In Christian circles, there is a lot of talk about “salvation”.

You’ve probably heard preachers talk about the need to be saved. Or maybe you’ve had someone ask you, “Are you saved?” Or perhaps you prayed the “prayer of salvation” when you were young.

But what is salvation?

Many people have trouble answering this question with clarity. Why do you need to be saved and what are you saved from? What happens if you’re not saved? Does every person need to be saved or just some?

In this article, we’re going to see what the Bible has to say in answer to the question, “What is salvation?”

What is Salvation? Why Do We Need To Be Saved?

In order to understand the nature of salvation, we need to understand why we need to be saved in the first place.

Now, this may sound a bit odd, but the Bible makes it clear that every person needs to be saved from God. Hang on. Isn’t God loving and kind and merciful? Yes, He absolutely is.

But God is also holy and just and righteous, which means that He cannot allow even the slightest hint of sin or evil into His presence. If God is going to be righteous, He must punish those who sin against Him, and all of us have sinned against God. He can’t sweep our sins under the rug or pretend they didn’t happen. Justice must be done.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

"Sin is a moral affront against God; therefore, God is the one who must forgive sin. David said, “Against Thee, and Thee only, have I sinned.” We have a lot of psychological and theological garbage going around today where people say everyone is supposed to be affirmed: “I affirm you. You’re okay—I’m okay.”...We are sinners—by birth, by nature, by choice, by practice. We have morally struck and offended an infinitely holy God. He must punish sin, and we deserve punishment."

All of us need to be saved from the wrath of God. As it says in Romans 1:18,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

We Are Saved From The Wrath of God

If the bad news is that we need to be saved from the wrath of God, the good news is that God took decisive action to save us from Himself. Our sins against God were a debt that we could never pay. We could never do enough good deeds to somehow wipe out our wrongdoing.

So God sent Jesus, His Son, to do what we could not. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. He obeyed every command of God to the fullest, always pleasing God in everything He did. In motive, word, and deed, Jesus was completely righteous.

Then Jesus died on the cross in our place, and while He was on the cross He took the wrath of God that we deserve. God punished Jesus as if He had committed all our sins. God treated Jesus as if He had slandered, committed immorality, stolen, lied, and been unrighteously angry. All the punishment that should have been ours was heaped upon Jesus.

When we place our hope in Jesus Christ, our sins are credited to Jesus and His righteousness is credited to us. All of our sins are forgiven by God and He takes His wrath away from us. God sees us as being completely and totally perfect, clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In his book Mastering Your Emotions, Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

"Now, some people are trying to rid themselves of guilt by working on their self-esteem, reading self-help books, and talking about their problems and issues. They’re working hard, but they’re never acknowledging that they cannot clean themselves up. Only Jesus can do that. Jesus is our substitute of righteousness."

What is salvation? Salvation is being saved by God from the wrath of God.

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We Are Saved From The Power of Sin

In addition to being saved from the wrath of God, we are also saved from the power of sin. Until God intervenes in our lives, we are slaves of sin, unable to break its powerful hold on us.

In John 8:34 Jesus said,

“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

In Romans 6:16 it says,

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

When we believe in Jesus, God sets us free from the enslaving power of sin. We have divine, supernatural power to obey God. This doesn’t mean that we obey God perfectly or that we never do anything wrong. It does mean that we are able to live in a way that pleases and honors God, something we couldn’t do before.

The Bible uses the imagery of death and resurrection to describe how we’ve been saved from the power of sin. Our old self that was enslaved to sin has died, just as Jesus died on the cross. Our new self that has the power to obey God has risen, just as Jesus rose from the grave.

Romans 6:5-7 puts it this way:

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be [a]done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

What is salvation? Salvation is being rescued by God from the enslaving power of sin.

We Are Saved For The Glory of God

We are saved from the wrath of God and the power of sin for a very specific purpose: to bring glory to God. Our great purpose in life is to know God and live in a way that brings Him honor. We are not saved so that we can live for ourselves and our own selfish pursuits. We are saved so live lives that please and glorify the Lord.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says,

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

God purchased our salvation at an incredible cost to Himself, sending His precious Son to die in our place and take the wrath that we deserve. In response to God’s incredible grace, we are called to honor the Lord with our lives. We are to seek to love God with our whole hearts and to love our neighbors.

We don’t do these things in order to earn salvation. Rather, we do them out of gratefulness for the salvation we’ve already received.

How Do We Experience Salvation?

So how do we experience this amazing salvation? How do we escape from the wrath of God and be set free from the power of sin?

The wonderful news is that we don’t have to do anything, we only have to receive it. Salvation can’t be earned or bought. We can’t work our way to God. God has already done all the work for us and offers us salvation as a free gift.

We receive salvation by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. That’s it. We trust in Jesus to save us from both the penalty and power of sin. We hope in Him alone for the forgiveness of our sins and trust in Him to make us righteous before God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 puts it this way,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Because salvation is a gift and we can do nothing to earn it, boasting is excluded. We cannot claim that God saved us because of something we have done. Instead, we must give all glory to God, acknowledging that salvation comes from Him and only Him.

As the hymn “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” so eloquently says:

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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