There are many ways to answer that question. Common responses are, “Jesus saves us from our sins,” “Jesus saves us from hell,” “Jesus saves us from the devil,” or even “Jesus saves us from ourselves!” However, there is a problem with this line of thinking. While it is true that Jesus saves us from these things, too many people have reduced their faith to a mere transaction: Jesus paid for my sins, and now I am saved. Unfortunately, this idea has done much harm to God’s purposes in our lives. It leaves us twiddling our thumbs after being “saved” not sure exactly what we ought to do next. If this is how we think, then Jesus’ death will take on much more significance than his resurrection, and we become people who are stuck in a perpetual Lent and who never get to Easter.
So I would like to propose a different idea of salvation this Easter season. Rather than asking the question: “Jesus saves us from what?”, we could instead ask: “Jesus saves us for what?” Salvation is not just about forgiveness, but about a new order of life! It isn’t just about a debt being paid, but about the call to obediently follow Christ. It isn’t just about “life after death”, but primarily about “life before death!”
The message of Jesus himself and of the early disciples was not just one of the forgiveness of sins, but rather it was a message of the newness of life. To be “saved” was to be “delivered from the power of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of his beloved son.” (Colossians 1:13) We who are saved have access to a different order of life, and we are to live in a new way here and now! That is salvation! Therefore, perhaps the best word for salvation in the New Testament is the word “life.”
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
“Even when we were dead through our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:5)
God has saved us for a new way of life. And if we have received this new life, then we have no time to be twiddling our thumbs. We must turn away from our old life, embrace the example of Christ, and follow him in an exciting journey of faith and action. May we all experience this new life of Christ in our Easter celebration this year, and may we truly embrace all that we have been saved for!