One of the grandest subjects capable of being discussed by man is that of salvation. The primary Greek noun translated salvation is soteria (found 45 times in the Greek New Testament). Soteria means, "denotes deliverance, preservation, salvation" (Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Thayer only contributes the "added" thought of "safety" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 612). The concept and state of salvation is viewed in the past, present, and future tenses in the scriptures (Rom. 8: 24, I Cor. 15: 2, Rom. 13: 11).
Salvation is associated with Jesus Christ. "And she shall bring forth a son," the angel told Joseph, "and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1: 21). The apostles stressed the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus when they said, "neither is there salvation in any other (Jesus, dm), for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4: 12, see "Authority," authority button on the home page of Bible Truths). Jesus possesses the ability and the authorization to extend salvation to man. Jesus shed his blood for the remission of our sins (salvation, Matt. 26: 28, Heb. 5: 8, 9).
There are a number of things which are expressly "linked" to salvation. Belief, confession, repentance, water baptism, the gospel, the long suffering of the Lord, and man's acceptance of the salvation offer are all linked to salvation (Mk. 16: 16, 2 Cor. 7: 10, Rom. 10: 10, Mk. 16: 16, Eph. 1: 13, 2 Pet. 3: 15, Phili. 2: 12). You will appreciate that in these links both God and man are involved (more later). Salvation is said to be "common" (Jude 3). It is common because all men can appropriate it regardless of race, culture, money, etc.
What salvation is. Beloved, salvation is not just a clear conscience (Acts 23: 1, cf. 22: 4, 5), spiritual education (Acts 26: 27), morality (Acts 10: 1, 2, 11: 14), faith only (Jas. 2: 24), good feeling (Acts 26: 9), or joining a church (3 Jn. 9-11). Salvation is not simply an emotional experience (Acts 2:37, 38-40), worship (Mk. 7: 7, Acts 8: 27) or reading the scriptures (Acts 8: 28, 30, 36). Salvation (soteria) involves deliverance. Deliverance from the bondage of sin (Rom. 8: 16, 17), and from self (Lk. 9: 23). Salvation is preservation in the sense the saved are kept by God (Jn. 3: 16). Safety is an element, if you will, of salvation in that God assists those who are endeavoring to do his will (I Cor. 10: 13). Salvation is a relationship between man (the saved) and God (the source of salvation). The saved are sons and daughters, God is their Father (2 Cor. 6: 17, 18). It is obvious salvation is a state, a state of preservation, deliverance, and relationship (Eph. 2: 1, 4, 5, 6, Jn. 10: 27-29, Jude 24). Salvation is a state which man knows he has obtained because he has done what God has said to do to be saved (I Jn. 5: 13). He is reconciled (made a friend with God (2 Cor. 5), justified (Rom. 5), redeemed (I Pet. 1: 18, 19), and cleansed (Acts 22: 16).
There are essentially three extant views regarding man's salvation which are regularly taught.
The view that man merits salvation. Catholicism and many cults advocate meritorious salvation. Many of these so called salvation doctrines present man as having the potential to rise to such a level as to effect his own salvation. However, the scriptures irrefutably teach man can not merit his salvation (Tit. 3: 5, Rom. 4: 1-4). While salvation involves man, man could do nothing save by God's grace and mercy (Eph. 2: 8, 9). In fact, grace and meritorious works cancel out one another (Rom. 11: 6).
The view that man's salvation is wholly of God. Most of the denominational world has embraced the slogan of the reformers, "salvation is by grace alone, faith alone, and Christ alone." If this be true, either all men are going to be saved or God is a respecter of persons (only a few shall be ultimately saved, Matt. 7: 13, 14 and God is no respecter of persons, Acts 10: 34). God is no respecter of persons, in this vein, because he has provided men with the means of being saved, a means which necessarily involves man in an active role in the acquisition of his salvation. Some men accept (saved), some reject (lost). You see, if salvation were by God alone, all men would be saved!
The view that man's salvation requires unworthy man's participation. This view emphasizes God's part as the provider of the essential grace and man as possessing active faith (Eph. 2: 8, 9, Jas. 2: 19-24). It is for certain, man would be in a hopeless situation without God's grace (Rom. 3: 23). The only thing man has earned is his death (Rom. 6: 23, this is the thought of "wages" ). Nonetheless, man must appropriate God's grace (God's grace can be received in vain and one can fall from grace, showing man's responsibility, 2 Cor. 6: 1, Gal. 5: 4). When the Jews in Acts 2 learned they were in need of salvation, they cried out, " Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (vs. 37.) Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sin (salvation) and the gift of the Holy Spirit (vs. 38). He exhorted them with many other words saying, "save yourselves from this untoward generation" (vs. 40, to read more about the three views, click on, "Three Views of Salvation").
What man must do to be saved. The lost jailer at Philippi asked the preachers, " Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16: 30). Notice, kind reader, Paul and Silas did not rebuke him and call him a legalist because he asked what he must do to be saved. Not only did they not rebuke him, they told him what to do to be saved. First, there was the matter of belief (vs. 31). Belief in this instance is comprehensive - total of man's responsibility in the considered circumstance (see Heb. 11: 6, Jas. 2: 19-24). They had to preach to him so he could believe (you see, faith is not a direct gift from God, Acts 16: 32, Rom. 10: 17). Notice how "he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway" (vs. 33). The washing of their stripes was indicative of repentance (Acts 2: 38). He and his were immediately baptized, as we have seen, because "baptism is for the forgiveness of sin" (Acts 2: 38, 22: 16, Rom. 6: 1-18). He and his could now rejoice "believing in God " (vs. 34). Hence, the nonChristian must believe, repent, confess Christ's deity (Rom. 10: 9, 10, see Acts 8: 37, confession is necessarily inferred in the two cases noticed, Acts 2; 16), and be baptized. Belief is the first because there is not anything said to precede and baptism is the final because salvation is associated with the act of baptism (when preceded by the other noted acts).
The Christian must confess his sins and ask God for forgiveness of those sins committed while a Christian (I Jn. 1: 6-9). As the Christian walks in the light and keeps himself in the love of God, he enjoys salvation (I Jn. 1: 7-9, Jude 21). He is to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling (Phili. 2: 12). His life was begun in obedience and he is to continue in submission to God's will (Rom. 6).
Concerned reader, salvation imparts joy and meaning in this life and provides hope for beyond the grave. Salvation is truly great and must not be neglected (Heb. 2: 1-3). "Now is the day of salvation," wrote Paul (2 Cor. 6: 2). (For a complete study of obtaining salvation, simply click on, "What Must I Do To Be Saved?")