Several years ago I was asked by a neighbor couple to meet with them for marriage counseling. They were a pleasant couple, so I willingly agreed to assist them in any way I could. Early during our first meeting I asked each to tell me about their spiritual journeys. Hers was simple but heart-felt. His… well that was a whole different story:
“I walked the isle once when I was in high school. So I guess I’m ‘saved’. I don’t think about it much.”
When I inquired why he had “walked the isle”, he responded:
“Well, our whole baseball team was visiting this church – we do it every year – and my coach told us it would be a good thing to do, to walk the isle. So I did. That’s when I ‘got saved’.”
Taking the opportunity to dig a little deeper I inquired: “Saved from what?” He paused for a moment, scratched his chin, and mused:
“That’s a good question….”
I thought so. That’s why I had asked. It just seems to me that if we are going to go around saying we “got saved” it might make sense to have some idea of what we got saved from. (I didn’t have the heart at that moment to ask the other part of that question: What did you ‘get saved’ for? )
J.I. Packer offers a thoughtful response to the question I asked that day:
“What are believers saved from?
- From their former position under the wrath of God, the dominion of sin, and the power of death. (i.e. Saved from God.)
- From their natural condition of being mastered by the world, the flesh and the devil. (i.e. Saved from Ourselves & Our Enemy.)
- From the fears that a sinful life engenders, and from the many vicious habits that were part of it.
How are believers saved from these things?
Through Christ, and in Christ. Our salvation involves
- first, Christ dying for us, and
- second, Christ living in us and we living in Christ, united with Him in His death and risen life.
This vital union, which is sustained by the Spirit from the divine side and by faith from our side, and which is formed in and through our new birth, presupposes covenantal union in the sense of our eternal election in Christ.”
So, thanks to J.I. Packer, if you were not already, you now will have something to offer if I (or someone else) asks you: “What were you saved from?” And thanks to J.I. Packer, we now also have something of substance worthy of our meditation. If we think about these truths, we soon, like the psalmist, will freely declare:
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge. –Psalm 62.7