What is salvation? Salvation is a gift, and all the big words are free - even if you don’t know what they mean!
In this article we explain the meaning of salvation with definitions for all the terms associated with the doctrine of salvation such as justification, righteousness, sanctification, grace etc in easily understood common language.
OK, we’re in church so it’s time for our weekly guilt trip! Who can tell me what “sanctification” means? “Justification”? What’s the difference? How about “repentance”? Do you know the meanings of these words?
God didn’t put these big words in the Bible to make us feel guilty! The problem is back in the day when they were put in the Bible everyone knew what they meant because they were part of the common language of the day. But that’s not the case now, so they don’t feel very familiar to us, and when someone does use the word in common language it is often given a meaning that is not the same as the original. For example the word “repentance” as it is often used today does not accurately convey the Biblical meaning.
Everything concerning salvation is a gift. Righteousness is a gift. Faith comes to us as God’s gift. Grace is God’s gift. Justification, sanctification – all the big words – they are all free. The bigger the word, the bigger the gift! You don’t have to have the depth of a theologians’ understanding of all the Greek and Hebrew meanings of these words to be a recipient of them (although it can help.) The main thing that needs to be grasped is that God has made all these aspects of the doctrine of salvation FREELY available to ALL as a GIFT. Even repentance is a gift, as we shall see in this brief study.
How do we define salvation? The Greek word soteria is variously translated throughout the New Testament as, “deliverance, preservation, safety.” It is especially used in connection with the saving of the human soul from sin and destruction, and eternal torment in hell.
The most common word for “saved” in the New Testament is sozo.
a. to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction (from injury or peril)
1. to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
2. to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue
b. to save in the technical biblical sense
c. to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment
Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Sozo". "The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon"... 1999.
Personally I like Gloria Copeland’s definition of salvation: “nothing missing, nothing broken.” In common language to be “saved” means “to be made whole”. Only Jesus Christ can restore broken lives back to wholeness. “There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.”
Let’s look briefly at some of the other main terms associated with the doctrine of salvation.
Salvation is a gift – see the next section on grace.
Grace (charis) is favour, kindness that is not deserved. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved by grace, and that salvation is a gift. (Another word derived from the same Greek word is charisma which actually means “gift.”)
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” KJV
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (New Living Translation)
God’s favour is not something we deserve – it is a gift.
Faith is the act of believing. To have faith means to be persuaded. Hebrews 11:1 gives us the Bible’s very own definition: “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” Hope and faith are two different things, but you need both. Hope reaches out with longing, but faith brings a confidence that the things we hope for belong to us, because of the assurance of God’s Word concerning these things.
In Mark 11:22, Jesus instructs us that faith in essence is also a gift from God Himself. The scripture reads, “have faith in God” but a more accurate transliteration is “have the faith of God" i.e have God’s very own faith (ability to believe) imparted to you!
“Have the faith of God” - “… that is, exercise, and make use of that faith which has God for its author, which is the work of God, and of his operation, a free grace gift of his; and which has God for its object; and is supported by his power, and encouraged by his goodness, truth, and faithfulness.” (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/mark/11.htm)
Faith is not something we earn or “work up” – it is God’s very own faith imparted to us as a gift.
Repentance means to change your mind or your thinking about something. It does not mean changing your behaviour, although the evidence of having changed your mind about something will be evidenced by your behaviour as John the Baptist pointed out when he challenged the Pharisees to bring forth the fruit of their repentance. But repentance simply means to change your mind about something. (Women do it all the time!)
But repentance is a gift, and here’s why …
John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (King James Bible)
2 Timothy 2:25 “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (New International Version)
So we see that no one can come to God without being drawn by God Himself, and then repentance (change of heart and mind) is granted to them by the working of God’s Spirit in their life – perhaps by the influence of someone’s prayers on their behalf? Whatever the case, whether it is an act of sovereign grace or the cause and effect of another persons prayer, as far as the recipient is concerned, the “granting of repentance” is a gift. God's longsuffering leads them to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).
“While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. … Repentance is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So we need to repent, but the Bible teaches us that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, and He Himself is the one that draws us to Himself by His love. Love is the most attractive and compelling force in the universe. And this is how God draws us to change our minds about the way we want to live. Repentance then, is also a gift.
Righteousness is the verdict of approval. It means to be declared “not guilty” in the courts of heaven and in the court of your own conscience. It means to be given the stamp of approval as you pass through inspection. It means to be stamped “OK” or to have a check mark next to your name.
For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (King James Bible)
It is certain that death ruled because of one person's failure. It's even more certain that those who receive God's overflowing kindness and the gift of his approval will rule in life because of one person, Jesus Christ. (GOD'S WORD® Translation)
Righteousness – God’s approval of us - is a gift.
To be justified is to be declared righteous or made right with God. It is another word form of the same Greek word translated “righteousness.” It basically means the same thing.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (King James Bible)
And are made right by grace without charge and by the redemption that exists in Yeshua The Messiah (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
There is no charge to be made right with God – it is free.
To be sanctified means to be “set apart.” The generic meaning of sanctification is “the state of proper functioning.” Hence for an object to be sanctified means for it to be “set apart” or “separated” for it’s created purpose. God has set us apart to be like Christ, which is our created purpose as “sons of God.” He performed this act of sanctification when we surrendered our lives to Him at the moment of salvation – our lives became “marked” for Him, or “sealed” by the Holy Spirit. But sanctification is also an ongoing process as we live out the daily process of having our lives transformed.
1Thess. 5:23 tells us that God Himself sanctifies us by the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives. Hence even the process of ongoing sanctification is a gift.
But here is what religion teaches you…
“Now that you’re saved, you’re supposed to clean yourself up.”
And how’s that working for you?
So what are we supposed to do?
We have a choice, we’re not just puppets. We are supposed to cooperate with God.
And here’s the process:
We get to hang out with God and read His book. How hard is that?
God will write His laws in your heart, and change your behaviour from the inside out, if you’ll spend time fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit and the Word, which is where your spiritual life comes from.
“God can change anything about you if you give Him enough time.”
Sanctification is a gift. The process of being set apart for God requires an act of our will and our ongoing cooperation, but nevertheless, due to our total reliance on the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives (we are powerless to change ourselves) sanctification is a gift.
Everything is a gift.
Salvation is a gift.
Grace is a gift.
Faith is a gift.
Repentance is a gift.
Righteousness is a gift.
Justification is a gift.
Sanctification is a gift.
EVERYTHING is a GIFT.
Thanks be to God, for His indescribable gift!
Salvation is a gift (All the big words are free)
Sanctification – Part 1 - Definition & Vocational Sanctification
Sanctification – Part 2 – Becoming a servant leader
Sanctification – Part 3 – Moral Sanctification
Sanctification – Part 4 – You shall be Holy
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