Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

What is Redemption? How is Salvation Different?

What is "Redemption?"

God paid the highest price to redeem us, to recover us as vessels for His purpose!

Redemption refers to the price that you have to pay to get back what is yours, but has been lost.

Years ago you could take soda bottles back to the grocery store and they’d give you the “redemption value” right on the spot.

If your car ever got impounded for being left in the wrong place at the wrong time, you may have had to pay a significant price to get it back.

These are just a couple of examples of redemption that immediately come to mind.

But what is the redemption spoken of in the Bible? And how does it differ or compare with the salvation spoken of there?

In this post we’ll consider redemption and then go on to see how it relates to God’s salvation.


What is the Redemption spoken of in the Bible?

Romans 3:24 says,

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

Footnote 3 on this verse in the New Testament Recovery Version points out that,

“To redeem is to purchase back at a cost. We originally belonged to God but became lost through sin. The requirements of God’s holiness, righteousness, and glory were so great upon us that it was impossible for us to fulfill them. However, God paid the price for us through Christ, repossessing us at a tremendous cost. Christ died on the cross to redeem us…His blood obtained an  eternal redemption for us.”

So redemption is simply the price God paid to get us back for His purpose. God’s righteous requirement for sin is death. But if we all died because of our sins, God would have no one through whom to fulfill His divine plan.

Since we could never pay this price, God offered up His own Son unto death for us all. The precious blood of Jesus, shed for us, satisfies all the righteous claims of God.

First Peter 1:18-19 says,

“Knowing that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, that you were redeemed from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ.”

This reminds me of a hymn by James Gray (1851-1935) on the price for our redemption. The chorus reads,

I am redeemed, but not with silver;
I am bought, but not with gold;
Bought with a price—the blood of Jesus,
Precious price of love untold.

What does this mean to you?

It’s simple. Because God already paid the price, by offering up His Son, you and I don’t have to die for our own sins. When we receive what God’s Son Jesus has done for us, we’re forgiven by God and God has no righteous ground to condemn us. We can only thank and praise Him by saying,

“Dear heavenly Father, thank you for redeeming me with the precious blood of Jesus, Your Son. I deserved to die, but He died for me. I believe that His sinless blood has forever erased my record of sin in Your book. Lord Jesus, I love you, I thank you for willingly offering up Your body on the cross for my sins.”

But is this all? No! There is much more to God’s salvation than redemption.

Redemption is something “judicial.” It answers the legal claims of God’s righteous law, so that we who were sinners need not perish. It deals with all the negative problems that separated us from God—like our sins, and our sinful nature that caused us to do many wrong things.

But then, what is “salvation?” How is it different from “redemption”?

Actually, “redemption” is just the beginning, the first part of our “salvation”. Redemption is what God accomplished for our offenses on the cross. When this accomplishment is applied to our offenses it becomes the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 1:7, note 2). But salvation implies much more.

In the first chapter of Life Lessons, Witness Lee presents the following significance of our initial salvation,

 “Salvation refers to a person’s being saved before God, which includes being forgiven of his sins, being spared from perdition, being regenerated, having the eternal life of God, and becoming a child of God.”

This significance of salvation is from the view of our beginning the Christian life. But it does point out that God’s salvation not only solves our problems with God on the negative life, but also imparts to us the life of God that we may become children of God on the positive side.

Romans 5:10 points to the “life-side” of salvation by saying,

“For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled.”

Here’s my point. Even if we have been redeemed judicially to be delivered from all the problems between us and God (including being reconciled to Him), there is still much more!

As redemption is through Christ’s blood (Eph. 1:7), this “much-more salvation” is in Christ’s life (Rom. 5:10). So it is something “organic”—a life process that spans our entire Christian life. Such an “organic salvation” includes:

  • Regeneration—our being reborn of God’s Spirit with His divine life (John 3:6, 16).
  • Renewing—our being daily nourished with the fresh supplies of His resurrection life (2 Cor. 4:16).
  • Sanctification—our having Christ as the life element saturate all our inward parts with His nature of holiness (Rom. 6:19, 22).
  • Transformation—our being changed to Christ’s image by the riches of Christ’s life coming into us as our new element and discharging our old natural element ( Rom 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18).
  • Glorification—our entire spirit, soul and body being saturated with the glory of God’s life, so that our body might be transfigured and conformed to the body of Christ’s glory (Rom. 8:30; Phil 3:21).
  • And much more!

May we  forever thank God for the judicial redemption that is the wonderful beginning of His complete salvation. Then, may we go on to pursue, experience and enjoy every aspect of His organic salvation until we meet the Lord in His soon return.

 “Lord Jesus, thank you for Your redeeming death that has delivered me from God’s eternal judgment. Thank you that by Your judicial redemption I’ve been restored to Your original intention and can now experience and enjoy every aspect of Your organic salvation. Lord, daily save me in Your life. I love You.”

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References and Further Reading:

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

44 Replies

  1. Thanks for the helpful post, Tom. I appreciate seeing the distinction between redemption and salvation, and I’m especially helped by Romans 5:10. We’ve been reconciled to God through the death of His Son, but there’s much more: we are being saved in His life!

    Redemption is not the goal, but the marvelous procedure by which we can be regenerated to receive the life of God and, day by day, to be saved in life. Personally, seeing this matter has caused me to appreciate redemption even more.

    1. Tom Smith

      Yes, this realization of God’s “much more Salvation” causes us to appreciate God’s redemption even more. Without redemption there would be no one for us to contact God as life to enjoy the “life side” of God’s complete salvation. My heart aches for God’s children who only know the side of being saved from sin through the death of Christ and are left waiting to go to heaven. What a lose! God’s redemption opens the way for us (Rev. 22:14) into the ever expanding sphere of salvation in the life of Christ beginning with regeneration and consummating in our glorification to express God in His radiant glory in the New Jerusalem for eternity (21:11).

      1. toritseju

        is salvation and redemption the same

        1. Tom Smith

          God’s complete salvation includes redemption, but involves much more. Christ’s redemption accomplished through His death on the cross paid the full price to recover us for God from the righteous demand of His law on sinful mankind. This is something “judicial” or legal. God’s judicial redemption removes the problem between us and God. However, this is something remedial. It brings us back to the purpose God had for us from the beginning, that is that we might be come His expression in humanity, expressing all His divine attributes in human virtues. God needs a group of people to express Him in His divine life. This is why in addition to redemption, God’s complete salvation includes an “organic” side, that is our being saved in the life of Christ (Rom. 5:10). God’s organic salvation includes His regeneration (1 Pet. 1:3, 23), His renewing (2 Cor. 4:16), His transformation (2 Cor. 3:18), His conformation (Rom. 8:29) and His glorification (8:30). May we, as believers not be content to just be spared from God’s eternal judgment, but pursue the consummation of God’s organic salvation (Phil 3:7-16, 21) that His plan could be fulfilled in us. Thanks for leaving a comment. Please come back often.

      2. Wifred

        Thank you very very much. Wilfred k Joseph India Kerala

  2. Hi, Tom. Thanks for your post. Thank you for making this clear concerning our salvation; that redemption is not the end of our salvation but the beginning of the procedure of having God’s life into us and to become the son of God. Praise the Lord for Rom 5:10 because there is “much more” to our salvation than just being redeemed from our sins. We need to go on to maturity.
    We need to go forward to be save in the Lord’s life everyday. There is also a process of transformation the need to go through in our Christian life; including renewing of the mind, sanctification, transformation and glorification as you have already stated above. Thanks Tom. I enjoyed this.

    1. Tom Smith

      Romans 5:10 was a real light to me. In this verse we can see that we have already been reconciled to God by the death of His Son. Surely such persons have already been saved from God’s eternal judgment through receiving Christ’s work on the cross. However, the verse does not stop there, it speaks of a “much more salvation” in His life. This was new to me. Now I realize that salvation is not only an entrance at the time we first believed in the Lord Jesus as our Savior, but a way that we must take throughout our entire Christian life. By our progressive, daily experiences of God’s life we are being brought from our regeneration–our divine birth all the way to the maturity in this life.

      Yes, we need to cooperate, to be brought on to maturity (Heb. 6:1)–today. All our daily life practices–calling on the Lord, praying, reading His Word, denying the self, walking according to spirit, having fellowship with other believers, and preaching the gospel should be our cooperation with this life. By allowing this life to work in us, we spontaneously experience renewing, sanctification, transformation, conformation, and glorification in this life. May we see this vision and give the Spirit of life the cooperation He is seeking.

      1. Ronnie Shakespeare

        A Orthodox Christian from the Ancient Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition in a comment stated. That ALL mankind is universally redeemed by the death and resurrection of Christ. With the verse in Adam ALL die and in Christ ALL are made alive. That all men are saved from Annihilation to eternal existence. John 10:10..1 Tim 4:10. Then depending on who has accepted Christ for salvation will be eternally Rewarded and will be rewarded according to their works. And those that reject Christ will be eternally Condemned.

        Is this Right ?

        1. Tom Smith

          Romans 5:12-21 reveals the universal affect of both Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteous act. Verse 17 says, “For if by the offense of the one [Adam], death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.” Our sinful heritage in Adam is ours by our human birth. It is our fallen heredity in Adam that results in condemnation and death. Christ’s righteous act was accomplished for all mankind but is only ours by faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:22-24 shows us clearly that “the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ is to all those who believe.” What Christ accomplished was for all mankind, but the effectiveness of His redeeming death and life-giving resurrection is only applied to those who believe, those who receive it by faith. Hence, John 3:15-16 indicates that “everyone who believes in Jesus Christ would not perish but have eternal life.”

          1. Ronnie Shakespeare

            With the universal affect of Christ righteous Act. I can understand in one way that that would apply to ALL Mankind ”After” Christ did the work on the Cross.
            Then is is down to who Accepts Christ and who Rejects Christ. So All mankind has a Chance for Salvation.
            But how would the universal affect of Christ righteous Act Apply to All Mankind all the way back to Adam ”Before” Christ did the work on the Cross ?
            When Christ went down to hades to Proclaim to the spirts in Prison who formally disobeyed 1 Peter 3:18-20. Did Christ Give ALL Mankind then a Chance to Accept or Reject Him ?

          2. Tom Smith

            The effectiveness of Christ’s redemption is eternal. Although Christ’s redeeming death was accomplished in time, Hebrews 9:12 says that He obtained an “eternal redemption,” a redemption with an eternal effect. Verse 14 explains this by saying that Christ offered Himself through the “eternal Spirit.” Eternity is like a ring, it has no beginning or ending. If you place the work of the cross at any point on such an eternal “ring” whatever direction you go, you’ll reach it.

            Footnote 2 on Hebrews 9:14 in the Recovery Version, points out that although “Christ offered Himself to God in a human body that was under the limitation of time, He did it through the eternal Spirit, who is not under the limitation of time. Hence in the eyes of God, Christ as the Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). His offering of Himself was once for all (Heb. 7:27), and the redemption consummated through His death is eternal (v. 12) having eternal effect. The span of redemption fully covers the span of sin.”

          3. Tom Smith

            Your second question addresses Christ’s proclaiming to the disobedient spirits in prison in 1 Pet 3:18-20. This passage shows us that although Christ was put to death in the flesh–His humanity, He was being made alive in the Spirit–the essence of His divinity. He could only be put to death in His flesh. In His Spirit as His divinity, He was being made alive even before He rose from the grave. It was in such a Spirit that He went to proclaim His victory on the cross to those disobedient spirits in prison (that is, held in Tartarus where the fallen angels are kept).

            Such a proclamation was not to preach the good news but to proclaim the victory achieved by God, that is, that through Christ’s death on the cross God destroyed Satan and his power of darkness (Heb. 2:14; Col. 2:15). For more on this point please read 1 Pet 3:18-20 in the Recovery Version with the accompanying footnotes. In addition you may wish to read the companion commentary–Life-study of 1 Peter, Chapter 24, Section 3 found at ministrybooks.org.

  3. Ronnie Shakespeare

    Why would Col 1:15-20 Show that the shed blood of Christ was not only for Man on earth but also for Angels in heaven reconciling all things to himself whether on earth or in heaven. especially V 20 seem to show Christ shed his blood also for fallen Angels ?

    Regarding the Proclamation ”not being the Good news” with 1 Peter 3:19. That would imply that it was [”unconditional condemnation”].
    Why is i see things different when i looked this verse up in Greek and it was [Proclaim herold preach] the Gospel. When Gods message is ”Preached” it is always [”Conditional”] according to Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
    The Strongs 2784 ”kerysoo” refers to preaching the Gospel. To ”gospelize” which goes with ( 2097 /euaggelizo} Stresses the victory of Gods Gospel-message in the totality of his [”Good News”] which we pick up in 1 Peter 4:6 when the Gospel WAS preached to them that are ”dead” 3498 ”nekros” dead body corpse. ?

    1. Praise the Lord we can just turn to our mingled spirit and enjoy Him.

  4. Veda

    I heard a sermon on yesterday and the preacher emphatically said that Christians can lose their salvation and the belief that, “once saved, always saved — eternal salvation” was a lie out of the pit of hell– he went on to say that the devil is using that lie to deceive Believers and its a false doctrine. He did not offer Scripture to support his statement so I asked God about it for clarification and God guided me to the first chapter of Ephesians. God went over the Scripture with me word-by-word and line-by-line..I came away with the clear distinction between “salvation” and “redemption”!
    A few hours later, as I was driving, —out of the clear blue–The Holy Spirit said, ” salvation is not your ticket to heaven, redemption is…” I was perplexed because I had always kinda clumped the two together as if they were one and the same! But thank you for helping me to clarify!

  5. Hi, I just read your article. My fiance and I were talking about redemption vs. salvation. I guess I was correct in my knowing of such things, but I’m a pretty inquisitive fellow, so I’m an information seeker. I guess this is due to my being a writer myself, but that’s just my ongoing theory. Honestly, I figure it’s my Christian walk that really brought me to your page, or my lifestyle of chasing Christ Jesus, or whatever way you should so choose to see it. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I could just spent a few minutes tickling the keys on my keyboard to find an awesome answer to our questions. Thank you & Be Blessed!


  6. Love this information. It helped me get what I needed for a radio segment on Redemption Vs Salvation.

    1. Tom Smith

      Great! Glad you got some helpful content to share with others. May the Lord bless the going forth of His Word!

  7. I am very glad to get to know your website because this is what I have been searching through the internet to enable me have access to Bible commentaries. More power to your elbow in Jesus`s Name.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the blog. I hope you’ll also check out the great links and references and further reading. These are some of the best commentaries I have read in my years of pursuing the truth in God’s Word. That is because the writings of Nee and Lee focus not only on the revelation of the divine truth but also on the experience of the divine life that enable us to grow in Christ to maturity and enter more deeply into the eternal plan.

  8. jim

    Glad you posted this distinction between redemption & salvation. So many say they are saved by blood of Jessu and don’t know what saved means. They don’t know what gospel & grace mean either.

    1. Tom Smith

      Jim, glad you enjoyed the post. Sadly, many Bible readers unfortunately confuse redemption and salvation, not realizing that God’s complete salvation includes much more than being redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Romans 5:10 was a real eye opener to me. It says, “For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled.” So even if we have been reconciled to God through Christ’s redeeming death, there still is a “much more” salvation for us to experience. That is, to “be saved in His life.” Christ’s life not only regenerates us, it renews us, sanctifies us, conforms us to Christ’s image and will ultimately glorify us. How much we need to know and experience this “much more salvation”! Thanks for your confirming comment.

      1. God bless you Tom: Yes , we are redeemed, first and it is for all mankind. We are saved by grace through and in Christ Jesus; it is 100% a Gift. All we need to do is from our heart say YES and allow God’s Grace to work in us; to begin the work of sanctification. Sin in the flesh must go; that is why all must die, but dying to self now is what Christ truly wants, as in Heaven sin cannot exist. Christ wants us to trust Him; to freely accept and have a relationship with a real person, not a robot. God is so good.

      2. We are in agreement. Nearly 40 years ago when I was completely lost in myself and upon at last really knowing it was all my fault, I gave up to God; what He required of me; that most important part of my life; like the rich man when asked to go and sell his possessions, give them to the poor and come follow me. He could not do it because he was so rich. In my case it was the love of my life I could not have. Finally after much delay and endless pain I let God be God. Then I experienced death and expecting nothing as I was without merit and realized that only God’s unmerited Mercy might save a wrech like me.

        Then immediately some thing powerful happened; God’s love filled all of my emptyness. I experienced an ectacy out of this world. I was in love with the risen Lord. First Corithianss 6:17 was happening in my heart. Christ Jesus was praying in me over and over again; The Lords Prayer, not I but it was Him; He had come to be alive in me. Then I came out of myselfe, never to return to being king of my own life. Life hidden in Christ is so much more. The price, the same as He paid, His life sinless life for my lost life, now mine for His. It’s the best exchange I ever made. It was Grace, amazing Grace. To this day it remains getting better and better. I’m old and physcially sick now, but it does not matter, I have Christ and He has me forever more! Sin/death and Christ/Eternal Life cannot co-exist; all must one day choose. My advice; choose Life. Amen.

  9. Mercy

    GOD bless you and your ministry

    1. Tom Smith

      May the Lord bless you with the rich experience of His complete salvation, both His judicial redemption and His organic salvation. Romans 5:10 says, “For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled.” It is a great blessing to see that as believers, reconciled to God through the death of His Son (judicial redemption), we still need to be daily “saved in His life” (organic salvation). Such an organic salvation is a life-long process for us to experience continually from the moment of our regeneration (being born again) to our ultimate glorification (Rom. 8:30). May we all aspire to experience the fullest participation in such a rich and complete salvation! Thanks for your comment.

      1. Thank you so much Tom. You have it right on. Amen Everyday I love my Lord Jesus Christ more and more in sickness like now or in health, makes no difference. Once you see the Salvation of God, in Christ Jesus as did Simeon of old when took he Him up into his arms in the Temple and declared who this child was; he knew he could now depart in peace. Simeon had seen with his own eyes God’s Salvation for mankind in the Person of Jesus, soon to be “The Risen Christ Jesus” of God. Praise His Most Holy Name Forever. Amen.

        1. Tom Smith

          Amen. What a blessing to love the Lord Jesus more every day! The more we love Him, the more we give Him the freedom to grow in us. Our Lord is the Salvation of God, and the More we come to Him and contact Him with our spirit, the more He spreads His salvation to every part of our being. May we love Him, turn to Him and enjoy Him every day so that can complete in us that good work from the moment of our etrnal salvation until the day we meet Him in His soon return!

  10. Chidi Ejei Udo

    Waoh?! I was in church going over my Christmas sermon yesterday when it occurred to me that there is a difference between salvation and redemption. My search brought me to this page. Am much more enlightened by your article. God bless you more abundantly. Rev Chidi, Presbyterian Church of Nigeria.

  11. wowoo!!! how awesome are your revelations man of God. It has been my question for year the difference between salvation and redemption. Finally I have an answer. thank you so much.

    1. Tom Smith

      It is really a revelation to realize that God’s full salvation includes much more than Christ’s redemption. Yes, Christ’s redemption paid the price so that we would not perish eternally. However, faith in Christ’s perfect work on the cross is only the beginning of our experience of God’s full salvation. Such a great salvation covers a broad span from our divine birth (John 3:6, also called regeneration in 1 Pet. 1:3, 23), renewing (Tit. 3:5), sanctification (Rom. 6:19, 21), transformation (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18) conformation to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) and glorification (v. 30). All of these further matters are related to our being saved in the life of Christ (5:10). For a further appreciation of this topic I would recommend a short book by Witness Lee entitled God’s Salvation in Life. You can read it for free at ministrybooks.org. May we all aspire to participate in His a “much more” salvation. Thanks for sharing your appreciation in a comment.

  12. Shawn

    Where in the bible says: “God NEEDS a group of people to express Him in His divine life.”?

    1. Tom Smith

      Genesis 1 and 2 and Revelation 21 and 22 give us a marvelous beginning and end to your answer, one that spans the entire Bible. Genesis 1 shows us that God made us in His image (Gen. 1:26) Image is for expression and this man is a “them.” “Let them have dominion…” This corporate man to express God with His image was put before the tree of life “in the midst of the garden” (Gen. 2:9). This life tree portrays the life of God and the food man needs to live for God’s expression (John 6:57). God has a purpose to have His life expressed through His creature man and for this He needs our cooperation. He will not force us to receive Him but has given us a free will to choose Him ((John 7:37-39).

      In Revelation 21-22 we see a marvelous sign, a picture of the final product, the holy city (a corporate people), New Jerusalem, having the glory of God—that is, God’s expression (Rev. 21:9-10). In the middle of the city is the tree of life on either side of the river of life for man’s full supply (Rev. 22:1-2). At the conclusion of Bible is the fulfillment of God’s purpose, the meeting of His need, from eternity past a corporate people to express Him with His life. The entire Bible is the mysterious development of how God’s good pleasure from eternity past (Eph. 1:9; 3:9) is being carried out and brought to its fulfillment for eternity future.

  13. Ekeh Julius Anthony

    Thank you brother Tom, I am bless by your articles I have more insight of redemption and salvation, i Pray to God to give you more grace of knowledge and wisdom in His word in Jesus name Amen. Thanks

    1. Tom Smith

      I’m glad that you have been blessed by reading the articles on the Holding to Truth blog. It is my hope that through each article, readers like yourself would be enlightened by the truth in God’s word and ushered into a deeper experience of Christ and into the eternal purpose for which God created us. Thank you for sharing your appreciation and may our Lord also grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Christ.

  14. Ufor Omare

    Thank you,Tom, for explicitly ex-raying the difference between Redemption and Salvation. Can boldly teach this now in our church. Thank you so much.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post the difference between Redemption and Salvation. Sadly, many believers mistake the two for being the same thing. However, the Lord’s work of redemption is the foundation for our experience of His complete salvation. If we see the broad span of the Lord’s salvation which also includes regeneration, sanctification, renewing, transformation, building, conformation, and glorification, we would not be content to possess only the beginning of God’s redemption for the forgiveness of our sins. Thank you for sharing your appreciation in a comment.

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