2462) What is Salvation?


From The Hand that Holds Me, 1984, by Michael Rogness, pages 47-49.


     Salvation, or being saved, are terms often used to describe God’s purpose for mankind.  It is interesting to ask a group of people, “What is salvation?”  What does it mean “to be saved?”  We talk about it, but do we ever stop to think what it is?

     What does God have in mind for us?  Salvation is one word we can use, but the Bible uses many others; justification, reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness, deliverance, transformation, rebirth, renewal, victory over evil, atonement, eternal life.

     There is no such thing in the Bible as a theory or doctrine of salvation.  The Bible is a record of events– God’s encounters with people through the centuries, and our responses.  In the Bible we find words from people in all walks of life to describe what happens between God and us.  Scottish theologian George Caird put it this way:

The New Testament does not attempt to give any reasoned theory of the atonement.  Instead it gives us a series of pictures, which tell us in the language of the heart what the Cross meant to those who wrote.  We were in debt, and Christ paid our debt for us; we were slaves, and he gave his life for our ransom; we were condemned before the judgment seat of God, and Christ bore our penalty that we might go free; we were children in disgrace, and he restored us to the family circle; we were prisoners shut up in the fortress of Satan, and Jesus broke in to set us free.  The terminology of the bank, the slave market, the law courts, the temple, the home, and the field of battle is pressed into service in an attempt to do justice to the fact of experience that sin is no longer a barrier between man and God.

     So there are lots of words for salvation.  How you describe it will depend on how you perceive what is wrong with the human race and what needs correcting.  Or, in personal terms, how you think of salvation will reflect the state of your own soul and how God meets you.

     If the problem of guilt or sin is uppermost in our minds, than ‘forgiveness of sins’ will be the first thing we think about as salvation. 

     If our separation from God and therefore from our fellow humans seems to be the main problem, then we shall emphasize ‘reconciliation.’

     If we feel rejected and unacceptable, then ‘acceptance’ will be the dominant theme of salvation.

     There are others.  If we are facing death, ‘going to heaven’ will be important for us in describing salvation.  If we are hopelessly confused about how we should live, then ‘Jesus’ way of life’ or ‘discipleship’ will be salvation for us.  If life has no meaning, then we shall see salvation as ‘the meaning of life.’  If our problem is a sense of terrible loneliness and alienation, then salvation’s main thrust will be to ‘become a part of the community of the church, the body of Christ.’

     Perhaps you can think of others.  God understands the entire spectrum of human experience, and salvation is whatever way he comes into our lives wherever we are.  Whatever the situation, it is God’s grace which confronts us.


Philippians 4:19  —  My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

II Corinthians 2:19a  —  God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

Mark 10:45  —  (Jesus said), “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Acts 2:38a  —  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

Romans 5:6  —  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

I John 4:10  —  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Romans 5:1  —  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:1  —   It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

II Corinthians 1:3  —  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.



Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness.  I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.  I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life.  I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.  In Your Name I pray.  Amen.  (Billy Graham)


God be merciful to me a sinner, and make me to know and believe in Jesus Christ; for I see, that if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness, I am utterly cast away.  Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Savior of the world; and moreover, that thou art willing to bestow him upon such a poor sinner as I am— and I am a sinner indeed.  Lord, take therefore this opportunity, and magnify thy grace in the salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.  (John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress, 1678)


HOW SWEET THE NAME OF JESUS SOUNDS by John Newton  (1725-1807); hear it at:


How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear name, the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! my shepherd, husband, friend,
O prophet, priest and king,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death!