Salvation refers to deliverance from an undesirable state or condition. In theology, the study of salvation is called soteriology and is a vitally important concept in several religions. Christianity regards salvation as deliverance from the bondage of sin and from condemnation, resulting in eternal life with God.
Christian views of salvation
Among many Christians, the primary goal of religion is to attain salvation. Others maintain that the primary goal of Christians is to do the will of God, or that the two are equivalent. In many traditions, attaining salvation is synonymous with going to heaven after death, while most also emphasize that salvation represents a changed life while on Earth as well. Many elements of Christian theology explain why salvation is needed and how to attain it.
The idea of salvation rests upon there being some sort of unsaved sinful state from which the individual (or mankind) is to be redeemed by a Savior. This Savior, Christians believe, is Jesus Christ.
For the Catholic Church, salvation is not just a negative deliverance from sin (original sin and actual sin) and its effects: God saves us not just from something, but for something. God’s action is a positive liberation that raises human beings to a supernatural status, to eternal life on a higher plane than earthly life, to union in a single body with Christ, one of the three Persons of the Trinity, to the dignity of not only being called but actually being adopted children of God, to seeing God "as he is" (1 John 3:2) in communion of life and love with the Trinity and all the saints (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1023-1025, 1243, 1265-1270, 2009).
These blessings man could never merit. Indeed, in the strict sense, man can never merit anything from God: the creature has received everything, including abilities and potentialities, from the Creator. The possibility of meriting anything in the eyes of God derives entirely from a free gift or grace of God. Salvation or justification can by no means be merited, but once God has justified us, we can then, through the influence of the Holy Spirit and love, merit graces useful for sanctification, for growth in grace and love and for reaching the eternal life for which God destines us. We can merit even material benefits, such as health and friendship (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2006-2011).
Christians receive even in this life, as it were in incipient or seed form, a pledge and a hope of what is to come, the blessings of salvation that are to be given fully and definitively in the afterlife. Thus the Catholic Church sees salvation, even for the individual, as something for which we can use both past, present and future tenses:
- Our salvation has already been achieved in principle and in hope, since Christ died for all on the cross and since we accepted Christ by faith and baptism: "When the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love towards man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).
- The process of salvation continues in God's work in those who accept the Gospel. St Paul uses the present tense in this regard: "To us who are being saved, (the word of the cross) is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). The text in Greek has present-tense σῳζομένοις (being saved) in this passage, not perfect-tense σεσῳσμένοις (having been saved) or past-tense (aorist-tense) σῳθεῖσιν (saved); ambiguous translations such as "us which are saved" (KJV) cover up this fact.
- Only on completion of our earthly life will God's saving work in us reach its final stage. There is no magic formula or emotional experience that will definitively prevent us, as creatures whom God has endowed with free will, from ever rejecting God’s offer of salvation. Even the great Apostle Paul envisaged this eventuality for himself, considering it possible that he himself, after having preached to others, might be rejected (1 Corinthians 9:27). But there is hope: "Since, therefore, we are now justified by (Christ's) blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God" (Romans 5:9).
In Western Christianity the doctrine of salvation, or soteriology, involves topics such as atonement, reconciliation, grace, justification, God's sovereignty, and the free will of human beings. Various understandings on each may be found in Catholicism and Protestantism. Especially within Protestantism, this may be seen in the differences between the theologies of Calvinism and Arminianism as well as mediating versions of the two.
Among evangelical Christians, salvation means that all have sinned and are justly under God's condemnation. Atonement or reconciliation with God is possible for anyone, but only through Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life and died as a perfect sacrifice in place of the death deserved by all humanity, by (1) confession of sin and (2) faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. The consequence of salvation is that the sinner's sins are forgiven and he/she is born again as a new person, a Christian, a believer, a child of God, and is sealed with the Holy Spirit. Evangelical Christians believe that not every individual obtains salvation (forgiveness) because not all will trust in Jesus Christ. Those who do not are subject to divine condemnation in Hell, a chief aspect of which is separation from God.
A key Protestant doctrine is that salvation is not something that a person can attain on their own, but rather that it is completely the gift of God, which people receive and accept. Conservative Restoration Movement churches (e.g. Churches of Christ) not only recognize the conditions of hearing the gospel and responding with faith as part of the salvation process, but also repentance, baptism and continued obedience. (Acts 2:38-39, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Hebrews 6:4-6)
A third point of view, universal salvation, has existed throughout the history of Christianity and became popular in the United States with the rise of rationalism and modernism in the late 1800's. This point of view states that all people, regardless of creed or belief, will eventually be saved and go to heaven, and is the central theme of Universalism and Unitarianism. Those who criticize universal salvation as heretical claim that, besides being completely unbiblical, it implies that non-Christian religions are equally valid, and that there are paths to salvation other than through the grace of Christ. This is an accurate description of some universalist beliefs, but not all. Other forms of Christian universalism do hold that Christianity is the only completely true religion, and that salvation comes only through Christ. They simply believe that Christ's death and resurrection redeemed all people, regardless of their beliefs. Religious pluralists, however, sometimes criticize this view as being patronizing toward non-Christians.
===Evangelical Christians=== Christians believe all have sinned and atonement or reconciliation with God is possible for anyone through Jesus Christ by 1.) confession of sin and 2.) acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Baptism, which symbolizes the forgiveness of sins, is not considered by most evangelicals as necessary for being "Born Again." It is a sign of that new birth, and of having become a new person, Christian, a believer, a child of God, and the sealing by the Holy Spirit. Baptism is by immersion and is a one-time ordinance that follows salvation. Some who do not understand this ideology may abuse this privilege by thinking that if sin is forgiven, the process of salvation can be repeated over and over again. In practice it does not work that way.
Believers typically would not consider themselves and their lifestyle as being religious or ceremonial. Salvation reconciled humanity to God; therefore, a personal relationship connects that individual to God. Evangelical Christians also believe that they can face persecution by others for their faith.
Christian Science and Salvation
The Christian Science textbook defines "Salvation" as follows: "Life, Truth and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 593, by Mary Baker Eddy.)
Eastern Christianity was much less influenced by Augustine, and even less so by either Calvin or Arminius. Consequently, it doesn't just have different answers, but asks different questions; it generally views salvation in less legalistic terms (grace, punishment, and so on) and in more medical terms (sickness, healing etc.), and with less exacting precision. Instead, it views salvation more along the lines of theosis, a seeking to become holy or draw closer to God, a concept that has been developed over the centuries by many different Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Christians. It also stresses the teaching in the Gospels attributed to Jesus, that as a prerequisite for a person's sins to be forgiven, something is definitely required of that person. (Matt. 6:14-15)
The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church, known also as The Catechism of St. Philaret  includes the questions and answers: "155. To save men from what did (the Son of God) come upon earth? From sin, the curse, and death." "208. How does the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross deliver us from sin, the curse, and death? That we may the more readily believe this mystery, the Word of God teaches us of it, so much as we may be able to receive, by the comparison of Jesus Christ with Adam. Adam is by nature the head of all mankind, which is one with him by natural descent from him. Jesus Christ, in whom the Godhead is united with manhood, graciously made himself the new almighty Head of men, whom he unites to himself through faith. Therefore as in Adam we had fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have victory over sin and death."
New Testament passages
Christians look principally to the New Testament for their understanding of salvation. Many of these texts are found in the Epistle to the Romans, largely because that Epistle contains the most comprehensive theological statement by Saint Paul of Tarsus. Because of this, some Protestant Christian denominations have called these texts the Romans road.
Some key passages in the New Testament concerning salvation include:
- God's love: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. " (Romans 5:8
- Sin separates mankind from God. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"(Romans 3:23
) "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12
- God gives eternal life because Jesus Christ atoned for our sin: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23
- Saved (from sin) by our own forgiveness of others: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15
- Confession and believing: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." — "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10
) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13
- Saved at Baptism: "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 3:20-21; "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" (Romans 6:3-5
- Saved by God's grace: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9
- Saved by Works: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (James 2:24
) This passage is disputed as the meaning of the word justified. Protestants argue here the word justified is not used as "To make righteous" but to be "shown already righteous". This is meant in the sense that a person's good behaviour proves they have been saved, as God is "sanctifying" them, making them a better person, after having saved them. Catholics do not separate justification from sanctification. The Council of Trent (Catholic), while anathemizing any who would say that man can, before God, be justified by the works he does by human strength alone, without the divine grace merited by Jesus Christ (canon 1 of its Decree on justification), declared that the justice granted to Christians is preserved and increased by good works, and accordingly these are more than just the fruit and sign of justification obtained (canon 24).
- Judged by Works: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." (Revelations 20:12-13
). All Protestants do not agree with this type of interpretation of this verse. Some believe there will be the judgment all people go through, and then the "white throne judgment", for all those who are saved. In that judgment we will get rewards based on what we do. They do not believe eternal life is a reward that is going to be given out in consequence of works done. Others understand it in the same way as the "Saved by Works" verses, in the sense that those who will not have done good proved they were not saved, because their works did not correspond to their 'saved' status.
- Christ Says...: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21
Many interpret this in the same way as the "Saved by Works" and "Judged by Works" verses: those who claim to be Christians will be proved false by their actions if their good works do not back up their claim to be Christians.
The book of Ecclesiasticus or Wisdom of Sirach, considered to be Scriptural by many Christians, places a heavy emphasis in numerous verses on the importance of giving alms to the poor, saying that performing this act can atone for sin and lead to salvation; eg. Sir. 3:30, "Water extinguishes a blazing fire: so almsgiving atones for sin."
The Christian concept of salvation is not a Jewish concept, as it implies a focus on the afterlife, which is not a significant focus of Judaism. Jews reject the notion that people are born condemned(original sin).
The Quran talks of people who are lost however the concept "lost" is contrasted with successful and not saved. The concept is consider of the form of "none or some" and not "none or all." i.e. one may be successful to some extent, which can be less than that of other persons, or he is lost.
For a Muslim, the lifestyle should be in a way that is pleasing to God so that one may receive his grace and enter the Garden. Islam teaches that man is responsible for all his deeds in the Judgment day and everybody reaps the fruit of his own deeds (Quran 2:141). It is believed that at puberty an account of each person's deeds is opened to record the person’s deeds. This account will be used in God’s Judgment to determine the person’s fate. Islam teaches that our good deeds can place us in a position to receive God's mercy and that without God's mercy no one's good deed can put him in Paradise. Muhammad advised:
- "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and rejoice, for no one's good deeds will put him in Paradise." The Companions asked, "Not even you O Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "Not even me unless Allah bestows His pardon and mercy on me." (1)
However, In addition to Faith, There are three more criteria that the individual must satisfy in order to be not in the state of loss. These are good deeds, guiding one another to truth (Dawah) and guiding one another to patience. These are put forth in the following verse of the Qur'an:
"By the declining day, Lo! man is in a state of loss, Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance." (103:1-3)
The Quran teaches that "the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless the Lord do bestow His Mercy" and that even the prophets do not absolve themselves of blame (Quran 12:53). The Quran teaches that God does not treat men according to what they deserve, but according to what befits him; If God were to punish men according to what they deserve, He would have wiped them all out. (Quran 35:45, 16:61). It is believed that God in his Judgment will be both merciful and just.
Based on the verdict received during the Day of Judgment, each human will spend this stage of life in the Garden or Hell. However, those in Hell are eligible to go to the Garden after being purified by the Hell fire a later time if they "had an atom's worth of faith in them".
The Quran rejects the belief that being a Jew or Christian alone brings salvation arguing that neither Abraham nor Isma'il nor Isaac nor Jacob nor the Tribes were Jews or Christians (Quran 2:140). Instead Quran states that salvation hinges upon the legacy of Abraham and Jacob which was worshiping and bowing to the one True God and not joining other gods with him. (Quran 2:130-141). Good deeds go hand in hand with faith and the Qur'an teaches the necessity of both faith and good works for salvation. According to Quran, people have different ranks in heaven and their good deeds will be rewarded.
The Qur'an also suggests a doctrine of divine predestination. (Qur'an 4:49, 24:21, 57:22).
The Muslim doctrine of salvation says that unbelievers (kuffar, literally "one who hides, denies or covers the truth") and sinners will be condemned, but genuine repentance results in Allah's forgiveness and entrance into the Garden upon death. See Sin for further discussion about the concept of sin and atonement in Islam.
- Main article: Moksha
Salvation to the Hindu is the soul's liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth and attainment of the highest spiritual state. It is the ultimate goal of Hinduism, where even hell and heaven are considered temporary. This concept is called Moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष, liberation) or Mukti (Sanskrit: मुक्ति, release). Moksha is seen as a final release from one's worldly conception of self, the loosening of the shackle of experiential duality and a re-establishment in one's own fundamental nature, though the nature is seen as ineffable and beyond sensation. The actual state of salvation is seen differently depending on one's beliefs.
- In Advaita, a monistic philosophy, which comprises most forms of Shaivism and some forms of Vaishnavism, it is oneness without form or being, something that essentially is without manifestation.
- In dualist Hinduism, as found mostly in different forms of Vaishnavism, it is union or close association with God.
The Four Noble Truths outline the essentials of Buddhist soteriology. Suffering (dukkha) is treated as a disease, which can be cured by understanding its causes and by following the Eightfold Path. Like Hinduism, liberation (called Nirvana in Buddhism) is seen as an end not only to suffering, but to the cycle of reincarnation and the end of ignorance. The Eightfold Path includes morality and meditation. The means of achieving liberation are further developed in other Buddhist teachings. They are expressed in very different terms by Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhists.
Concepts of salvation are markedly different in Pagan religions, even those that have been strongly influenced by (and incorporate elements of) Abrahamic mythology.
- Born Again
- New Birth
- Prevenient Grace
- Total Depravity
- Compare: moksha
- Reported by Aboo Hurayrah & 'Aa'ishah & collected by al-Bukhaaree (eng. trans. vol.8 p.315 no.474)
- True Salvation at TheBoard!, Teens-4-Christ
- Assurance of Salvation? at Catholic Answers, Catholic Apologetics Centre (Catholic Christian)
- Salvation by Faith by John Wesley (Protestant Christian - Methodist/Wesleyan)
- The Scripture Way to Salvation by John Wesley (Protestant Christian - Methodist/Wesleyan)
- God's Plan of Salvation at Bible.org
- Salvation Simple As Can Be
- What is salvation for? (An 'emergent Christian' look at salvation)
- Salvation (Protestant Christian - conservative Calvinist/Reformed)
- Jewish encyclopedia-Salvation
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