What Is Salvation?

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Loyal Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)


God made man for a purpose.  That purpose was that He might have a race peculiarly made for His praise and glory and honor and that that race might seek to do only His will.  Man chose not to fulfill that purpose when he believed the evil one, and he fell from his lofty estate of Edenic bliss and fellowship with God. Now man has fallen, but God still wants to salvage him. Basically, that is what salvation is...salvation is a salvaging.  Now this salvaging is twofold. When a person is born again, his spirit is salvaged. 'Mere is more, however, to salvation (salvaging) than being born again. God also wants to salvage our lives. Ephesians 2: 10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

We have in our church a man who is educable slow.  He is unable to hold a regular job so he goes from garbage can to garbage can and from roadside to roadside trying to find aluminum and tin.  When he finds it, he salvages it.  However, it is not salvaged when it is simply pulled from the garbage or from the roadside.  To be sure, it is no longer in the garbage, and it is saved from the garbage, but it is not totally salvaged until it is recycled and used again.  When man fell, he became dung.  His righteousness became filthy rags.  Salvation's plan was made, but that plan is twofold.  The first step in that plan is the salvaging of the spirit of man when man puts his faith in the finished work of Christ.  After that salvaging, however, there remains another salvaging (salvation) and that is when man is recycled in order that he may once again fulfill his original purpose just as the tin and the aluminum that are recycled.

Hence, salvation is salvaging everything that is possible.  Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him."  The word "neglect" could also be translated "not completing" or "not totally salvaged."  The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrew Christians; it was not written to the unsaved.  Hence, Hebrews 2:3 was written to the saved, not to the unsaved.  The average preacher who preaches from this passage and the average teacher who teaches therefrom, teach that this Scripture tells us that if we neglect being saved, we will not escape the wrath and the judgment of God.  Though one who teaches that from this Scripture does not do it an injustice, he does not teach the primary truth that God intended for this passage.  God is talking here about saved people neglecting their own salvation.  It is not primarily talking about the salvaging from the garbage can; it is talking about the salvaging to the recycling.  God is saying that He will punish us if we do not let our salvation be complete.  Salvation from Hell and to eternal life is totally of Christ, but God wants more than our souls salvaged; He wants our lives salvaged.

We have four children. When our oldest daughter, Becky, was a senior in high school, I bought her a Hammond organ. I told her that the organ was hers as a gift, but that she should not neglect it. She should practice. She should keep it polished and dusted. The organ was saved to her, but it was not yet saved for its purpose. Its purpose was not just to belong to Becky It was more than that. It was both to belong to Becky and be used by Becky for the glory of God.

When our youngest daughter, Cindy, was seven years old, I bought her a beautiful bicycle, Two weeks after I bought it, I found it in the snow. I reminded her that the bicycle was hers, but that she was neglecting it.

God is telling us here that salvation is ours; that is, the salvation of the spirit is by grace through faith, but God wants us recycled so that we may once again fulfill the purpose of our creation. We are saved by grace through faith from the garbage can. Ephesians 2:8, 9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."  We are saved to recycling.  Ephesians 2: 10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."  The purpose of our being saved from the garbage can is that we may be recycled.

Now don't misunderstand me. If all God does is save us from the garbage can, He is pleased. He does not want us to go to Hell. He wants us to be saved from sin and born again, but His full desire for us is that once we are saved from the garbage can we be totally recycled so once again we can fulfill the purpose of His creating us.

Because of this, soul winning is far more than we think. We equate soul winning with telling someone how to have his name written in Heaven and how to be saved from Hell and to know he is going to Heaven when he dies. This is soul winning, but it is not all of soul winning. If salvation is more than being saved from Hell, then soul winning is more than leading people to be saved from Hell.

Matthew 28:19, 20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." You will notice we have both forms of soul winning mentioned here. We have pulling people from the garbage can. We also have "teaching them to observe all things," which means we are also to lead them to be recycled.

John 15:16, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you." Here we are to bear fruit; that is, save them from the garbage can. Our fruit should remain; that is, get them recycled.

James 5:19, 20, "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."  This is talking mainly about recycling.  This is talking about a brother who is saved from Hell but who has not been recycled for his original purpose.  When we win him to Christ, we are soul winning.  When we win him for Christ, we are soul winning.

Proverbs 11:30, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise."  It mentions "he that winneth souls is wise."  He that wins souls to salvation from the garbage can is wise.  He that wins souls from the garbage-can to the recycling is wiser.

Daniel 12:3, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Here we are told that we are to turn men to righteousness. There are two righteousnesses. One is imputed righteousness which is the righteousness of Christ which is given us at the new birth. The second is the righteousness that we are to live in our lives. The first righteousness has to do with the salvation from the garbage can. The second righteousness has to do with the salvation of recycling.

Psalm 142:4, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul." This is not the cry of a man who has never been saved begging for someone to care for his soul in being born again. This is a born again man pleading for someone to care for his soul in helping him to get recycled.  It is care for his saved soul for which he yearns.

Ezekiel 34:16, "I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick..."  This is as much soul winning as the person who goes out with the Roman Road plan of salvation and leads someone to Christ.

There are those who never lead people to Christ.  They never snatch anyone from the garbage can.  They feet their special calling is to lead them to recycling.  This is only half their job and they are not totally obeying the Great Commission or the plan of God.  On the other hand, there are those who spend all their time plucking folks from the garbage can and never work to get them recycled.  These are not complete soul winners either, for they are only doing half of the Great Commission and leading folks to a salvation that is only a part of what God had in mind in His total plan.

May I ask you, reader, "Are you a soul winner?"  Remember that a soul winner is a salvager--one who leads a sinner to choose Christ and one who leads a saint to choose the will of God, the work of God and the plan of God.

The lost man is free to choose good, but he cannot do what he chooses because he is lost. He may admire goodness, choose to do goodness, but he will not do goodness, for even his righteousness is as filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." All he can do is choose Christ. Now that he has chosen Christ, not only can he choose to do good, but he can do good. Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Now good is available to him, but he needs a soul winner to lead him to choose the good over the bad, and be recycled.

The first part of soul winning is the choosing of Christ so that the choosing of good will be possible and that good will be available. The second part of soul winning is leading the Christian to choose the good that he now can do since he has chosen Christ. He used to hate the penalty of sin; now he hates sin. He has been delivered from the garbage can of inability to do good. Now he must be delivered to the recycling of the choosing to do the good that is now within his reach because he has chosen Christ.

This means that God not only wants the sinner to come to Christ; He wants the Christian to come to usefulness. He not only wants the soul winner to lead folks from Hell and to Heaven by faith in Christ, but He wants the soul winner to continue his soul winning by leading the Christian to choose to be recycled that he might once again be used for the purpose for which God made him. This is salvation!

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 "I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." óBilly SUNDAY