For most Christians, the word “salvation” means the salvation of the soul from the wrath of God through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, with a careful reading of Scriptures we find that it is used of other things as well, such as being saved from physical drowning (Acts 27:31, Hebrews 11:7). We also discover that salvation has different shades of meaning depending on the context.
First, it can mean salvation from the penalty of sin, referring to God’s once-for-all deliverance of believers from spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God (Rom 6:23). Christ’s finished work accomplished this deliverance from God’s wrath. “Since therefore we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9). Thus, all believers in Christ have been saved. It refers to a past action.
Second, it can refer to the process of being saved: sanctification. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1Cor 1:17). William MacDonald states: “Although it is true I have been saved, it is equally true that I am being saved day by day. I have been saved from damnation; I am being saved from damage. I have been saved from the penalty of sin; I am being saved from the power of sin.”
Finally, there is a future aspect of salvation that is referred to by different new testament writers:
For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed (Rom 13:11).
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1Thess 5:9).
So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Heb 9:28).
To an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power is being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).
Surely this has to do with the time when Jesus comes and eternity breaks through and glorification of the sons and daughters of God, the unveiling of the Bride of Christ, the consummation of the ages is finally fulfilled.
What a great salvation! We were saved from the penalty of sins (past). We are being saved from the power of sin (present). And on Jesus’ return, we will be finally be saved from the presence of sin.
This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.