The word salvation has a variety of meanings derived from the various Hebrew and Greek words from which it is translated in both testaments. For this article, we are considering it in its usual designation, i.e., the deliverance from sin and its eternal consequences. We say eternal consequences because one may still have to pay some consequences for his sins even after he receives forgiveness and finds salvation. For instance, a person who has abused drugs or has drunk enough alcohol to permanently ruin his health still may have severe physical and/or mental problems even though he may genuinely repent and be forgiven of his sins and never partake of them again.
There are a number of ways that salvation is described in the Scriptures. Salvation is being saved. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16a). When one is saved he has found salvation. Salvation is “remission of sins.” “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Salvation is having one’s sins “blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Salvation comes when one’s sins are “washed away” by his arising and being baptized to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). Salvation is gained when we “obey from the heart that form of doctrine delivered” to us and are “then made free from sin” (Rom. 6: 17-18).
Even though we “are justified by faith” (Rom. 5:1), salvation is not found by “faith only” (James 2:24b), nor by anything else “only.” Salvation is not gained through works of law or works of merit. In other words, we can never “earn” our salvation by our works (Eph. 2:8-9). However, this does not mean that “works” of some kind are not necessary, because James also says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified” (James 2:24a). Salvation does not come through praying the sinner’s prayer, even though we hear this statement a lot. Actually there is nothing said about a sinner’s prayer except to tell us that “God heareth not sinners” (John 9:31).
Salvation comes when one hears the Gospel (John 6:44-45), believes what he hears (John 8:24), repents of his sins (Acts 17:30-31; Luke 13:3), confesses his faith in Christ unto salvation (Rom. 10:9-10; Matt. 10:32), and completes his primary obedience by being baptized in water “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
In salvation we find sanctification. We are “sanctified in Christ” (I Cor. 1:2), or set apart to the service of God. Being sanctified means that we are “not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom. 12:1-2). Being sanctified we are often referred to as “saints.”
Salvation means we have been “redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:18-19). This redemption price was necessary “for it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). This redemption price was necessary in order that the justice of God could be satisfied (Rom. 3:23-26). In this way, Jesus became the “propitiation for our sins” (I John 2:2). Salvation means that we have been “justified freely by His grace” (Rom. 3:24).
Salvation means that we have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for (us) who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:4-5). It involves “mansions” being prepared for us by Jesus, who has promised to “come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-4).
Salvation means that we are “children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:14-17).
Have you found salvation? Do you desire to be saved, justified, sanctified, and redeemed? Then do it now while time and opportunity are yours.
Paul M. Wilmoth