is advantageous for us to pray with our companions in Christ. Recall that Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs (Mark 6:7). He gave them [third person plural] authority over unclean spirits, with the results that they cast out many demons, anointed sick people with oil, and healed them (Mark 6:13).
2. Pray in faith. James 5:15 tells us, "And the prayer offered in faith [Greek word pistis, which means persuasion, come to trust] will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him" (James 5:15, brackets added, Ref. 1). When we pray in faith, God is pleased because we believe that "He is" and that "He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Note that faith, "divine persuasion," is a gift that God gives to believers (Ephesians 2:8-9, Ref. 1, Acts 16:14).
3. Confess our sin and receive forgiveness as a prerequisite for effective prayer. This teaching -- that confession of sin is a prerequisite for effective prayer -- may seem strange to some, even Christians. However, this key cannot be overlooked if we are to pray effectively.
John writes about confessing our sins to God, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). When we harbor unforgiven sin, or anger or unforgiveness towards others, that sin can block the channel of God's power through us in our prayers. Refer to Matthew 5:22-24, Matthew 6:14-15, James 1:20, and Psalm 66:18.
To become effective prayer channels for God when we minister to others or pray for ourselves, we should first take time to confess our sins and to receive God's forgiveness through God's Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7, 9).
4. Pray confidently in the will of God. John tells us, "This is the confidence [bold resolve] which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will [God's desire, preferred will], He hears us" (1 John 5:14, brackets added, Ref. 2, Ref. 3).
Praying in God's will includes trusting God with the outcome. Recall that Jesus said to his Father, "Not My will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42).
As believers in Christ and as children of our heavenly Father (John 1:12), we can learn God's will through prayer (speaking with and listening to God), God's word, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). If we do not know God's will in a matter, we should ask him (James 1:5).
5. Pray in the name (character and authority) of Jesus. Jesus said to his disciples (and by extension to us as believers), "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (14) If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14).
When we pray in Jesus' name, we pray representing his character, reputation, and authority. We pray representing Christ, not ourselves (Ref. 4).
Praying in Jesus' name should not be just a religious phrase we tack on at the end of our prayers. We should discern God's will and then pray our entire prayer in Jesus' name -- in his behalf and for his glory.
The Results of Effective Prayer
Before we close this lesson, let's gain further insight by looking at two word definitions in James 5:16. The New American Standard Bible (1995) says, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16, NASB1995). Let's look at the definitions for the word "effective" and for the words "can accomplish much."
The Greek word for effective in "effective prayer" is the verb energeó. Energeó means energizing, working, and displaying activity (Ref. 5). HELPS Word-studies illustrates this term by the example of "an electrical current energizing a wire, bringing it to a shining light bulb" (Ref. 5). Like the wire that brings electrical energy to turn on a light bulb, our effective prayers are channels for God's energy and power to work change in situations for others.
The James 5:16 scripture also tells us our effective prayers can accomplish much. The Greek word translated as can accomplish much is ischuó. Ischuó means to prevail, to engage the resistance with combative, confrontive force to achieve what the Lord gives us faith to achieve (Ref. 6). The idea of our prayers engaging the resistance reminds me of the verse, "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" (2 Corinthians 10:4, italics added).
Finally, a word about trusting God. Many times when we pray fervently for others we will see improvements including peace and healing. However, sometimes when we pray in faith and apply all the keys that God has given to us in prayer, the results may not come quickly or turn out the way we hope. In those situations we must continue to trust God. God loves us. God cares for us. God is with us and never forsakes us. God helps us through all of life's difficulties, and for believers in Jesus Christ, God will ultimately bring us into his presence in heaven.
Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
I plan to provide new postings about every four weeks.
(subject to change)
(most recent three months)
25Aug19 - "Characteristics of a Child of God - Part 1" (Matthew 7:16)
Questions & Answers
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)