There are three aspects to salvation: justification (Rom.
4:25), sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3), and glorification
(Rom. 8:30). The purpose here is to discuss the first
of these called justification. The word justification
(dikaiōsis), literally means "an aquital"
(Strongs Concordance G1347). We are guilty of
a crime (sin - Rom. 3:23) and we owe the penalty for sin
(death - Rom. 6:23). All men are in the same position
before God. We are guilty. God has a standard set forth for
us and it is recorded in his law. We missed God's
standard by breaking His law, which is what we call sin (1 John 3:4). According to biblical law in order for one
to pay for their crimes (sins) a blood sacrifice would have
to be given. As Hebrews 9:22 states, "without shedding
of blood is no remission." We owe a death penalty that
we cannot pay.
This is why God had to become a man (John 1:1,14). He
had to live the life that we could not. The Messiah obeyed
every commandment, statute, and judgement of God (Matt.
suffered the penalty for sin despite this. This was a
penalty He did not deserve, but since he paid this penalty
He is now qualified to pay for our sins. In Hebrew law,
the high priest would enter the holy of holies once a year
on the day of atonement. This day was a special day to
sacrifice for both the sins of the high priest and the sins
of all the people
(Lev. 16:6,15, Heb. 9:7). It was this day that brought
atonement for the sins of all the people of God. In
Hebrews 9:8 the author speaking of this day writes, "the
Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of
all was not yet made manifest." The holiest of
all is where the presence of God dwells in the tabernacle.
Ancient Hebrews did not have an understanding of this
special day. They couldn't have, it was, "not yet
made manifest." The manifestation was of the
sacrifice God would make by dying on a cross. The
Messiah has now become our high priest to sacrifice on our
behalf. The sacrifice made by the Messiah was perfect, for He sacrificed
Himself by dying on the cross. We can become aquitted
(justified) of our crimes (sins) against God by this
sacrifice. The question is, how do we become
The scripture is not silent on this issue. There are a
few things mentioned that are necessary for salvation.
A blood sacrifice, repentance, faith, belief, and confession
are among those mentioned. The hardest part, God has
done for us. We needed a perfect man to pay the
penalty for sin, but we couldn't do it. Thankfully,
God did it for us and He provided Himself as a sacrifice.
Our part is simple, we need to repent, have faith, believe,
and confess to be sure we have been justified. The
problem is, what do these words mean?
The first thing necessary for justification is repentance,
but many do not understand what this word means. The
accepted meaning of this word today is "to turn around" or
"about face." It was a military term applied
to the scriptures. Using this definition would make repentance
mean to turn from your sins. This is an unfortunate
understanding today for the Biblical meaning is quite
different. The word translated "repent" in the Hebrew
scriptures is "nâcham," which, according to
Strong's Concordance, means "to sigh, ... breathe strongly,
... to be sorry, ... to regret." The greek word used
in the New Testament is "metanoeō," which,
according to Strong's Concordance, means "to think
differently or afterwards, ... to reconsider, ... to change
your mind." This is quite a bit different than today's
understanding. It appears that all God expects from us
is "to change our mind." But change our minds
about what? We will understand this better as we look
at the other things necessary for salvation, so let's
The second and third thing necessary for justification will be covered
together, for they are really the same thing. Faith
and belief have a very similar definition in English as well
as Greek and Hebrew. Webster's dictionary defines faith
as "a firm belief" or "complete trust"
and belief as "to
accept something as true." These are very good
definitions for the Strong's Concordance definition of
pistis (faith) and pisteuō (believe) are the
same. Pistis (faith) means a "moral credence"
and pisteuō (believe) means "to have faith in ...
to entrust." Even in Hebrew they have the same
meaning. The Hebrew word 'êmûn (faith)
means "trustworthiness" and the word 'âman
(believe) means "faithful, to trust or believe."
These words are even spelled similar in Greek and Hebrew.
The meaning could not be clearer. Faith and belief
mean to believe something so strong that you put your trust in
The last of the requirements for justification is confession. The greek word for
confess is homologeō, which Strongs defines as
assent" or to "acknowledge." This is the extention of
faith/belief, which is to really mean it. You can't
just say you believe or have faith in Jesus, you have to
really mean it. The Hebrew word for confess is
yâdâh and comes from the root word yâd
which means "to open your hand, indicating power, means, or
direction." Confession is a way of simply showing
that you really believe it. It is not simply "honoring
with your lips," we must mean it with all our
hearts (Matt. 15:8).
To understand repentance combined with faith/belief/confession
you simply need to listen to the words of the Messiah. In
Mark 1:15, Jesus makes the statement, "repent ye, and believe
the gospel." If we understood repentance like the
modern definition, this statement would mean "turn from
your sins ye, and believe the gospel." This is
very unfortunate because it sure sounds like you have to
earn salvation by turning from your sins. This can't
be true for "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest
any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Rather, Jesus is
saying "change your mind" (repent), "and believe the gospel"
(death, buriel, ressurection 1 Cor. 15:1-4), or in other
words, stop believing whatever you used to believe, and
start believing that the Messiah died, was buried, and rose again
to pay for your sins. However, as we have
already seen, you have to really believe this. This is something entirely
Give this a try, read through the New
Testament and understand repent as "changing your mind" and
see how well it fits. This is truly the only
understanding that allows salvation to be a "free gift" by
"grace" alone. The evidence of your belief
is your changed life, which the Bible calls sanctification.
To read more on repentance click
here. To read about sanctification click