The Process of Salvation

William Arnold III

A. Definitions:

1. The OT concept. There are several aspects of "salvation" in OT thought. First, salvation implies that a person or nation is in great distress - perhaps related to danger from enemies or to suffering caused by some disaster. In such situations the sufferers do not have the ability to help themselves.

Second, salvation involves a deliverer (a savior). This is a person who acts on behalf of the sufferers to deliver them from their distress.

Third, the action of the deliverer effects a release from the circumstances that caused the suffering. Thus, salvation portrays movement - from distress to safety.

2. The NT concept. The core concept established in the OT is carried over into the NT. In fact, the Greek verb swzw (to save) also implies rescue from some life-threatening danger. In the NT, it is God or Jesus who acts to deliver believers from dangers that threaten not only their physical life but also their prospect of eternal life.1

B. Salvation has many components:

1. saved by grace Rom. 3:23,24; Titus 2:11; Eph 2:5,8

2. saved by faith Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8; I Peter 1:9

3. saved by confession Rom. 10:10; I John 1:9; James 5:16

4. saved by repentance Luke 13:3; II Cor. 7:10; II Peter 3:9

5. saved by baptism Mark 16:16; John 3:5; I Peter 3:21

6. saved by the Holy Ghost John 3:5; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13,14

7. saved by endurance II Tim. 2:10; James 1:12; Heb. 3:6

C. Salvation is a process:

1. we have been saved, "According to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5), and "{God} has saved us and called us to a holy life" (2 Tim 1:9),

2. we are being saved, "For by grace are ye saved" (Eph 2:8), and "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phi 2:12),

3. we shall be saved, "much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom 5:10) and "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (I Tim 4:16).

God only gives this final salvation if we continue in him (Rom 11:22; Col 1:23; I John 2:24,25). Ralph Reynolds gives this illustration:

When were the children of Israel saved? At the night of the Passover after the blood was applied, while the death angel passed over, they were saved. Yet they were not yet saved. They were saved when they crossed the Red Sea and the armies of Pharaoh were destroyed. Yet they were not yet saved. They were saved when they were led by the cloud in the wilderness. Yet they were not yet saved. Many were never saved for they never entered the Promised Land.2

D. God intends to see us through: Matt. 28:20; Ppns 1:6; Heb. 13:5; I Peter 1:5


1. Lawrence O. Richards, Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985), 540, 541. <back>
2. Ralph V. Reynolds, Cry of the Unborn (Hood River, OR: Alpha Bible Publications, 1991), 97. <back>

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