What Is Salvation?

The ends of the earth will see the salvation of God.
Isaiah (52:10)

Feel like my soul is beginning to expand
Look into my heart and you will sort of understand.

Bob Dylan, Thunder On The Mountain

My soteriology is expanding; with new eyes I’m seeing big picture salvation.
Brian Zahnd, A Beautiful Life (8/6/05)

What is salvation?

There’s a question for you!

I think most attempts to answer this question tend to shrink salvation — to get it small enough so that a person can possess it; so they can hold on to it like a ticket or put it in their wallet like a kind of laminated license. But the only way to get salvation small enough for you to possess is to reduce it to a few aspects. So that if salvation is reduced to going to heaven when you die, then it’s easy enough to think of it as a ticket or a backstage pass. But that’s like confusing an American passport with America. I can put a passport in my pocket, but I can’t put America in my pocket.

Salvation is not an object you own — it’s a life you enter and live.

Much of my thinking over the past three years has been an attempt to answer the question, what is salvation? I’ve thought about it, meditated on it, prayed about it, talked about it and I’ve read and read and read about it. I’ve told Peri that if I could meet with one historical figure it would be the Apostle Paul and I would ask him one question: What is salvation?

Well, if I may be so bold, I am now ready to answer the question.

Q. What is salvation?
A. It is the kingdom of God.

I’m convinced this is the answer. Not only is it intensely biblical, it is the message of the Bible. The Bible is the story of a world gone wrong and God’s strategy, or as Dallas Willard calls it, the divine conspiracy, to make it right again. God’s strategy or divine conspiracy is the kingdom of heaven. This is salvation.

To use my former analogy: Salvation is not the passport of heaven, salvation is the kingdom of heaven.

And what is the kingdom of God? It’s God’s government by which He will make right a world gone wrong.

So how does one get in on this? Or we might say, how does one get saved?

By rethinking your life, renouncing your allegiance to the false system of the fallen world and transferring your loyalty and allegiance to the crucified and risen King with this confession: Jesus is Lord. Then you begin to learn and live the new way of life by following Jesus with his other followers. This is how you enter the vast expanse of salvation.

Viewing salvation as a vast expanse you enter instead of an object you possess may seem like a subtle distinction for you, but for me it’s been a profound paradigm shift.

So now I answer questions differently than I used to. For example?

Q. Can I be saved without being involved in a local church?
A. A little bit.

Q. Can I be saved without being baptized?
A. A little bit.

Salvation is bigger than what what happens at death.
Salvation is bigger than what happens to you.
Salvation is bigger even than what happens to souls.

Salvation is God’s plan to renovate creation. He’ll do it by the Kingdom He has bestowed upon His dear Son.

All of creation groans for this salvation.
Will all of creation be saved?
All except free will entities who will not to be.

Would a free will entity will not to be saved?
Remember what salvation is — the kingdom of God.
Those who will not to be in God’s kingdom…will not be.

Read this slowly and thoughtfully…

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against Jehovah
And against His anointed King
They say,
“Let us break their chains
And free ourselves from this slavery.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs
The Lord scoffs at them
Then He will speak to them in His wrath
And terrify them in His fury
“I have placed My chosen King on Zion
My holy hill.”
The King proclaims Jehovah’s decree:
“The Lord said to Me,
‘You are My Son
Today I have begotten You
Ask of Me
And I will give You the nations as Your inheritance
The ends of the earth as Your possession
You shall rule them with a rod of iron
And shatter them like clay pots.'”
Now therefore, you kings, be wise
Be warned, you rulers of the earth
Serve Jehovah with fear
And rejoice with trembling
Kiss the feet of the royal Son
Lest He be angry
And you be destroyed in the midst of your pursuits
When His wrath is kindled but a little
Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.

Personal salvation is your being in it.
The extent of your present experience of salvation is contingent upon the extent of your present experience of the kingdom of God.

The fullness of salvation will come when the kingdom comes fully.
That will happen with the return of the King.
Then the earth, the environment, the economy and redeemed humanity will be saved in every aspect.

In the mean time we do all we can to move in that direction.
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth
As it is in heaven

This is our primary prayer for salvation.


Amen and Maranatha!



This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday!

This Friday night I will be preaching a message entitled:
“Our History: From Pentecost to Present”
A one hour overview of church history.

(Of course it is an impossible task, but nevertheless I think it will be very helpful to you.)


“The goal of human life is not death, but resurrection.” -Karl Barth