Salvation is God’s gracious work through Jesus Christ to reclaim humankind and all creation from sin and its consequences. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace received by faith. Christ’s righteousness and atonement are the sole basis for human salvation. Faith in Christ is the only instrument by which this righteousness is received by individual believers, resulting in their justification.
Justification is the righteousness of Christ imputed to a sinful woman or man through faith alone in Christ. Their faith appropriates Christ’s atonement, resulting in their sins atoned for and forgiven and God reckoning them to be righteous.
Scripture also describes salvation as a ransom or redemption from slavery (Mark 10:45); a sacrificial substitution (Christ’s death for our death); reconciliation of sinners with a holy God; our sins being sacrificially expiated, satisfied, covered over, forgiven, and removed. All of these ways describe how God has given us “the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation out of sheer grace solely for the sake of Christ’s saving work.” (Heidelberg, 4.021)
Faith is (1) accepting the message of salvation as true and (2) trusting God to apply this salvation to us. Faith is “certain knowledge” and “wholehearted trust,” that is created in us by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. In faith we accept, receive, and rest “upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” (Westminster, 6.080)
Mark 10:45; John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:22-26; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9
Second Helvetic Confession 5.107-109, 5.112-113
Heidelberg Catechism 4.021, 4.060
Westminster Confession of Faith 6.080
Brief Statement of Faith 10.4