Salvation and its Various Components

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Salvation and its various components

Salvation and its Various Components

Richard Hollerman

Many people approach the subject of salvation in a simplistic way, assuming that their theory is the full story. But very often, we are only looking at one aspect of this very important matter, thus we overlook the other aspects. What do I mean?

In the case of salvation, we are dealing with a crucial area of study. Salvation is a general theme, found from early in Genesis to the end of Revelation. If we only confine ourselves to one aspect of this topic, we do injustice to it and also deprive ourselves of a full view of God’s gracious deliverance through Scripture! We must not do this. We must see what God is revealing to us through the entire Bible and apply ourselves to understanding all of it. We must also remember that salvation from sin, guilt, death, and hell pertains to each of us! Therefore, it is utterly important that we have eyes wide open to see the blessedness and seriousness of being saved or experiencing salvation!

But what does God say to us about salvation? Let’s notice this subject, especially as we find it in the new covenant writings (the New Testament).

The Scriptures and Salvation

If we were to rely only on nature, we wouldn’t learn of salvation through Christ. Therefore, we must have something beyond the natural or created order. This is why God chose to reveal Himself and His salvation in a special way—that we often call “special revelation” since God specially revealed truth in words.

God has revealed to us the Scriptures through His Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). This is what we mean when we say that the Bible is “inspired” of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul refers to this in 2 Timothy 3:15 when he is writing to Timothy, “. . . from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” When we read God’s written word, we have faith awakened or stimulated, and this could not happen apart from God’s special revelation. Thanks be to God for the Bible!

God: The Ground of Salvation

It has been rightly pointed out that God Himself is the ground of our salvation. He is creator and sustainer, and He is our holy, righteous, and just God. Our sin is against Him. Thus, everything having to do with our rescue from sin, guilt, and condemnation must relate to Him. This must be why God is so often connected with salvation.

This is brought out in various ways in Scripture. For instance, Paul writes that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:8-9). We also read of “God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved” (1Timothy 2:3-4). He is called “God our Savior” elsewhere as well (1:1; Titus 1:3). Paul also says that God is “the Savior of all men, especially of believers (2 Timothy 4:10). We can all see that God indeed is worthy of the title “Savior”!

Jesus Christ: The Mediator of Salvation

It is very difficult to separate the works of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son of God the Father. Some may wish to put it this way: God saves sinful humanity through Jesus Christ, His Son. In this sense, Jesus Himself is Savior and does the saving.

In light of this, Scripture says that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). While on earth, the Lord Jesus said “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Peter also says, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12; cf. Ephesians 5:23). One of the most blessed and encouraging verses that apply to salvation through Christ is 1 Thessalonians 5:9: “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Not through Buddha, not through Muhammad, not through Confucius, and not through Krishna—but through our Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus indeed is worthy of our praise to Him as our Savior!

Jesus Christ and the Sacrifice for Salvation

If Jesus Christ is the mediator of salvation, it is important for us to ask how does the Lord Jesus save us? What means do we find? If we are dead because of sin and alienated by our sin (Romans 6:23), the only way for this to be remedied is through the offering of a perfect sacrifice. Jesus is that one-time perfect sacrifice! When Paul discusses salvation, he has this to say, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9). Jesus saves us, not by mere fiat, but by means of His perfect once-for-all sacrifice on the cross!

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Salvation and its various components

God’s Grace in Salvation

If God is Savior, we might well ask what aspect of God’s character is related to this salvation. Paul points out, “By grace you have been saved through faith” and “by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8, 5b). In other words, the Lord’s grace (or loving favor) is that which motivates God to act on our behalf to save us! This is what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:9, where he says that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” Notice that God saved us according to His grace!

In another passage, Paul says that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). Salvation comes through God’s matchless grace!

God’s Mercy in Salvation

Not only must we see God’s grace, but we also see His mercy! Paul writes, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy. . .” (Titus 3:5a). Our merciful God saves us! (See also 1 Peter 1:3, where it says that God’s mercy has brought us the new birth!) If we had received what we deserved, we would have been without hope. But God, in mercy, reached down and saved us regardless of our sin.

Christ’s Grace in Salvation

Just as God’s grace was manifested in salvation, likewise Christ’s grace is seen. Thus, Peter was able to say in the Jerusalem gathering, “We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11cf. Romans 3:24). We can’t be saved through our own efforts, but through Jesus Christ and His saving work!

God’s Patience in Salvation

We are all grateful to God for His daily patience with us, especially when we sin or fail Him. Peter brings this out when he says that God is “patient” toward us, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He goes on to say that we are to regard “the patience of our Lord as salvation” (v. 15). If it were not for God’s blessed patience, we would be lost and without hope! We would be judged and cut off from Him. But the Lord had such patience that He withheld His judgment and has allowed us to come to Him!

Our Faith is the Means of Salvation

It might be said that salvation is of the Lord, but since we must have faith to connect with God, we can see that faith is the “means,” “method” or “instrument” of salvation. Thus, Paul wrote his familiar and beloved statement, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). This suggests that salvation is by grace on God’s part and by faith on our part. When the jailer wanted to know what to do to be saved, the apostle said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). You might want to note that some people say that we need to do nothing to be saved, but Paul emphasized that belief or faith is something that we must “do” if we expect to be saved.

Our Repentance of Sin also Needed for Salvation

Some people with a strange, aberrant theology reject the idea that we are also saved through repentance of sin. They assume that if we must repent to be saved, this is a kind of meritorious “work” that is disallowed. But repentance is the other side of faith. We are saved by a repentant faith or saved by a believing repentance. Peter tells us that God “is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Obviously, to “perish” is to not be saved. Thus, we must repent to be saved! If sin has brought us into condemnation, we must repent of this sin in order to be saved. We repent when we turn away from all sin and self-will. We exercise faith by turning to God in complete reliance on His saving grace!

Our Confession of Christ as Lord in Salvation

Faith is something that happens in our heart, but this inward faith is meant to be expressed with the mouth. Thus, Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). He then adds, “With the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness; and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (v. 10). Both faith and confession are related to the salvation that God provides.

Our Baptism and Salvation

No one should doubt that God is the ground of salvation and Christ is the mediator of salvation, but we must not overlook the place that baptism has in this event. Peter simply says, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21) and Jesus said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16a). This is not to suggest that either faith or baptism is meritorious, but they relate us to the very One who is salvation. When we believe inwardly (and repent), we will express this outwardly in the meaningful act of baptism. When we are “immersed” into the Spirit and water, we are demonstrating the condition of our heart (cf. Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; John 3:5).

Obedience and Salvation

We must not overlook an element of salvation even though many do overlook it. The Hebrew writer puts it this way: “Having been made perfect, He [Jesus] became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). Eternal salvation comes to the one who obeys Jesus!

Salvation is Not of our Works or Deeds

Although we must believe and obey God to be saved, it is true also that we are not saved on the basis of our response of obedience or deeds. This is a distinction that must be kept in mind. For instance, Paul points out that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Timothy 1:9). This says that we are “saved” not “according to our works [deeds].” It is true that we are saved by a “working” or “obedient” faith—“faith working through love”—but we must never think that our deeds are the basis of our salvation (Galatians 5:6b). God “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness” (Titus 3:5a).

Christ’s Intercession and Salvation

What would it be like if Christ saved us from sin and then just “dropped” us, going His own way, and we were left to our own designs? This is not the way it is. Christ not only saved us at a point of time in the past, but He continues to save us day by day.  The Hebrew writer says, “He [Christ] is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus saves forever through His intercession for us! (Remember that the Holy Spirit is the inward Intercessor [Romans 8:26-27) and Christ is the Intercessor outwardly, at the Father’s right hand [Romans 8:33-34].) The Lord Jesus continues to intercede for us with God the Father—and thereby we are saved!

Endurance and Salvation

We know that some people would say that our salvation merely depends on a momentary, once-for-all act of faith. However, Scripture would go beyond this. For example, the Lord Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Who will be saved? The one who endures or perseveres to the end will be saved (see also Mark 13:13 and Matthew 10:22). If one does not endure, what does that say about the salvation that he or she once knew and experienced? As Peter put it, “the outcome of your faith,” is “the salvation of our souls” (1 Peter 1:9). Our fait must endure if we would be saved!

The Gospel and Salvation

We’ve looked at many different factors that relate to salvation, and one of the chief ones would be the “gospel” or the “good news” of Christ’s death and resurrection. If Jesus had only died or only died and resurrected, this would not affect our salvation. We personally are benefitted by these saving acts when the message of the crucified and risen Christ is communicated to our heart and mind. This is just what Paul wrote: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Notice also 1 Corinthians 1:21, where Paul says that God was “well-pleased” through the message preach “to save those who believe. It is no wonder that Scripture speaks of “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). Remember that the “good news” of Jesus Christ has been communicated to us—and we must also share it with others (see also Acts 13:47).

Have you Rejoiced in this Salvation?

We’ve been discussing various aspects or facets of the salvation that God has offered to sinful humanity through Jesus Christ, His Son. Have we recognized this salvation and the extent to which Scripture discusses it? Do we ever take salvation for granted and even neglect it? Remember that the Hebrew writer asks this pointed question: “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).

If we have taken in the length, breadth, height, and depth of this salvation of God, we should understand that indeed it is “great”—“so great a salvation.” What do we do with this knowledge? If you and I realize the depth of sin, guilt, and condemnation that comes through our willful disobedience and rebellion, and also realize the extent of God’s great salvation, we should rejoice and praise the name of God, our Great Savior!

If you have never been truly saved from sin, death, and hell, now is the time to do something about this! Now is “the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the time to escape “the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:3). Now is the time to escape “the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 2:20). Now is the time to find your deliverance in God’s great salvation!

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