Summary: What does the Bible mean by salvation and why is it so great?
Hebrews 2:3 So great salvation!
What do we mean when we use the word salvation? We use it frequently, but what does it really mean? In normal English we might say Barney saved Fred when his yacht overturned. We mean that Barney rescued Fred from drowning. The way that it is used in the Bible is similar, but it is used in 3 slightly different ways 3 tenses:
Firstly, for Christians salvation is an accomplished fact:
Your faith has saved you - Luke 7:50;
by grace you have been saved - Ephesians 2:8;
according to his mercy he saved us - Titus 3:5.
This refers to the believer’s deliverance from God’s judgement, which awaits all who die in their sin. We enjoy this when we become a Christian.
How were we saved?
We were saved by obeying God, turning our back on our sin and placing our faith in Jesus Christ and acknowledging Him as our Lord.
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out - Acts 3:19
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved - Acts 16:31
God … now commands all men everywhere to repent - Acts 17:30
Romans 10 sums up the way we are saved: 9 if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
The first stage was to recognise our sin and then to confess and renounce it. It is a change inside that affects the way we behave.
Eph.2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Tit.3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us
Scripture could not make it any plainer that we cannot save ourselves. All that we contribute is our sin. God planned our salvation, made it possible, sought us out and drew us to Himself.
Two teenagers were in a boat on Long Island Sound when suddenly a storm came up. As the waves grew larger, the craft was tossed about and the boys could no longer control it. Finally it capsized, and they were thrown into the water. One of them could swim very well, but the other could not. When the good swimmer came to the surface, he immediately looked for his buddy. Seeing him floundering nearby, he rushed to his aid. But before reaching out to rescue him, he shouted, "I can’t help you until you stop kicking and thrashing around. Just trust me, and let me save you! Otherwise you’ll drown!" The sinking boy understood. Ceasing all efforts of his own, he allowed his companion to bring him safely to shore.
Those who try to make it to heaven in their own strength will find their struggle sinks them! We must trust ourselves completely and utterly to the mercy and power of the one who died to save us.
Secondly salvation is a continuing process to us who are being saved (1 Cor.1:18)
God does not zap us with His wand instantly making us into perfect Christians. You may have spotted this yourself! We need the power of God day by day to change us into the people He wants us to be. It is similar to the idea of sanctification and is the work of a lifetime, or even longer!