I think a lot of non-Christians find the term “saved” to be kind of weird. I can see why, to be honest.

“Saved from what?” is the natural question.

The Greek word sometimes translated as “damned” is “apolleia,” which means “destruction” or “waste.” Being saved prevents us from being wasted or destroyed. Your life is precious! God knows your worth and He wants to “save” you from our earthly, ungodly condition.

You may recall that throughout the scriptures, God often compares His children and even entire nations to trees with fruit. (See Isaiah 5.) God compares good fruit to lives full of good works and bad fruit to lives full of evil deeds like dishonesty, greed, sexually inappropriate behavior, and crimes of every kind.

Photo by Honzakov on Flickr

Do you have any overgrown apple trees near you? As you pass by neglected orchards in the fall of the year, have you ever noticed those ugly, misshapen, wormy, half rotten apples all over the tree?
In scripture, God commands his servants to cut trees like that down and burn them. They’re a “waste,” so they get destroyed. They’re a waste because they did not fulfill the purpose of their creation.

The glorious news of the gospel is that we can be transformed—SAVED from this wasted state—both in this life and the next. But how are we transformed? Jesus taught,

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16, NIV)

When we take the step to believe in Christ and be baptized and then press forward in the “strait and narrow path,” this results in the Lord saying, in effect, “Don’t cut that tree down. I’ll save it.” (See Matthew 7:13-14.)

What a remarkable thing! The first step of looking to Christ and believing brings instant salvation. It’s not the only thing we must do, but it’s the main thing we must do to enter the path away from waste and inevitable, horrible suffering.

Now imagine driving by that same orchard a week later and seeing shimmering, verdant tree covered with grocery story-perfect apples—the same tree that was wretchedly wild with gnarly, pocked apples just ago!

Photo by Marina Khrapova on Unsplash

That’s the power of Christ to save from a fallen, wretched, unhappy state, to a beautiful, happy state—just by believing, trusting, and being willing to follow Jesus. What a heavenly bargain to be saved like that!