Most Christians are familiar with the verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It is the great verse of God’s love and the salvation of men through faith in His Son. But, what is salvation? What does it mean to be saved? From that verse and the verse that follows it which says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved,” (Jhn 3:17), we can say that to be saved is to not be condemned by God; to not perish, but have everlasting life.
The meaning of salvation understood by most Christians is just having eternal security. We are saved from the punishment of sin which is eternal death and are given eternal life. So, when we die we will not go to hell, but to heaven to be with God. It is true that salvation includes eternal security, but the essence of salvation is not salvation from eternal punishment, but salvation from the power of sin and from ourselves.
Because of sin, our nature is corrupt. We become slaves of sin and creatures of selfishness. Consequently, death is working in our lives because the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Whether we realize it or not, we are destroying ourselves and are perishing. If God wants to save us, He must save us from this power of sin and death which is actively working in our lives. He must also save us from our corrupt and selfish nature. And, that is exactly what He does in saving us. He changes our nature through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Tit 3:5). We are born again and become a new creation when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Our old sinful nature is replaced by the new nature from God, which is Christ’s own nature. This new nature was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24) and has the life of God in it.