Salvation is derived from a Greek word sozo or soterion which means deliverance (Arnold para.1). Salvation in the Christian context can be used to mean deliverance to safety, which means individuals believably get their sins forgiven and thus they are rescued from the ultimate penalty for sinning. This essay shall try to indicate some of those essential elements of understanding Christian salvation.
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Essential elements of understanding Christian salvation
Religion is an expression of faith through worship. Quite often, people show their obedience, love and ultimate belief in a supreme being to whom they see as the controller of their lives (Boikanyo 22). Christians believe that theirs is a response to God’s love for them. There is a bond between Man and God which is manifested through the belief in Jesus Christ. Man must follow God’s commands through the teachings of Christ who has taught the world how being human is sinful; Jesus is the only Saviour (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
One can only be rescued by embracing these teachings (Rom 11:11). That means that Christian salvation and Christianity are related; God’s action in saving mankind is salvation, the belief in God’s law and acting according to it is religion (Boikanyo 28).The Old Testament and the New Testament versions of the bible may vary in meaning of salvation but they imply the same thing: God’s action. Through salvation, He delivers people from bondage and enemies and develops them into a nation (Ps 3: 8 and Ps 53:60). Through Jesus Christ, He heals and saves mankind (1Tim 1:1). It shows a new beginning (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The concept of Christian salvation according to this standpoint is always from sin. And people must strive to avoid sin because it may take them to Hell. This is God’s guarantee because He began the World and is the one who determines its end (Arnold 1-2).
It involves communication between God and Man. Man is given blessings to restore him from sin after which he will live in God’s care eternally. The heart of salvation is hence in God Himself as the purposed planner and giver. God manifests in the holy trinity (Arnold 2), as Father, the Son who procures Christian salvation (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.
According to the Gospel of St. John (1 John 4:7-12 and John 3:16), the motivation in pursuing salvation is the reception of God’s love. This is shown in the way He gave His only son to the world as a shield against sin even when it was His most loved creation. When they accept salvation, Christians will live forever with God.
It enables them to do good because they know they are living close to God. The fact that salvation rescues one from the blaze of hell is a motivation to why Christians seek it. Salvation manifests God’s grace (Ephesians 2:7).
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The importance of salvation is hence to help the lost identify the way to the Lord. This can only be done though spreading the gospel. Because salvation is deemed to be good for mankind, every human being should come to know it. After one identifies their salvation, they will be grateful for the fact that they live in God’s guidance.
The course of Salvation is completed by man’s acceptance of God’s proposal to save him. Man is a sinner and this is the situation that requires salvation (Jones 1). The process involves God acting as an agent through Jesus to save mankind. Those who repent are forgiven and reconciled with God. Jesus Christ teaches mankind a new set of commandments to accept the offer as the only way to grace. Through the powers of rectitude, God subdues iniquity which oppresses mankind.
Articulation of Christian Salvation today
In our world today, Christian salvation is expressed in the way people attend church. To follow Jesus’ teachings of worshipping God frequently is one of the fundamentals to attaining God’s Will. People know that they commit sin frequently and must seek forgiveness from God through repentance. Boikanyo (28) states that because Christianity is a religion, Christians seeking salvation must perform all the rituals in the religion. They must follow the teachings of the dogma, make offerings, pray and repent as well as forgive those who have wronged them. It is only by doing this that they can be sure of gaining God’s favour.
The Holy Spirit enables Christians to believe in God (John 1:9 and 6:44). Today, the belief in salvation manifests in ways that show individuals as subjective to God’s actions. When people experience tough times, they normally pray to God to shelter them from further repression. They try to repent for any sins they have committed because they believe that could be the reason they face the misfortunes.
Christians know Jesus paid the price of redemption on the cross (John 19:13) and all they need to do is to stay close to His teachings as well as spreading them. Today, many Christians are forming churches close to those they think are away from Jesus’ teachings. This is because it is taught that although every person is enabled to attain salvation, they must make effort to reach God by coming close to Jesus in faith (Matthew 22:3), where they are made believers. Spreading the gospel is hence a way of making new believers.
Negligence in understanding Christian salvation
Although the teachings of salvation are straightforward, most Christians misinterpret them. Some believe that there is no need to seek repentance because God’s grace is universally applied to mankind (Acts 13:39). The truth is mankind receives salvation through obeying God’s law. Jones (13) asserts that God is ready to save all but that can only be achieved by man’s positive reaction to Christ’s plan through the Holy Spirit. Christians should not seek salvation because they will be seen to be good but their past deeds become the basis of judgment and love from God.
Francis Sullivan argues in his ways of salvation that the value of salvation lies in all religions that accept God as a supreme being. Therefore although the church symbolizes the instrument for Christian salvation, the nature of God’s grace to mankind is universal and its achievement lies in the expression of response to God’s demands. Hence Christian salvation is only an example of salvation, not the only salvation. Because all of them believe in the existence of God, it is important for Christians to accept their existence as complementary faiths, not as barriers to salvation of mankind. This will reduce confusion among believers converted from other religions (Boikanyo 36), some of whom end up backsliding.
Arnold, Jack L. “Studies in the Doctrine of Christian Salvation.” IIM Magazine online 4.31(2002) Web.
Boikanyo, Joel M. “The confusion in understanding salvation in Christian People as it relates to Salvation in African Traditional religion Hampers the building of the local church.” Dissertation for the Masters’ Degree in Practical Theology. University of Pretoria. 2009. Web.
Jones, Joe R. “schematic Reflections on salvation in Jesus Christ.” Christian The Theological Seminary. 1993. Web.
Sullivan, Francis A. “Ways of Salvation?” The American Magazine. 2009. Web.