What does the Bible say about salvation?
Many Christians believe that “salvation” should be defined as “being offered freedom from sin, and eternal life in heaven after you die.” However accurate this definition might be, it fails to give the full picture of what is meant by the term. Our fact-finding process has two important steps:
Determining how the term “salvation” is used throughout the Bible
Applying this knowledge to life in the church today
So to find out what the term “salvation” means, we need to first ask ourselves how the term “salvation” or “save” is used throughout the Bible. Here is a sampling of some relevant texts containing the term (or a derivative):
- After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel. (Judges 3:31)
- The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. (Psalm 37:39 NIV)
- Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” (Psalm 116:4 NIV)
- Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2-3)
- I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel. (Isaiah 46:13)
- Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.” (Hosea 1:7)
- She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
- Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
- Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)
- Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ… (2 Peter 1:1)
Even these few exemplary verses make clear that the biblical view of salvation is extremely broad! Far from just dealing with our spiritual state, God’s salvation is surprisingly earthy, including the following facets:
Biblical salvation means deliverance from:
- military defeat
- social corruption
Now that we better understand what the Bible means by the term “salvation” we can begin thinking in new ways about its application in our churches and human cultures.
This is your task. What new insights about God’s work have you gained through this expanded view of the salvation he brings? How might your current role / teaching / discipleship change because of it?