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The Difference Between Salvation and Eternal Life?

Eternal life-final outcome!

Salvation is a very misused word in Christian doctrine, it has become responsible for many people believing they have received the gift of eternal life when they have received only salvation. I hear you say, " But salvation and eternal life are one and the same! Jesus (Yeshua) said that "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. save the world through him". John 3:16. Yeshua came to save the world but few enter the gates of heaven!

Those who manage to enter the gates of heaven are those who accept Yeshua in every way, and through faith, continue to walk in Yeshua's footsteps. Salvation however, is Yeshua's mission prior to entering heaven!  He came to save the world (long term) but he also saves his people (short term) during the preparation period prior to the heavenly abode.

Let us look at the standard dictionary for a definition of salvation, then we will look at God's definitions.

Oxford Dictionary - act of saving or being saved especially from sin and its consequences, person or thing that preserves from loss or calamity etc.

Now let us go through some books in the Old Testament to see how God defines salvation.

There are various verses that speak of saving lives. In Judges 10:12 The Lord says to the Israelites "When the Egyptians, the Amorites ....oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not SAVE you from their hands? But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer SAVE you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!" When the Israelites repented and turned from their pagan gods, and worshipped the true creator God, he then forgave them and saved them.

Jeremiah 15:21 The Lord speaks to Jeremiah " I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel." Again in Chapt 42: 11 " Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and save you and deliver you from his hands. ..

A perfect example of a saving God is when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were saved from the blazing furnace in Daniel 3: 29 " no other god can save in this way,"

To summarise so far, God's definition of salvation is to save his people from sin, their enemies and disasters- these pertain then to the things occurring on this earth - at the present time. It is an act of dealing with events that occur at the time. But through the scriptures,  it can be seen how God, in the past for his people, also saved His people from sin and unrighteousness.

David often spoke about God's plans for the future and he did this in the Psalms as well as his song Below - you can see the parallel; God is seen as Savior during that period of time and the savior to come, but this time in the flesh as Yeshua! Yeshua came as a man born in a woman like you and I.

Let us look at further evidence of salvation and eternal life - there are some interesting verses of scripture. David in particular describes the meaning of Salvation and eternal life within the Psalms and in his songs.

In Samuel 22 David sings a song, " The Lord is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior - from violent men you save me. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies...." David continues to sing about how God rescued him from his enemies and disasters. He says in verse 22 "For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God. ... David throughout his life made mistakes but he always remained faithful to God and had a righteous heart.

1 Chronicles 16: 35, David's psalm of thanks to the Lord, " Cry out, SAVE us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, .... God answers David's requests in Chapt 17:7. and in verse 14 God talks of a future promise of eternal life. This passage indicates how God has promised salvation and eternal life to David and God's people.

"Oh Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me." Psalm 7

" The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever." Psalm 28:9

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. .But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine." Psalm 33:17

Psalm 34:6 " This poor man called and the Lord heard him, saved him out of all his troubles." This was David's personal testimony to God saving him. It speaks of God's angels encamping around God's people to deliver them. What a wonderful picture of salvation! This Psalm is good sound instruction on how the believer should behave. The Psalm stresses often that deliverance from trouble is the definition of salvation.

Verse 19 says " A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." Do you recognise these words? What a profound piece of text - God is prophesying through David that His Son the Savior, Yeshua, would not have any bones broken when he hung on the cross. It was customary in those days to hasten the death of the person hanging on the cross, by breaking their legs. This did not happen to Yeshua. God made sure this would not happen to his son. This particular point then as followers of yeshua is relevant to us during times of troubles. God promises that if we do as he has asked (as written in the Psalm as a guideline) i.e " Whoever loves life ...keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies, turn from evil and do good, seek peace... then the Lord will " protect his bones, not one of them will be broken". V22 " The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him."

Psalm 35:9 " Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them."

This verse reminds me of a personal event in my life when God delivered me from my enemies. I was 9 years old, I had been bullied at school constantly by a gang of peers,for 2 years. One day a new school pupil arrived, she was the tallest and most streetwise girl in the school, she appeared way too old to be there. She was feared by all because of her stature and streetwise attitude. She decided she would make me her best friend - suddenly my bullies turned whimpering to me to become their friend's for fear that she would turn on them. At last peace reigned in my life, thanks to my new friend - my own Goliath who saved me from my enemies. She was a friend who constantly protected me from all dangers - she was like an angel sent by God to save me. God, knew my sufferings, he knew of my nights calling out to him to save me from this daily torment, he knew my heart was for goodness and I despised injustice, hypocrisy and wicked deeds. He blessed me with a gift to save me from my enemies.

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David says in Psalm 39:8 " Save me from all my transgressions...

and in Psalm 51:14 "Save me from bloodguilt

Other scriptures also define salvation and eternal life and although linked they have a different meaning - relating to the time and place. Salvation is something God provides as required during our earthly lifetime as His followers. But eternal life is something received at a later date and is applicable to the spiritual afterlife. However, salvation will still be applicable at the time of the end when we will be saved completely from our enemies as we are taken to be with the Lord, prior to receiving our inheritance of eternal life.

In Isaiah 33:22 " For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, our king, It is he (God) who will save us. All through the book of Isaiah it has references to God's wrath and anger on the enemies of His people. He prophesies how they will be dealt with.

Isaiah 35:4 Isaiah is told to say to God's people, " Say to those with fearful hearts, ' be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance;with divine retribution he will come to save you." Then Isaiah prophesies of the time following when the new heaven and earth takes place - the eternal life part. Verses 5 to end of chapter.

Again in isaiah Chapt 38:20 Hezekiah says during his illness, "The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord.

I think by now it has become obvious that the definition of salvation is to be saved from either ourselves i.e. sin and/or to be saved from disasters or our enemies. It does not necessarily refer to being saved from death although in a sense it has happened to some of God's servants.

We have choices to make during our time of salvation and that is to acquire eternal life. This makes much more sense when we look at the example of the Israelites. They were constantly being disobedient and God constantly punished them for their disobedience, and God was constantly saving them. However, the Israelites, unlike King David, Abraham and Moses, rejected the idea of a savior who would also offer the gift of eternal life!

The discussion about what happens after death was the cause of many debates and divisions amongst the Jewish people and still is today. Some believe there is life after death and other Jews do not believe it.

In Isaiah 19:20 "It will be a sign and witness to the Lord Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they (the Egyptians) cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them." This is God holding out a savior's hand to the non-believers - to gentiles.

Isaiah 43 discusses Israel's ONLY savior! It speaks of God not man being their savior. verse 3 "For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom... Verse 11, I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed -I and not some foreign god among you.

This is a good time to look at the New Testament

Matthew 1:21 " Jesus... he will save his people from their sins."

1 Timothy 15: " Christ came into the world to save that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Hebrews 7:25 " Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Hebrews 9:15 For this reason Christ is mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal that he (Yeshua) has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Verse 26 ... But now he has appeared once for all at the end of ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.... He was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people and he will appear a second time, bring salvation to those who wait for him.This last sentence needs explanation. This refers to the final act of salvation prior to the tribulation, when God's heirs are saved from their enemies. Yeshua (Christ) came first of all to die for our sins - he saved us from our sin. The second time he comes he saves us from our enemies and disasters during the end times prior to the Great Tribulation! WHICH IS SOON!

All of this is still reference to salvation not eternal life. Eternal life is linked to salvation because it follows on from salvation. Those who follow Yeshua as Torah, in the same way as his disciples, will not only be saved during their walk on this earth but saved so that they may receive eternal life on the new promised earth.

Luke 18:29 Yeshua says, " no one who has left home ...for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and in the age to come, eternal life. In other words those who have made sacrifices in their lives and put the kingdom of God first will receive blessings now and in the future in the next kingdom-eternal life kingdom. That is how eternal life is acquired -it is a gift to those who follow Christ in every way!

Yeshua says I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9.

John 10:27, " My sheep listen to my voice;I know them,and they follow me. I give them eternal life....

Roman's 5: 9 demonstrates a different slant by stating that we are saved by God's wrath! This is true when you think about it. if we were not saved by God's grace, through Yeshua, we would be vulnerable in the world and therefore would eventually be the receiver of God's wrath. We were once God's enemy - before we came to know our savior. This means prior to this we were unsaved!

Paul refers to the gift as the gift of righteousness in Romans 5:17. Through Christ we have become righteous . He also says in verse 21 " So that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is where a lot of people fall into deception, they accept the above passage as an everlasting cover over their intentional sins as though they can never become unrighteous and therefore never lose their promised eternal life. So they go on committing intentional sins there is no change in their behavior towards righteous living- they are told that they are sinners, and will always be so. This statement discourages believers to repent of their sin, they see no point changing their lifestyle to avoid deliberate sinning, because they have been forgiven. Many believers remain in a carnal attitude (Carnal Christians) they never change their attitude or their behaviour and continue doing the same things they always did before they accepted Christ as their saviour.

Paul says in Chapter 6 " What shall we say then ? Shall we go on sinning ....No... we died to sin... verse 12 " Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires...V23 " For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ ...

And now we come to the solution to receiving eternal life! Read Romans Chapter 8 about the Spirit of God. Righteousness comes through our walk with our saviour Yeshua however, to be able to walk that walk we need the Holy Spirit to guide us. The disciples were followers of Christ and they demonstrated weakness and a continual sinfulness i.e. Thomas doubted (i.e. lacked faith) Peter was a coward, Judas was a betrayer to mention just a few of the sins committed by them. However, we read in the book of Acts, after Christ left them to ascend to be with the Father, they received the Holy Spirit and it was only then that they were able to walk in Yeshua's ways. The Holy Spirit transformed Peter into the bravest of all the disciples (and promoted to Apostleship) Thomas was full of faith and doubted no more, Stephen became a strong speaker and died a martyr for his Lord!

And this is the key!

The disciples, after the Holy Spirit had come upon them, had a transformation from death of the flesh to life in the spirit! This is when eternal life comes into effect, anything before that is merely salvation. In the carnal christian and the carnal Jew, salvation is given to those of the flesh as well as those in the spirit but the gift extends to more than salvation for the spirit led believer.

I hear you cry out ! Heresy! This is another gospel!

No it is the same Yeshua Gospel!

The false gospels are those who preach prosperity as an indicator of being a good christian and it falsely promises that you qualify as an heir to God's kingdom. Or the other false gospel that says you receive eternal life regardless of the sins you repeatedly commit i.e continuing to practice the old carnal life. This gospel suggests there is no need to repent of sin or to feel guilty but to believe you are covered by Yeshua's blood. This false gospel says you are saved by grace and therefore you need to do nothing, there is no need to change your lifestyle. your behaviour, your thoughts, and in particular, you do not need to repent. This is the biggest false teaching in existence today and the most dangerous! It is a distortion of the truth! The prosperity teachers/preachers tell you not to look at yourselves, or others except through positive eyes, to accept everyone as equal and to love everyone. This is a gross misunderstanding and contradiction of Yeshua's teachings. It is truth that you are saved by grace -this means that God has seen fit to send his son to save you. That is the Grace of God. But it is only through acceptance and obedience to Yeshua that a person is saved.

Yeshua demonstrated in all of his actions and behaviour how we should follow him. He demonstrated love by an act of sacrifice, not lovebombing and being blind to a persons deliberate sinful act. He said to a prostitute' Go and sin no more!' and to a rich ruler, " Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Yeshua tells us through his teachings that to inherit eternal life a person must be willing to sacrifice their life for the kingdom of God, they must be willing to change their lifestyle to be like Yeshua, they are to be willing to give up the things that are important to them, and that includes status, wealth, and comfortable living (I am not saying its wrong to have these, I am saying that material things should not be important to you.). Yeshua asked that a person must hate their old life and want to change to a new way of life one that is a sacrifice or in other words, like the disciples. They followed him by sacrificing their comforts, family life and their jobs, they gave up their old names, became fishers of men instead of fishermen of fish, and later their reward was apostleship. They performed much in Yeshua's name and walked in his footsteps. They cast out demons in His name, healed the sick in His name and set the captives free in His name!

As Paul the Apostle said, not all are apostles, some are teachers, some are prophets etc, there are many ways a person can offer themselves to serve Yeshua, Luke 14: 25 it is just as valuable to be a good parent, or wife, it is not necessary to be a missionary, it is just as valued to be a good plumber or accountant, to be fair with what you charge customers and provide value for money. 

Luke 13, The narrow door to salvation - "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" Yeshua replied, " Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, "Sir, open the door for us," But he will answer, "I don't know you or where you come from." ....

Luke 9:23 " If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me....whoever loses his life for me will save it."..." if anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.

Yeshua also demonstrates how important faith and love and loyalty is. Luke 7: 36-50, A sinful woman showed faith and loyalty towards Yeshua by her deeds and put the disciples to shame because they did not do any of those things.

To summarise: It is important to repent, be baptised in water and in the Holy Spirit, in order to follow Yeshua' It is important to be prepared to change from your old life "put off old things of this world" and to make every effort to turn from deliberate sinning. It is essential to follow Yeshua as he showed us. Yeshua sent us the Holy Spirit as our counsellor and guide, so we only need to ask for direction, through prayer. We need to be faithful, not double minded, Satisfied with what we have and not desire wealth. We need to be aware of false teaching and understand the real Gospel, not the imitations that led us away from the narrow road that leads to the Kingdom of God.

Our goal should be to become more and more righteous and holy, to set an example to the world and prepare ourselves, as commanded, for Yeshua's pending return. If we do this then we will certainly be part of the remnant! And assurred of our place in the pending eternal kingdom!

Christ offers salvation and eternal life to all those who follow him and not to those who just believe in him. To merely believe in him would mean that the devil has eternal life - he believes in Christ; he knows who Yeshua is! No the devil or demons do not and will not have eternal life, therefore there has to be something more than just believing in Yeshua as the son of God!

Yeshua has made it clear in his teachings that it is more than head knowledge, more than rituals, more than doing good deeds,more than being 'nice'.

Salvation is Yeshua, that is hIs name! Yeshua means savior. He came to save, to save us from the things of this world,from our sin and to save us from ourselves, through this he offers us eternal life. Yeshua saves us from eternal death by offering us eternal life! This is done through the act of repentance, forgiveness, of becoming 'Born again' and by discipleship! Yeshua says: " Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved..." Mark 16:16

A righteous heart goes a long way to receiving salvation and eternal life! Paul says in Acts 15:8 " God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted the disciples (Gentile believers) by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us (Jewish believers). He (God) made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

Paul spoke to the jailer and his family on how to become saved. Paul said, " Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved -you and your household." But Paul did not leave it there, he spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer and his family. It is important to have a firm understanding of the word- a firm foundation is required in order to stand firm in the faith. Then the family was obedient to Yeshua's teaching and was baptized. "At that hour, he and his family were baptized".

Some further biblical references:

Romans 9:27 Only a remnant will be saved

" Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. Proverbs 11:4.

" The truly righteous man attains life, but he who pursues evil goes to his death." Proverbs 11:19

"Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free." Proverbs 11:

To conclude: Salvation is something that can be lost by believers if they live carnal or adulterous lives. that is to say, adultery in this context is to be unfaithful to God by serving two masters.Adultery is when a believer says they are following Christ yet worship other things like prosperity teachings, like having an insatiable appetite for miraculous events, following charismatic preachers that speak false gospels and following the worldly ways such as sexual perversion, immorality and other hypocrisies.

In the book of Revelation Chapt 21, Yeshua speaks of the new Jerusalem , the new heaven and earth which is where we will spend eternal life, " He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his (her) God and he (she)will be my son(daughter).

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is their second death.


M A Noble (author) from U.S.A. on July 11, 2012:

God has shown me over the years in different ways, just how naïve people can be about what is happening around them. Many people are easily misled (like sheep to the slaughter), easily pursuaded to accept lies and deception. Psychologically, we have been trained to be this way - to betrusting. But more importantly, people tend to have narrow vision, they can only see what is immediately in front of them and not the wider perspective. This prevents them from seeing what is really happening in the world. It also provides them with a safety blanket, because they are too frightened of what they might see if they open their eyes wider! Read the classic book 'Pilgrims progress'. This book provides imagery of the various types of people who try to find Yeshua's gift of eternal life but fall away on their journey because of naivity, ignorance, disbelief and so on. It is the second most important book to read,the first book being the BIBLE of course.

Thank you for your feedback and interesting comments.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 08, 2012:

You make some good points. I do believe interpretation saying save as in rescued and saved as in salvation should be clear to most and we must remember we cannot do works to earn our way into heaven but those who love the Lord should live the life, indeed to not be lost and the many pastors who collect riches and teach others that is the way it should be will have much to answer for one day. Even if they enter heaven which I have no doubt many will, they will have had their reward here on earth and will certainly not be among the first in heaven. So it will be the loss for many here who look after themselves and worry about no one else in this needy world. I do not believe God means for us to give to heathen of the devil either who we feed and they raise up against us. God gave us a soul and sound mind with His spirit to know all these things.

peterxdunn from manchester uk on July 27, 2010:

Didn't St John say that the gentiles who participated in his war on Rome would be rewarded with being allowed to tread the streets of the New Jerusalem for three and a half years?

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