I am Saved: A Joint Post
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God though the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:9-10
“Saved” is such a churchy word. I hesitate to use it when I’m talking to someone outside the church culture, because I’m afraid it will conjure up images of sweaty televangelists and Bible-thumping, out-of-touch do-gooders in my listener’s mind. But it is such a beautiful word, one that sums up so much amazing theology in a single syllable. So why does it sound so odd to non-believers?
One of my quirks is that I love English grammar, so bear with me. I think it’s because in regular English, we don’t go around talking about “being saved” very often. If a flailing toddler is snatched out of a swimming pool, he doesn’t grow up and tell his girlfriend, “Hey, I’m saved from drowning.” Oh, he might tell her the story, but not in that syntax. He’d place it as a one-time event firmly in the past. “When I was 2, my uncle saved me from drowning.”
So why do we Christians put in the present tense so often? The clue, I think, is in this verse. We were (past tense) saved from our sins by Jesus’ death on the cross, and we shall be (future tense) saved from the wrath of God because of it. And right now, today, I am (present tense) reconciled to God, saved from a meaningless life on earth separated from Him.
It’s ongoing, this salvation of mine. It happened when I was 8 years old. It’s happening now. And after I die, when I stand before God, it will happen.
There is an interesting transition in this verse. Saved means more than the typical “He saved me from my sin” that Christians will often say. That idea, in the context of this verse, is communicated by the word ‘justified.’ A legal term, and not really one that is personal. It means that I have been declared ‘not guilty,’ because of some legitimate cause—in this case, the sacrifice of Christ. In other words, my sin is paid for, so therefore God declares that justice has been met.
This is distant to me. One may have gratitude, or relief because of this legal justification, but it isn’t personal. Not in the way we mean when we say “Jesus is my savior.” But look at the transition in this verse. Our sin has been justified, we are saved from the wrath of God… and having been saved, we are now reconciled…and now that we are reconciled, we are saved.
Is this circular? Perhaps. But follow the progress, because it leads to life. Justified (no longer standing in punishment), saved (from deserved wrath), saved (from both wrath and punishment by the death of Christ) reconciled (brought into a right relationship with God) and then saved (by the life, the resurrection of Jesus, to a life in and with Him).
No wonder we say we are saved, as in the perfect present tense. It isn’t simply a one-time event. It isn’t in the impersonal past. It happened then, it is happening now. I know, because God allows me to have a relationship with Him. I know, because I live.