Salvation is the rich and rewarding theme of Scripture. From beginning to end, we see a God who seeks the lost in order to forgive their sins and restore their fellowship. According to 1 Peter 1:10, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care.” We should want to know more about it too. There is nothing more important than our response to God’s grace. Near the end of his life, hymn writer John Newton said, “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.” It is, in fact, vital to have a biblical understanding of salvation. Questions such as “Who can be saved?”, “What is the gospel?”, and “Why did Jesus have to die?” are of primary importance. Fortunately, the Bible answers these questions and many more. This book takes one hundred questions about salvation and addresses them with God’s Own Word. The Lord, the Author of salvation, came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10), and He is the focal point of these answers.
Question: What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation? Answer: Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation.
Sometimes the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19 KJV). More often, however, the word salvation concerns an eternal, spiritual deliverance. When Paul told the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, he was referring to the jailer’s eternal destiny (Acts 16:30–31). Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24–25).
What are we saved from? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, we are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the eternal consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.
Who does the saving? Only God can remove sin and deliver us from sin’s penalty (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).
How does God save? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued us through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). Scripture is clear that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:8–12).
How do we receive salvation? We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel—the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe—fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9–10, 13).
A definition of the Christian doctrine of salvation would be “the deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin, which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.” Salvation is available in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and is dependent on God alone for provision, assurance, and security.
S. Michael Houdmann is the president and founder of Got Questions Ministries, the parent ministry for www.GotQuestions.org, one of the most frequently visited Christian websites in the world. He holds a BA in biblical studies from Calvary Bible College and an MA in Christian Theology from Calvary Theological Seminary.
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