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What the Bible says about "salvation"

 Salvation.  People often talk about it and say all who are accountable for their sins need it, but what is “salvation”?

Outside the New Testament the concept of “salvation” meant different things.  As noted by Barclay (New Testament words, p. 268), salvation sometimes meant “deliverance” or “preservation.”  It also described a “man’s safe return to his own home or Holy Spirit own country after an absence and a journey.  It can mean a ‘guarantee of safety’ or a ‘security against danger’” (ibid).

In the Septuagint salvation described things like safety and security (compare Prov. 11:14; Gen. 44:17).  When the nation of Israel was delivered by means of the Red Sea Moses said this was an example of “salvation” (Ex. 14:13).  Later in the Old Testament (Judg. 15:18) there was “great deliverance” (salvation) from the Philistines.  There was also “salvation” (deliverance) from other pagan nations.

When we look at the New Testament we find there is a “way of salvation” that is to be “proclaimed” (Acts 16:17).  Salvation is said to be “of God” (Acts 28:28) and God’s power to save people occurs through the “gospel” (Rom. 1:16).  Confession is part of the salvation process (Rom. 10:10), but we are not saved by confession alone.  We should seek salvation “now” (2 Cor. 6:2) because we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Being sorry for our sins does not save us, but godly sorrow “works repentance unto salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10).  We are not saved by works of merit (Tit. 3:5); we are, however, saved by “obeying the gospel” (2 Thess. 1:8).  This is why Paul said we need to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).  Salvation must be “worked out” through Christ (1 Thess. 5:9), for salvation is in “no other name” (Acts 4:12).

Unlike the doctrine of Calvinism that says salvation is only for a few people, the Bible says the “grace of God has appeared” and salvation is available to “all men” (Tit. 2:11).  All can be saved, but some “neglect” this salvation (Heb. 2:3).  Others do not neglect God’s salvation, but they do not “obey” God’s terms for it (Heb. 5:9) and will thus be lost.  God says the “end of our faith” is the “salvation of our soul” (1 Pet. 1:9).  Old Testament prophets were very interested in this salvation (1 Pet. 1:10), but the information about the New Testament era and Christianity was not fully revealed to them.  We now have this information and we are to “grow” in our knowledge of salvation (1 Pet. 2:2).

Jude 3 tells us that salvation is “common” (i.e. people are not saved in different ways—all people are saved in the same way).  Have you received the “common” salvation?