The verb “to save” and the noun “salvation” mean “to save” or “to rescue” in the original Greek. That’s all it means. Semantically, the notion of rescue requires an indirect object (“saved from what?”), supplied either explicitly in the text, or understood from the context. The words “save / salvation”, however, became religiously loaded terms that it the minds of a lot of people, they are synonymous with most or all of the above:
- new birth
- receiving eternal life
- obtaining righteousness
- becoming justified
- becoming sanctified
- becoming glorified
- going to heaven
- going to paradise (whatever that means – paradise is simply “park” or “garden” in Greek (G3857 – παράδεισος / paradeisos))
- not going to hell (meaning either sheol / hades, or gehenna, or lake of fire, or some combination thereof, etc.)
- having a different relationship with death (whatever “death” means for the one speaking – loss of life, separation, going to hell, etc.)
- receiving eternal rewards
Incidentally, all of the above can’t possibly mean the same thing, since then why use all those different terms if they have the same meaning? Those are different concepts, and failure to study them out for yourself will simply leave you intellectually confused. You don’t want to be lifting proof verses out of context to prop up whatever doctrine may be popular it whatever circles while ignoring the rest.
Fortunately, there’s a better way of Scripture study – a contextual study, or the concordant method, as pertaining to vocabulary. This is how you acquire your vocabulary as a child. It requires more work on your part. In this study, I’ve done a lot of the work for you.
A fitting passage that describes grace is this:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
Here it says that grace is something by which salvation is effected. If you study the verb “save” in Greek, it means “to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction”. It often times used to refer to healing, deliverance, etc. throughout the Gospels. Grace, then, is something that God gives, and that we appropriate by faith (as the passage points out) which results in being safe and sound from any type of destruction (in spirit, soul, or body). Grace can be thought of as God’s supply that’s been given nearly 2000 years ago through the finished work of Christ, and we appropriate and use it by placing active trust in it.
One way remember what NT grace stands for is this acrostic: GRACE: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Also, throughout Paul’s writings grace (that which is given as a gift, outside of our merits) is often juxtaposed with works of the law (self-effort exerted in order to earn things from God). If we try to earn something from God in our own strength, it would give a reason to boast, since it would be an earned blessing. Grace leaves no room for boasting in self – only in Christ. The above-quoted passage from Ephesians also points to that.
Some Biblical ideas have implied links in the causal chain of reasoning that you have to explicitly reconstruct in order to properly understand the meaning. For instance, this teaching (elaborating on Exodus 20:12):
2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Notice that there is a gap of reasoning between honoring father and mother (cause) and “that it may be well with you …” (effect).
One thing to remember when addressing this question is a simple idea that light is destructive to darkness. Consider these passages:
1 Thessalonians 5:2
2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
In the expression “day of the Lord” emphasize the word “day”, and in the “thief in the night” emphasize “night”. Now, read it outloud with these emphases. See how it reads differently? It’s about day vs night. “Day of the Lord” is to be taken to mean “day originating / deriving from the Lord”, i.e. genitive of source. The Lord comes in the night – meaning, in the midst of darkness. His mode of arrival is “as a thief” – i.e., unexpected, with the additional semantics of “inflicting loss”. The primary characteristic of his coming is “day”, or “light/brightness” (as opposed to “night/darkness”).
God isn’t in the business of killing, especially children, he’s in the business of restoring and healing. Also, he is a gentleman, not a violator, so he most definitely won’t violate one’s free will. If one’s free will could be violated, there would be no original sin in the garden of Eden – it was a matter of free choice.
With that said, there were times in ancient Israel’s history when certain military operations were carried out, and as with every war there was violence.
From all the Biblical references – Old Covenant and especially New Testament, all I see as far as the issue of fasting is concerned is that people eliminated food as they intensely focused on God, often times while seeking guidance before making a strategic decision. In 1 Corinthians 7, marital sexual relations are yet another thing that some people chose to eliminate, along with food, for a period of time:
1 Corinthians 7:5
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
In our day, you can add to that list any of the distractions of the modern age, and if you take out some time to intensely focus on God – usually focusing on a specific aspect of your spiritual life or when faced with a strategic decision to make – you simply postpone or eliminate those for a time.