Salvation Terms – Part 2
The word propitiation occurs three times in the New Testament. Twice it means atonement, which is defined as “to restore to divine favor or to make the wrong right.” “Salvation is so simple that even a little child can enter into it, but is also so immense that there have been many volumes written on the topic.”The other occurrence of propitiation is translated from the Greek word hilasterion, which is a word used for the lid of the ark in the temple or mercy seat. In the Old Testament temple, the mercy seat was a wonderful symbol of God’s longsuffering and compassion. In the New Testament, we have the word propitiation to remind of us of God’s love and mercy. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:2)
Grace is found 37 times in the Old Testament and 122 times in the New. In the Old Testament, grace is translated from the Hebrew word hen which simply means “favor.” In modern times, grace is commonly defined as “unmerited favor” or “to receive something you do not deserve.” For the Christian, grace is God giving us heaven when we really deserve hell as judgment for our sins.
Salvation is, and has always been, only by the grace of God. Contrary to some false doctrines, God was under no obligation to save sinners. Salvation by grace means a person cannot earn or work for his salvation; it can only be accepted as one would accept a gift. Grace came by Christ’s vicarious death on the cross, but it did not wait for His death before it was implemented. Examine the following verses:
“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)
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)
Repentance means “to change one’s mind about sin, which results in a change in action or conduct.” Repentance is included in salvation but does not constitute salvation alone. For true salvation, a person must also exercise faith. Repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ result in Biblical salvation. I Thessalonians 1:9 states, “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
Though repentance does not constitute salvation alone, it is an evidence of salvation. Repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit and growing in grace. This is clearly taught in Scripture:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17)
Salvation is so simple that even a little child can enter into it, but is also so immense that there have been many volumes written on the topic. So far, we have examined five terms relating to salvation. Join us next month for Part 3, when we will consider conversion, justification, and regeneration.