What Is Salvation?
God knew that humanity would sin and need to be reconciled to Him. At the heart of God’s plan to reconcile sinful humanity to Himself is the Mediator, Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 2:5–6).
The word salvation is defined as “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.” All have sinned (Romans 3:23), but we cannot save ourselves, because only a sinless person can save a sinful person. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ died for sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:6–8).
Provisions of Salvation
Certain provisions were necessary for salvation to be available to humanity: the death of Jesus Christ; the burial of Christ; the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3–4); the ascension of Christ (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9); and the exaltation of Christ (Acts 2:33; 5:31; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3).
Process of Salvation: God’s Side
Through the divine side of salvation, God sovereignly acts to secure salvation for sinners through:
Through grace, God chose salvation in Christ for those whom He foreknew in eternity past apart from any work or deed performed by those chosen (see Ephesians 1:4–5). The Apostle Paul tells us, “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29 NLT).
God makes us alive through Christ, enabling us to be born again, and to experience a new birth (John 3:3). Without a new birth, we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
When God justifies us, He declares us guiltless before Him and places all of the righteousness of Christ to our credit. Justification represents both God’s forgiveness of our sins and the righteousness He has accounted to us (see Romans 3:28; 5:1).
Adoption means, “the placing of a son.” God gives us the full rights of inheritance in His family as though we had been born into it (Galatians 4:4–5; Ephesians 1:5). Because we are God’s children, we can call Him Abba, or Father (Romans 8:15). As God’s children, we can be confident that He understands us, takes care of us, and will bless us.
When we become Christians, God sanctifies us, or sets us apart, positionally, practically, and permanently for Himself (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Through the sanctification process, we become more and more like Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit as we walk and abide with Christ daily.
Process of Salvation: Humanity’s Side
Just as there is a divine side of salvation, there is also a human side.
Faith and Belief
Acknowledging Jesus Christ not only in our heads, but also in our hearts (see John 3:18, 36; 5:24; 6:47; Romans 10:9). Faith is a confiding trust. It involves our intellect, emotions, and will (Mark 4:16–17; Romans 10:9, 17; Ephesians 2:8–9; Hebrews 11:1, 6).
True faith and belief in Christ will ultimately lead to an acceptance and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9–10). The Apostle John confirmed this when he wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12 NKJV).
This is a sincere and thorough change of mind and heart toward sin (see Psalms 51:3; 2 Peter 3:9). We must not only turn from our sins, but we must also turn to God through Christ (see Acts 3:19; 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Product of Salvation
Living Out Faith
God created us, and Christ purchased us, so that we might know Him, walk with Him, and glorify Him (see Ephesians 1:11–12). He also wants us to bear much fruit (John 15:8; 13:34–35) as we invest our lives in service to Him (Matthew 16:24–26; Galatians 6:10). We bear fruit by winning others to Christ, by helping them grow spiritually (see Romans 1:13; Proverbs 11:30), by sharing our blessings with others (Philippians 4:17), by giving praise and thanks to God (Hebrews 13:15), and by living a changed life through our conduct and character (Galatians 5:22).
Some people think that because they have “prayed to receive Christ,” they can live as they please. But salvation brings about a transformed, changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17) and motivates believers to follow God’s purpose for their lives.