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Salvation | Cadet Charlene Barrett

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Charlene BarrettSalvation is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “something that saves someone or something from danger or a difficult situation.  In Christianity, salvation is the act of saving someone from sin or evil.”  Salvation is God’s way of providing His people deliverance from sin and spiritual death through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  In the Old Testament, the act of salvation is rooted in the Israelites deliverance from captivity and slavery in Egypt.  It is also shown in the way God delivers His people in battle and brings victory from their enemies.  The New Testament proclaims the source of salvation to be the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The salvation that Jesus brings is for the past, present, and future.   Brenda Colijn describes salvation as that of redemption, ransom, freedom, and forgiveness.  Humans are not free.  Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, all of humanity now has the opportunity to be free from sin if they would just believe and repent.  Paul calls us to work out our salvation in Philippians.  I have accepted Christ and I strive daily to live for Him.  But when I think about this verse, how am I living out my salvation.

In the Old Testament salvation is perceived as deliverance from oppression and enemies.  The act of salvation is rooted in the Israelites deliverance from captivity and slavery in Egypt.  For the Israelites salvation was concrete and affected the present lives of the people.  God’s people were oppressed in Egypt and cried out to God.  God heard their cries and delivered them from Pharaoh and the oppression they were living.  God’s power through Moses brought plagues upon the Egyptians.  This evidence persuaded Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave the land of Egypt.   After they left the land Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army out to take the Israelites back.  Moses again was empowered by God and the waters of the Red Sea parted and the Israelites crossed through safely and were free from the Egyptian army.  “That day, Yahweh rescued Israel from the clutches of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore.  When Israel saw the mighty deed that Yahweh had performed against the Egyptians, the people revered Yahweh and put their faith in Yahweh and in Moses, his servant.”[1]  After crossing the Red Sea and being delivered from Pharaoh’s army, Moses and the Israelites sang these words, “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation” (Exodus 15:2).

Salvation in the Old Testament is also seen as being set free from sins through the sacrifice of the blood of animals. The people would bring their best young lamb to the High Priest.  This sacrifice was costly as this animal was very valuable.  This animal meant food and provisions for the family.  The animal would be killed and the blood collected.  This blood was brought into the Holy of Holies by the High Priest.  This was the place that signified God’s presence.  The blood would be offered to God as an atonement for the sins committed and salvation was given through the sacrifice.  “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11).  The Israelites in Egypt also experienced the deliverance of salvation when the Lord directed them to carry out the first Passover.  They were to sacrifice their lamb and rub the blood around the doorpost of their homes so that the plaque of death did not enter into their household.  “Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs… On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.  The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Exodus 12:7, 12-13).

Salvation plays a central role in the New Testament and is perceived differently than in the Old Testament.  Salvation is from Jesus Christ alone. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  Through faith in Jesus Christ, believers are saved from God’s judgement of sin and the consequence of sin which is eternal death.  The source of salvation is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice.  He gave His life as the final sacrifice for the sins of all humankind.  Humanity is sinful and therefore separated from God.  God provided the solution for man’s problem.  The death and resurrection of Jesus made it possible for man to mend his broken relationship with God.  The words of a familiar chorus says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away.   And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace.”  Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”

Salvation in the New Testament is also a continuous journey and not just a one-time encounter with Christ.  Salvation takes place when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior but salvation is also for the present and the future.  I believe that Jesus brought salvation to the present lives of people that lived in His day.  Jesus healed the sick, He made the lame to walk, He made the blind to see, and He raised people from death.  Jesus brought salvation from their infirmaries and their faith journey began or matured.  The people that He touched were not only saved physically and spiritually, but they were also saved socially and many were no longer outcasts.  Through His miraculous acts, Jesus brought physical, spiritual and social salvation.  Jesus through His death and resurrection brought salvation for the past, present, and future.  Believers are ensured of salvation from the eternal punishment of sin with an expectation of an eternal life spent with God once our mortal lives end.

Brenda Colijn in her book “Images of Salvation in the New Testament,” describes salvation as redemption, ransom, freedom, and forgiveness.  Redemption is being set free from bondage.  Redemption of sin is accomplished through Jesus’ death on the cross.  “The point of redemption in the New Testament is the self-sacrifice of Christ, who gave his life to free humanity.”[2]  God loved us so much that He gave us an amazing gift of grace.  He sacrificed His Son to death on the cross so that we could be set free from the bondage of sin.  The amazing thing is that Jesus willingly gave His life for ours.  This redemption was accomplished through the power of God over death as Jesus resurrected on the third day.  Christ’s redemption is not for a chosen few, it is universal.  God desires that everyone be saved and experience a personal relationship with Him.

Salvation with the idea of ransom goes alongside redemption.  In the Old Testament the ransom paid was the life and blood of a very costly young lamb that was sacrificed for the atonement of sin.  But in the New Testament Jesus was the ransom.  John 1:29 says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  Christ redeemed humanity but a costly ransom was required.  A price was warranted.  Jesus gave His own lifeblood as a ransom for our sins.  “Redemption and ransom thus show the costliness of human salvation.  Jesus set human beings free at the cost of His own life.”[3]

Salvation is also viewed as freedom.  Freedom from the sin and guilt of the past, freedom from the Old Testament Law, freedom from eternal punishment, and freedom from the worry of having to bear burdens on our own.   We are set free from sin but we are also set free so that we can serve God and others.  We are to become Christ-like.  We need to make way with our sinful nature and freely live in God’s grace and direction for our lives.  Christ paid the ransom for us so we now belong to Him.  “More important than any price is the fact that those who have been purchased belong to God.”[4]  Believers are free from sin but are therefore free to live for Him and like Him.  We are set free to love others just as Jesus Christ loved us and sacrificed Himself for us.

Salvation is forgiveness which works alongside freedom.  Repentance to God and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord opens the way for salvation.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Christ promises forgiveness of sins when we repent and believe.  We are free from the guilt associated with past sins as God will remember them no.  The chorus of Song 724 in our songbook says, “No more! No more! He remembers sins no more.  They are pardoned for ever, and he will never bring them up against me anymore.  I’ll hear no more of the evil days of yore; I’m a pardoned offender, and God will remember them no more.”  Christ forgives us therefore we should extend this forgiveness to others.  “As Spirit-led people, we are free to give ourselves in love and service to both God and others.  As forgiven people, we can extend forgiveness to those who wrong us, in the hope that both we and they will be changed.”[5]

Philippians 2:12 says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  How am I working out my salvation?  At the age of seven I became “saved” when I accepted Christ into my heart as a Junior Soldier.  Since that time salvation has meant many things.  Back then it meant that I needed to live a good life, listen to my parents, and that when I died Jesus would take me to be with Him in heaven.  There are still many aspects of salvation the same. I still aim to live a good life but there is more to living out my salvation now than back then.  Living out my salvation is trying to live Christ-like and live my life pleasing to God.  Working out my salvation means to not only read the word of God but to hear it, obey it, and live out what God has written, to submit to the commands that God has put in place for my life, to live in obedience to God.  But my life should not only be in obedience to God, it should live in joyful obedience to Him.  Working out my salvation means to share the good news of salvation which is for the whosoever.  This means not only sharing the good news by mouth but living it out daily.   My salvation should prompt me to offer love, grace, compassion, and forgiveness using Jesus Christ as my example.

Salvation is deliverance – deliverance from oppression, enemies, sin, and eternal death.  But salvation means so much more.  It is Jesus Christ offering His life as a sacrifice for my sins and for the sins of humankind.  Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the door to redemption for anyone enslaved by sin.  Faith in Him gives us access to God’s amazing gift of this redemption. Salvation through Jesus means that the ransom for humankind has been paid through His shed blood.  Salvation offers freedom from sin and guilt.  God remembers our sin no more and we are free from that bondage.  Salvation is forgiveness.  Accepting Christ allows forgiveness to flow into our lives and just as easily it should flow out to others.  God has given us an amazing gift of grace though salvation.  Salvation comes from God alone.  I pray that God will fuel the desire in me to share the good news of salvation wherever I may be.

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Bibliography

Colijn, Brenda B. Images of Salvation in the New Testament, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2010.

Coutts, John J. This We Believe, London: The Salvation Army International Headquarters, 1976.

Davies-Kildea, Jason. What is the Meaning of Salvation in The Salvation Army Today?, Germany: Lap Lambert Publishing, 2010.

Greathouse, William M. and H. Ray Dunning. An Introduction to Wesleyan Theology, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1982.

Lasor, William Sanford, David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush. Old Testament Survey, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.

McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology an Introduction, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers, 2011.

The Salvation Army International Headquarters. The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine, London: Salvation Books, 2010.


[1] Lasor, William Sanford, David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush. Old Testament Survey, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 71.

 

[2] Colijn, Brenda B. Images of Salvation in the New Testament, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, p. 150.

[3] Colijn, Brenda B. Images of Salvation in the New Testament, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, p. 151.

[4] Colijn, Brenda B. Images of Salvation in the New Testament, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, p. 147.

[5] Colijn, Brenda B. Images of Salvation in the New Testament, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, p. 171.