How are salvation and forgiveness related?

Although salvation and forgiveness are distinct concepts, they are closely knit together. When we accept Jesus' love and claim Him as our Savior, we experience the spiritual gifts of salvation and forgiveness. We also receive justification, redemption, reconciliation, atonement, propitiation, and regeneration. John the Baptist was sent before Christ and would "... be called prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins" (Luke 1:77). We can rejoice because Christ offers salvation and forgiveness, and we can freely choose to accept these gifts (Acts 10:43).

Salvation occurs when God rescues us from our deserved fate, which we inherited because of our sinful nature. The word salvation is derived from the Greek word sozo, which means "to be delivered and rescued." Our penalty for sin is eternal separation from God, but salvation rescues us from that penalty (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:46). Romans 6:14 also describes our more immediate deliverance from sin in this life, stating, "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." It is because of the wondrous gift of salvation that we do not have to live the meaningless life described in Ecclesiastes. Instead, we can enjoy an abundant and meaningful life, close to God (John 10:10; Galatians 5:22–23).

Forgiveness is essential to our salvation. We cannot receive a life freed from our deserved fate unless God forgives our sin (Acts 26:18). The word forgiveness comes from the Greek word aphiemi, which means "to let go, to give up, to keep no longer." We can think of forgiveness metaphorically, as an outstanding debt that we owe that is wiped clean by someone who loves us. We no longer carry the burden of that debt. Psalm 103:12 says that because we are forgiven, God will never hold our sins against us.

We can rejoice because we are promised many wonderful spiritual gifts when we accept Christ as our Lord. God loves us and wants us to live connected to Him. He offers us salvation, the delivery from our deserved fate so we don't have to live in separation from Him. He also offers us forgiveness—the weight of all our sin and past mistakes wiped from our soul. We can live in step with Him because of these interconnected gifts.

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