• Do we need to experience salvation when we know we have given our lives to God and are walking with him? Jesus’ appearance after the Resurrection point to His continuing salvation, deliverance and healing ministry
The Living Word story for week 17, Sunday April 23, which continues the Easter and Resurrection theme but the particular focus is Jesus and salvation.
Some years ago I had a bit of an argument with my friend Paul. We used to argue a bit but always as good friends. The Bible talks about “iron sharpening iron” and disagreements can be valuable parts of the learning process. We’re all learning all the time — just as God is saving all the time. And that’s what the argument was about.
If we have come to a decision to trust Jesus — who He is and what He has done in dying in our place — then we are saved. Can we be saved any more? What salvation can there be in an ongoing sense? Let’s allow that to hang while we hear the psalmist’s appeal from Psalm 116: “Then I called on the name of the Lord. Lord save me.”
I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “LORD, save me!”
What shall I return to the LORD for all His goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His faithful servants. Truly I am Your servant, LORD; I serve You just as my mother did; You have freed me from my chains.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to You and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the house of the LORD — in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
Now on to the story proper with Luke’s unique and detailed account of the travellers heading out of Jerusalem to Emmaus. Two of them, a disciple called Cleopas and his companion, possibly wife, are walking out of the city to a village a few miles beyond. They are trying to process what they had seen and heard and especially the horrific crucifixion of the Lord. Can he be the Messiah? Messiah surely is a victor — not a victim.
Deep in conversation, they are joined by a fellow traveller who they do not recognise.
Their companion shared a different viewpoint. He reassured them that the evil spectacle they had witnessed, had been foretold and explained how it was all in the Scriptures that they knew.
Extraordinary and difficult to accept though it might be, it was actually confirmation of God’s plan revealed to the prophets.
So who is this stranger and what does this story teach us about Jesus who is alive and present with us to save us, whether seen or unseen? We hear the story now from Luke 24.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.
As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising Him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, asked Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” He asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.
The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the One who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them..
When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised Him, and He disappeared from their sight.
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when He broke the bread.Luke 24:13-35
Jesus is with us and is still saving us. Salvation is in Jesus — the clue is in the name. It means “God saves”. And this is what Jesus did then — and does now.
Although in our experience He is unseen, He is not distant. This snapshot account reminds us that Jesus is present, especially when believers break bread together, whether in commemoration of the Last Supper, or simply in Christian fellowship and togetherness. There’s something important about that togetherness which is brought out in the many verses about agreeing together, being of one mind, and living for one another. The Bible, New Testament especially gives us a high view of relationship, both with the Lord and with each other.
It was on these occasions — and meal times are mentioned — when Jesus appeared to the disciples before His ascension into heaven. And they were all together in every sense when the Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit impacted a crowd of thousands gathered for the festival.
At this special time, the temple courts were full of people who had travelled from across the empire to join in the festival.
This particular Pentecost festival, the experience was dramatic and life-changing. Peter addressed the crowd who had just experienced something never known before — the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He explained that the frightening appearance of flames and sound of roaring wind, together with different languages they recognised in the apostles’ spontaneous praise, were what the prophet Joel had prophesied.
This, he said, is the gift of the Holy Spirit we are experiencing.
And it is a holy gift for unholy people. When God offers an impartation of Himself to us, there can be only one response. To turn to God, believe and trust Him as never before, and show acceptance of this gift of new life by symbolically washing off the old independent ways. Peter puts it in more biblical language, which his Jewish hearers will relate to. Let’s hear that now, starting in Acts 2:36.
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.Acts 2:14, 36-41
So that is the expression of salvation we understand most readily. It’s about being saved spiritually. It’s about new life and the way God reveals Himself when we turn to Him in faith and ask Jesus into our hearts.
This is how we know Jesus with us — but what about Jesus still saving us? Is that kind of spiritual encounter the only experience of salvation? The word save, Greek sozo, means save or deliver or heal. That’s a broad range of meanings, all expressions of spiritual salvation, but meeting different needs of our spirit, the soul part of us that’s emotions and thoughts, and body as well.
Do we need to experience salvation when we know we have given our lives to God and are walking with him?
Absolutely, because we live in a war zone, wearing the uniform of heaven given to those who are born again through receiving the truth about God. And in a war zone, we become a target as we contend for Christ’s kingdom. We need protection, encouragement, healing, and freeing from the enemy’s deception and oppression. The love we experience from God, and so the love we have for others, is a key area of the devil’s attack. And the new identity we have as the Lord’s redeemed people is also a target for the enemy’s lies and discouragement.
That is why Peter writes to Christians in the growing churches to encourage them to remember the price paid for their freedom. And he urges them to guard that free gift by living up to it without wavering. Here are his words from 1 Peter 1:
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.1 Peter 1:17-23
We have been redeemed from an empty way of life, Peter teaches, and we know that the life led by the Holy Spirit is both full of surprises and full of new experiences. It’s active service.
And like any soldier on active service, we need to know where our support covering us is. Like scouts sent out into hostile territory, we appear to be alone, but those doing the sending watch our progress with concern for our safety and safe return. Being kept safe, and being saved, are much and the same.
As God’s children, our well-being is His concern. We will get into difficulties, our failure to follow guidance at times causes that. And that’s when we appeal, “God where are you? Help! Get me out of this.”
This is not an empty cry. We are born again through Jesus in a living, active relationship with God through his Spirit, remember?
And as the psalmist praises God in the opening words we heard earlier: “I love the Lord for He heard my voice. He heard my cry for mercy. I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.”
That becomes our praise of God too. He loved us first. He sent Jesus to be the Way, the Truth and the Life who has enabled us to have a personal relationship with Him and the Father.
We call to God when we need wisdom, help or redirection — because we can. Because Jesus is with us and still saving us. We can call to God whenever we need wisdom, help or redirection because He is our Father.
And through Jesus who is with us and still saving us.
Here’s a short prayer you can pray, either as it stands or using these words as a starting point for your own:
Lord God, we are so grateful that we can call on You as a loving Father.
And at this season of new life, and new awareness of what Your Son Jesus has done for us, we choose for Jesus to take the Lordship of our lives, as we set out to share Your love with others. Amen.