"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)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:16-17)
This lesson is the second in the series on "Christians and the World." This lesson focuses on God's offer of salvation and eternal life to the world through Christ.
Consider. Have you heard of God's offer of salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ? Have you accepted God's offer?
What is God's Offer?
God offers the world salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus. John 3:16-17 tells us, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."
To Whom Does God Make the Offer?
God offers salvation and eternal life to all the people of the world. There are no exclusions. There is no "asterisk." There is no asterisk that says you are excluded from God's offer because you are * (fill in the asterisk). The Apostle Paul wrote that God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God's offer is available to you.
Even though God has made salvation and eternal life available to the world, not all people will be saved. Some people hear God's offer and reject it. Some people have not heard the gospel message; however, they reject what God has revealed to them already through the creation. "That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20). God has promised that all who seek him will find him (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Why Does God Make the Offer of Salvation and Eternal Life?
Because God loves the world. God loves all the inhabitants of the world including people who do not know and love Christ and people who are hostile to Christ (John 3:16, Ref. 2).
God sent his Son Jesus because of God's divine love for the world. Even though mankind has sinned against God, disobeyed God, and turned away from God, God still has loved us. The Apostle Paul wrote, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). John, Jesus' disciple, wrote, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). The word, propitiation, means atoning sacrifice (Ref. 3).
Why is God's Offer of Salvation and Eternal Life Necessary?
Because through Adam, sin has come into the world and infects all people. Romans 5:12 tells us, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Without the treatment of Christ, the infectious disease of sin is fatal. That is why we need a Savior.
What is the Salvation that God Offers?
John 3:17 tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." The Greek word for saved in John 3:17 is sózó. Sózó means deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety) (Ref. 4). Ref. 5 defines salvation as "The deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus."
What is the Eternal Life that God Offers?
Eternal life is a free gift of God to those who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). Eternal life begins when we put our faith in Jesus. As believers in Christ, eternal life continues with God after our physical death (John 11:25-26). Eternal life is the quality of life that results when we know Jesus Christ by experience, on a first-hand basis (John 17:3). For further information about eternal life, refer to "What is Eternal Life?" (Ref. 6)
What is the Role of Jesus Christ in God's Offer?
God sent His Son Jesus to give his life sacrificially to pay the penalty for our sin. "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). By paying the penalty for our sin with his life blood, Jesus has redeemed those who believe in (trust in and have faith in) him. The Apostle Peter wrote, "You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
God's Offer of Salvation and Eternal Life is Conditional
Even though God unconditionally loves the world, there is one condition that God stipulates for mankind to accept his offer of salvation and eternal life - believing in (trusting in, having faith in) his Son Jesus. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, John 3:1-2).
Is there a Penalty for Rejecting God's Offer?
Yes. The Bible tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17-18). Jesus also stated, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
Why is God's Offer the Most Important Offer You Will Ever Receive?
Unlike what the world offers, God's offer of salvation and eternal life results in eternal life-giving benefits when you accept God's offer by believing in Jesus.
Apply. God offers you salvation and eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17). Have you already accepted the most important offer that you will ever receive? If yes, then praise God. If not, will you accept God's offer by thanking Jesus for forgiving your sins and then fully trusting in him by faith today?
"What Does 'To Be Saved" Mean in the Old Testament?" (Psalm 18:3)
"What Does 'To Be Saved' Mean in the New Testament?" (Acts 16:31)
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Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
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"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)