Posted by: JennyRain | August 26, 2008

Salvation Reconfigured

In response to my friend Annie Laurie’s blog, I felt inspired to work out my own theology “with fear and trembling” on the topic of salvation.

Original post: 

As I was reading through my pal’s quite eloquently stated post, the following questions came to mind. I write this with one important caveat; this has been my study and understanding of the concept of salvation.

What is salvation, really? 

Salvation is a word that describes the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13), and of deliverance generally from evil or danger. In the New Testament it is specially used with reference to the great deliverance from the guilt and the pollution of sin wrought out by Jesus Christ, “the great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).

Salvation encompasses the entire act of deliverance from the righteous justice of a holy God, including justification, redemption, and sanctification. Redemption made us His. Whereas, salvation is the process by which we are revealed to be like Him. Both justification and redemption are the sole work of God, for which we can claim no credit. Sanctification, on the other hand, is a work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a willing believer. As such, we play a vital role in our sanctification but transformation is entirely the work of God.

Salvation is an event and a process.

True Salvation: G4982: σώζω sōzō sode’-zo: From a primary word σῶς sōs̄ (contraction for the obsolete σάος saos, “safe”); to save, that is, deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): – heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.

SOZO is the Greek word translated “saved, healed, and delivered.” Sozo contains the whole package of being made whole or well.

  • Salvation: “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved [sozo]” (Romans 10:9). “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save [sozo] what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
  • Healing: “But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage, your faith has made you well [sozo], and at once the woman was made well [sozo]” (Matthew 9:22).
  • Deliverance: “And those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well [sozo]” (Luke 8:36).
  • Soterion vs. Sozo: The two words, “salvation” and “being saved” in the New Testament are the words, soterion, a noun (denoting deliverance, preservation, salvation), and, sozo, a verb (denoting to save). … In other words, just as Jesus has “already come” but is “not yet” – so we “have been saved” and “are being saved/restored/redeemed” – it denotes an action that has happened as well as something that continues to happen.
The Tenses of Salvation
  • Past: From the penalty and guilt of sin (Eph. 2:5, 9; 11 Tim. 1:9: Acts 16:31).
  • Present: From the power of sin in the Christian life; (Phil. 2:12, 13; II Cor. 2:15–being saved; I Cor 15:2–being saved; Phil. 1:6).
  • Future: From the presence of sin, when the Christian will receive the final redemption of his body (I Pet. 1:5; Phil. 3:21).

What is Salvation Not?

Salvation is not only “Salvation of the Spirit/Soul.” If you look at the gospels, Jesus as frequently saved people through restoration into the community, physical healing, and psychological healing (See the gospel of John for some examples). One thing we do not see Him doing is talking about Spiritual issues every time He restored a person. Sometimes He did – sometimes He did not.

Furthermore, salvation in an ancient context had to do not only with the individual person but with restoration back into community and family. Jesus’ concept of Salvation is much more holistic than our modern-day churches. Witnessing and missions are about the holistic redemption of a person, not solely the “Spiritual” reconciliation of a person. When we stop at spiritual reconciliation only, we miss half of the salvation process! 

What are common misperceptions regarding the righteousness granted to those who have accepted the gift of salvation? (Roman 10: 1-4)

  • Positional theory: We are only “positionally” righteous (only spirit); the rest of us is bad until we go to heaven. Blind spot theory: God holds up a “blind spot” to who we are (puts Christ in front of us). We are still “bad” but because Christ is standing in front of us, God cannot see our “badness”
  • Filtered theory: We must be “filtered through the blood of Christ” every time we come to God (In other words, we must “renew” our righteousness because we can “lose” it or it “wipes off”)
  • Blackboard theory: God is keeping tabs of us on a blackboard. We have to somehow get the score back to good again because anything bad we have done since salvation is kept on God’s blackboard. Our sin “comes back”
  • Do More Theory: Jesus + other stuff will “keep” us saved.

All of these deny the inherent transformation that has taken place in our identity. Either we are or are not new creations (and creatures) in Christ (2 Corinthians 5.17).

The scriptures do not support that the old nature and the new nature co-exist inside of us at the same time – the old nature has gone, the new nature has been birthed because of the work of Christ on the cross and His subsequent resurrection (2 Corinthians 5.21)

Our new nature means transformation has taken place and is taking place in us. We are new creatures (event) and new creations (in process) in Christ. The theories above (which are preached in many churches today still) have a “works salvation” theme underpinning them as Annie Laurie alluded to in her post. Once we accept Christ – we are made righteous in Christ immediately.

Jesus Christ became the sin of humankind (2 Cor. 5.21) and when He died, our sin died with Him. When He rose, He gave us the right to a redeemed life (reconciled in relationship with Him). Get it? The sin problem in our world has been taken care of by the work of the cross and resurrection. Therefore we have one choice when it comes to salvation and righteousness, will we accept Christ’s work and the gift of our new reconciled identity in Christ, or will we not?

So if we are “really” saved, why do we still sin?

Our sin problem is really an identity problem. We have not yet fully grasped who and Whose we are BUT our lack of understanding does not preclude the reality of our redemption through Christ. Salvation is immediate, but transformation takes time and belief in our new identity can often take years!

Once saved, we do not fight an internal struggle of two equal-but-opposing natures (The sin nature and the redeemed nature in Christ). Once you have become a new person, you cannot “un-become” any more than you can “un-birth” yourself. Rather there is a force in the world (the power of sin) working upon us to influence us. BUT, because we have the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working through us, we can respond through the spirit-man.

You see, I have resolved that either Christ became my sin and it died with Him, or He did not. He has taken care of the sin problem and I have a new nature as I reside in Him, or He has not. I am made righteous because of His death and resurrection, or I am not. It was finished at the cross or it was not. My job now is simply to let Christ live in and through me.

Because of Christ, I know that my behavior no longer determines my identity, but rather, my identity is and will continue to affect my behavior (2 Cor 4.16-18). I am renewed, I am being renewed, and I will continue to be renewed daily through the work of the Spirit and this alone determines my position in heaven, not my behavior.

The battles we as followers of Christ fight with sin are against the principalities and powers (power of sin, etc). Our battles are not against “self.” Jesus did not die so we could daily crucify ourselves (That is what Dallas Willard has coined “Sin-Management”). Jesus died so that we would not have to crucify ourselves and He lived to show us how to walk out our days, not how to manage our sin.

(c) 8.26.08




  1. this is great, thank you for responding. love u girl!

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