What is Sozo?
I’ll never forget, years ago, when I sensed this question stirring in my spirit, “Do you know how saved you really are?” Now having grown up in and around church most all my life, my initial answer to this internal question was quick. I said to myself, “Sure I know how saved I am.” After all, I had heard the “Gospel Story” since I was just a child and I had even “asked Jesus into my heart” when I was just four years old.
If anyone had asked me what it meant to be “Saved,” prior to this moment, my response would have been the same as most Christians. Simply, that being saved meant that one had received Jesus Christ into your heart/life, thus receiving forgiveness of sin. As a result of receiving Jesus, your name is written in the “Lambs Book of Life” and you have the promise of going to Heaven when you die and not spending eternity in hell.
Does this response sound familiar to you? After all it’s what most Christians would call a pretty “main stream” answer to a very serious question. In spite of my programmed response I couldn’t shake this question. It kept persistently coming, thus letting me know there must be more and my answer must be incomplete.
Thankfully a friend had recently shown me how to use a concordance, so I grabbed the one I had just purchased. “This is silly,” I’m thinking, “Why am I looking up the meaning of a word I already know?” To my amazement, I was floored when I saw the definition of “Saved.”
I could hardly believe what I was seeing, right there in front of me. I had looked up the word Saved from John 3:17 which says, “For God sent not his Son into the world not to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” I’m thinking there’s no way this definition is the same in every occasion the word “Saved” is used in the New Testament. So, hurriedly I began looking at every verse that contained this word.
Needless to say, a flood of emotions began to sweep over me. I was extremely joyful over what I had just discovered, but I also felt duped. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t angry or upset with any one person, but how could I have gone all these years and not known what the whole meaning of this one word was. This word “Saved” was one of the most fundamental and foundational words I had heard throughout my church upbringing and yet I had never known the true, complete meaning. I had simply never been told.
Well are you ready for this? This is life changing! Or, as some would may say “A game changer!” The New Testament word for “Saved” is the Greek word “Sozo” and it literally means “To Save, Heal and Deliver.” When you combine Sozo with Sōtēria, which is the Greek word for Salvation you get the complete meaning. Simply putting these words together you are able to get the whole picture. To be “Saved” means to be saved, healed, delivered, preserved, protected, to make prosperous and to make whole. The word “whole” means to restore, or that nothing is missing and nothing is broken.
Maybe you, like myself, have only accepted a portion of your salvation. Maybe all you’ve known is the part of being saved that forgives you of your sin and promises you Heaven. I’m here to tell you that there is more! Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.” He was speaking of not only about your eternal future, but your life right here and right now.
No wonder Peter said “Our adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion seeking whomhe may devour.” Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Many believers today are living a life below what God intended for them to live. My hope and prayer is that you will discover and experience for yourself this life changing Sozo.