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). Salvation is deliverance from the power and effects of sin. All have sinned (see Romans 3:23), but we cannot save ourselves. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ died for sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:6–8).
Process of Salvation: God’s Side
On the divine side of salvation, God sovereignly acts to secure salvation for sinners through:
- Election: Through grace, God chose salvation in Christ for those whom He knew would accept Him (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).
- Regeneration: God makes us alive through Christ, enabling us to be born again, and to experience a new birth (see John 3:3). Without a new birth, we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
- Justification: 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: 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 (see Galatians 4:4–5; Ephesians 1:5). As God’s children, we can be confident that He understands us, takes care of us, and will bless us.
- Sanctification: When we become Christians, God sanctifies us, or sets us apart positionally, practically, and permanently for Himself (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Through sanctification, we become more and more like Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Process of Salvation: Humanity’s Side
Just as there is a divine side of salvation, there is also a human side that shows itself through “free will”:
- 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 (see Mark 4:16–17; Romans 10:9, 17; Ephesians 2:8–9; Hebrews 11:1, 6).
- Acceptance: True faith and belief in Christ will ultimately lead to an acceptance and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord (see 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).
- Repentance: This is a sincere and thorough change of mind and heart toward sin (see Psalm 51:3; 2 Peter 3:9). We must not only turn from our sins, but we must also turn to God (see Acts 3:19; 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Product of Salvation
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 (see John 15:8) as we invest our lives in service to Him (see 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 (see Philippians 4:17); by giving praise and thanks to God (see Hebrews 13:15); and by living a changed life through our conduct and character (see 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 changed life (see 2 Corinthians 5:17) and motivates believers to follow God’s purpose for their lives.