The most well known part of salvation is about believers’ adoption in to God’s family and being made joint heirs with the Son of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit gives witness of this. But most believers find hardly any change in their life and are faced with opposition from unknown quarters. Then come the doubts about one’s destiny? But does God desire His children to remain in a perpetual state of lack?
Is salvation only about spiritual things? – The promise of God is, ‘With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation’ (Psalm 91:16). This verse has two issues requiring clarification, first is the salvation itself and then how do we see that salvation? Is it about physical or spiritual seeing? Hebrew word translated as salvation is ‘Yeshua’ which is the Hebrew name for the Savior Lord and this word means ‘deliverance’ but also ‘help, security, prosperity and victory’. Within the context of the Psalm it would mean deliverance from the troubles and difficulties mentioned there and deliverance from these we can easily see and understand. On the other hand, Greek word ‘soteria’ used for salvation by Apostle Paul is derived from root word ‘sozo’ meaning ‘to deliver out of danger and into safety’ and is about God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin into His provisions and safety. The root meaning of ‘sozo’ goes beyond forgiveness of sins and is about being physical healing of diseases and to be delivered from your enemies which in a spiritual sense is from the devil and his demons who steal your blessings
Our salvation through Lord Jesus would mean deliverance from both physical dangers as well as dangers to our soul. The above verse is also about showing us His salvation and not about giving and receiving salvation. The Hebrew word used is ‘raah’ meaning ‘to see, to perceive, to glimpse or vision’ and this could be both spiritual and physical. It would thus imply, seeing the deliverance from our present troubles with our physical eyes and our spiritual salvation with spiritual eyes.
Is salvation only this much or more? – God sent Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage, clarifying beforehand that ‘the king of Egypt will not let you go, not even by a mighty hand’. God then promised to stretch His hand and strike Egypt and ‘you will find favor in the sight of Egyptians’ so that ‘you shall not go empty handed’. Every woman shall ask and receive ‘articles of silver, articles of gold and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters’ and thus you shall plunder the Egyptians (Genesis 3:19-22). Deliverance from bondage of the devil also cannot be without our receiving all that we have lost. The devil tempted Lord Jesus with the kingdoms of the world that he has stolen from us, the rightful owners, and in like manner we who were in bondage to the devil will receive salvation through our Lord and this will include the riches also. We get back what is rightfully ours!
But how do we see this? – John the Baptist, from the prison, sent two of his disciples to ask Lord Jesus, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Lord Jesus told the disciples to ‘go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me’ (Matthew 11:2-6). The Greek word ‘scandalizo’ is translated as ‘offended’ and is about ‘falling into a trap or hinder right conduct or thought’. The Lord’s answer is about ‘hearing and seeing’ the works and about ‘gospel preaching’ and this covers both physical and spiritual healing of the soul. God’s promise to show His salvation was not only clearly displayed through the works of the Savior Lord in the material realm but also seen through His resurrection, ascension and glorification in the spiritual world. The penalty for sins that was our due for eternal suffering in the lake of fire was borne by the Lord who contracted eternity to three days and defeated the devil and death.
Lord Jesus revealed the true nature of God the Father to us. He saw the great multitude and ‘was moved with compassion for them and healed their sick’. And then with the five loaves and two fish’ He fed to the full ‘five thousand men, besides women and children’ and twelve baskets of fragments remained (Matthew 14:14-21). That was visible salvation for meeting their material needs. We must remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). In like manner what is visible to me in the world, my lack, disease and every other problem of life will fade away after a while and in Lord Jesus my place is secure here in this world as well as for eternity.
But Scripture declares difficulty for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven – This is a grossly misunderstood concept of salvation. God created the Garden of Eden and everything therein for man and the river Pishon had very good quality gold and precious stones were also there (Genesis 2:11-12). The New Jerusalem has walls of jasper and the whole ‘city was pure gold’ with twelve gates of twelve pearls (Revelation 21:18-21). God created man in opulence in the Garden and eventually man will live in great wealth with God. The devil stole all this from us and he offered ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory’ to Lord Jesus who as Creator is the rightful owner of all this wealth of the world (Matthew 4:8).
But why did Lord Jesus raise that question about the rich and the Kingdom of Heaven? – The Savior Lord told the disciples that ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 19:16-24). The rich man who had come to the Lord had claimed to be following the commandments but when asked by the Lord to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, ‘he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions’. The rich man had violated the very first of the Ten Commandments, ‘You shall have no other gods before Me’ (Exodus 20:2). A rich person is generally involved in creating wealth and multiplying what he already has and after sometime money itself becomes a god for him. Then it is not only the money but many other possessions that become more important than God.
Becoming rich is not evil but using that for evil purposes denies us entry into God’s presence. Moses spoke to the Israelites to give offerings of gold, silver, bronze and other things for making the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:5). The people had brought so much that Moses had to finally ‘restrain from bringing’ (Exodus 36:5-6). How did the people who were slaves for 430 years (Exodus 12:40) have so much to give? The LORD forced the Egyptians to give them so much wealth when they left Egypt.
King David donated gold, silver, bronze, precious stones and marble slabs in abundance for preparing various things for the Temple. In addition, he gave ‘3,000 talents of gold of Ophir’ (pure gold) and 7,000 talents of silver with a talent standard weight being 33 Kg (1 Chronicles 29:2-4). After creating man God gave every fruit bearing tree as food (Genesis 1:29); and then God created woman and brought her to the man as his ‘help-meet’ (Genesis 2:22); and then He gave His ‘only begotten Son’ as our Redeemer (John 3:16). ‘God is love’ and love is about giving and not taking (1 John 4:8); it is about maintaining a close relationship and the Son of God came to lead us into this relationship with God the Father. Abraham was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold (Genesis 13:2). Isaac sowed and reaped a hundredfold during a famine; ‘he continued prospering until he became very prosperous’ (Genesis 2612-14). ‘Jacob became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys’ (Genesis 30:43). Abraham is called ‘Friend of God’ and David was called a ‘man of God’s heart’ and God gave all of them so much of wealth. Then how can being rich be considered evil?
Why are believers poor? – There are various reasons for this. First, we live by the worldly knowledge and God’s provisions are through the Tree of Life. Apostle Paul gives the reason, for ‘the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God’, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them for they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Second, believing wrong doctrines and not desiring to be rich. The Scripture is very clear, ‘Delight yourself also in the LORD and He shall give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37:4). Again, ‘He fulfills your desires with good things’ (Psalm 103:5). To have no desire to be rich means one would be happy to be mediocre or poor and aspire for nothing more.
Third, inadequate follow through, – Terah, the father of Abraham, left Ur of the Chaldeans with Abram, Lot and Sarai, to go to the land of Canaan (Genesis 11:31). After he reached Haran, he settled there only. God opens a way for us and we give up halfway through, either for want of initial success or due to being satisfied with only a little and giving up.
Four, lack of vision – ‘Where there is no vision, people cast off restraint’ and they would sin and perish (Proverbs 29:18). The Israelites could not visualize their entry into the Promised Land and wanted to return to Egypt and then made the golden calf to be their god. The Israelites had seen great miracles happening in Egypt and at the Red Sea but ten out of the twelve spies forgot all that and saw themselves ‘like grasshoppers in our own sight and so we were in their (the giants) sight’ (Numbers 13:33). Only Joshua and Caleb could see them as victorious for where there is no vision there is no desire to take risks and succeed. God urged the spies to ‘cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes’ to be carried between the two of them and they also brought pomegranates and figs (Numbers 13:23). God wanted the Israelites to see the abundance of the land He was leading them into, to develop a keen desire in their heart to enter and claim that.
Why can’t we succeed on the path to God’s abundance? – We are living surrounded by sin all around, with no will power to do good (Romans 7:19). The very core of our being, our heart, that controls our will is corrupt and easily falls prey to the devil’s temptations. Apostle Paul assures us that ‘we are a new creation in the Lord Jesus’ and His Spirit is in us to guide and lead us on to a path of holy living. And I am to ‘work out my salvation with fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2:12). Greek word ‘katergazomai’ used here means ‘to work down to the end point or decisive finality’. It is about surrendering to the Spirit of God and seek His hand in everyday living while temptations and trials try and lure us away. The devil is searching for whom to devour and that is about blinding the eyes and hardening the hearts and to make us like ten of the twelve spies. Under the devil’s control then, seeing one cannot see nor understand with the heart to receive from God (John 12:40).
God’s plan full of future and hope is about our inheriting what God has decreed for us. We are children of God through faith in Lord Jesus and we are His heirs and ‘joint heirs’ with Lord Jesus who rules over everything (Romans 8:17). How can we belittle the heritage of the Son of God? We are seated with Lord Jesus in the heavenly places and the treasures of heaven are opened (Ephesians 1:21). It is not in our efforts alone that we can succeed for when we “remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth’ (Deuteronomy 8:18). Hebrew word ‘asah’ translated as ‘get’ also means ‘make, acquire or achieve’.
Becoming rich would then involve creating a desire in the heart and then seek a revelation from the Lord for fulfillment of that desire. He will open the ways for achieving the fulfillment of that desire. But that happens ‘if God gets glorified’ in our efforts and the resultant abundance. Lord Jesus declared on the cross that His work is finished and now it is our turn to fully receive the salvation for which the Savior suffered so much. If there is no desire in us to succeed then we will always have a Red Sea facing us, otherwise we shall see dry land and a way to triumph. God has given us the choice!