A “Comprehensive” Perspective on Salvation

What is salvation?

Seems like a simple question. Maybe, but maybe not.  There are certainly uncomplicated aspects to answering the question, but a “comprehensive” picture is an integrated one that explores the question from various angles.

The question may seem simple because it has often been answered simplistically. Or, perhaps better, it has often been answered with a focus on one dimension or aspect of salvation. And, in addition, it is often answered without a salvation history or redemptive history perspective, that is, the cosmic and communal dimensions of salvation have often been ignored or neglected in defining “salvation.”

In a series of coming posts, I want to explore this question.

My students know that I like charts…or at least drawing on the board (both chalk and white, though I prefer the white ones). Charts are helpful for “big picture” views, identifying various dimensions of the subject and organizing thoughts. But charts can also be constraining as they box us into particular ways of looking at a question and they are often reductionistic rather than illuminating. Nevertheless, I employ charts because they are more helpful than risky.

Below is a chart that I will explain in coming posts. 

Salvation is most often defined as the personal forgiveness of sins and a personal relationship with God (sector 1) but rarely described as a participation in the cosmic redemption of the creation (sector 8).

Personal Forgiveness of Sins and Relationship with God (1) Moral (Inner and Outer)  Transformation (2) Resurrection of the Body (3)
Communal One Body of Christ: One New Society (4) Reconciliation and Social Transformation (5) The Fullness of the Kingdom of God (6)
Cosmic Resurrection and Exaltation of Jesus (7) Redemptive Emergence of New Creation (8) New Heaven and New Earth (9)

I will leave you to ponder the chart as you desire and anticipate (if that is the right word 🙂 ) the next post that will begin to unpack my wholistic understanding of salvation.

Peace, John Mark

17 Responses to “A “Comprehensive” Perspective on Salvation”

  1.   rich constant Says:

    o.k sense GOD STARTED THIS and Men just found out about this, Newtonian natural law is good for certain aspects of creation but now we our jumping outside,
    into our “gods moment”
    where god looks at Quantum mechanics as you and i find this very simple 1+1=2

    Uncertainty principle
    Schrödinger’s cat
    i think this is the answer where god is the observer,and becomes also the cat in “our moment”
    and we are in/and out +alive and dead in box by faith “the box of creation” and god being the good observer that he is showed us the way to life..
    i know pretty strange
    but it sorta kinda works for me
    kinda like
    john mark what day is it?
    rich it is Thursday
    john mark is today Thursday for god
    you would eventually get to the point that god is out side the realm of time.
    then john mark what day is it for me if the kingdom is in existence.
    and the lords day is being celebrated because of gods grace in his kingdom.
    john mark what day is it to god.

    thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it has been done in heaven?
    i think this might solve a lot of ambiguities..
    we are a new translated into the light…
    john mark i would think the lords day is every day
    i think we need to look a little at that too
    any way my brothers peace out

  2.   rich constant Says:

    cus i aint got no idea…
    you guys are the smart one’s i can’t even type!!!

  3.   Darin Little Says:

    Dr. Hicks. The chart is a great idea. Your teaching has always come across great in board work:) Since I am very visual it helps very much. Ever since my ‘Providence and Suffering’ class with you, I have begun to use my own charts and board drawings in my classes to get points across. Keep the charts going. Plus this new one on salvation is great because it points out that salvation is not simply about us ‘getting to heaven’ or ‘new heavens and new earth’ – but about God’s plan for redeeming all of creation. Thanks again for your work and ministry!

  4.   Gary Greene Says:

    John Mark:
    This is likely the most common need in our congregations, an understanding that salvation is not a one faceted idea. Simply knowing that there are different terms (salvation, justification, redemption, sanctification, cleansing) shows that our translation into the kingdom is a very involved process. It is not just “follow the command!” Many have appreciated as I have helped them realize different aspects. I look forward to your viewpoint. The chart looks like a great idea.

  5.   Royce Ogle Says:

    I like the chart. I have used an umbrella to illustrate salvation. Under the umbrella of salvation are the components you listed.

    Our common salvation began in eternity past (God’s plan) and will be final in eternity future after the resurrection.

    I look forward to the series.


  6.   Greg McKinzie Says:

    John Mark,

    A lot of my thinking in my current ministry, which struggles daily to be holistic, focuses on these issues. I’ve also been looking at missiology’s major struggle with the definition of missio Dei vis-a-vis holistic and traditional understandings of salvation, gospel, etc., so this post really caught my eye. I think the chart is incredibly helpful.

    I’m particularly curious about how you will characterize the gray area between the already and the not yet that the chart visually separates with a clean line. E.g., the moral and ethical transformation of (2) and (5) are usually projected into (3) and (6), depending on how Wesleyan one is. In missiology, there is a critical dispute on this point about whether (2), (5), and (8) as they manifest in Christian mission/ministry are “signs” of the inbreaking Kingdom or actual “realization” of the Kingdom. This is a dispute about degrees of participation at root, which may not be where your focus lies, but it came to mind.

    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      I wonder whether the line between the already and not yet (the line between 2,5,8 and 3,6,9) is similar to the line between typology and fulfillment. I would suggest a realized eschatology (already) that is not yet fully present but that does not resolve the question that you raise.

      What is the meaning of “realized eschatology”? It is, I think, a participation in the future that is truly present in the now but there are dimensions of the not yet (3,6,9) that are not realizable without the fullness of the new creation present. So, even “realized” kingdom language is nevertheless incomplete language since the not yet (3,6,9) belongs to a fully realized eschaton. Consequently, I’m not so sure that “signs” and “realization” are that far apart–they are categorically similar but their emphasis is different. The former emphasizes discontinuity with the eschaton while the latter emphasizes continuity. I tend to think it is a both/and.

      Thanks, Greg, for pushing the point forward.

      •   rich constant Says:

        john mark
        their seems to me to be a serious line of demarcation @ ROM .3’19 which brings on the BUT NOW OF 20-31.
        and the explanation of how and why and it’s implications for/ON GODS creation IN CHAPT

        sorry about the caps.

  7.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    This will be an interesting and needed series. I look forward to reading more.

    Grace and peace,


  8.   rich constant Says:

    kinda funny today
    in class there was about 50 people
    discussing numbers they got to the number 3 and on and on so i decided to raise my hand this time (i think) and said…”how bout the three aspects of salvation”….
    boy oh boy john mark did i get a “what did you just say” on that one
    too much fun.
    although i could only remember PERSONIAL COMMUNIAL AND COSMIC.
    there was only one question on cosmic and that one is easy
    thanks john mark
    blessings rich

  9.   Terrell Lee Says:

    Now this is the kind of chart that comes from a lifetime of study! Thanks for putting it forward as you have; can’t wait to read the series.

  10.   Terrell Lee Says:

    Posted before I was finished. I wanted to add after the first sentence this statment in parenthesis: (At least I’m assuming you didn’t put together this chart over supper last night!)

  11.   rich constant Says:

    ya know Terrel that is probably closer to the truth than we will ever here about.
    hay john mark
    time to fess up.

  12.   eirenetheou Says:

    If we be “saved,” dear brother, what is it that we are “saved” from? Why should we hope to be “saved” from it? When we comprehend what “salvation” saves us from, then we can understand what salvation means.

    Although i think this comprehension is essential as a prerequisite to understanding, i do not yet see it in your system. Of course, i don’t see everything. That’s why some of us come to school to you here, so that you might help us to see what is to be seen.

    God’s Peace to you.


    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      Indeed, Don. You are quite correct. And it is not apparent in this initial post and thus your question is an appropriate one. Consequently, my intention is to talk about “saved from” as well as “saved for” as I discuss each of the quadrants.

      Shalom, my friend.

      John Mark

  13.   Justin Says:

    Good point re Saved from and Saved to…

    I was introduced to this concept by Tom Cavanaugh in “Being Consumed” the idea that a negative freedom “being free from interference, a la enlightenment freedom” still ends end slavery, because while we are free from interference of governments and others (at least directly) without something that we are free TO be, we end up becoming slaves to our whims and desires, which enslave us once again (consumerism, selfishness, etc)

    Wish more people were following this blog.


  1. Salvation: Quadrant 1 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  2. Salvation: Quadrant 2 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  3. Salvation: Quadrant 3 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  4. Salvation: Quadrant 4 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  5. Ministry Ideas: Floresta, Part 3 (Salvation) « One In Jesus.info
  6. Salvation: Sector 5 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  7. Salvation: Sector 6 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  8. Salvation: Sector 8 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  9. Salvation: Sector 9 « John Mark Hicks Ministries
  10. 9 Sectors of Salvation « One In Jesus.info
  11. 9 Sectors of Salvation | One In Jesus

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