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Pastor Jeremy M. Thomas
Fredericksburg Bible Church
107 East Austin
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
[email protected]
A0714 – April 8, 2007 – Jas 1:21 – The Gospel Of Resurrection
The Greek verb for “save” (sozo) and the Greek noun for “salvation” (soteria)
have a range of meanings that correspond closely to their English meanings:
“deliver, rescue, preserve”. A newspaper headline may read “Six Marines
Saved from Enemy Territory” or “Man Saves Encrypted File” or “Preacher
Saves Wife from Drowning”. We all know intuitively these statements have
nothing to do with going to heaven or hell. But, for some reason, when we
come to the Bible we come with a narrow mindset thinking that salvation is
always from hell. But the word study turns up several interesting uses in
various contexts you might not expect, some you might not expect. So, let’s
look at four different biblical contexts for the word “save”/“salvation”.
First, the word “save” can be used of Physical-Salvation. Physical-Salvation
refers to being saved from physical dangers. In the Bible this occurs four
First, Physical-Salvation from Physical Death occurs in Exodus 14:30. “Thus
the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel
saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” This kind of salvation occurs in the
NT also, Acts 27:31, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, ‘Unless
these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.’” (Also cf 1
Chron 11:14; 2 Chron 32:22; Ps 20:6, 9; Jer 31:7; Matt 8:25; 14:30; 24:22;
Mark 13:20; 15:31; John 12:27; Acts 27:20, 31; Jude 5; Heb 5:7; et. al).
In the NT, Physical-Salvation from Demon Possession occurs in Luke 8:36
“Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demonpossessed had been made well.”
In the NT, Physical-Salvation from Sickness occurs in Mark 6:56, “Wherever
He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the
market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His
cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.”
In the NT, Physical-Salvation from Some Danger occurs in Romans 10:13, for
here is the deliverance of Israel from her enemies in the eschatological day of
the Lord. Verse 14 makes clear that a Jew has to believe before he can call
upon the name of the Lord and be saved. Because people have missed this
they have also missed what Romans 10:9-10 are about. Most people assume
there are two conditions for a person to go to heaven because of these verses;
belief with the heart and confession with the mouth. Others try to say these
are one and the same condition because of a Greek chiasmic structure.
However, one must realize in Romans Paul clearly distinguishes justification
from salvation. For example, in Romans 5:9 Paul says, “Much more then,
having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of
God through Him.” They had been justified but still needed to be saved! So,
Romans 10:10 begins with an explanatory gar (“for”) which gives the logical
sequence of justification and salvation, “for with the heart a person believes,
resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in
salvation.” The Greek word for “righteousness” is the same Greek word for
“justification”. Paul is saying, belief results in justification, confession results
in salvation. There are not two conditions for being justified and going to
heaven. A person is justified by faith alone in Christ alone. That is a sure
ticket to heaven. But if a person wants to be saved in Romans he will also
have to confess. If you doubt this drop down to Romans 10:14-15. What is the
sequence? Notice that for a person to call upon Him they must have already
believed! “How can they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?” The
belief, which results in justification must precede calling upon Him to be
saved (v 13). If you don’t understand the way Paul talks you can’t understand
the Bible! So many people have used Romans 10:13 as a justification verse
which saves a person from eternal hell. It is categorically not! It is written to
those who have already believed resulting in justification! It is heresy to say
that a man is justified by calling on the Lord or confessing the Lord. A man is
justified by faith alone! Paul has already made this abundantly clear in
Romans 4:3. So, contextually, Romans 10:13 which is a quotation of Joel 2:32
is a call by Israel for Jesus to return and deliver her from her enemies in the
day of the Lord. When Jesus was pronouncing judgment on the nation of
Israel in the 1st century He said, “For I say to you [Israel], from now on you
[Israel] will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME
OF THE LORD!’ ” (Matt 23:39) Here Paul is alluding to the national confession
that Israel must make for Jesus to return. When they make this confession
He will return and their salvation will take place. It will be a PhysicalDeliverance from the Antichrist and his armies. They will have already
believed that Jesus is the Messiah and been justified. For how can they call
on Him in whom they have not believed (Rom 10:14). This is why Paul
concludes his argument in Romans 11:26 with the words “and so all Israel
will be saved”. This is a Physical-Deliverance of Israel at the second coming
of Christ. I’m trying to show you the breadth of meaning with this word
“save” and how easily a passage can be misconstrued to teach something
totally contrary to the author’s true intent!
Second, the word “save” can be used of Spiritual-Salvation. There are three
categories of Spiritual-Salvation. Salvation from the Penalty of Sin, Salvation
from the Power of Sin and Salvation from the Presence of Sin.
Category One of Spiritual-Salvation is Salvation from the Penalty of Sin. This
means you are saved from spiritual death. If a person is spiritually dead they
will go to hell. But it is important to realize that no one goes to hell because
of his sins. Christ paid for all the sins of all people. Christ died a real penal
substitutionary death on the cross for all men. So He made the payment for
the penalty for sin which is spiritual death. So, nobody will ever go to hell
because of their sins. Christ paid for them. People go to hell for two reasons:
because they are spiritually dead and they don’t have perfect righteousness.
The reason they are spiritually dead and don’t have perfect righteousness is
because they have not placed their faith in Christ. Faith alone in Christ alone
is what appropriates Christ’s death on the cross so that the person is given
spiritual life and the perfect righteousness of Christ. This solves both of his
problems at the same time. He receives eternal life (regeneration) and perfect
righteousness (justification). So, we can say that at the moment of faith a
person is regenerated and that means “Once Saved Always Saved” but this
can be confusing because there are several other kinds of salvation in the
Bible. We can also say that at the moment of faith a person is justified and
that means “Once Righteous Always Righteous” in a positional sense, in one’s
standing before God. I call this category Salvation from the Penalty of Sin
and 2 Tim 1:9 teaches it, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling,
not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which
was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,” This is an aorist active
participle, a completed action (also cf Acts 16:31; 1 Cor 1:21; 1 Tim 1:15; Tit
Category Two of Spiritual-Salvation is Salvation from the Power of Sin which
is an experience of death. This kind of salvation is for believers only. When a
believer sins he loses fellowship with God. Thus, when a believer sins he
experiences temporal death and when a believer obeys God he enjoys life or
salvation. For example, Phil 2:12, “So then, my beloved, just as you have
always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” Here’s salvation by human
works. But it isn’t salvation from hell. No one’s work will save them from
hell. This is Salvation from the Power of Sin and the means by which it is
obtained is obedience to God (also cf Heb 7:25; Rom 5:9b-10; 1 Cor 15:2; 1 Tim
Category Three of Spiritual-Salvation is Salvation from the Presence of Sin
which is being in God’s presence. This will occur immediately when we die or
at the pre-trib Rapture, whichever comes first. To be in God’s presence you
can’t have any sin. When a believer dies his body returns to the earth and his
spirit goes to God (if they are an unbeliever the spirit goes to Sheol). The
believer’s human spirit is perfect because it has been regenerated so it goes
directly to God. Some people think you get an intermediate body but I don’t
really know about that. The bottom line is that being Saved from the
Presence of Sin is a kind of salvation the Bible talks about. The Bible also
links this salvation with getting a resurrected body. Church age believers
receive a resurrection body at the pre-trib Rapture. So, Salvation from the
Presence of Sin occurs when we step into God’s presence. For example, 1
Thess 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ,”. This is clearly a future salvation. We are not
destined for wrath, which, contextually is the day of the Lord or Tribulation
period. But rather we are destined for obtaining salvation. Salvation here
refers to being resurrected before the day of the Lord. This is a good verse for
the pre-trib Rapture (also cf 2 Tim 4:18)
The question in James is, “What kind of salvation is he talking about in
1:21?” What does it mean to say that the word implanted is able to save your
souls? Is it Physical-Salvation or Spiritual-Salvation? Most people think it is
Spiritual-Salvation Category One, Salvation from the Penalty of Sin. But this
is wrong for at least six reasons
First, he has already said “point of fact” that they have been regenerated
(James 1:18). That means they have already enjoyed Spiritual-Salvation
Category One Saved from the Penalty of Sin. Second, the word is planted in
them. If they are not regenerated then what is the word of God doing planted
in them? Third, the phrase “save the soul” is never used of being “Saved from
hell” anywhere in the Bible. The salvation of the soul is a common theme of
the OT (Gen 19:17; 1 Sam 19:11; Jer 48:6; Ps 6:4; 7:2; 68:1; 72:13-14; 86:2;
109:31) and the NT (cf John 12:27; Matt 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:27) and it
always refers to Physical-Salvation! It should be translated “save your lives”
just as it is in several verses in the Septuagint. Every time the Septuagint
uses the phrase “save your souls” or something similar it refers to PhysicalSalvation. Three of these are very important.
Genesis 19:17 When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape
for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the
valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”
1 Samuel 19:11 Then Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch
him, in order to put him to death in the morning. But Michal, David’s
wife, told him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow
you will be put to death.”
Jeremiah 48:6 “Flee, save your lives, That you may be like a juniper
in the wilderness.
Fourth, since James is the earliest book in the NT canon, where do you think
he got the phrase “save your souls”? From the OT. Fifth, when Jesus talked of
saving the soul he also referred to saving the physical life.
Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but
whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Finally, when we realize that he has already warned believers of the sin unto
death in James 1:14-15 his meaning is obvious here: when a regenerate
person puts off sin and receives the word implanted he is in a position to
enjoy salvation anew. The kind of salvation the believer will enjoy here is
Physical-Salvation. This meaning is so obvious in James 5:19-20 it is hard to
imagine why interpreters have ever come to another conclusion! This is a
natural reading since it was well known from the OT that righteous living
resulted in a prolonged physical life and unrighteous living in a premature
physical death.
Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the
wicked will be shortened. (also cf Prov 10:16; 12:28; 19:23)
Proverbs 11:19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death. (also cf Prov
21:16; Rom 6:23; James 1:15)
“Sin is deadly!” And contextually the kind of death in view in James 1:15 is
physical and the kind of salvation in view in James 1:21 is also physical.
Now, let’s deal some more with Salvation from the Presence of Sin since this
is Resurrection Sunday. I want to answer four questions about resurrection.
First, what is resurrection? Second, who will be resurrected? Third, what is
the gospel? Fourth, does the believer have to continue to believe in
resurrection in order to be saved? If so, what kind of salvation will he enjoy?
First, what is resurrection? You ought to at least know the basics of what the
Bible teaches about resurrection. The Bible teaches that it is not
resuscitation. Resuscitation means being revived; coming back in the same
body you are in now. When a person is revived by CPR they are resuscitated.
This happens in the Bible and it happens today but it’s not the same as
resurrection. Also, the Bible teaches that it is not reincarnation. Reincarnation means coming back in a totally different body that has no
connection to the old body. The eastern religions often hold to re-incarnation.
The Bible teaches resurrection. The English word, coined by William Tyndale
in his 1525 NT comes from the Greek word anastasis which means “to stand
again” which is derived from anistemi which is used as early as Job of the
resurrected Messiah.
Job 19:25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last
He will take His stand on the earth.
When He takes His stand it will not be in a revived body or a totally new
body but a transformed body. Christ’s body that was crucified on the cross
was transformed into a new body. His crucified body was not in the tomb but
the wrappings were in the tomb and when He was seen He was recognizable.
The resurrection body is therefore derived from the natural body. So,
resurrection is the transformation of the natural body into a resurrection
body in which all men will take their stand at judgment. Your resurrection
body will have some of the same qualities as your present body but it will also
have different qualities. For example, the natural body is corruptible but the
resurrection body is incorruptible. The natural body is perishable but the
resurrection body is imperishable. The natural body is made of flesh and
blood but the resurrection body is composed of a different substance that has
a similar appearance.
Second, who will be resurrected? Teaching on the resurrection is important to
everyone because whether you believe in Christ or not you’re going to be
resurrected. Both the Old and New Testaments teach that all men who have
ever lived will be resurrected. Your either going to be resurrected to life or to
death. All who are resurrected unto life will be with God and all who are
resurrected unto death will be in hell. Hell is a place of separation. People
who go there will be separated from God and everyone else too, no friends, no
communication. People don’t really have a good idea of what the hell is like
because they haven’t consulted the Scriptures. But it’s a terrible place,
almost unthinkable but the Bible is clear that it is not God’s fault that people
go there. Christ died for the sins of all men but some men don’t believe this
and so when they die physically they are spiritually dead and don’t have
perfect righteousness. Thus, they go to hell. Is this fair? Well, every person
has a chance to respond positively to God. God gave us creation as a clear
testimony to His existence and nature (Rom 1:18-20). He says all men know
Him. If a person responds positively to this knowledge then God will give
them the information they need to believe in Christ and be Saved from the
Penalty of Sin. If they suppress this knowledge then God will turn them over
to their depravity. Romans 1:20 says that when they stand before God they
will be without an apologetic, without a defense. They will have no excuse.
They will not have any reasonable arguments that get them off the hook.
They will be held responsible for not believing. in Jesus Christ. This is taught
in one of the most famous verses in the Bible
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal
That word “perish” is a middle voice. That means “perish themselves”. In
other words “whoever believes in Him shall not perish himself, but have
eternal life”. That middle voice indicates that the person who does not believe
is responsible for perishing. God does not send people to hell, people send
themselves to hell. That’s the whole point of that word. But a person who
believes in Him will receive eternal life. So, everyone is going to be
resurrected. Believers will be resurrected to everlasting life and unbelievers
to everlasting death. This is why it’s so very important to believe the gospel.
And by saying gospel I mean “good news”. I mean there is a front page
headline that is not making any front pages today. It used to make front page
headlines in Colonial America until the 1930’s but since then it’s a rarity.
Now what is the gospel? It’s so rare to hear it today. If you ask a person,
“What is the gospel” you might get about 50 different answers.
Third, what is the gospel? What is the content of the gospel? Paul reveals the
gospel clearly in 1 Cor 15.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now I make known (present active) to you,
brethren, the gospel that I myself preached (aorist middle) to you,
which also you received (aorist active), in which you stand (perfect
active) 2 by which also you are being saved (present passive), if you hold
fast (present active) the word which I myself preached (aorist middle)
to you, unless you believed (aorist active) in vain.
Paul wants to make the gospel known to “brethren”. They are already
believers. They’ve believed the gospel that he’s going to expound in verses 3ff.
So, there is the necessity of making the gospel known even to believers
who’ve already believed the gospel. The verse confuses many believers
because verse 2 puts a condition on being saved. It says “if you hold fast the
word”. In other words, Paul is saying you are saved by this gospel if you hold
fast to it. You wonder, “What if a person believes the gospel and then later
they don’t believe it? Will they go to heaven?” The answer I always give you is
“Yes”. But what does Paul mean then? What does he mean when he says “if
you hold fast the word”? Why is there a condition? Well, remember, I’ve
taught you to always ask, “Saved from what?” We have to answer that
question right or we get in all kinds of trouble. What kind of salvation is in
view here? Physical, Spiritual? Obviously some kind of salvation is
conditioned on holding fast the word Paul preached which is the gospel
message. Is he warning about loss of salvation if someone doesn’t hold fast to
the gospel? Is he warning that they aren’t really believers if they don’t hold
fast to the gospel? No.
The grammar has the answer. “Now I make known to you, brethren, the
gospel that I myself preached”; aorist middle. Paul himself had preached the
gospel to the Corinthians while he was with them. Here he is about to make
known that gospel to them again. That gospel “which also you received”;
aorist active. The Corinthian’s received Paul’s gospel and it is in that gospel
“which you stand”; perfect active. The Corinthian’s, upon hearing the gospel
Paul preached received the gospel at that time at which point they began to
stand and continue to stand. The sequence so far is
Paul Preached-->Corinthian's Received-->Corinthian's Standing
Verse 2 “by which also you are being saved”; present tense. This is the
present aspect of the Corinthian’s salvation, what I call Deliverance from the
Power of Sin. They will be delivered presently “if they hold fast” (present
active) to the word which Paul preached, that is “the gospel” which he is
about to proclaim (vv 3ff). In other words, it is necessary for a believer to
continue believing the essentials of the gospel in order to enjoy a present
dimension of salvation. “Unless” of course, he goes on “you believed in vain.”
That is, unless they did not believe in the proper object, Christ alone.
Perhaps some of them never believed in Christ to begin with, in which case
they never entered into the chain of events that followed Paul’s preaching.
They simply heard the word but never truly believed in Christ alone.
Thus, verse 1 is interested in the gospel’s relationship to Deliverance from
the Penalty of Sin (aorist and perfect tenses) and verse 2 is interested in the
gospel’s relationship to Deliverance from the Power of Sin (present tenses).
The final sequence for all who believed in Christ is…
Paul Preached-->Corinthian's Received-->Corinthian's Standing-->
If Corinthian’s Hold Fast-->Corinthians Will Be Saved.
For those who believed in vain the sequence is simply…
Paul Preached
There is no spiritual deliverance of any kind for those who have believed in
Let’s see why it is so important for a believer, and these verses are written to
Paul’s brethren at Corinth, he assumes they are believers unless of course
they believed in vain. But, let’s see why it is important for a believer to
continue to believe the gospel.
If the Corinthian believers deny the resurrection then they will not be Saved
from the Power of Sin (see 15:13-19, 34). He is not saying they are not Saved
from the Penalty of Sin. They already received that salvation but a salvation
they still need is contingent upon remaining true to the gospel essentials.
This illustrates the principle of how closely related right doctrine is to right
practice. A departure from sound doctrine will result in a departure from
sound living (see 15:12 & 34). A departure from orthodoxy results in
departure from orthopraxy and vice versa. Adherence to sound doctrine is a
pre-requisite for sound living. Adherence to orthodoxy should result in
orthopraxy. Note how some believers who departed from the doctrine of
resurrection were considered ungodly and upset the faith of others.
2 Timothy 2:16-18 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will
lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene.
Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone
astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken
place, and they upset the faith of some.
Hymenaeus and Philetus (both believers) taught that the resurrection was in
the past and this teaching was considered worldly and empty and leads to
ungodliness, the opposite of being Saved from the Power of Sin! When we
adopt false teaching it leads to ungodly living and this leads to divine
discipline and even sin unto death. Thus, the gospel essentials are now
proclaimed by Paul in verses 3-5.
1 Corinthians 15:3-5 For I delivered (aorist active) to you first, what I
also received (aorist active), that Christ died (aorist active) for our sins
according to the Scriptures 4 and that he was buried (aorist passive)
and that he is raised (perfect passive) the third day according to the
Scriptures 5 and that he appeared (aorist passive) to Kephas and then
to the twelve;
The Greek structure here makes clear the essentials of the gospel.
1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
 He was buried
2. He is raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
 He appeared
The phrase “according to the Scriptures” is only attached to two of the four
phrases. This indicates that Paul’s gospel had two essential elements: 1)
Christ died and 2) He was raised.ii This is just what the OT predicted. After
each of these Paul gives a historical evidence. The historical evidence of His
death was “He was buried”. The historic evidence of His resurrection was “He
appeared”. Christianity is established in history. It is not just what some
people want to blindly believe. Christianity is not a “leap of faith”. It is
founded on historical events in the plain sight of men. History itself is the
vindication of Christianity!
No matter how kind or enthusiastic a preacher may be, no matter how many
nice things he has to say about Jesus, if he does not teach that Christ died a
substitutionary death and rose bodily from the tomb he has not preached the
gospel! This is what a person must believe in order to be Saved from the
Penalty of Sin which is eternal death and which one must continue to believe
in order to be Saved from the Power of Sin.
First, what is resurrection? It is the transformation of the natural body into a
new body. Second, who will be resurrected? All men, believers and
unbelievers. Believers unto life and unbelievers unto death. Third, what is
the gospel? It is that Christ died and was raised. The historical evidence of
His death is His burial. The historical evidence of His resurrection is His
appearance to many. Fourth, does the believer have to continue to believe in
resurrection in order to be saved? Yes, right doctrine is essential to being
saved. But the salvation is from the Power of Sin and not from the Penalty of
Sin. All who believe in Christ alone enjoy Salvation from the Penalty of Sin
and this salvation is irreversible. But believer’s still need to be saved from
the Power of Sin over their lives and essential to this is believing right
doctrine, especially the essentials of the gospel.
Note how Romans 5:9 makes justification distinct from being saved. We’ve been taught from
childhood a narrow view of salvation, that salvation only has to do with that initial deliverance from
hell so we can go to heaven and I’m telling you it’s much more than that. I’m telling you there are
believers who will go to heaven one day but still need salvation today. “Much more then, having now
been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Now, in this verse
the people have been “justified” but they haven’t been “saved”! See, you’re going to have a real
problem here if you think justification is a synonym for salvation. They’ve been justified but they
still need to be saved.
ii His death and resurrection were predicted by the OT Scriptures (e.g. Ps 16:10; Isa 53:8-10).
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