Pastor Dennis Smith
Probably every reader here would agree that man, and by that I mean each and every individual, stands in need of salvation in the sight of God. In the languages of both the Old and New Testament, the words for salvation often convey the idea of deliverance or rescue from some calamity or evil. Every person needs to be delivered from the penalty for sin, which is everlasting condemnation (see John 5:29, for example). And we praise God that he has provided for our salvation in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ.
As we think of the salvation that we have in Christ, I’d like to point out that salvation is in reality a “package.” When God saved you, a number of things happened. These things are intertwined and interrelated. Taken together, they constitute salvation. Here are just a few.
First, when God saved you, he forgave your sins. This is probably the first thought most of us have when we hear someone mention salvation. The most common NT word translated "forgive" means to release from legal or moral obligation or consequence. By your sin, you incurred a debt of sorts. See Matthew 6:12–14 where Jesus uses the words “debts” and “trespasses” interchangeably. But when God saved you, he released you from that obligation; he canceled that debt.
Next (and these things all happened together, not in some sequence), when God saved you, he redeemed you. The idea is that a price was paid to release you from sin’s bondage to serve another, Christ. Think here of a ransom being paid to free a slave. Paul speaks of this in 1 Timothy 2:6 and Titus 2:14, among other places. And Peter, in 1 Peter 1:18–19, tells us that the price paid to redeem us was the very blood of Christ. (See also Revelation 5:9.)
We will mention just two more aspects of salvation: reconciliation and justification. Christ, by his atonement, has reconciled us to God. This means that he has brought about a change in our relationship to God. It’s a change that I sometimes describe as going from enmity to amity, from being God’s enemy to being at peace with him. Paul speaks of this in his letters (see for example Romans 5:10 and Colossians 1:20).
Finally, we’ll say a word about justification. When God saved you, he justified you. The basic evangelical definition of justification is that it is a judicial act on God's part whereby he declares the repentant sinner to be righteous in his sight. In a very real sense, God declared you not guilty, that is, not deserving of sin’s penalty. The basis or ground for God doing this is Christ's substitutionary atonement (Romans 5:9), and this justification is secured through faith in that sacrifice (Romans 5:1).
There are other facets of salvation that we could consider, such as regeneration, sanctification, election, and conversion to name a few. One Christian writer has said that many people have been saved without hearing of such various aspects of salvation. He goes on to say, “A baby believer does not have to understand all of the glorious things that have happened to him in order to be saved. But these things do all have to happen to him.”
Perhaps it will not be until we stand in God’s presence in glory that we will realize the full import of what God has done for us and in us when he saved us.