What does it mean to be "saved"?
"Saved" is a term heard often in Christianity and as followers of Christ and believers, the depth and breadth of being saved (redeemed, delivered) cannot be adequately described. In Acts 16:30-31, Paul and Silas, while in prison, encountered this question when a jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?" The short answer here is that there is NOTHING (no work) any of us can do to be saved. Rather, the business of saving is entirely an action of God - through Christ - in grace - to each of us who accept the invitation to believe. Salvation has to do with how we are saved or delivered from our fallen condition. Each of us needs saving - or in other words - to be restored to fellowship with God. An approach to salvation which relies on our "good works" is not based in biblical Truth. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
Salvation is not universal but this is NOT to be interpreted as a lack of love from God. Indeed, it is quite
Isn't everyone saved?
If God is love and He loves us so much, why do bad things happen to good people? Why do some families go on vacation and come back refreshed with fond memories, while another family travels to Disneyland only to return stricken in grief at the loss of a child to an alligator? Why are 49 people killed in an Orlando nightclub? Why do some marriages last while others crumble, leaving splintered families?
the opposite. God loves us so much that He wants to save us. This saving is an action on God's part offered freely through faith - believing God provided the only way to be made righteous (right) with Him, accepting His Son, Jesus Christ as the Savior sent as a sacrifice to pay the price and bridge the separation between our state in sin and the righteousness God requires. This act of grace on God's part and our faith acceptance of His Son removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). There is none of us who can achieve this "rightness" with God on our own, through our actions, no matter how "good" we are (or think we are) as evidenced by Romans 3:20: "No one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin" and Romans 3:23: "We all fall short of the glory of God.
Salvation is about what God has done for us--not our righteous works. God took the initiative through Christ to reach us out of His great love. So, the answer to the question posed to Paul and Silas by the jailer is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus …" (Acts 16:31). Belief is more than just knowledge--it is a change of heart accomplished by God through faith and trust.
To offer anything other than compassion in pain, comfort in sorrow, encouragement in despair during times of tragedy is akin to building a bridge over the Grand Canyon with a Band-Aid. The wounds are too deep and too wide; there are no easy answers and one must be sensitive offering platitudes. Whatever the circumstance, God is still God and there are things we are not going to understand. His ways are higher and despite our questions; what He allows has purpose. Why does God get credit for good things that happen, but not blamed for the bad? God often is blamed when bad things happen, after all He could intervene. Tragedy and pain leave us asking, "Why?" And full understanding will not come this side of heaven. James 1:17 tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all light, in Whom there can be no variation or shadow cast by His turning." But, there is also an enemy of our souls. We live in a broken world, where the lives and free will of others intersect and have impact. In pain we know God grieves with us and teaches us to comfort others. II Corinthians 1:3-5 (paraphrased): "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy and God Who is the Source of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts us in every trouble so that we may also be able to comfort those who are in any kind of trouble or distress...for just as Christ's own sufferings fall to our lot (as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them) abundantly, so through Christ comfort is also shared and experienced abundatly by us." This doesn't infer that grief is easy, but it does tell us God knew we would be in need of comfort in this world. Why doesn't God intervene then, so there is no pain, no suffering? Hebrews 5:8-9: "Although He was a Son, He learned (active, special) obedience through what He suffered and He became the Author and Source of eternal salavation to all those who give heed and obey Him." God could have intervened in Christ's crucifixion, but He didn't. The level of suffering Jesus endured is hard to fully comprehend. At one point Jesus thought God had abandoned Him--a familiar emotion to all who have experienced the depth of pain. God is the Creator and Sustainer of life. As such, He views and uses life differently than our finite minds can understand. There was an eternal purpose in Christ's suffering - the end result provided the only way to reconcile humanity to God. If God would have intervened, eternal gift would not be possible. Christ's suffering came through the actions of others--given free will to act--and yet God in His infinite wisdom knew that day would come and for the sake of humanity, He did not stop it. God promises His comfort to those who mourn - and indeed, for believers He has promised to prepare a place for us beyond this world so that one day we will be with Him in an eternity where this is no pain.