What does it mean when God says you are saved?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published July 28, 2023
  • Word count 1,640

6

You Are Saved

Have you ever wished you could be delivered from something that appeared to have no end? Here’s an article about such an event.

BLACK DEATH

The Black Death was a devastating global epidemic of bubonic plague that struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s. The plague arrived in Europe in October 1347, when [twelve] ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port of Messina. People gathered on the docks were met with a horrifying surprise: Most sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those still alive were gravely ill and covered in black boils that oozed blood and pus. Sicilian authorities hastily ordered the fleet of “death ships” out of the [harbor. Still,] it was too late: Over the next five years, the Black Death would kill more than [twenty] million people in Europe—almost one-third of the continent’s population.

How Did the Black Plague Start?

Even before the “death ships” pulled into port at Messina, many Europeans had heard rumors about a “Great Pestilence” that was carving a deadly path across the trade routes of the Near and Far East. Indeed, in the early 1340s, the disease had struck China, India, Persia, [Syria,] and Egypt.

The plague is thought to have originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago and was likely spread by trading ships, though recent research has indicated the pathogen responsible for the Black Death may have existed in Europe as early as 3000 B.C.

Symptoms of the Black Plague

Europeans were scarcely equipped for the horrible reality of the Black Death. “In men and women alike,” the Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio wrote, “at the beginning of the malady, certain swellings, either on the groin or under the armpits…waxed to the bigness of a common apple, others to the size of an egg, some more and some less, and these the vulgar named plague-boils.”

Blood and pus seeped out of these strange swellings, which were followed by a host of other unpleasant symptoms—fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, terrible aches and pains—and then, in short order, death. The Bubonic Plague attacks the lymphatic system, causing swelling in the lymph nodes. If untreated, the infection can spread to the blood or lungs.

How Did the Black Death Spread?

The Black Death was terrifyingly, indiscriminately contagious: “the mere touching of the clothes,” wrote Boccaccio, “appeared to itself to communicate the malady to the toucher.” The disease was also terrifyingly efficient. People who were perfectly healthy when they went to bed at night could be dead by morning.

Understanding the Black Death

Today, scientists understand that the Black Death, now known as the plague, [was] spread by a bacillus called Yersinia pestis. (The French biologist Alexandre Yersin discovered this germ at the end of the 19th century.) They know that the bacillus travels from person to person through the air, as well as through the bite of infected fleas and rats. Both of these pests could be found almost everywhere in medieval Europe, but they were particularly at home aboard ships of all kinds—which is how the deadly plague made its way through one European port city after another.

Not long after it struck Messina, the Black Death spread to the port of Marseilles in France and the port of Tunis in North Africa. Then it reached Rome and Florence, two cities at the center of an elaborate web of trade routes. By the middle of 1348, the Black Death had struck Paris, Bordeaux, [Lyon,] and London.

Today, this grim sequence of events is terrifying but comprehensible. In the middle of the 14th century, however, there seemed to be no rational explanation for it. No one knew exactly how the Black Death was transmitted from one patient to another, and no one knew how to prevent or treat it. According to one doctor, for example, “instantaneous death occurs when the aerial spirit escaping from the eyes of the sick man strikes the healthy person standing near and looking at the sick.”

How Do You Treat the Black Death?

Physicians relied on crude and unsophisticated techniques such as bloodletting and boil-lancing (practices that were dangerous as well as unsanitary) and superstitious practices such as burning aromatic herbs and bathing in rosewater or vinegar. Meanwhile, in a panic, healthy people did all they could to avoid the sick. Doctors refused to see [patients,] priests refused to administer last [rites,] and shopkeepers closed their stores. Many people fled the cities for the countryside, but even [there,] they could not escape the disease: It affected cows, sheep, goats, [pigs,] and chickens as well as people.

In fact, so many sheep died that one of the consequences of the Black Death was a European wool shortage. And many people, desperate to save themselves, even abandoned their sick and dying loved ones. “Thus doing,” Boccaccio wrote, “each thought to secure immunity for himself.”

Black Plague: God’s Punishment?

Because they [didn’t] understand the biology of the disease, many people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment—retribution for sins against God such as greed, blasphemy, heresy, [fornication,] and worldliness.

By this logic, the only way to overcome the plague was to win God’s forgiveness. Some people believed that the way to do this was to purge their communities of heretics and other troublemakers—so, for example, many thousands of Jews were massacred in 1348 and 1349. (Thousands more fled to the sparsely populated regions of Eastern Europe, where they could be relatively safe from the rampaging mobs in the cities.)

Some people coped with the terror and uncertainty of the Black Death epidemic by lashing out at their neighbors; others coped by turning inward and fretting about the condition of their own souls.

Flagellants

Some upper-class men joined processions of flagellants that traveled from town to town and engaged in public displays of penance and punishment: They would beat themselves and one another with heavy leather straps studded with sharp pieces of metal while the townspeople looked on. For [thirty-three and a half] days, the flagellants repeated this ritual three times a day. Then they would move on to the next town and begin the process over again.

Though the flagellant movement did provide some comfort to people who felt powerless in the face of inexplicable tragedy, it soon began to worry the [pope], whose authority the flagellants had begun to usurp. In the face of this papal resistance, the movement disintegrated.

How Did the Black Death End?

The plague never really [ended,] and it returned with a vengeance years later. But officials in the port city of Ragusa were able to slow its spread by keeping arriving sailors in isolation until it was clear they were not carrying the disease—creating social distancing that relied on isolation to slow the spread of the disease.

The sailors were initially held on their ships for [thirty] days (a [Trentino]), a period that was later increased to [forty] days, or a quarantine—the origin of the term “quarantine” and a practice still used today.

Does the Black Plague Still Exist?

The Black Death epidemic had run its course by the early 1350s, but the plague reappeared every few generations for centuries. Modern sanitation and [public health] practices have greatly mitigated the impact of the disease but have not eliminated it. While antibiotics are available to treat the Black Death, according to The World Health Organization, there are still [one thousand to three thousand] cases of plague every year.72

Did you know that there’s a death, believe it or not, that never ends? What it’s called and how someone who has it can be cured is found in the book of Ephesians. Please turn there in your Bibles.

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

By grace (the source of salvation which proceeds from that particular gracious act of God the Son in dying upon the Cross to pay man’s penalty incurred by him through sin73) are ye saved (deliverance from a present spiritual death74) through faith (accepting grace; believing the gospel).

The verb saved in Koine Greek is in the form of a perfect passive participle. What we can conclude is that these believers received the reality of being saved because they accepted grace at a point of time in the past with present continual results, i.e., they remain in a perpetual saved state.

What we’ve learned is that faith not the work of an individual but an acceptance of what’s presented. And once you’re saved, you’re saved forever from living a life that has no connection to God. Saved forever from living a life dependent on self and saved from not knowing what life is truly about. And ultimately saved from eternal spiritual death.

So, what’s the cure for being rescued from current and future eternal spiritual death? It’s by accepting the gospel of Christ. If someone responds favorably to this good news, it’s said that they become spiritually alive now and evermore. The God that exists in the person of the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of them, providing a new nature, a new direction, that is, a spiritual one, and a new purpose. This is a purpose guided by the true meaning of life, i.e., to get to know God personally, to become like Him, thus finding true inner happiness and sharing about such wherever you go.

What we’ll talk about next is the fact that you have more than two parents. Huh? How can this be? What we’ll learn about the upcoming blessing will provide us with clarity about this new spiritual reality.

Endnotes

72“Black Death,” History 6 December 2022

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73Weust’s Word Studies.

74The Pulpit Commentary.

My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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