An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


Eternal life in the fullness of God’s love. Salvation is deliverance from anything that threatens to prevent fulfillment and enjoyment of our relationship with God. In the OT, God was experienced as the savior who delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt (Ex 14-15; See Canticle 8, The Song of Moses, BCP, p. 85; Dt 6:21-23). Salvation history is the ongoing story of God’s activity and initiative for salvation. The OT records how God reached out to save the people of Israel through the law and the prophets. God’s saving deeds in OT history are celebrated in the liturgy of the word at the Easter Vigil (BCP, pp. 288-291).

Christians affirm that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus constitute the climax of salvation history. Jesus is our savior who redeems us from sin and death. As we share Christ’s life, we are restored to right relationship with God and one another. Despite our sins and insufficiency, we are made righteous and justified in Christ. We share the saving benefits of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Without God’s help for our salvation, we die with Adam. But we live in Christ as we share his life by faith (1 Cor 15:22). Christ has “brought us out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life” (BCP, p. 368).

Salvation in Christ is made available to us through the Spirit, especially in the life and sacraments of the church. By the water of baptism, we are buried with Christ in his death and share his resurrection (BCP, p. 306; see Rom 6:3-4). The consecrated elements of the eucharist are for God’s people “the bread of life and the cup of salvation,” by which we share the body and blood of Christ (BCP, pp. 363, 375; see Jn 6:53-56; 1 Cor 10:16-17).

The gospel proclaims the good news of salvation in Christ (see Jn 3:16-17). We may participate in a saving process of sanctification by which the saving life of Christ is increasingly the reality of our own lives. This process is completed and revealed in Christ, and it is begun in us through faith in him. Completed union with God is the end of this saving process. In Christ, we come to be at one with God. This union with God is not yet completed, and the eschatological Kingdom of God is not yet fulfilled. But the coming of the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated by Christ. The Kingdom of God was revealed in Jesus, who ate with outcasts, forgave sinners, healed the sick, and raised the dead (see Lk 5:17-32; Jn 11:1-44).

We are now in the “in between times.” We can know the present reality of salvation in Christ, even though the Kingdom of God is not yet complete in our world, our church, or our hearts. The fulfillment of the Kingdom of God is associated with Jesus’ second coming in power and glory. Our hope is that all humanity and all creation will be united in God’s love in the fullness of time, and that “nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (BCP, p. 862; see Rom 8:38-39). See Atonement; see Eschatology; see Heaven; see Redeemer; see Righteousness; see Soteriology.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.