What Does It Mean to Be Saved? Reading in ContextDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8 proclaims great news: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith." Actually, it would be more accurate to say that this verse echoes the great news announced three verses earlier. Ephesians 2:5 reads, "[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." In today's reflection, we'll begin to consider in depth what it means to be saved by grace through faith. This verse deserves such careful scrutiny, not only because it is a touchstone of our faith, but also because it has power to transform your life, even if, like me, you've been a Christian for a long time.
What does it mean to be saved? In many of his letters, the Apostle Paul prefers to use the language of justification (for example, Rom. 5:1; Gal. 2:16) when he explains what God's grace produces in our lives. In a couple of instances, Paul combines the language of justification and salvation (Rom. 5:9; 10:10). Yet, in Ephesians, he chooses to speak in terms of salvation rather than justification.
So, then, in Ephesians, what does it mean to be saved? The first verses of Ephesians 2 provide a clear answer. God has saved us from the dire condition in which we found ourselves outside of Christ. We were dead in our sins, prisoners to the world and its evil ruler, dominated by our fleshly desires, and standing under God's righteous judgment. But God did not leave us in our sorry, terminal condition. Rather, he "made us alive with Christ ... [and] raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms" (2:5-6). God delivered us from the dominion of sin and death into the domain of life. Or, to put it differently, he saved us.
Notice that, in this passage, salvation is about more than simply going to Heaven after you die. In fact, there is a sense in which you are already in Heaven now if you have been saved by God. To be sure, your salvation includes what happens to you in your post mortem state. But salvation begins to transform your life in this age and this world ... or at least it should.
In tomorrow's reflection, we'll look more deeply into the multiple dimensions of salvation. For now, let me encourage you to consider your experience of God's salvation and the difference it makes in your life today.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How have you experienced God's salvation in your life? From what has God saved you? Are there ways you still need to experience God's salvation?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for saving me. Thank you for reaching out to me when I was dead in my transgressions and sins, when I was in bondage to this world and its powers, when I was lost and without hope. Thank you, Lord, for all the ways I have experienced your salvation in my life.
Help me, dear Lord, to understand your salvation more fully. Help me to live this day as one who has been saved by grace. May your salvation permeate and transform my life. Amen.