SALVATION: What It Means

By David Embury

There are a number of different biblical notions to the term "salvation" as found in the Scriptures. In its most basic sense "salvation" simply means deliverance. This specific term "salvation" is best understood when viewed in relation to the given situation in which it is applicable. Thus its applied meaning is interchangeable according to these given situations.

Temporal Salvation:

At its most basic there is physical salvation, be that individual or corporate – as seen in the temporal and corporeal deliverance out of harms way [Mt 8:25; Lk 23:39]. If someone were to rescue you from certain calamity, out of harm's way, then it would be said that you have been "saved". This is exactly what Jesus meant when he said: "But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Mt 24:13 – Jesus was talking about the literal deliverance [salvation] that would be theirs in the forth coming "Roman rampage" that occurred in AD66-70 IF they changed their minds [repented] and believed and thus heeded his words; just as he gave further instruction here:

Lk 13:3-5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Redemptive Salvation:

Further to this is redemptive salvation, being inclusive of all Israel where the forgiveness of their sins further wrought reconciliation and restoration to mankind beyond [Rom 11:15, 26-27; 2Cor 5:19; Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14]. Again, "salvation" is not just "redemption" itself though redemption is a salvation, but from what? Redemption saves from the separating power of the sin condition through the unilateral atonement of Christ – "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Jn 1:29. The only part Israel and humanity whom she represented played in this redemptive salvation was the sin that made it necessary.

Transformative Salvation:

Next there comes the transformative salvation, individually – where the Word and Spirit bring the glorious freedom of change – that which is called sanctification [Jas 1:21; 2Pet 1:3-4; Psa 19:7]. Having your mind renewed in this redemptive reconciliation is a salvation in that going through a constant transformation of understanding truth works deliverance [salvation] in one's heart. When we go from believing something untrue to believing something that is true it delivers and transforms us. Thus converted believing does indeed work a salvation, but it is a salvation in the renewing of the mind which in consequence saves the soul. It does this by changing the way we view God, ourselves and others, bringing the realisation that God is at peace with all and has no wrath towards us.

Again, it can be a misunderstanding of this broader truth to view "salvation" ONLY or singularly meaning or referring to redemption. The various references above show where salvation is qualified as to its specific meaning; again according to its applicable context. Many show that a personal commitment to seeking truth will bring with it a salvation in a changed mindset. However, the salvation that wrought man's reconciliation had nothing to do with man's mindset i.e., what he personally believes – that alone was the result of Christ's redemptive work on behalf of all Israel for the world.

Now along with these texts are the other such passages of Scripture that encompass and emphasise all of the above respectively in either physical, spiritual or relational HEALING [saving] that God's restorative and mercy-filled deliverance also brings [Mk 6:56; Lk 7:50; Jas 5:15].

So, taking into account these biblically defined salvific expressions we can say that based on Christ's redemptive deliverance [salvation] of His people Israel and in consequence the reconciling of the world, that ALL indeed in that restored sense are SAVED. Yet as to actually knowing and realising this most wonderful reality personally, then no, in this sense ALL are NOT SAVED – these are important distinctions to note. However, the more one comes into and grows in Christ's grace then the more one experiences the sanctifying deliverance [salvation] from the toxicities of life. Knowing then that God IS at peace with man brings the fuller reality of "salvation" to be enjoyed IN THIS LIFE and gives "believers" in relationship with Christ an incredibly relevant message to share.

Thus in a nutshell we have:

Temporal Salvation = the escape [deliverance] out of harm's way.

Redemptive-Reconciliatory Salvation = the forgiveness [deliverance] of sins.

Transformative Salvation = the sanctification [deliverance] in the inner life.