There are a number of words that seem to get stuck in our throats when we speak to unbelievers. One of them is “sin.” Then there’s “repentance,” and the reality of “Hell.” But there’s another word on which we tend to stumble: the word “saved.” Jesus didn’t hesitate to use it when referring to conversion. He said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…” (John 10:9). When we enter through the door of the Savior, we become part of those who are saved. However, it’s a word many Christians hesitate to use because it has very negative connotations. It insinuates that some people are unsaved.
And even if there is an acknowledgment that some people have been saved, there’s often confusion as to what we are saved from. Some testify about being saved from drug abuse, some from a life of drunkenness, and others have been saved from a life of crime. The result for many has been that Christianity is nothing more than some sort of philosophical life improvement.
The Scriptures, however, make it clear that when we come to the Savior, we are saved from the wrath to come (see 1 Thessalonians 1:10). That message is offensive because it paints God as being angry at sinners. Offensive though it may be, we must never waver in our testimony to this world — that Jesus saves from death and damnation in Hell. And the offense is doubled when we say that He is the only door to salvation. But we have no choice if we fear God. We dare not change the message even slightly. But some who hear the unadulterated Gospel will tremble, and, like the Philippian jailer, cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
When Jesus said, “Now is the time for judgment of this world...” (John 12:31), He was speaking of the cross. His next words were, “now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” Because Jesus was crucified for my sins and lifted up from the earth, I have “paid in full” stamped across my file. The accuser of the brethren can’t point a finger at me because I am safe in the arms of Jesus — my Savior.
The moment He cried, “It is finished,” Satan was also finished. The prince of this world was cast down because of the cross and the consequent resurrection. And so, every believer in Jesus can have boldness on the Day of Judgment. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17, KJV).
And that boldness can be exerted in prayer. Because we trust in Jesus, Scripture says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrew 4:16, KJV).
We must never forget the reason why Jesus came to earth in the first place. He said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47). He didn’t come in flaming fire, rendering His anger with fury upon this wicked world. He didn’t come as the Judge of the universe. He came as a harmless and spotless lamb to die for the sin of the world. His words were gentle. His actions were loving — because He came for the salvation of the world. This was the promise of the Old Testament, and its fulfillment was seen in the New, culminating in the cross of Calvary. The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Knowing this should put a sense of urgency in the heart of every Christian. The hour is coming when He will come in flaming fire. And on that day, sinners will have nowhere to run. No one can then be saved from His wrath. And so, we say with the Apostle Paul, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Corinthians 5:11, KJV).
We should think on those words often and ask if we know the terror of the Lord, and if we are then persuading men.
Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters and the bestselling author of more than 80 books, including God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, How to Know God Exists, and The Evidence Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program "Way of the Master," seen in almost 200 countries, and is the Executive Producer of "180," "Evolution vs. God," "Audacity," and other films. He is married to Sue and has three grown children, and hasn't left the house without gospel tracts for decades. You can learn more about his ministry at LivingWaters.com.