Salvation’s Greatest Benefit

“Let me ask you a question: If you were to die right now, do you know for certain that you would go to heaven?” That’s how I began my “salvation sales pitch” for well over thirty-five years. In my mind, it was the greatest motivation I could imagine to convince a person of their need for the Savior. Reminding them that the alternative was hell provided additional persuasion. I would then encourage them to pray a prayer, receiving Christ as their Savior, and assure them that they were on their way to heaven, quickly moving to the next prospective convert.

That approach assumes that missing hell is the greatest benefit of our salvation. In recent years I’ve begun to examine that approach, using the example of our Savior as a guideline. Four truths stood out as I studied how Jesus dealt with sinners about their need of a Savior:

  • The greatest benefit of our salvation is positive rather than negative. Jesus never used the threat of hell to motivate sinners to believe on Him. He promised that if they would come unto Him, they would find: “life” (John 10:10), “joy” (John 15:11), “peace” (John 16:33), and “rest” (Matthew 11:29). His approach was characterized by gentle compassion as He called them unto Himself.

When Jesus did talk about “hell” He was usually addressing the scribes and Pharisees; the self-righteous, religious authorities of His day. They were judgmental, unkind, and eager to catch offenders so they could openly humiliate them. Their demands were “heavy,” and “grevious to be borne” (Matthew 23:4). The Savior’s warning to them was terrifying: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).

  • The greatest benefit of our salvation is spiritual rather than temporal. Does God provide temporal benefits to believers? What about material possessions? There is no question that God’s kindness is responsible for every good thing that happens to every individual (James 1:17), but you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy the benefits of God’s goodness.

In I Corinthians 2 the Apostle Paul reveals that there are certain “things” which are only available to those who love God (believers) because they are “spiritually discerned,” {Read verses 9-14}. These are spiritual gifts to which unbelievers have no access.

  • The greatest benefit of our salvation is realized immediately rather than in the future. Heaven is our future destination. It is the glory that we will obtain “bye and bye.” We live, however, in a very ugly world. Focusing all of our attention on heaven makes this life a mere exercise in futility – a tedious journey through time reflecting misery and despair.

When Paul admonished believers to set their “affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2), he was not encouraging them to check out of this life. He was challenging them to live as children of the King.

  • The greatest benefit of our salvation has nothing to do with going to heaven or avoiding hell! It has everything to do with who we are, what we have, and what we are commissioned to do while on this earth!

We are “new creatures in Christ.” We have been transformed, and every change in us has been spiritual in nature. While some changes are yet to occur, e.g., our bodies are yet to be redeemed (Romans 8:23), we have become “alive unto God” by the transforming power of His Spirit.

We are “redeemed.” Through the Savior’s death on the cross we have obtained righteous standing before God. Christ took our sins upon Himself and gave His righteousness to us.

We are “ambassadors for Christ.” It is our privilege to share this experience of “redemption” with the world. We are heavenly representatives living in a foreign country.

Salvation’s Greatest BenefitWe have been “reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Though we are by nature, selfish, rebellious creatures, we enjoy a personal relationship with our Creator. It’s even more amazing that our Creator desires to have fellowship with us. The primary reason for our Savior’s death on the cross was to make that fellowship possible.

There is so much more available to those who will recognize that salvation is not represented primary by a place where we will live in the future, but by a loving Father who desires fellowship with us now.

He knows our needs before we pray (Matthew 6:8). He knows us intimately and cares what happens to us (Luke 12:7). He has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). He orders our steps when we are floundering (Psalm 27:33). He upholds us when we fall (Psalm 37:24). He loves us unconditionally. All are benefits which have nothing to do with going to heaven.

Is heaven not a wonderful benefit of salvation? Should we not rejoice that we don’t have to pay for our sins? Of course! But those benefits are only possible because we have been reconciled to God. When we offer those as primary benefits when trying to convince unbelievers to trust Christ, we do our loving God a grave disservice. It’s not the gift that should be the focus, but the giver.

So instead of asking unbelievers if they know that they are going to heaven, why not ask them if they know our loving Creator. They will go to heaven when they die, because of their redemption, but it’s being reconciled with God that will turn the rest of their human lives into heaven on earth.



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