Before you can receive salvation, before you can be “saved or born again”, you must understand what salvation is according to the Bible. You could find a whole lot of answers to this question, but all true, biblical answers, will include each of the following doctrinal tenets. To make this topic a little easier to understand, each portion will be stated in simple terms, and then they will be supported with the verses of Scripture from which they are derived.
In general terms, salvation can be defined as the deliverance from something bad, it means to be rescued from some kind of danger or suffering. So, from a biblical perspective, it is referring to our eternal, spiritual deliverance. It’s like asking, “What happens after we die?” or “How do we get into heaven?”
When the Philippian jailer asked the Apostle Paul what he must do to be saved, Paul’s response in Acts 16:31 was “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Now, while it’s certainly true, we have to believe in Jesus to be saved, salvation definitely involves more than just believing.” The Bible says that “even the demons believe and tremble!” (James 2:19)
In Matthew 19:24-25, Jesus indicated that salvation (or entering into God’s Kingdom) was not actually that easy at all when He said, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” That is hyperbole (exaggerating to make a point), Jesus knows a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle, but He said it was easier for that to happen than for a rich man to enter heaven. Jesus’ point was that in many instances, those who have plenty, who are self-reliant, find it hard to give up their self-reliance to place their faith and trust in Jesus… they won’t let go of the control of their life – which is a requirement.
When the disciples heard [what Jesus said], they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
The disciples were not really concerned about whether people were rich or poor, or whether it was easy or difficult to get into heaven; they concluded from Jesus’ words that it was next to impossible.
Jesus gave a simple response and clarified His purpose for saying what He did. In Matthew 19:26 He said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” So, it’s not impossible for ANYONE to enter heaven, they just can’t get there on their own self-effort, AND wait! There’s still more to understand.
It’s important that we know what we are being saved from. The answer here is: We are saved from God’s Wrath. We are saved from God’s holy judgment.
Romans 5:9 says, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Elsewhere, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, the Apostle Paul also said, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We all have sinned, and our sin separates us from God. The consequence of sin is death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin [what we have earned] is death. And since we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23], Salvation must involve the removal of sin.
How is my sin removed? Only God can remove my sin. 2 Timothy 1:9 says, “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” And, in Titus 3:5, we see that “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” It is God and God alone who saves us.
How does He do it? The central story of the entire Bible is that God sent His Son, Jesus to rescue us by taking away the sins of the world by dying on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice; Jesus died in our place.
John 3:17 says it like this: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
It was Jesus’ death on the Cross and His subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation. Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” And Ephesians 1:7 adds, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace."
Scripture is clear that we are saved by grace. It is God’s gracious, undeserved gift which is only obtainable through faith in Jesus Christ. A few verses later, in Ephesians 2:5 and 2:8, it says, “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— for by grace you have been saved through faith." And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
God doesn’t want anyone to be able to boast about what THEY have done to earn or deserve salvation.. It is a gracious gift from God. Acts 4:12 tells us that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Our only “contribution”, if you will (which is also a gift from God) is our FAITH. The Bible says we are saved by faith. Faith is not a superpower that we have. It’s not a tool we use to get God to do what we want (or think we need). Faith is a confidence instilled in us by the unyielding faithfulness of God. First, we hear the gospel. Someone tells us about the love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, His resurrection from the dead, and the free gift He offers those who will surrender their life to Him. Surrender includes both repentance and an intentional "calling on the name of the Lord".
Repentance is a changing of our mind and a changing of the direction of our life. We turn from our own self-rule to God’s sovereign rule over our lives. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,”
Calling on the Lord is part of our surrender, but it also brings in the acknowledgement element. Being a Christian is not a stealth operation. Jesus expects us to proudly call out His name and become a light in this world to help others turn to Jesus for salvation.
Romans 10-9-10, and verse 13 say it like this: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
A concise definition of the doctrine of salvation might be: “Deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.”
Salvation is available in Jesus alone and is dependent on God alone for provision, assurance, and security.
In John 14:6, Jesus made it clear that there is no other way to salvation: He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. And Acts 4:12 has the final word: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”