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Salvation Terminology

"Atonement" (also "Reconciliation," "Propitiation")

To atone is to make amends for a wrongdoing or an injury to someone and to become reconciled with that person. In other words, to make peace with that person and regain his or her good will.

Christ's sacrifice of atonement satisfied the demands of God's righteous nature. It enables believers to be restored to a right relationship with God because the guilt and penalty of our sins has been removed.

Some Atonement/Reconciliation/Propitiation passages:
"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." (Romans 3:25) ["sacrifice of atonement" is translated as "propitiation" in the King James Version]

"and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility." (Ephesians 2:16)

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation -- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel" (Colossians 1:19-23)

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2) ["atoning sacrifice" is translated as "propitiation" in the King James Version]

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10) ["atoning sacrifice" is translated as "propitiation" in the King James Version]


The glorification of believers will occur at the Rapture when all Christians, living and dead, will receive their immortal bodies. At that time our physical bodies will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye to be like Jesus' glorious body.

Some Glorification passages:
"Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:39)

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:16-18)

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21)

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

The Gospel

The word "gospel" in the New Testament means "good news."
"Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 5:42)

"But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." (Acts 8:12)
What is the Good News of Jesus Christ?

  1. That He died for our sins according to the Scriptures (see Isaiah 53). In other words, He took our sins upon Himself and died in our place, on our behalf. The fact that He was buried is proof that He actually died.
  2. That He was raised to life on the third day according to the Scriptures (see Psalms 16:10 and Psalms 22). This is proof that He has conquered sin and death. After His resurrection He appeared to hundreds of eyewitnesses, which was proof that He rose from the dead.
Here is the apostle Paul's description of the Gospel message:
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)


Grace is the undeserved favor and love of God toward mankind.

Some Grace passages:
"We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:11)

"and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24)

"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." (Romans 11:6)

"As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)


Justification is the act in which sinners (i.e. those who are unjust) are declared righteous (guiltless, free of blame). In other words, "justified" means "just as if I'd never sinned."

We are justified at the moment when we trust in Christ alone and His finished work on the cross for our salvation.

Some Justification passages:
"through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)

"the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:26)

"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 4:25-5:1)

"For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified" (Romans 10:10)

"know that a man is not justified by observing the law [the law of Moses], but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law" (Galatians 2:16)


See "Atonement"


See "Atonement"


To redeem something is to buy it back by paying a price for it. In Biblical times, slaves were redeemed by having their ransoms paid for them by someone else.

Believers have been redeemed by Christ through His death on the cross and have received forgiveness of sins.

These passages show that we were slaves to sin and that Christ has paid our ransom:
"Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin."" (John 8:34)

"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18)

"You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

"They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them" (2 Peter 2:1)

"They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." (2 Peter 2:19)
Some Redemption passages:
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." (Romans 3:23-25)

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." (Galatians 3:13-14)

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Ephesians 1:7)

"the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14)

"our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness" (Titus 2:13-14)

"Regeneration" (also "Rebirth")

Regeneration refers to the spiritual rebirth which occurs when a non-believer is justified by trusting in Christ for his or her salvation. This is also called being "born again" or, more accurately, "born from above."

Some Regeneration/Rebirth passages:
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:12-13)

"In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again [literally "receives birth from above"]." ... Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'"" (John 3:3,6-7)

"he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-6) ["rebirth" is translated as "regeneration" in the King James Version]

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:1-5)


To repent is to undergo a change of mind about your sins. This is not just changing your opinion, it means changing the entire direction of your life by turning away from sin and turning to Christ. It includes deep sorrow and regret for having offended God by sinning.

When a non-believer truly trusts in Christ alone for his salvation, he has changed his mind about his former sinful way of life and thus has repented. This is why the word "believe" is used throughout the Gospel of John, while the word "repent" is not used at all.

True repentance will lead to works of obedience to Christ (in Biblical terms, it will "produce fruit").

Some Repentance passages:
"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:8)

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out" (Acts 3:19)

"I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus." (Acts 20:21)

"I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 26:20)

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation" (2 Corinthians 7:10)


To be righteous is to be Godly and just, to conform to the will and nature of God (although we should recognize that we will never perfectly conform to God's will this side of heaven).

When we place our trust in Jesus we receive righteousness, which means we become blameless and free from the guilt of our sins. Our sins are placed into Christ's bank account, so to speak, and His righteousness is placed into our account.

Some Righteousness passages:
"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."" (Romans 1:17)

"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:22)

"But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness." (Romans 8:10)

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)

"not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ --the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." (Philippians 3:9)

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." (1 John 2:1)

"Salvation" (also "Saved")

To be saved is to be rescued from the punishment for our sins (separation from God and eternal agony in hell) and to inherit eternal life. By trusting in Christ for our salvation we instantly pass from eternal death to eternal life and are freed from the power of sin. We are still in the presence of sin and we still struggle with sin while we are on earth, but at the Rapture we will receive our new, glorified, immortal bodies and our salvation will be complete.

Some Salvation/Saved passages:
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

""It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?"" (Mark 10:25-26)

"Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."" (Luke 7:48-50)

"And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Acts 2:21)

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

"God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel." (Acts 5:31)

"He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved --you and your household."" (Acts 16:30-31)

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." (Romans 13:11)

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Corinthians 7:10)

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1:13)

"For 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." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:28)

"remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." (James 5:20)

"for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:9)

"Sanctification" (also "Renewal")

To be sanctified is to be made holy, clean and pure, free from sin. To be holy is to be separated from sin and set apart for God.

The act of sanctification occurs at the moment of salvation (when a person places his trust in Jesus) because God has set the believer apart for Himself. However, sanctification is also a process as the believer tries daily, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be renewed and to live and act more and more in a Christ-like way.

Some Sanctification passages:
"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 26:17-18)

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

"so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:16)

"But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16)

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)

"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (Colossians 3:9-10)

"from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

"he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-6)

"through the sanctifying work of the Spirit" (1 Peter 1:2)
  Modification History  

  • 03/10/2006 - Fixed an error in which I had said that we are "made righteous." It is more Scripturally accurate to say that we are declared righteous.
  • 02/11/1997 - Modified some of the wording.