In this post, we’ll parse out the meaning of “eternal salvation” and cover some tangible ways for you to get involved in spreading the gospel in both your local and global context.
But first off, let’s define “eternal salvation.”
Regardless of what you believe about heaven or hell or the afterlife in general, we must note one thing: eternal salvation comes to those who love God and who enjoy living according to His Kingdom.
Here’s what I mean. His Kingdom is coming, and earth is our training ground for that Kingdom:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” - Matthew 3:2 (ESV)
"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' - Matthew 10:7 (NIV)
Yes, we have the ability to bring the Kingdom to earth now. But the Kingdom of complete goodness and joy will only be in full effect after the coming of Christ:
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. - Revelation 3:11-12 (NIV)
I know it’s hard to read about soteriology, and in all honesty, it’s hard to write about it too. But our beliefs about the afterlife are relevant insofar as they inform how we live this life.
In God’s Kingdom, there is no more pain nor death nor suffering:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." - Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
To inhabit God’s Kingdom requires a willingness to live His way and a desire to remain in His presence--that’s what working out our eternal salvation entails:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
In short, our job here on earth is to become the kind of people who would like to inhabit the Kingdom of God. And I know it sounds silly. Wouldn’t we all like to inhabit a place with no suffering?
But the reality is that we choose death and suffering over life and joy all the time. We choose relationships that aren’t good for us. We choose sins that will destroy us and others in the long run. We don’t change our behavior because we don’t want to. We choose a lifestyle that runs counter to life in the Kingdom.
With every decision we make, we choose to reject or accept the Kingdom of God. Every choice molds us more into a Kingdom of God inhabitant or into someone who doesn’t want to be in the Kingdom at all.
So combating sin is one way to work out our eternal salvation. But beyond that, we can ready ourselves for the Kingdom by donning an attitude of ceaseless worship and allowing ourselves to be mesmerized by God’s glory. The more we fix our eyes on Jesus, the better a fit for the Kingdom we’ll be. But the more we choose to dwell on our problems and allow earthly issues to consume us, the more we reject the Kingdom mentality.
Will we choose our sin and frustration, or will we mold ourselves more and more into Christ’s image every day?
Once we get clear about our beliefs surrounding eternal salvation, we are called to embark on a mission to share that salvation with others:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)
Because we have been loved, and blessed by God’s goodness, we should want others to know Him too. We can pray that God will break our hearts for those who don’t know Him.
Strategies for Evangelism
Evangelism strategy is a hot topic these days. But here’s the truth: God is bigger than our strategies.
Some take a bold, direct approach, while others adhere to a slower, subtler ministry model. But God uses both.
I’ve seen people with elaborate, “modernized” ministry strategies criticize those who take the bolder, simpler approach. But the reality is that salvation is God’s doing, not ours. Of course we should do our best to refine our strategies, but ultimately, God does the work, and He can work through a flawed strategy.
One of my good friends is walking proof of that direct, rather intrusive kind of evangelism working. She’ll tell you that if it weren’t for an uncomfortably forthright Christian approaching her in her college days, she might not have the vibrant relationship with God that she has today. Yes, she thought that Christian was weird at first, and she even tried to avoid her on several occasions, but guess what? God worked through that weird Christian and her unpolished strategy anyway.
That being said, when it comes to foreign ministry in countries where evangelism is illegal, you would have to approach ministry with meticulous tact if you hope to accomplish anything at all.
Of course we should seek out all the knowledge and resources we have access to; and in this digital age, we have access to plenty. But knowledge also puffs up:
We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. - 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 (NIV)
John Piper puts it well:
So rather than being puffed up, looking down on the way others approach ministry, and putting our faith in our own strategies, we must acknowledge that God ultimately does all the work; we just need to make ourselves available for His use.
So if you feel the call to let God use you to bring the gift of eternal salvation to others, here are some different types of evangelism to consider and pray over:
Global or local?
Will you go overseas, or will you focus on the region in which God has planted you?
Part of your local ministry may even be to your own family:
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. - 1 Timothy 5:8
While it might be nice to think that being in our family’s presence allows us to check the box of evangelism, Scripture suggests that we should push beyond just family:
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; - 1 Corinthians 7:29 (NIV)
The time is short. While our family should be our first line of ministry, it shouldn’t be our last.
The Bible repeatedly emphasizes God’s will for all nations to know Him:
● After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, - Revelations 7:9 (ESV)
● And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. - Matthew 24:14 (NIV)
● And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
- Revelation 5:9 (NIV)
At the end of this post, we’ll list both global and local organizations for you to get involved with if interested!
Friends or strangers?
Sometimes we might leverage our friendship and mutual respect with someone in order to share the gospel with them. But other times, God may call us to engage complete strangers.
Either way, relationships are crucial. When it comes to ministry, we should lead with relationships. Scripture reminds us of this principle:
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? - Romans 2:4 (NIV)
God’s kindness leads people to repentance, so the best way to engage with nonbelievers, whether they’re friends or strangers, is to cultivate relationships and show them His kindness. Want to know a simple way to start? Try sending them a subscription box.
Formal or informal?
Getting involved in a formal ministry organization is a great way to meet like-minded believers and to have a greater impact through the power of teamwork. But it’s also important that we make ourselves ready to evangelize at any time, whenever we see the opportunity, whether we’re fulfilling a formal duty or not.
Pre-Christian or post-Christian?
In a post-Christian culture, most people have already had some level of exposure to the gospel and have probably known some Christians in their lifetime. Post-Christian ministry can be difficult since many times the people have already heard the gospel yet chosen to reject it.
In the pre-Christian context, many people may have never heard the gospel before. Or if they have, they may view it as just a part of western culture. It may have never occurred to them that they are invited to participate in a walk with Jesus.
It’s important to know what cultural context you’re working in and to prepare your ministry approach accordingly.
This is urgent.
Paul warns the church that “the time is short.” I used to have a hard time taking his urgency seriously, given that this was 2,000 years ago. But when I remember that the command was to reach every nation, tribe, and tongue with the gospel, I realize that we still haven’t fulfilled that command. 2,000 years hasn’t been long enough, even with so many Christians acting out of urgency.
Today 7,078 people groups remain unreached. We haven’t reached this mission in the last 2,000 years, and who knows how much longer we have? For this reason, we must view the task of evangelism as urgent.
If you’re interested in global or local mission organizations, here are some great organizations to start with.
Read their mission statements, browse their websites, and consider getting in touch with one of them to further your ministry involvement.
- “Growing out of the same passion God placed in the heart of our founder, J. Hudson Taylor, we serve the people of East Asia. Christ’s love compels us to touch lives by giving our lives to him first, and then to others. Through serving, building relationships and evangelism and discipleship, we work to see communities redeemed by the power of the gospel. For 150 years we have seen God raise up men and women through whom he has touched millions of lives for eternity.”
- “SEND is an interdenominational, multinational Christian mission organization with over 500 missionaries in more than 20 areas of Asia, Europe, Eurasia and North America. Our mission is to mobilize God’s people and engage the unreached in order to establish reproducing churches.”
- “TEAM, The Evangelical Alliance Mission, began in 1890 as one man’s dream to send 100 missionaries to China. Today, it’s a global missions agency that partners with local churches to send missionaries and plant reproducing churches around the world. Our missionaries have a passion to go where the most people have the greatest need. They serve through church planting, community development, healthcare, social justice, business as mission and more. But whatever their ministry, each missionary has the same goal: proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed. Today, more that 575 TEAM missionaries and staff serve in more than 35 countries.”
- “The Christian Alliance for Orphans unites 190+ respected organizations and over 650 church members. Our joint initiatives inspire and equip Christians to live out effectively the Bible’s call to care for orphans and vulnerable children. Without CAFO, many good ministries would still faithfully serve – yet often in isolation or even competition. Today, we get to see what is achieved when we labor together for a vision larger than any one of us could accomplish alone. As CAFO helps Christians understand God’s call to care for vulnerable children and equips for effective response, the impact reaches far beyond a single program or met need. Rather, an ever-growing community of passionate individuals, families, churches and organizations invest time, talent and treasure in a personal and sustained commitment to caring for children in the name of Jesus.”
- “Eight Days of Hope is a Christian, non-profit organization that is both evangelical and non denominational. We exist to demonstrate the love and hope of Jesus Christ by serving those in need. Our commitment to local communities is to work with local churches and organizations in meeting physical and spiritual needs. Our commitment to donors is to use the resources they have given to the fullest potential for the greatest good among those in need. Our commitment to volunteers is to provide them an opportunity to use their skills and talents to the Glory of God.”
- “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
What’s your next step in helping others obtain eternal salvation? Will you reach out to one of the organizations above? Will you pray about what kind of ministry God may be calling you to? Comment your next step below! We would love to know.
Erica is a professional writer and editor, helping ministry leaders and entrepreneurs share their stories. She is passionate about pointing women to God's Word and empowering them to take fierce ownership of their discipleship to Jesus.