What is Salvation?

What is salvation? This is topic of discussion in this video.

The usual meaning of salvation is, deliverance and protection from danger or suffering. The word signifies victory, health or preservation.

Bible uses the term to denote spiritual salvation from sin as well as the physical deliverance.

There are more than one Hebrew word used in the Old Testament to signify salvation.

The most frequent Hebrew word is yasa. It means to save, help in distress, rescue, deliver and to set free. The word is often uses in the Old Testament to mean the physical or material deliverance.

Salvation in the New Testament also include material preservation, health, well-being, and healing.

The word in Christian theology more often speaks of the spiritual deliverance.

Salvation is the overriding theme of the entire Bible. It is a historical reality. It has a past, present and future. Salvation is a process with a beginning and an end.


Salvation Explained

According to the Christian faith and practice, Salvation is deliverance by God's grace, from sin and its consequence of eternal punishment. By salvation we are transformed into the newness of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4).

Salvation is saving human beings from death and separation from God by Christ's death and resurrection. And justification follows salvation.

Christian salvation is victory in Jesus, victory over sin and the works of satan, spiritual wellness and the gift of eternal life. 

The Old Testament

Old Testament writers see salvation as a reality more physical than spiritual and more social than individual. During the Old Testament period, individuals were chosen for the good of the community and as representatives of God for some greater work.

Still salvation was always attributed to God alone in the Old Testament too. None but God can save. 

Through Noah's faithfulness God brings salvation to his family as well as animal life. (Genesis 7-9). Abraham was promised the blessings of nationhood and land. It was not only for his descendants but for all families on the earth. (Genesis 12:1-3). Joseph's rise to fame in Egypt preserves the lives of his entire family during the famine. (Genesis 45:4-7). After 430 years in Egypt, the entire Israelite people are delivered through Moses (Exodus 1-12). Through Esther's rise to power the Jewish people are spared annihilation (Esther 7).

In the Old Testament, God's salvation includes personal and national deliverance from one's enemies, deliverance from slavery (Deuteronomy 24:18), protection and preservation from evil (Psalms 121), escape from death (Psalm 68:20), healing (Psalm 69:29; Jeremiah 17:14), inheritance of land, descendants and long life. 

This does not mean that salvation from sin was totally absent in the Old Testament. Prophets often spoke about sin and salvation.

For example, prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel stress the need for salvation from uncleanness, iniquity, and idolatry (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:25-28).

They spoke about a new heart of flesh and new spirit, which will finally empower his people to keep the commandments.

Isaiah prophesied a salvation which will be achieved through the vicarious suffering of the Servant (Isaiah 53). This suffering servant of God who will come in future will bear the sin of many.

In Isaiah 51:6 we read that the salvation brought by the servant of God shall last forever. 

Thus we understand that Salvation in the Old Testament was a historical past and an anticipated future. That means, salvation from physical slavery has occurred in the past by the exodus from Egypt. But still they expected a salvation from all their national enemies that will happen in future. God had saved Israel in the past, and so God can deliver in the future from all their enemies.

For the Jews, salvation is a real present experience and an appointed sure future. 

The New Testament

In the New Testament, Jesus related salvation to the advance of God's kingdom. The kingdom of God signifies a sphere of reality in which God reigns sovereign. Thus Jesus deepens the Old Testament conviction that salvation belongs to God and God alone.

Jesus confirms the inauguration of the Kingdom by His arrival following the reading "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21). Salvation belongs to those who believe and accept Jesus as their Savior. Jesus is the embodiment of God's kingdom. 

Jesus explains the New Testament concept of Salvation to Nicodemus that salvation is a spiritual birth. It is a birth from above without which one cannot enter the kingdom (John 3:1-11).

Salvation is described in more than one way in the New Testament by the Apostles.

Ephesians 3:9 and 6:19 says that salvation is a mystery of God that is now revealed.

Ephesians 1:4-6 calls it a plan conceived before the foundations of the world.

In John 5: 24, salvation is a transition from death to life.

Other verses in the New Testament describes salvation as a gift of grace through faith not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9), the justification that comes through faith (Romans 4:22-25), reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), redemption (Romans 8:23) and death to sin and freedom from it (Romans 6). 

What are we saved from? 

What we are saved from? Do we really need salvation?

Bible tells us that by the fall of Adam and Eve, the first humans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

But even before the fall of man, God pronounced that the wages of sin is death. (Genesis 2:17)

Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Isaiah 59:2).

Salvation is being saved from the righteous judgment of God upon the sinner. (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Salvation is victory over sin, the deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin. 

In the New Testament salvation is not being saved from ourselves or the devil. The devil binds us through his works. Devils binds us through the works of the flesh.

Practices like sorcery or black magic are also the works of the devil. These works may prevent physical blessings and may cause physical sufferings. These works may blind our eyes from seeing the truth of salvation and harden our heart from responding favorably to the grace of God. Wicked practices of the devil may lead us to temptation to do sin.

But devil cannot keep us under his bondage through dark practices. Slavery to the devil is something that happens in the spirit realm.

Adam and Eve were subdued by the devil through the works of flesh. Devil tempted them with the desires of the flesh and fell to it.

Thus the first humans fell into the bondage of satan through sin. Sin keeps us in the bondage and only sin can keep us in the bondage of satan.

Jesus was tempted by satan and but could not subdue Him to his slavery because Jesus did not sin. 

All who have sinned against God are under the judgment of God.  This judgment is known as damnation where God condemns all those who have offended Him by breaking His Law to eternal hell.

This does not mean that God is unfair.  It shows that God is holy and righteous.  God must punish the sinner. God cannot and will not ignore the person who has broken His righteous law. The Law is a reflection of the character of God. Therefore, to break God's law is to offend God and deny the holiness of His character.

But God has provided salvation from the judgment and eternal damnation. This means that God is both holy and loving.  So, salvation is being saved from the wrath of God.

The difference between being saved and not being saved is the difference between eternity with the Lord in the Kingdom of God and eternity apart from Him in hell.

For salvation we must trust in what Jesus did on the cross to forgive you of your sins and not trust anything else, not even your own sincerity or works. 

It is Jesus and only Jesus who can turn away the righteous judgment of God upon the sinner. 

Only through Jesus 

The New Testament repeats the Old Testament affirmation that salvation belongs to God alone.

The difference between the Old and the New Testament is the person Jesus in whom we see the presence of God and the only way to salvation.

The core of the salvation message is that it is available in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and is dependent on God alone. Salvation comes to those who repent and by faith, receive Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. (John 1:12).

Peter confirms this fact in Acts 4:10, “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…” (NKJV)

Act 4:12 "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  (NKJV)

Salvation is found in Jesus, and only in Jesus, who is God in flesh (John 1:114). Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. (1 Cor. 15: 3,4 )  

This is how salvation works:  All of us have sinned against God and deserve judgment.  But Jesus never sinned (1 Pet. 2:22).  He lived the Law of God perfectly.  In this He has a perfectly righteous standing before God. God used the crucifixion as the means to place the sins of the world upon Jesus (1 John 2:2). 1 Pet. 2:24  says: “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.” (NKJV)  

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (NKJV)

Isaiah 53:5 "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (NKJV)

The crucifixion became the place where Jesus bore our sins in His body and suffered in our place. 

No sinner could please God perfectly and no sinner could offer a perfect sacrifice to God.  Only God in flesh, that is Jesus, could do that.

Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” (NKJV)

And there is nothing we can do that is righteous before God. We cannot please an infinitely holy God by anything we do.  But, Jesus who is perfectly righteous before God the Father, died in our place.  What we could not do, He did. 

To escape the righteous judgment of God, we should trust in the sacrifice of God. The righteousness of Christ is given to us. And thus we are declared right before God. Once you have trusted in what Christ has done, then you possess eternal life and you will never face the judgment of God.

We receive the righteousness by accepting, trusting and believing that Jesus died for the atonement of our sins.  Jesus died for us and in our place.

The Bible calls this process as salvation by grace through faith.   

Other dimensions 

Salvation has other dimensions too. Salvation is mainly spiritual but it is physical also. Salvation is for the whole person.

Jesus held the physical and spiritual dimensions of salvation close together.

In the healing event of the paralytic, described in Mark 2: 1-12, forgiveness of sins and physical healing coexist. Healing events in the book of Acts also reveal the intimate connection between spirit, mind and body. (Acts 3:16; 4:7-12)

Since physical diseases and other crisis in life are all effects of sin, salvation is forgiveness of sin and the mitigation of its effects. 

Salvation also extends beyond the national boundary of the Jewish community.

In response to the disciples' question recorded in Acts 1:6-8 Jesus corrects national expectations concerning the kingdom.

Since Jesus' death was for all people (John 11:51), repentance and forgiveness of sins were to be proclaimed to all nations (Luke 24:47).

In Galatians 3:8 Apostle Paul says: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." (NKJV)

God’s objective of salvation is God's sovereign and gracious choice to be "God with us" in the person of Jesus Christ. 

Past, Present and Future 

Salvation is not a onetime process. It is a long journey. Our decision to turn away from sin and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior is the first step. From there we start our journey to the perfection of it. So New Testament speaks of the past, present and future fulfilment of salvation. 

In fact, we were elected for salvation through Christ and eternal life in the Kingdom of God, before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

In hope we were saved (Romans 8:24) by the power of God revealed through the cross (1 Cor 1:18 ).

Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (NKJV) 

Apostle Paul admonished his readers to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12).

And there is yet a salvation that lies waiting to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5), a redemption for which we groan inwardly (Rom 8:23).

Romans 5:9: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (NKJV)

That means, we are saved, we are being saved and will be saved in future. 

The past dimension of salvation is the justification, redemption, and reconciliation that happens when we repent from sin and accept Jesus Christ.

The present dimension is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This is a continuous process that goes on as long as we live in this earth.

The future dimension is the glorification. Glorification is the culmination of the saving process wherein believers will experience Christ's presence in new and resurrected bodies no longer burdened by the vestiges of sin.

This happens in the last days, after we attain a transformed body and start living with our Lord. 

How we are saved by the death of one man? 

How we are saved from sin and its effects by the death of one man? This is a crucial question in understanding the salvation.

Jesus lived and died long before in a faraway country. He was a member of an ethnic group to which most of us do not belong. Jesus was not a social worker, political agitator, economist or a freedom fighter of the time. He was a Jewish Rabbi. That too is not so special about Him during His life time. There were many other Rabbis during the time. Some even performed miracles too. And some claimed that they were the expected Jewish Messiah. 

Jesus could not influence the ruling class or the priestly class of people by His teaching during His life on the earth. He could attract one or two among the high class people, but the number was so limited. He could make no religious reformation. His disciples and followers were more or less common uneducated people including ordinary women.

He was rejected by His own community and religion. They made secret plans to kill Him. His own trustworthy disciple, Judas Iscariot betrayed him to the priests. He was arrested, tried before a Roman court and crucified in the most humiliating way.

He did not stop Judas from betraying Him, He did not prevent the arrest, He did not plead in the court and He did not save Himself from the cross.

He died humiliated before all His disciples and followers hanging naked on the cross, bleeding to the last drop.

How can this man and His humiliating death save human beings from sin?

This question was very important that the Apostles in the first century faced from the Greek philosophers. 

In fact, New Testament does not give us a detailed explanation to solve this conundrum. Apostles in the New Testament speaks of different dimensions of salvation as ransom, adoption, victory, deliverance etc. But none of these concepts tells us how one man dies for everybody.

The right answer is that, one man for all is a principle of God for mankind that is revealed from the creation itself. One man, Adam represented the whole human beings. Adam sinned and all humans became sinners.

One man, Jesus sacrificed himself for the atonement of all human beings and all are saved.


1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  (NKJV) 

As we all know, Adam committed sin and God provided an atonement for the sin in the Garden of Eden. It is well assumed that an animal was killed, its blood was shed and God made a tunic with the blood socked skin of the animal and gave it to Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness. (Gen 3:21)

Thus and there came into existence the law of remission for sin by the sacrifice of an animal as a representative and substitute for the sinner.

The life of a substitute is shed to save the life of the real sinner. Because “the life of all flesh is its blood” (Leviticus 17:14). 

At Sinai, God proclaimed Israelites as God’s nation, “a special treasure to Me above all people” and “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5,6). There He gave them the statues and law for the nation.

And there God instituted the Day of Atonement and the sacrifice for the remission of their sins. This sacrifice was observed on a particular day every year. 

The Day of Atonement is known as Yom Kippur in Hebrew. Details of the day and the sacrifice is recorded in Leviticus 16: 1-34

It occurred once in every year on the tenth day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.

On this day the high priest would perform the sacrifice and other rituals to atone for the sins of the people.

This was the only day when the high priest was permitted to enter the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle. 

The ritual began by a ritual washing of Aaron, the high priest. He was dressed in a special garment for the day (4). Then he sacrificed a bull as a sin offering for himself and his family. (6, 11). The blood of the bull was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place.

Aaron also brought two goats. One goat is a scapegoat and the other is the sacrificial lamb.

Aaron would sacrifice one goat as an atonement for the “uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites” (16). Its blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant. The carcass of the sacrificed animal was taken out of the camp and burned. (4, 24, 26, 28)

Then Aaron placed his hands on the head of the second goat and confessed over it the rebellion and wickedness of the Israelites. Then he sent the goat way from the camp into the desert with an appointed man. The goat carried on itself all the sins of the people.

Thus their sins are forgiven for the year. (30) 

One lamb shed its blood and life for the atonement of their sins and another carried away the sins of the Israelites into the wilderness. It would never come back.

The first goat which was the sacrificial lamb would shed its blood and life as a representative of the people and as a substitute for the people. 

Though it seems that it is a work of the flesh, an element of faith was necessary to attain the blessings of the atonement. The Israelites should believe that the sacrifice of the lamb atoned for their sins and a reconciliation with God has happened. They should also accept by faith that the scapegoat carried away their sins and would never return to them again. Thus all their past sins are forgiven for the year. 

But the effect of the ritual was only for one year. They should repeat the sacrifice every year. 

This ritual has a lot of symbolic significance to the salvation in the New Testament. This ritual explains exactly what salvation is. The goats are a type for Christ and the ritual is a type for His crucifixion.

Washing of Aaron is the first ritual on the day. Aaron was a sinner by nature of man and need a cleansing of sin. He acknowledges the requirement of washing away of sins.

Aaron is representing the whole human beings who are in need of cleansing of sin.

But Jesus Christ made the “once for all” sacrifice for the sins of all human being and thus the cleansing ceremony ceased. (Hebrews 7:27) 

The blood of the sacrificed goat was sprinkled on the Ark by the high priest to appease the wrath of God for the coming year. The second goat carried away their sins into the wilderness and it do not clung to the people anymore. Thus they are forgiven and reconciled to God. God’s wrath is appeased and sins were removed. 

Christ on the cross effected both forgiveness and reconciliation.

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9 - NKJV). And He was the scapegoat who carried our sins away. (Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17)    

Thus when His sacrifice was made, Jesus declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He then sat down at the right hand of God, and no further sacrifice was ever needed (Hebrews 10:1-12).

How do we receive salvation? 

I have already said that we are saved by faith alone, not by the merit of our works. Christ has done on the cross everything that has to be done for our salvation.

Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." 

So in order to receive salvation, first, we must hear the gospel. Gospel tells us the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13).

Romans 10:14 says: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (NKJV)

Sin is our nature and the choice. We are born in sin and our flesh is contaminated by sin. But it is our choice to continue in sin. God has gifted us with the free will to choose righteousness or sin.

Choosing the righteousness of God and turning away from sin is repentance. Repentance is a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10: 9,10,13).

Finally we should believe and confess our faith in Jesus Christ and accept His lordship in our life. (Romans 1:16).

We cannot believe or confess our faith in Christ without the Grace of God. God’s Grace will enable us to respond positively to the gospel of salvation.

The essential message of believing to be saved can be found in Romans 10:9:


Romans 10:9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (NKJV)

Let me cut short this study.

Hope this discussion has been a blessing to you.

Thanks for listening and watching. May God bless you all! Amen!

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