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What is Salvation?

I was recently involved in an interesting discussion about the nature of faith and salvation. As I thought about some of the things we discussed, I went back into the archives and found this draft I wrote many years ago about salvation and evangelism. It's worth consideration:


What is “salvation”? Many within the church misunderstand salvation, and therefore we must be certain to hold a proper concept of salvation before we attempt to explain it to others. Ephesians 2:8, 9 says, “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Salvation comes directly and only from God. It is something that can absolutely not be achieved by any action. Herein lays a common and serious misunderstanding of salvation. We are not saved by something we do. We are saved by something we have, namely faith.

Faith is not something we can develop, it is not something we can find, and it is not something we can purchase. It is the gracious gift of God. This is encouraging for the evangelist. If the possession of faith of others was dependent upon our abilities, we would likely fail, and at best we could have no confidence that any would be saved. However, it is not up to us. We are assured that faith will happen through the preaching of the Word (Rom. 10:13-15). Thus the role of the evangelist is to proclaim the truth of God, depending upon the work of the Spirit to regenerate the darkened mind of the unbeliever.

If faith is the true measure of the evangelist’s success, how can he/she know when he has been successful?

Life change must be the measure. True faith is evidenced by life change (James 2:14-26). Thus it is imperative that our evangelistic method be more than just a cognitive exercise; for a cognitive exercise will most likely produce only a cognitive awareness.

Our method, while appealing to the mind, must also be experiential in nature. Faith, when received will lead to baptism (Acts 2:38), a new way of life (Eph. 5:8), and ultimately the multiplication of one’s own faith into others (Matthew 13:23).

Therefore, our evangelism must present the faith as the entrance into a community of believers, living counter-cultural lives, bearing witness to Christ’s work in them. This experiential element of evangelism may for some, be far more powerful than any well-crafted argument.

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