Redemption and Salvation - A Fulfilled Grace Perspective
By David Embury
We were… we are… we shall be saved [Rom 5:9-10; 8:24; 1Cor 15:2], and …lift up your heads, for your redemption draws nigh [Lk 21:28]. These expressions – 'redemption' and 'salvation' although indelibly linked and often appearing as interchangeable terms in Scripture, are not always saying the one or same thing, especially so when it comes to defining the contexts between that which is temporal and that which eternal. There are important and significant differences between the two, and some crossover of thought does occur where salvation or saved are used in the global sense – properly referring to 'redemption' as in reflecting the essence of Divine deliverance from sin [Mt 1:21; Lk 1:77]. "Redemption" however literally means to be bought back – this is what God has done in Christ; He paid a price in ransoming and reconciling the world back to himself [Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; 1Tim 2:6]. "Salvation" in comparison, is to be brought into – an experience which those who through belief in God through Christ appropriated i.e., they enter into through faith.
To further clarify this distinction that can be between redemption and salvation, consider the following. Specifically, we see Paul defining these two aspects of God's work of grace:
Rom 5:10a For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…
Christ's Cross – His death, reconciled-redeemed humanity en masse back to God [Isa 53:11].
Redemption enables us to find the Way of salvation, that being Christ alone – this is the work of divine grace, not our believing. If our believing could produce redemption then Jesus died in vain. Redemption however can produce belief; the working of repentance in turning mind and heart in thankfulness to God – thus bringing confidence before God and deliverance in life i.e., salvation of the soul, the inner man.
Rom 5:10b …much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Christ's Resurrection – His life, brought-brings salvation to those who will grasp it, individually.
Salvation, as just stated "of the inner man" on the other hand is the realisation, the revelation of mind and heart that knows I am loved and accepted by God – that knows all are loved and accepted by Him. The work then of salvation is that of assurance – the confidence in knowing that I have been restored unto favour with God – accepted in the Beloved [Eph 1:6]. This knowledge of acceptance or, assurance, is what multiplies grace and peace and works divine growth, grace and transformation [2Pt 1:2-4].
There is another aspect of salvation as found in the contextual setting of the New Testament that must also be acknowledged – that of the literal flight of the first-fruit saints out of Palestine before and during the Jewish-Roman wars; specifically culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in their generation. The root meaning of the word "salvation" is to deliver – this in the "this generation" [Mt 24:34] time-frame, particularly the calamities of AD 66-70 had a very temporal outworking for those who heeded Christ's words to flee. Salvation then, is not always something that is restricted to the "spiritual" sphere of operation.
Having said that however; the covenantal overtones of being reconciled-redeemed means that, covenantally, there can be a personal salvation occurring in the heart of a believer that is working deliverance from toxic life patterns i.e., those things that work or occupy temporal pain in our lives:
Hang-ups [toxic thinking] Hurts [toxic emotions] Habits [toxic behaviour] – Head-Heart-Hands; one invariably follows the other in actions and consequences.
Again, it is the embracing of this assurance that grasps the reality of our redemption, our reconciliation, that works personal deliverance. Without Christ one cannot fully know the associated blessings of forgiveness – that does not mean we have not been forgiven, we have [Jn 1:29; 1Jn 2:2], it simply means that without Christ we cannot know it i.e., we cannot grasp the reality of our forgiveness. Peter indicates similar:
Act 10:43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
The word here translated "receive" means to grasp [labein – λαβειν], and is in the active voice – meaning that the subject [the believer, not God] produces the action – cf. Mt 21:34; Heb 10:26. In other words: believing or having faith in Christ enables one to grasp a hold of the actuality of forgiveness – to seize with certainty the remission of sins, i.e., coming into the reality of Christ's redeeming-reconciling work of "…not imputing their trespasses to them…" [2Cor 5:19b].
The apostle Luke further demonstrates the dual nature at of God's grace at work:
Lk 1:77 To give knowledge of salvation [deliverance] to His people by the remission of their sins [redemption]…
The end result of this is knowing peace with God. It becomes our heart's assurance that redemption is ours – the promise secure, and this is what "saves" the soul:
Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise [epangelia – επαγγελια = assurance] by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
1Jn 3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
Again, borrowing a couple of paragraphs from the article Fulfilled Grace: The Biblical term "salvation" is as broad an expression as one can find in relation to the ministration of God's grace; however the turn of phrase being saved or to be saved must be understood as being descriptive of the subject to which it is being applied. And as explained above, there are a number of different Biblical aspects of what it means to be saved. Pertaining to "redemption" everyone is saved [delivered from sin's offence] adjudged so by God i.e., reconciled. Likewise, just as humanity was not involved in the imputation of guilt through Adam's sin – adjudged so by God, so man was not involved with his redemption either – that was between God and Christ, man however was the recipient of it.
Thus there was established through the Cross of Christ a broad all encompassing unilateral and universal deliverance [Heb 9:26] – what we call salvation; it brought redemption to the whole world – collectively. This redemption in turn has the potential of bringing a personal deliverance – again, what we call salvation, to those of the world – individually. The once for all delivering work of Calvary, which brought this corporate redemption had and has nothing to do with man's personal belief system. However, the salvation that comes from this redemption is what is experienced in the life those who through personal faith in Christ embrace what Paul taught as – the renewing of the mind i.e., the saving of the soul. This, in the stance of the believer is the veracity of belief and confession, but does not change the status of humanity as being wholly, and in every respect before God and by His means alone, redeemed.
Just as the promise is there for all who will grasp it in faith [Act 10:43], there remains yet no less the promise to those who don't or won't – it is true however that in this life they will be less for not having apprehended it. Yet as the apostle Paul said:
Rom 4:16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…
Gal 4:25-26 …for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children-- but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
The 'father of faith' and 'the mother of us all' extends to more than just the seed that acknowledge or confess their linage. The truth is, there are many who through lack of knowledge wander aimlessly [Prov 29:18] through life, bogged down in an identity crisis – it is this message of Gospel i.e., the revelation of God's righteousness [Rom 1:17] that will dispel and dismiss this veil of ignorance, for God is the loving father of us all [Psa 24:1; Act 17:29].
Rom 3:3-4a For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not!
Rom 11:32-33 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!