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Salvation | Cadet Yves Bolduc

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Yves BolducCadet Yves Bolduc (Heralds of Grace Session) submitted the following paper on “Salvation” for his Salvation Army Theology II class.  He has graciously allowed us to upload it to our website.  Cadet Bolduc asked us to mention that his first language is French.  We think he has done a very fine job expressing himself in English.

When we read some Bible encyclopedia or dictionaries, we can easily find that have a significant difference in the usage and meaning of the word ‘salvation’ between the Old and New Testament. The Bakers Evangelical Dictionary says:

“Of the many Hebrew words used to signify salvation, yasa [[;v”y] (to save, help in distress, rescue, deliver, set free) appears most frequently in the Old Testament. Commonly, the deliverance of which the Old Testament speaks is material in nature, though there are important exceptions. In contrast, the employment of soteria in the New Testament, though it may include material preservation, usually signifies a deliverance with special spiritual significance. In addition to the notion of deliverance the Bible also uses salvation to denote health, well-being, and healing.”[1]

The term salvation in the Old Testament was used to refer to God’s interventions, and it was mostly used to refer to a deliverance from some enemies, sickness or situations caused by sins.  Salvation was mostly connected with earthly life and good that comes from God who intervened in people’s favor, and was connected to a wider view than individual manner. For example, when God called Noah to construct the Ark, it was for not only for him, but for the salvation of his family and the human race in general.  The International Bible Encyclopedia quotes:

“In systematic theology, however, “salvation” denotes the whole process by which man is delivered from all that would prevent his attaining to the highest good that God has prepared for him… Salvation, then, means deliverance from all that interferes with the enjoyment of these blessings. So it takes countless forms–deliverance from natural plagues, from internal dissensions, from external enemies, or from the subjugation of conquerors (the exile, particularly).”[2]

The salvation in the Old Testament was more affair of being saved from earthly issues. Even though the Old Testament contains some idea of something more as of The International Bible Encyclopedia. The promises of God about salvation were also to give to His chosen people:

“…characteristic of righteousness(Isaiah 1:26; 4:3,4; 32:1-8; 33:24; Jeremiah 31:33,34; Ezekiel 36:25,26; Zechariah 8; Daniel 9:24; Psalms 51:10-12)… and a new heaven and a new earth were to be received (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22), and a share in the glories was not to be denied even to the dead (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2). And, among the people so glorified, God would dwell in person (Isaiah 60:19, 20; Zechariah 2:10-12).”[3]

For the Old Testament comprehension, God’s promises and salvation was possible only to Israel or through Israel, the chosen people of God. The Nouveau Dictionnaire Biblique said: “However, the Saviour God of the Old Covenant is still distant, hidden itself (Isa. 45:15)” (my translation from French).[4] And to be forgiven from sin, people had to do bloody sacrifices.

The New Testament presents the term ‘salvation’ as the mystery of God that is now revealed to the world and to the heaven (Lk 2:29-32; Eph 1:3-14; 3:7-10 and 6:19). In The New Testament the meaning of ‘salvation’ is now that God intervened by Jesus-Christ for whose believe received the privilege to become closer in their relation to Him and to receive the assurance of eternal life and favor of God. More precisely, it is through the sacrifice of Jesus-Christ on the cross and his resurrection that salvation finds his real and profound revelation and realisation. It is not anymore about to have been born in the chosen people, Israel but more about to believe and receive the chosen one, Jesus-Christ sent by God to bring salvation to the humankind. John 1:29 indicates precisely, the accomplishment of Old Testament bloody sacrifice: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”.

Paul will say: “…you Gentiles by birth…remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus… he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So… both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father (Eph 2:11-18 arrangement made). Jesus will say to Nicodemus: “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:5-6) and John 1: 12-13 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God”, that means that salvation is about being born from the Spirit of God and becoming His child, growing in Him.

The salvation with its implication of eternal life is also seen as a revelation that comes clearer with the New Testament. Jesus will teach his disciples: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). Or Paul will say: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died (1 Corth 15:19-20). Many other scriptures could be cited here to demonstrate that the salvation in New Testament, is about a new relationship with God and the assurance of eternal life as it was originally His plan for humans. A last look at this passage will make it clear: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more…  Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children” (Rev 21:1 &7). It remind about similar allusions in the Old Testament, as we already discuss, and now revealed through Jesus-Christ.

In her book, Images of Salvation in the New Testament, Brenda B. Colijn uses the image of the kingdom of God to explain the salvation. The title of the chapter is: “Citizen of the kingdom, disciples of the King”, it describe really well the reality of the salvation Jesus brought to humanity. As she says: “The offer of the kingdom requires a response”[5]. When we receive the gift of salvation which is the forgiveness of our sins and a new nature as children of God, we become citizen of the kingdom of God. By deciding to embrace Jesus offer, we decide also to enter in a new reality, we accept to live by a different ruler over our life, this ruler is God himself as expressed in The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. We got born in a new creation, a new world and a new reality. The moment we “born again” as The Gospel of John presents it, we start a new life and a new development, we enter in a new community with a new identity. So: “God expects his citizens to live by his standards and reflect his character, which would be impossible except for the kingdom power present in the Holy Spirit (Mt 5:48)”[6]. What we can learn about the concept of the kingdom, is that salvation is not only a one shot deal that we are done with any other action or responsibility. No, it is a journey, it is depicted by Jesus as to enter in a new life, a new identity as we are now motivated and led by a new destiny, and our fate is motivated by the love shown by God through Jesus Christ and his call to follow him. As she says in the conclusion of this chapter on the kingdom image of salvation: “The kingdom of God takes priority over all other allegiances”[7].

“Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). As Jesus taught in the Gospels, his kingdom is coming and yet to come. By Jesus we can now access to the kingdom of God, we can now benefit the privilege of the kingdom, but we are also still living under the reality and rule of a rebellious world. World that rejected, from the beginning and until now, the offer of God to the reality of His kingdom. John explains: “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (Jn 1:10-13). The promises of the kingdom are for those who receive Jesus as saviour and Lord. And those who decided to enter under this new “ruler” or “kingdom” must remain faithful to Him. In that way I understand the words of Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12 “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. We must fear our fleshly tendency to disobedience and rebellion. We must keep ourselves alert of the decision and commitment we made when we decided to enter the kingdom of God and kingship of Jesus-Christ.

Paul brings to our attention another illustration about our actual situation when we still are living on this present era, on this earth in 2 Corinthians 5:20 when he compare us, Christians, as “ambassadors for Christ”. As citizen of the kingdom of God, we have a new nationality, if we can say it this way. We live on this present era as ambassadors, not anymore as citizen of this rebellious world to God. We live here as His representatives. We are then not only subject to follow the rules of this era, but also to follow the rules of our homeland. Our allegiance is to God, and to keep our privileges as citizen of His kingdom, we must obey its rules. By denying or rejecting His authority, it is like to return to our previous allegiance and reject our identity as His citizens, or children. In my comprehension, Paul try to emphases the importance of our new identity in Christ, and to be careful to do not take it lightly.

Colijn seem also understand it in this way, similar of mine:

“Whenever we confess that Jesus is Lord, we pledge allegiance to his kingdom. As citizens of the kingdom, we must resist any version of nationalism or patriotism that conflicts with our primary allegiance. We must reject any cultural pressures to abandon kingdom values. We must live, as Hauerwas and Willimon have said, as ‘resident aliens’ “[8].

When, and only when the kingdom of God will come and replace the actual rebellious era, will we know what is the full reality of the salvation brought to us by Jesus-Christ. It is not to say that what we know about His salvation is beyond any comprehension and is so wonderfully marvelous to experience, explore and understand.

 

Bibliography

Colijn, Brenda B.. Images of salvation in the New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2010.

McGrath, Alister E.. Christian theology: an introduction. 5th ed. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Nouveau dictionnaire biblique révisé [et augmenté. 4e éd. ed. Saint-Légier: Editions Emmaus, 2004.

The Salvation Army handbook of doctrine. London: Salvation Books, 2010.

Youngblood, Ronald F., F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison. Compact Bible dictionary. Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Chicago formatting by BibMe.org

 Internet: http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/salvation/

Easton, Matthew George. “Entry for Salvation”. “Easton’s Bible Dictionary”. .

Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. “Entry for ‘SALVATION'”. “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”. 1915.


[1] M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.

[2] Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. “Entry for ‘SALVATION'”. “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”. 1915.

[3] Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. “Entry for ‘SALVATION'”. “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”. 1915.

[4] Nouveau Dictionnaire Biblique Révisé et Augmenté, p. 1165

[5] Colijn, p.73

[6] Colijn, p.80

[7] Colijn, p.83

[8] Colijn, p.83