The most important thing we can do in life is to prepare for eternity. Scripture is very clear that man is lost in sin (Rom 3:23). We need Jesus Christ as our savior. Jesus said that he was the way, the truth, and the life and that no one could come to God except through him (Jn 14:6). In order to understand “salvation” we need to understand that it is like a diamond. A diamond has many facets and cannot be fully appreciated until it is held up to the light. Likewise we must study “salvation” in light of God’s word.
In the bible salvation is described in many ways. It is spoken of as “justification” emphasizing the legal process of removing man’s guilt (Romans 3:25). Salvation is described as “redemption” which focuses on the substitution or ransom Christ made for man at Calvary (Matthew 20:28). Salvation is described as “sanctification” which tells of the separation of Christ from the world (Acts 20:32). And on and on it goes as we discover the indescribable beauty of God’s love for mankind.
In the bible salvation is also attributed to many causes. In other words many agents are involved in bringing man to salvation. First, we know that God plays a role in our salvation. God sent His Son (Jn 3:16). We also know that Jesus is an agent in our salvation. He died for man’s sins (Php 2:5-8). The Holy Spirit also can be said to be an agent or source of our salvation for he guided the Apostles into all truth and they then wrote the Bible (Jn 14:26, 15:26, 16:13). When we obey the Word we are saved (Rom 6:17).
We also find in scripture that we are saved by grace (Eph 2:8). Grace is God’s unmerited favor which he showed us by sending Jesus. However, even though salvation is by grace this does not diminish the responsibility man has in reaching out and accepting the free gift of grace. Peter told those on Pentecost “Save yourself from this crooked and perverse generation” (Acts 2:40). Likewise Paul tells the Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). The full truth is that salvation is the result of many factors that work together. Depending on which vantage point one takes salvation accurately might be said to be the product of God or man, God and man, or simply man. We must never array one scripture against another simply because they focus on different aspects of the same subject.
But if we go farther into scripture we learn that salvation is also a result of faith (Eph 2:8-9). In other words it is by grace (God’s part) by through obedient faith (Man’s part). James 2:14-16 makes it clear that a saving faith is an obedient faith. With all this being said, it should come as no surprise that salvation is also attributed to baptism. Jesus said that he that has faith and is baptized would be saved (Mk 16:16). Peter also says that baptism saves us (1 Pet 3:21). And on the day of Pentecost the multitude was told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).