My First Class Upgrade

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.20.44 AMI travel–a lot. As a result, my preferred airline has identified me. They have given me “Status,” as they so rewardingly label it. It’s a title based on performance; promoted as “Loyalty” and a reward to those whom frequent and enhance the airline’s financial bottom line. What are the benefits you ask?  First Class Upgrades for starters.

Oh, how I like these upgrades! In fact, I just got one last week. What a blessing it was, as I was tired and worn out from a week-long business trip. With that exhaustion in mind, I realized I paid a heavy price for that first class seat. Not necessarily by paying the price monetarily but with time—time away from home and my family.

As you may be aware, first class seats are expensive. You either pay with your time (a frequent traveler) or with your pocketbooks (the price of the ticket). Such seats are the prize of many and the envy of plenty. For every seat available in the “luxury” cabin, each subsequent occupier has paid the price to receive some wonderful benefits: more room, free movies, coffee and drinks upon request, a meal, preferential treatment, coat check, and first off the plane to catch a tight connection. Yet then again, there is a “cost.”

Let’s cut to the chase here. Benefits which organizations offer are based on performance or price, and offered for only a period of time. You will constantly need to earn them. Such perks set many of us up like “Pavlovian dogs,” conditioned to respond to such incentives—year after year after year. Why? I believe as a culture and individually, we like our perks. We enjoy our benefits.

As I thought about this, I had another “program upgrade” come to mind, one in which most of you reading this are already members of. In fact, you have already received the perks and have been sent the benefits package—in person and in writing. It’s called “Salvation” and it’s received by choice: provided for by God’s grace and activated through your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Is it based in performance? Absolutely.  Has a high price been paid for the benefits?  The highest! However, by Someone else and on our behalf. Yet, unlike the temporary programs created by man, this one is eternal, everlasting, and created and administered by God Himself.

It’s unfortunate, but most members don’t take full advantage of the benefits that salvation brings. Worse yet, many have limited knowledge of the benefits plan let alone an understanding of “all” of the perks. Others simple refuse to believe, thinking they are too good to be true. However, It’s called the Gospel and it’s the power of God that brings Salvation to those who believe. (Romans 1:16)

Many get the upgrade but refuse taking full advantage of the benefits. They’ve been given Salvation’s “program manual”: the Word of God, but refuse to study and learn the details, thus limiting themselves in enjoyment of the perks.  In other words, many Believers get the fire insurance—going to Heaven rather than hell, but neglect the rest of what salvation offers in this lifetime. They get the benefit of eternal life in the “sweet by-and-by” but neglect to have life in abundance HERE and NOW!

So what are the benefits of Salvation that Jesus paid such a high price for?  What are the perks that Jesus provided through His death, burial and resurrection? What does it really mean to be “Saved?”

To understand this, it’s important to understand the definition of the word “saved” in the Greek language from which the New Testament Scripture was translated.  Knowing the Greek definition of the word is key to understanding the magnitude of what salvation truly is.  The word “saved,” appears 110 times in the New Testament and is “Sozo” in the Greek.

You can find the definition for Sozo in Strong’s Greek Concordance, #4982. Here are just a few of the benefits as stated in the definition that Strong’s Concordance details:

SOZO, “to save,” is used (as with the noun soteria, “Salvation”) (1) of material and temporal deliverance (1a) from danger, suffering, etc., (1b) from sickness. (2) of the spiritual and eternal salvation granted immediately by God to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. (3) of the present experience of God’s power to deliver from the bondage of sin.                      Source: Strong’s Concordance #4982

You see, Jesus came to restore us fully—spirit, soul and body. Salvation isn’t just about going to Heaven and avoiding hell. He came to give us life, and life abundantly (John 10:10). He came to heal us, deliver us and restore us in this present age.  He came to bring salvation’s benefits to us now, in this world. There is a benefit to being upgraded—but only to the extent that you believe, receive and act upon it. After all, what good is a first-class upgrade if you refuse the benefits and deny the perks?!

To conclude, I leave you with this greeting Paul wrote to the Galatians, whom as a church body had fallen away from freedom and power in Christ, into ritualistic religion and works. (self-righteousness instead of faith-righteousness)

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver (Save) us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,  to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  Galatians 1:3-5 NKJV—Emphasis added.

Notice he states that God might deliver in this present age—not after they’re dead. God provided it for us, but we have to respond by acting upon and receiving it. I encourage and challenge you that if you have already been upgraded, enjoy the ride—Today!

Fred Snyder