Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:
(deliverance). Temporal deliverance (Ex. 14:13). Spiritual deliverance (2 Cor. 7:10; Eph. 1:13; Heb. 2:3).
Concise Bible Dictionary:
This may be seen in various connections in scripture.
1. It has reference primarily to the judgment of God to which man is obnoxious by reason of sin. This is illustrated by the destruction of the firstborn (the strength) of Egypt when the destroying angel passed through the land. The Israelites were saved only through being sheltered by the blood of the Passover lamb. Salvation is based on God’s righteousness having been maintained and declared in the death of Christ, and hence is for the believer in Christ (Luke 1:77).
2. Intimately connected with the above is the question of salvation from enemies carnal or spiritual. With Israel it was the former, as the Egyptians and the Canaanites. With Christians it is the latter, as sin, death, the world and the power of Satan. Salvation in this sense is by the power of God (Luke 1:71).
3. It has reference further to the actual physical condition of Christians which is met by the redemption of the body. In this sense salvation is hoped for. During the interval the Christian has to work out into result his own salvation—it was in the case of the Philippians their “own salvation” in contrast to the care exercised over them by Paul when present with them (Phil. 2:12-13; compare Heb. 7:25).
From Anstey’s Doctrinal Definitions:
This is perhaps the most comprehensive of all the terms in the New Testament, having a wide variety of meanings and applications. It has to do with every kind of deliverance from danger and judgment that there could be—from the believer’s justification to his glorification. Since there are many different aspects and applications to salvation, it is equally true for a believer to say, “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.”
Confusion has arisen from Christians failing to distinguish these aspects of salvation and erroneous ideas have resulted. In the minds of many, every reference to salvation in Scripture is assumed to be the eternal aspect of salvation from the penalty of our sins. However, W. Kelly has pointed out that that aspect is usually not what is in view in most passages that speak of salvation (Lectures on Philippians, p. 43). The Bible student, therefore, must determine which aspect of salvation is being referred to in the particular passage that he is reading. The context will usually indicate this. There are three main categories of salvation:
• Eternal salvation.
• Present salvation.
• Final salvation.
1) Eternal Salvation—(Heb. 5:9).
This is what is preached to sinners in the gospel, by which they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are saved from the eternal penalty of their sins (Acts 4:12; 16:30-31; Rom. 10:1, 9-10, 13; 1 Cor. 1:18; 7:16; 15:1-2; Eph. 1:13; Phil. 1:28; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:10; James 1:21; 1 Peter 1:9). It is sometimes referred to as the salvation of our souls and has to do with the believer finding peace through resting in faith on the finished work of Christ, whereupon he is sealed with the Holy Spirit. This eternal salvation can never be lost. (See Eternal Security.)
Christians tend to use the term “saved” in connection with eternal salvation prematurely, when referring to persons who show signs of having divine life. Mr. Kelly said, “Indeed I think a great vice at the present moment is making ‘salvation’ too cheap and too common a word. You will find many evangelicals constantly saying when a man is converted that he is saved, whereas it is probably quite premature to say so….It is unwarrantable to say that every converted person is saved, because he may still be under doubts and fears—that is, under law more or less in conscience. ‘Saved’ brings one out from all sense of condemnation—brings one to God consciously free in Christ, not merely before God with earnestness of desire after godliness. A soul is not converted unless brought to God in conscience; but then [being merely converted] one might be more miserable and all but despairing in this state. Does Scripture allow us to call such an one ‘saved?’ Certainly not” (Lectures Introductory to the Study of the Minor Prophets, pp. 375-376).
Cornelius is an example of a person in this state. Before Peter came into contact with him, he was evidently born of God, and therefore, he had divine life. He was a God-fearing and devout man, a man whose prayers were respected before God (Acts 10:2-4). The Lord indicated to Peter in a vision that Cornelius had been cleansed (Acts 10:15, 28). But at that point he was clearly not saved! We know this because Peter was sent to tell him “words” whereby he and all his house could be “saved” (Acts 11:14). Such a person is safe as far as his eternal destiny is concerned because he has life (through quickening), but he is not saved in the Pauline sense of the word until he rests in faith on the finished work of Christ.
2) Present Salvation
This aspect of salvation has to do with deliverance from the adverse circumstances of life through which we pass. Since there are many dangers in the path of faith, believers have need of this kind of practical salvation.
There are many different ways in which believers are saved in this practical sense:
Saved by Baptism
The governmental judgment of God is upon the unbelieving world of Jews and Gentiles for its departure from Him, and it is presently feeling the consequences of it (Gal. 6:7).
As to the generation of Jews who were responsible for the death of Christ (Acts 3:14-15; 1 Thess. 2:14-15), in the earliest days of Church history (Acts 2-7), God was about to answer the Lord’s prayer on the cross and cause governmental blindness to envelop the guilty nation (Psa. 69:22-23; Acts 28:25-27; Rom. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:14-15). This judgment would not only result in blindness, but also in the nation being destroyed by the Romans (Psa. 69:24-26; Matt. 22:7; Luke 21:5-24). In the meantime, another prayer of the Lord on the cross, asking for governmental forgiveness, was being answered in those who believed on Him (Luke 23:34). Thus, the mercy of God was being extended to the nation for a time before the judgment of God would fall. If the people fled to Christ for refuge (Heb. 6:18-20) and were baptised (Acts 2:38-40; 22:16), they could avert that governmental judgment of blindness. Baptism would formally disassociate them from that guilty ground on which the nation stood and would put them on Christian ground whereupon the outward favour of God rests. Thus, the Apostle Peter could say, “Baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). Peter qualified his remark so that no one would misunderstand him by adding in a parenthesis, (“Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.”) In keeping with this, on the day of Pentecost he preached to the guilty nation of Jews: “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). He explained that they could receive this salvation by repenting and being baptised in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). This shows that the salvation that he was referring to was a governmental thing as well as an eternal thing, and it would deliver those who believed from the judgment that had been pronounced on the nation. (See Government of God.)
As to the Gentiles who are also under the governmental judgment of God on account of living far from God morally and spiritually (Ex. 34:7b), they too need to be baptised, and thus disassociate themselves from the heathen ground upon which they were living. In connection with the Gentiles, the Lord said, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mark 16:15-16). Believing would give a person soul salvation and being baptised would give him governmental salvation. Baptism would disassociate Gentile believers from their former position and place them on Christian ground (Acts 10:47-48).
Saved by the Power of Christ’s Life on High—(Rom. 5:10).
This has to do with being saved in the path of faith in a practical sense from the spiritual dangers arrayed against us by the enemy without (Satan) and from the evil workings of the sin-nature within. Walking through a world that is opposed to God and His principles is like walking through a minefield. There are spiritual dangers everywhere and much to attract and excite our fallen sin-natures (the flesh). God fully knows this and has undertaken to save us from these dangers in a practical way.
To effect this practical salvation, the Lord has gone on high to effect three things to this end—thus we are “saved by His life.”
Firstly, the Lord has ascended on high to send the Spirit (Acts 2:33) and thus give us the power of resurrection life, which when lived in, neutralizes the activity of the flesh within (Rom. 8:2).
Secondly, He ascended on high to be the Object for the believer’s heart in a sphere altogether outside of the world and the flesh (John 17:19). In the measure in which we are taken up with Him and His things where He is, the world, the flesh, and the devil lose their power of influence in our lives (1 John 5:4-5).
Thirdly, He ascended on high to intercede for us in our wilderness pathway as our High Priest. The effect of His intercession is that we are “saved to the uttermost [completely]” from spiritual dangers and pitfalls that have been set in the way by the enemy of our soul. To get the benefit of Christ’s intercession, we need to “come unto God by Him,” which refers to expressing our dependence on God in prayer (Heb. 7:25).
Saved by God’s Providential Care—(Matt. 8:25; 14:30; 24:13; 1 Tim. 2:15; 4:10; 6:13).
There are also many physical dangers and perils that all men on earth face daily. These could be accidents, problems of all kinds, sicknesses, the ill-will and attacks from those who oppose us, etc. Oftentimes, we are not even aware of these dangers that surround us, but the mercies of God are such that He works behind the scenes (providentially) to save us from those things. Under normal conditions, this aspect of daily salvation or preservation is experienced by all God’s creatures, not just Christians. Scripture says, “We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour [Preserver] of all men, specially of those that believe.” (See also Psalm 145:15-19 and Acts 14:17.)
We might wonder why some do get into accidents and troubles when God is working in this way to preserve His creatures from danger. These things happen to sinners from time to time because God is seeking to get their attention and turn them to Christ. They happen to believers as well because they are in the school of God, and God uses these troubles to teach them moral lessons (Psa. 119:65-72). His ways are perfect; He makes no mistakes in the things He allows (Psa. 18:30; Rom. 8:28). But under normal conditions, He mercifully preserves all men, and “especially those that believe.”
In 1 Timothy 2:15, Paul indicates that if Christians continue in the path of faith in “love and holiness,” they can have an added confidence through knowing that God’s preserving care will be experienced in their lives. Paul mentions this in connection with being “saved in childbearing,” but God’s providential care will be experienced by His people in many different temporal ways, not just in childbearing, if they continue faithfully in the path.
Matthew 24:13 indicates that in the coming Great Tribulation, the faithful Jewish remnant will endure some incredible hardships and temptations. The Lord said that those who “shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” This refers to their lives being spared from martyrdom death, and thus they will be preserved alive through those troublous times “unto the end” of the age. All such will celebrate their “salvation” in praise to the Lamb in the millennial kingdom (Rev. 7:9-12). Some of the believing remnant will be martyred, and thus will not be saved in this sense. Their souls will go to heaven (Rev. 6:9-11; 15:2-4) to wait for their bodies to be raised later (Rev. 14:13; 20:4).
Saved by Sound Doctrine—(1 Tim. 4:16; James 1:21).
The Apostle Paul announced to Timothy that there was a great impending apostasy that would run through the Christian profession “in the latter times” (1 Tim. 4:1). As a result, many erroneous doctrines would permeate the Christian profession and lead the masses away from the truth. While a true believer cannot apostatize, he can be affected by the current of apostasy, and thus begin to let go of certain principles and practises that he once held. Paul told Timothy how he could be preserved from this downward slide. He said, “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” (1 Tim. 4:16). Thus, doctrinal truth will preserve us from getting into error, if it is held in communion with God (Psa. 40:11).
Saved by Wearing the Helmet of Salvation—(Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:8).
This has to do with the protection of our thoughts (vs. 17a). Satan is constantly trying to turn Christians away from following the Lord. One of his most effective ways is to sow evil seeds in our minds. He does not know our thoughts (he is not omniscient), but he can bring certain things before us that are calculated to produce a response in our hearts that ultimately draw our thoughts away from Christ. When things other than Christ occupy our minds, and we are not enjoying our portion in Christ, we will be in a state where we could easily get drawn out of the path of faith. However, when we keep our thoughts fixed on Christ and His interests, we are in this sense wearing “the helmet of salvation,” and this will work as a practical deliverance from this line of attack. But note: we have to put the helmet on; God doesn’t put it on for us. This shows that God wants us to be responsibly exercised about this practical salvation. H. E. Hayhoe used to say, “Watch what you think about, and let it be Christ” (Psa. 94:19; Isa. 26:3; Luke 12:29; Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:1).
Saved Through the Exercise of Self-judgment—(1 Peter 4:17-18).
The Apostle Peter spoke of the governmental judgments of God being on those in His house. This would include true believers and merely professing believers. He mentions that there are many difficulties in the path through which a believer needs to be “saved.” This refers to the governmental judgments of God on His people if they are not careful in their walk (1 Peter 1:17; 3:12). Since the character of the epistle is Jewish in its application, J. N. Darby’s Translation footnote states, “Saved here on earth through the trials and judgments which specially beset the Jewish Christian.”
The Apostle Paul mentions this same need for self-judgment in 1 Corinthians 11:28-32. He states there that if we “judged ourselves, we should not be judged” by God in this way. He also mentions that some of the Corinthians evidently had not been practising self-judgment and were being “chastened [disciplined] of the Lord” as a consequence—to the point where some of them were “sickly” and many had been put to “sleep” in death (1 John 5:16).
James mentions this same governmental action of God (James 5:19-20). He states that if a believer is not careful in his walk and gets off track in some way, and persists in that course, God may deal with him in a governmental way, and may even take him away in death. This does not mean that he would lose his eternal salvation, but that he would lose the privilege of living in this world as a witness for Christ. Since this is not at all what God desires, James tells us that the erring brother’s brethren are to go after him to restore him before things reach that point (Gal. 6:1). If a brother or sister can reach the wayward person and he is restored, James says that he or she who does this good work can “save a soul from (premature) death” (Eccl. 7:17).
This also applies to a local assembly in a collective sense (2 Cor. 7:10). If an assembly neglects to judge evil in its midst, it will incur the governmental judgment of God (1 Cor. 11:30). Paul says that “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.” Thus, the assembly saves itself from the governmental judgment of God by dealing with the evil in its midst and excommunicating those involved in evil.
The Assembly is Saved by Maintaining its Practical Unity—(Phil. 2:12).
The enemy of our souls would like to destroy the peace in the local assembly by sowing discord among them. He would stir up “strife” by getting certain individuals to seek after “vainglory” (Phil. 2:3). Many assemblies have been torn apart as a result.
Paul taught in Philippians 2 that if happy unity is maintained in the assembly, the enemy will be thwarted. He explains that this is done by each having “lowliness of mind” and each “esteeming the other more excellent than themselves” (vss. 2-4). Paul also taught that to produce this lowliness, it is necessary to have our minds fixed on Christ who is the model of lowliness (vss. 5-11). If each were to adopt His lowly mind and imitate His lowliness, the assembly would be saved from Satan’s designs to disrupt the unity. Thus, they were to collectively “work out” their “own salvation” by each taking the low place (vss. 12-14). Paul said that when unity is maintained in an assembly, it results in a bright testimony in the community (vss. 15-16; John 13:35). Thus, Paul was speaking of a practical, daily salvation in connection with internal strife within the assembly. His mention of salvation here has nothing to do with the eternal salvation of the soul.
Notes of a reading meeting on Philippians 2:12 in a monthly periodical are as follows: “This verse has often been misconstrued as though it said, work for salvation, whereas what it does say is “work out.” I think the verse refers to the difficulties which were present in the company at Philippi, rather than what is individual. It has been pointed out that the verb is in the plural, and when he says “your,” he apparently has in mind the difficulties in the assembly locally….Salvation as referred to in this passage is not the salvation of the soul, which is obtained through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; it is daily salvation in regard to the many difficulties which beset us in our pathway. It is becoming more obvious as we pursue this epistle that disunity was marking them, and it is from this they needed to be saved. It seems to suggest that the way of salvation out of the difficulties was for the contending party to go down in relation to self” (Precious Things, vol. 5, pp. 263-264).
A. M. S. Gooding said, “‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ Salvation from what? Salvation from strife” (The 13 Judges, p. 95).
S. Maxwell said, “The Apostle is rather saying here, I am aware of your internal problems and I have given you an example to follow (2:5-7); now work out your own salvation as an assembly. The word clearly indicates that they needed to be saved from that which would finally be destructive to the testimony, if they did not move to end their strife” (Philippians, p. 210).
W. Potter said, “‘Work out your own salvation’….[this is] in connection with assembly difficulties…that is the simple meaning of ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.'”
Israel Will be Saved Temporally by Receiving Christ as Their Messiah—(Heb. 2:3-5).
The “great salvation” that the writer of Hebrews refers to in this passage is not the eternal salvation of the soul, as commonly thought, but temporal deliverance from the Roman yoke that was on the nation. At that time, the Jews were captive to the Romans who ruled over them in their own land, and they were very much in need of this salvation. The Lord Jesus had been sent from God to effect this deliverance as God’s “Horn of Salvation” for the nation (Luke 1:68-71). Thus, He came announcing this aspect of salvation, preaching “deliverance to the captives” (Luke 4:18-19). Upon His entry into Jerusalem the people cried “Hosanna” (Matt. 21:15), which means, “Save now!” But the leaders led the people to reject Him, and the promise of this great salvation was, therefore, postponed. Had the Jews received Christ, He would have saved them from their enemies and released them from their bondage, and the nation would have averted its destruction in 70 A.D.
The writer says that this great salvation was first “spoken by the Lord.” He went everywhere in the land of Israel preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” which announced this outward deliverance for the nation (Matt. 4:23; Mark 4:14). The writer also says that the promise of this temporal salvation was “confirmed” to the people by the apostles (Heb. 2:3; Acts 3:19-21) and also by the “witness” of God Himself in the miracles that accompanied the preaching of that gospel (Heb. 2:4; Acts 3:6-10, etc.). Thus, the nation “tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:5) and would have had the blessings of the kingdom as promised by their Prophets, had they received Christ.
“The great salvation” in Hebrews 2:3 could not be referring to the salvation of the soul announced in “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24; 1 Peter 1:9), because it says that this salvation was first spoken by the Lord when He was here on earth. But He did not preach that gospel. It was not until Israel formally rejected Christ, sending a man (Stephen) to God with the message, “We will not have this Man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14; Acts 7:54-60), that the gospel of the grace of God was extended to the world (Acts 13:46-48; 15:14; 20:24; 28:28). As mentioned, the gospel that the Lord preached was that of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; Mark 4:14). This message presented Him as the King and Messiah of Israel who would come to the nation in its time of need and save them from their enemies, and then set up the kingdom in power and glory as promised in the writings of the Old Testament Prophets (Psa. 95-96). (See Gospel.)
H. Smith said, “In its [Hebrews 2:3] strict interpretation, the salvation of which the writer speaks is not the gospel of the grace of God as presented today; nor does it contemplate the indifference of a sinner to the Gospel. Yet an application in this sense may surely be made, for it must ever be true that there can be no escape for the one who finally neglects the Gospel. Here it is the salvation which was preached by the Lord to the Jews, by which a way of escape was opened to the believing remnant from the judgment about to fall on the nation. This salvation was afterwards preached by Peter and the other apostles in the early chapters of the Acts, when they said, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’ This testimony was borne witness to by God with ‘signs and wonders, and divers miracles.’ This Gospel of the Kingdom will again be preached after the Church has been completed” (The Epistle to the Hebrews, pp. 12-13).
Regarding Hebrews 2:3, J. N. Darby said, “It is the preaching of a great salvation, made by the Lord Himself when on earth; not the gospel preached and the Church united after the death of Christ. This testimony, consequently, goes on to the Millennium without speaking of the Church, a fact to be noticed not only in these verses but in the whole epistle” (Collected Writings, vol. 28, p. 4).
3) Final Salvation
(Rom. 5:9; 13:11; Phil. 3:20-21; Heb. 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5). This aspect of salvation has to do with our bodies being made perfect through the power of God in glorification. This will occur when the Lord comes for us at the Rapture. The deceased saints will be raised in “incorruptibility” and the living saints will have their bodies quickened to a state of “immortality” (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:53-55).
This final aspect of salvation also includes being saved from “the wrath to come” by being taken out of this world at the Rapture, so that we will not go through the Great Tribulation (Rom 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 3:10). F. B. Hole said, “A day of wrath is coming. Twice before in the epistle [to the Romans] has this been intimated (chap. 1:18; 2:5). We shall be saved from that day through Christ. From other Scriptures we know that He will save us from it by taking us from the scene of wrath before the wrath bursts” (Paul’s Epistles, vol. 1, p. 15).