492 "WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?"
Reimar A. C. Schultze
To “be saved”, as the Bible uses the term, means to become a new creation, as Paul writes: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). And today, I want to stress that man can be created not just once but twice. So we find man in his first creation in Genesis 2:7, when God breathed life into him and made him a living soul. In John 20:22, we read that Jesus breathed on His disciples and said: ...Receive the Holy Spirit, which made them living spirits. In John 3:3, Jesus tells us that we must be born of the Spirit, and with that, we have the foundation for the doctrine of two creations for man.
From this, we can see that there is no way to become this new man of the Spirit by self-improvement methods: going to church, praying and reading the Bible, giving all our goods to feed the poor, etc. We cannot make ourselves a new creation—God has to do it. And the first step for us to get there is by repentance. This is why Jesus commanded that repentance should be preached to all nations (Luke 24:47). When we repent of our sins and surrender our life to Jesus, He will breathe into us and we will become a new creation in the moment of the twinkling of our eye. Here, God will do in seconds what man cannot do in a lifetime. So, creation is not a process, but it is a singular, decisive act of the Almighty. Hallelujah! And it is only after we have been created into a new man that we start being transformed (that we are evolving) evermore into His likeness ...from glory to glory... (2 Cor. 3:18).
So, from the Old Testament, we can say that each man is but a breath of God, revered by all other living things (Gen. 9:2). Then, since the day of Pentecost, man can receive his second breath to become a new creation, fit for the kingdom of God and fit to become a fellow citizen with the saints in heaven.
Of course, that does not mean that as a new man we will then have a halo. People did not even see a halo on Jesus. If He had a visible halo, people would have received Him quite differently. But although He did not have an outward halo, He had an inward halo. So it is with us—once we are born of God, once we become a new creation by the Holy Spirit, we will then have an inward halo; and if we live godly, we will keep it. And as long as we have it, we will recognize others who have it by their countenance or the twinkle in their eyes, or just by the way they act and respond. It is there. Oh, what a wonderful text: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
But let us now consider a time related question: “How come so many who were born of God do not look like new creations for very long?” For the most part, the problem is not that they did not obtain new life, but that they did not keep it. The status of being a new creation can only be maintained by abiding in Christ. In Christ are two words that define the whole of Pauline theology—he uses the expression 74 times. So, from our text: if anyone is in Christ and continues in Christ, he will then continue to show the fruits of being a new creation.
Following is a list of a few things that will be new to you in your life after you have been solidly born-again and remain in Christ:
1. You will have a new love and it is because: ...the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit... (Rom. 5:5). You will suddenly discover that you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). You will suddenly discover that you have love for people. This love will not be the result of a process, but it will be a gift from God in exchange for a surrendered life to Him.
2. By virtue of you becoming a new convert, all of your priorities will change. You had been your own driver, captain and pilot of your life for all of those years before your salvation, but now you turn all control over to Jesus. Now it is no longer “my will be done,” but Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10 KJV).
3. As a new convert, you will immediately want to clean house both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, if you have magazines, books or pictures in your home that are not pure and virtuous, you will get rid of them. As a woman, you will begin to dress modestly so as not to bring temptations into the minds and hearts of men. Men also will begin to dress so as to bring honor to God, to make a favorable first impression on their new contacts. The new man will take on the priestly office in his home. He will begin to exercise spiritual leadership. It means that you will get together with your family daily to read Scripture with them, to pray with them and to share the things of God together. And if you have electronic devices which grieve the Holy Spirit, you will dispose of them.
As the Holy Spirit comes into your life, He will also immediately help you to clean up your house within. Pride, jealousy, anger, lust, greed, harshness, strife and resentment will need to be removed from within. You will replace the fruits of the flesh in your life with the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
4. When the Holy Spirit moves into your life, you will reign in your finances and bring them fully under control to the will of God. Yes again, all things will become new. Your budget will change; your expenditures will change; your giving will change. From now on at the very least, you will give the first 10% of your paycheck to Jesus. God will bless you according to your giving as Paul said: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.…God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Do not only give to the church, but also give to others whenever you see a need that you can meet. If you have an extra egg or an extra loaf of bread, share it with others. Or you might help someone with a project in their yard. It might open the door to tell them about Jesus in God’s time.
5. Being a new creation means that you will now let God control your schedule. Meeting Him alone in the morning will be one of the most important activities of your day and you will not want to miss it. It is for you to be refreshed, refined and to listen to what He wants to tell you. It is a time for you to personally worship and love Him. It is a time for you to put on the armor of God, to get ready for the battles of the day against the world, the flesh and the devil. If you go into the day unarmed, you will be wounded and defeated. Also remember that God speaks in a still, small voice and often you must be still long enough to hear all the things He is trying to tell you that will help you. Be patient and stick with it, and you will learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit. If you do this, you will not only go to church to be fed, but you will be able to feed others there and lift the church service just by your very presence.
6. As a new creation, your relationship with others will change. It is interesting that the book of Psalms begins with: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful (Ps. 1:1). These are important instructions from the Bible telling you, as a new convert, to immediately withdraw from relationships with ungodly people, sinners and scornful people. Do not go back to meeting with them unless you tell them that Jesus has come into your life. In other words, you are no longer one of them, but you are now a missionary to them. If they will not hear you, shake the dust off your shoes as you leave them (Matt. 10:14). Your relationship with your family will also change. Jesus gave a new definition of family: For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother (Mark 3:35). It is now no longer about your earthly family’s plans, but about God’s families’ plans for you.
7. As a new creation, your body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not defile it morally or physically with anything which is unclean, unhealthy, or un-anointed by the Holy Spirit.
There you have it, my friend—a picture of the new creation. But some of you may say, “Pastor, you are unrealistic; you expect too much of the new convert.” But I say to you, look at the beginning of the church right after Pentecost. This is the way the new converts looked like and remained for a while: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit… (Acts 2:4); they all continued in prayers and fellowship; they all saw miracles done in their midst; they all laid all their substance at the apostles’ feet; they were all praising God and witnessing for Jesus (Acts 8:4); ...And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47).
My friend, become a second creation and live daily with Jesus. Do not lose your first love (Rev. 2:4-5).