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November 30, 2007 / Daniel

Salvation Metaphors

Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), a 6th-centur...

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Scripture uses several rich metaphors to describe our salvation in Christ (cf. The Race Set Before Us). First, salvation involves our deliverance. We have been rescued, redeemed, and ransomed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:24; Gal. 1:4; Col. 1:13-14).   Scripture never indicates to whom the ransom is paid. It is speculative to suggest that the ransom was paid to Satan.

Second, the NT writers invoke the imagery of restoration. Salvation is about new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5). At conversion, the believer experiences regeneration and new spiritual birth (John 1:12-13; 3:5-8; Tit. 3:5). We are given eternal life (John 3:16; 6:40).

The NT also uses family metaphors to describe salvation. We have been adopted into the Father’s family (Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26-29; 4:1-5; Eph. 1:5). We have become His children. We are joint-heirs with Christ. As former enemies, we now have been reconciled to God and forgiven of our sins (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Col. 1:20-22; 1 John 1:9).

The NT writers also use legal imagery to describe the work of salvation. We have been justified or declared righteous on the basis of Jesus’ faithfulness to God (Rom. 3:22-26; 4:24-25; 5:1-2; Gal. 2:16; 5:5). We have been given the new legal status of righteous before God. The tension between the already and the not yet is crucial to understanding justification in Scripture. Some passages speak of justification as a past event (Rom. 3:24; 5:1; Gal. 2:16). Other texts speak of justification as a future event occurring at Christ’s return (Matt. 2:36-37; Gal. 5:5; James 2:24). 

 And the NT also uses cultic (temple ritual) terms to describe our salvation. We have been sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11).We have been called holy and we are set apart as God’s new temple filled with His indwelling Presence (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20; Eph. 2:19-20).  In the NT, the term “sanctification” is sometimes used to refer to a status or a position that we have in Christ (1 Cor. 2:2; 6:11). Other times the term refers to the process of purification in the life of the believer (1 Thess. 5:23).


One Comment

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  1. Dennis / Nov 30 2007 10:39 pm


    Just want to say that this is some great stuff.


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