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What does it mean to be saved?

"Saved from what?" we might ask.

Salvation, as the term is used in Scripture, refers to freedom from the slavery of sin. In fact, it is impossible to understand salvation without understanding what sin does to us. As St. Paul put it in the Letter to the Romans, "All are under the domination of sin. ... There is no just man, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one in search of God. All have taken the wrong course, all alike have become worthless." Sin means living for ourselves rather than for God; this dulls our spiritual senses and leads to selfish behavior. In the Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul describes this life of sin and selfishness: "It is obvious what proceeds from the flesh," he writes, "lewd conduct, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I have warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." So we see that sin makes us a slave of sin. But, most of all, sin keeps us from becoming the sons and daughters God intended for us to be in the beginning of creation. Remember that we are children of God, created in God's image and likeness. When our lives are ruled by sin, we are more like the lower animals than like spiritual beings endowed by God with intelligence, conscience and free will.

To understand salvation, let us say that those who live in sin are like people drowning in the ocean. They struggle to stay afloat, but they soon grow tired and begin to sink. Now imagine that God throws a life preserver out into the ocean for them to grasp. He then slowly draws them into His ship so that they might become members of His crew.

This example makes several points about salvation. First, we see that salvation means freedom from the futility of self-will; those who are saved live not by their own power, but in God's power. Second, we note that salvation is something God does in us and for us. Without the life-preserving graces of Jesus' Death and Resurrection, we would drown in our own ignorance and selfishness. Salvation is a gift from God, not something we deserve or earn through our own merits. If God does not throw the life-preserver, we drown. Third, we have a role to play in our own salvation. God can only make His saving grace available to us. If we persist in living a life of sin, we cut ourselves off from salvation. God only offers us salvation; the next step is ours. We must make a decision to turn away from living a life of sin. This is repentance. Finally, we acknowledge that being saved means that we must continually choose to live for God. Salvation is an ongoing process; there is no such thing as salvation, once and for all, with a single act of repentance. and faith. It is entirely possible to fall out of God's boat and to begin drowning again in our sinfulness. That is why, in the Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul tells us to continue working for our salvation "in fear and trembling." If we heed this advice by striving each day to life for God, then we find, at the end of our days, that we will be prepared to spend eternity with God. Eternal life spent in the love, joy, peace and freedom of God is the fruit of salvation won for us by Jesus Christ. This is our hope and our true destiny.


To obtain a printed copy of the Evangeline Scripts write to:
Evangelization Office
Diocese of Lake Charles
P.O. Box 3223
Lake Charles, La. 70602

Copyright 1991 Diocese of Lake Charles, La.
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
+ Jude Speyrer, S.T.L., D.D.
June 1991
Used with permission