What Is Salvation?
In an age when many Christians seem preoccupied with their emotional struggles, their difficult past, or their supposed lack of self-esteem, some will say that even salvation is not enough for all their needs. Yet, if these people really understood the incredible things that God has done for them, their lives and attitudes would be dramatically different.
Everything we need in life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:9). The word complete in this verse literally means "to satisfy," "to finish," "to fill up," or "to cram full." Just think—because you are a believer, God Himself, in all His fullness, dwells in your life.
Do you realize how significant that is? If we truly understood what took place on the day we committed our lives to Christ, we would be looking outside of Him and His Word for answers to our problems less and less. We would be thanking Him more and more for the answers to those problems, and for the power to live out those answers as given through salvation!Back to Top
Salvation Brings Justification
Justification is a legal act of God declaring the guilty to be guiltless before God. It is the complete acquittal of the guilty sinner. The apostle Paul makes it clear that this justification comes only after our faith in God (see Romans 3:24). For that reason, it is a foundational teaching in the Christian faith. The late English preacher Charles Spurgeon said, "It is admitted by all evangelical Christians that the standing or falling in the Church is that of justification by faith."
Satan certainly wants to challenge this fundamental teaching, for he knows full well that if a believer gets hold of it, it can be life-transforming. "Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? "(Romans 8:30–31).
The devil doesn't want us to understand this concept, which should make us want to understand it all the more. To do so, we must look at the two-fold meaning behind the word justification.
Justification represents the forgiveness of our sins
The day you put your faith in Christ, your sins were instantaneously forgiven! God released you from the guilt and penalty of the sins you committed.
- "Brothers! Listen! In this man Jesus, there is forgiveness for your sins! Everyone who trusts in him is freed from all guilt and declared righteous [justified]—something the Jewish law could never do" (Acts 13:38–39, TLB).
- "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17).
- "Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18–19).
- "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:34b).
God not only forgives our sins; He forgets them. God has essentially taken our sins, thrown them into the sea of forgetfulness and posted a sign saying, "No fishing allowed." And God does not want us to remember what He is willing to forget.
If that was all salvation was, it would be more than we could ever hope for. But that is only one part of justification. For justification does not only speak of what God has taken away (our sins); it also speaks of what God has put in its place.
Justification represents the righteousness God has placed in our account.
The word justified also means "to put to one's account." When God justifies a person, He does so by placing all of the righteousness of Christ to that individual's credit. Philippians 3:9 explains: "Be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith."
Imagine that you were in debt for ten million dollars. Creditors kept appearing at the door. You had no hope of ever repaying this enormous debt yourself. Then someone came along and paid the debt for you. You were happy to simply no longer be in debt, but then you checked the balance in your account. When you did, you found a balance of twenty million dollars! While the idea of such a thing happening to you may seem incredible, what God has done for you and me through salvation is even more incredible, and it is no fantasy. The moment we gave our lives to Christ, our meager balance of righteousness was replaced with all of Christ's righteousness.
A lesson from the prodigal
This concept of removing sin and replacing it with righteousness is found in the story of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–32). This young man returned to his father's house an acknowledged sinner, simply hoping to be allowed to stay on his father's estate as a hired hand. Yet, the father did much more than simply welcome his son home. He commanded his servants, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry" (Luke 15:22–23).
This father's actions toward his prodigal son raised the ire of the older brother. He was jealous because, in his mind, he felt that he deserved what his prodigal brother had been given. "Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him" (Luke 15:29–30).
The older son thought that these good things should be given to him for what he had done. But what God gives us has absolutely nothing to do with that. It has to do with God's love for us, our repentance, and our relationship with Jesus Christ.
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Salvation Brings Peace, Access, and Hope
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1–2).
Peace with God takes care of our past
God will no longer hold our sins against us. Knowing that we are forgiven and have the righteousness of Christ placed in our account gives us an overflowing peace!
Access to God takes care of our present
We can come to Him anytime for the help that we need.
Hope of the glory of God takes care of our future
One day, we will share in His glory.
Knowing that you are justified, are at peace with God, can freely enter into His presence, and have the hope of Heaven is more than one could ever hope for. But there's more!
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Salvation Brings Adoption into God's Family
What might be called the final, crowning event of our salvation is our adoption into God's family. The famous evangelist D.L. Moody put the process of salvation into five words:
- Repentance: a change of mind. A new mind about God.
- Conversion: a change of life. A new life from God.
- Regeneration: a change of nature. A new heart from God.
- Justification: a change of state. A new standing before God.
- Adoption: a change of family (or position). A new relationship toward God.
Adoption means "the placing of a son." Scripture explains this unique part of salvation:
- "Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Ephesians 1:5).
- "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4–5).
- In essence, we have been given the full rights of a son in the family of God as though we were born that way. We can stand in awe of a God who has the power and desire to forgive us and put His righteousness to our account. But by adoption, God is saying, "Don't merely stand in awe of Me; come close to Me!"
- "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Galatians 4:6).
- "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father'" (Romans 8:15).
The word Abba is a Hebrew child's affectionate cry to his father. It would be equivalent to the English word Daddy. God wants you to know that He cares about you, and that you have total and free access to His presence at any time.
Regardless of what your father on earth is (or was) like, you can be assured that your Father in Heaven loves you intensely!
He understands you
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him" (Psalms 103:13 NIV).
He takes care of you
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them" (Matthew 6:31–32 NIV).
He loves to bless you
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11 NIV).
Salvation—and all its benefits—is enough for us in this life. We need nothing more.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version™. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible copyright � 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ™. NIV ™. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by biblical, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com