We were… we are… we shall be saved [Rom 5:9-10; 8:24; 1Cor 15:2]; and …lift up your heads, for your redemption draws nigh [Lk 21:28]; "…God, who has reconciled us to Himself…" [2Cor 5:18]. These expressions – 'redemption, reconciliation and salvation' although indelibly linked and often appearing as interchangeable terms in Scripture, are not always saying the one or the same thing, especially so when it comes to defining the contexts between that which is temporal and that which eternal. There are important and significant differences between them, and some crossover of thought does occur where salvation or saved are used in the global sense – properly referring to 'redemption-reconciliation' as in reflecting the essence of Divine deliverance from sin [Mt 1:21; Lk 1:77]. "Redemption" however literally means to be bought back – this is what God has done in Christ; similarly "reconciliation" where He paid a price in ransoming and thus reconciling the world back to himself [Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; 1Tim 2:6]. "Salvation" in comparison, is to be brought into – an experience which those who through belief in God through Christ appropriated i.e., they enter into through faith.
To further clarify this distinction that can be between redemption-reconciliation and salvation, consider the following. Specifically, we can see Paul defining these differing aspects of God's grace at work:
Rom 5:10a For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…
Christ's Cross – His death, redeemed-reconciled Israel-humanity corporately back to God [Isa 53:11; Col 1:20-22].
Redemption-Reconciliation enables us to find the Way of Salvation, that being Christ alone – this is the work of divine grace and is not the result of our "believing". If our believing could produce our redemption-reconciliation then Jesus died in vain. However, redemption-reconciliation, on the other hand, CAN produce belief; the working of repentance in turning mind and heart in thankfulness to God – thus bringing confidence before God and so deliverance in life – the salvation of the soul, i.e., of the inner man. Or as Paul goes onto say:
Rom 5:10b …much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Christ's Resurrection – His life, brought and brings salvation to those who will grasp it, individually.
Salvation as just stated "of the inner man" on the other hand, is the realisation or revelation of mind and heart that knows I am loved and accepted by God – that knows all are loved and accepted by Him. The work then of salvation is that of assurance – the confidence in knowing that I have been restored unto favour with God – accepted in the Beloved [Eph 1:6]. This knowledge of acceptance or, assurance, is what multiplies grace and peace and works divine growth, grace and transformation [2Pt 1:2-4].
There is another aspect of salvation as found in the contextual setting of the New Testament that must also be acknowledged – that of the literal flight of the first-fruit saints out of Palestine before and during the Jewish-Roman wars; specifically culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in their generation. The root meaning of the word "salvation" is to deliver – this in the "this generation" [Mt 24:34] time-frame, particularly the calamities of AD 66-70 had a very temporal outworking for those who heeded Christ's words to flee. Salvation then is not always something that is restricted to the "spiritual" sphere of operation.
Having said that, however; the covenantal overtones of being redeemed-reconciled means that, covenantally, there can be a personal salvation occurring in the heart of a believer that is working deliverance from toxic life patterns i.e., those things that work foster and occupy temporal pain in our lives:
Hang-ups [toxic thinking] Hurts [toxic emotions] Habits [toxic behaviour] – Head-Heart-Hands; one invariably follows the other in actions and consequences.
Again, it is the embracing of this assurance that grasps the reality of redemption-reconciliation that can then work personal deliverance. Without Christ one cannot fully know the associated blessings of forgiveness – that does not mean we have not been forgiven, we have [Jn 1:29; 1Jn 2:2], it simply means that without Christ we cannot know it i.e., we cannot grasp the reality of our forgiveness. Peter indicates similar:
Act 10:43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
The word here translated "receive" [labein – λαβειν] means to grasp, and is in the active voice – meaning that the subject [the believer, not God] produces the action – cf. Mt 21:34; Heb 10:26. In other words: believing or having faith in Christ enables one to grasp a hold of the actuality of forgiveness – to seize with certainty the remission of sins, i.e., coming into the reality of Christ's redeeming-reconciling work of "…not imputing their trespasses to them…" [2Cor 5:19b].
Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…
Col 1:14 …in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
The apostle Luke further demonstrates the dual nature of God's grace at work:
Lk 1:77 To give knowledge of salvation [deliverance] to His people by the remission of their sins [redemption – forgiveness]…
The end result of this is knowing peace with God. It becomes our heart's assurance that redemption is ours – the promise secure, and this is what "saves" the soul:
Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise [epangelia – επαγγελια = assurance] by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
1Jn 3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemns us not, then have we confidence toward God.
Borrowing a couple of paragraphs from the article Fulfilled Grace:
The biblical term "salvation" is as broad an expression as one can find in relation to the ministration of God's grace; however the turns of phrase to be saved or being saved must be understood as being descriptive of the subject to which it is being applied; and as explained above there are a number of different biblical aspects to what being saved means. Pertaining to REDEMPTION everyone IS saved, having been delivered from sin's offence – adjudged so by God i.e., reconciled. Likewise, just as humanity was not involved in the imputation of guilt through Adam's sin – adjudged so by God, so man was not involved with his redemption-reconciliation either, that was between God and Christ – man, however, was the recipient of it, the beneficiary.
Thus there was established through the Cross of Christ a broad all-encompassing unilateral and universal deliverance [Heb 9:26] – what we call salvation; it brought redemption-reconciliation TO the whole world – collectively. This redemptive and reconciling act of God, in turn, has the potential of bringing a personal deliverance – again, what we call salvation, to those OF the world – individually. Thus humanity truly IS already saved objectively [de jure – in principle, in law] and "in Christ" collectively, yet when one comes into a personal revelation of Christ's meritorious grace this salvation truly works subjectively [de facto – in reality] an apprehension, acceptance, appropriation and application of Christ's saving work, individually – and THIS IS the assurance of salvation.
Just as the promise is there for all who will grasp it in faith [Act 10:43], there remains yet no less the promise to those who either in ignorance or arrogance do not or will not grasp it – it is true however that in this life they will be less for not having apprehended it. Yet as the apostle Paul said:
Rom 4:16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…
Gal 4:25-26 …for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children-- but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
The 'father of faith' and 'the mother of us all' extends to more than just the seed that acknowledge or confess their lineage. The truth is, there are many who through lack of knowledge wander aimlessly [Prov 29:18] through life, bogged down in an identity crisis – it is this message of Gospel i.e., the revelation of God's righteousness [Rom 1:17] that will dispel and dismiss this veil of ignorance, for God, is the loving father of us all [Psa 24:1; Act 17:29].
Rom 3:3-4a For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not!
Rom 11:32-33 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
To summarise: In spite of the similarities, there are differences between how and through whom these three biblical themes all work out:
The force of biblical REDEMPTION is towards Israel – microcosmic.
The focus of biblical RECONCILIATION is towards humanity – macrocosmic.
The fullness of biblical SALVATION is upon those called to minister – God's change agents in a changing world; those who are saved to serve.