What is it like to be "saved?"
I love Walmart. I especially love the clearance sections. Usually there’s a whole aisle of
treasures clearance items just outside the garden area in our local Walmart. In additon to that, if you pay attention there are clearance areas on some aisle end-caps and in other random places. It’s there that Walmart can really save you money (or make you spend money on what your spouse calls “junk”).
When I walk out of Walmart, I am confident that I have “saved” money. I’ve got more money left over.
I like Walmart so much that I wrote a book exploring how the American church could learn from some of its practices. Super Center Savior was published in 2012, and I’m still humbled by how it helps people experience the joy of living between Sundays.
Walking away from Walmart feeling liked I’ve saved is nowhere near like the joy of walking through life knowing I’m saved. And that’s what I want to communicate afresh to you - hoping that perhaps you might be reminded of your own rescue or even discover that there’s Someone who can rescue you. I know there is. Because He rescued me.
So what’s it like being “saved?”
Personal and internal
These are what I’d call “personal reflections on a profound rescue.” Your experience will overlap mine to some extent, and perhaps you’d use different words. Let me speak to my own personal and internal first. Then I’ll speak to the broader reality of what I mean by being saved.
Here’s how I “feel” personally and internally about being saved:
Eager to be a blessing
Here are a few things that I don't always “feel” but which I always am as a reality of being saved:
Right with God
Being saved means I face each new day with expectancy. It means I am constantly being drawn back into a beautiful mindset of humble gratitude. I didn’t deserve to be saved, but I am, and I am regularly reminded of the wonder that I’m saved. I filter decisions through my “savedness.” I wasn’t just saved from something (more on that shortly); I was saved for something. And that savedness motivates me to treat others with kindness, humility, and intentionality.
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Beyond personal and internal
I’ve waited this long to say this: being saved implies that being saved from something.
There are some realities that I deeply believe, and as a result, have acted upon by virtue of changing my mind and life direction. These realities that I very truly experience have allowed me to “feel” the way I described above. You can visit this link for the basics of those realities that I believe with all my heart.1
The something I was saved from was my sin. The Someone who saved me was Jesus. Scholars and theologians will point out that “saved” is not a great translation of the concept of “saved” that is communicated in scripture. A better translation would be “delivered.” To deliver would mean to rescue from danger or death in this sense.
Jesus is my Savior. Jesus is also, profoundly, my Deliverer.
When Nicodemus, a prominent religious teacher in Israel, approached Jesus at night, he was confused by what Jesus had been teaching. He was amazed by the miracles. Jesus wasted no time stunning Nicodemus:
“Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”2
It’s a profoundly hilarious exchange as Nic fires back that it’s impossible to reverse course up the birth canal. Jesus patiently (and wryly, I think) explains that He means a spiritual rebirth.
That’s what being saved means. A spiritual rebirth. Just a babies are “delivered” (moved from one state of living to an entirely new one), so must every person who wants to see the kingdom of God.
How Jesus is the Savior
You may be familiar with John 3:16, but the fuller context is enlightening on the necessity of every person recognizing that they need saving:
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”3 [emphases mine]
Jesus is not always clear. He told parables a lot to illustrate spiritual realities with earthly imagery. However, here He is clear. Every person can be saved. However, the condition is true belief in Jesus. He compares it to coming out of the darkness and stepping into the light. It’s a new birth.
Believing in Jesus saved me. Believing in Jesus can save anyone. We are saved from our sin and its inevitable punishment. You see, our sin will ultimately ruin our lives. It will destroy you. Yes, our sin is rebellion against God, but our sin is also not good for us.
God will and must punish our sin. The Bible is cystal clear that God’s wrath. He hates sin. With an earthly passion. Humanity’s sin must be punished. The scriptures make clear that God has offered to allow Jesus’ death be the punishment for those who will believe upon Jesus. For those who don’t… well, they will stand before God one day, and they will have to bear the wrath of God themselves since they didn’t see the wisdom of allowing Jesus to bear it for them.
This is a beautiful gift. An exchange. My sin for Jesus’ perfection. It all happened at the cross, and others have written far more beautifully and extensively than I can here about it all.
So what does it mean for me to be saved?
In every single moment of my life when I can think clearly - outside the noise of pings and dings - I am grateful. I think of Jesus and what He’s done for me. I was drowning. I had no hope of saving myself. I couldn’t move myself out of the condition I was in. True hopelessness swallowed my existence.
Then… out of darkness, there was a light, and that light revealed a man on a cross. He was not just man but fully God. What He did there offered deliverance for me. I could be saved! If only I would trust, surrender, and give my life wholly to Him.
One hymn writer said it like this:
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.4
Believing by faith and receiving the very real inner experiential soul conditions that I described above are just the hinge of faith. I’m not just saved/delivered to savor my own salvation. I step through a door of adventure and mission in which I become the newest member of the church - global deliverance agency. I’m part of the Rescue Team. The joy and privilege of seeing others born again is an intoxicating wonder that I can’t get enough of!
To God be the glory. Great things He has done!
That’s what it’s like (for me) to be saved.
How about you?
The exercise of sitting down and writing “What it’s like to be saved” has been joy for me. I want to encourage you - if you’re a follower of Jesus - to do the same. It doesn’t have to be nearly as long (I enjoy writing), but you will be deeply encouraged by the fruitfulness of simply reflecting on your own savedness. And, if you do post it somewhere, leave a comment here with the link. I’d love to share your joy!