Quotes about Salvation from throughout Christian History.
This topic has subtopics. General quotes on the issue of salvation are below; more specific quotes can be found in the bulleted links.
There is also a separate page with quotes about the Gospel, along with an important explanation of why that is a separate page.
There's actually a bald eagle in the
middle of this picture, but my
camera was only so good
Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ and see how precious that blood is to God, which has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed and learn that … the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all that would be converted to him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. (First Clement 7)
How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God: life in immortality, splendor in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings! What, then, shall those things be which are prepared for the ones who wait for Him? The Creator and Father of all worlds, the Most Holy, is the only one who knows their amount and their beauty.
Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for him, in order that we may share in his promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done?
If by faith we fix our understanding on God; if we earnestly seek the things which are pleasing and acceptable to him; if we do the things which are in harmony with his blameless will; and if we follow the way of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity, along with all greed, strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and slander; all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vainglory and ambition. For they that do such things are hateful to God; and not only they that do them, but also those that take pleasure in them that do them.
For the Scripture says, “But to the sinner God said, 'Why do you declare my statutes and take my covenant in your mouth? You hate instruction, and cast my words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and threw in your lot with adulterers. Your mouth has abounded with wickedness, and your tongue contrived deceit. You sit and speak against your brother. You slander your own mother's son! You have done these things, and I kept silence. You thought, wicked one, that I would be like you, but I will reprove you and show you to yourself. Consider these things, you who forget God, so that he does not tear you in pieces like a lion, and there be no one to deliver you. The sacrifice of praise will glorify me, and there is a way by which I will show him the salvation of God.'" [Ps. 1:16-23]. (1 Clement 35)
Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love, so that through love our sins may be forgiven us. For it is written, "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him, and in whose mouth there is no guile" [Ps. 32:1-2]. This blessedness comes upon those who have been chosen by God through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever. (1 Clement 50.)
The man perishes justly, who, having a knowledge of the way of righteousness, rushes off into the way of darkness. (Letter of Barnabas 5)
As long then as the former time endured, he permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that he at all delighted in our sins, but that he simply endured them. Nor did he approve of the time of working iniquity which then was, but he sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us. And, having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. (ch. 9)
[God] therefore convinced us in the former time [i.e., under the Law] that our nature was unable to attain to life, and he has now revealed the Savior who is able to save even those things which it was impossible to save. By both these facts he wanted to lead us to trust in his kindness, and to regard him as our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, and Healer; our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life. (ch. 9)
[The Angel of Repentance] continued, "No one shall enter into the kingdom of God unless he receive [the Son of God's] holy name. For if you desire to enter a city, and that city is surrounded by a wall and has but one gate, can you enter into that city save through the gate which it has?"
"Why, how can it be otherwise, sir?" I asked.
"If then, you cannot enter into the city except through its gate so, in like manner, a man cannot otherwise enter into the kingdom of God than by the name of his beloved Son."
"None of these glorious angels," he continued, "will enter in to God apart from him. Whoever does not receive his name shall not enter into the kingdom of God." (Shepherd of Hermas III:9:12)
If you are eagerly looking for salvation, and if you believe in God, you may ... become acquainted with the Christ of God, and, after being initiated [a reference to baptism], live a happy life. (Dialogue with Trypho 8)
But there is no other [way] than this: to become acquainted with this Christ, to be washed in the fountain spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins; and for the rest, to live sinless lives. (Dialogue with Trypho 44)
Then [Trypho, the Jew] said, "Tell me then. Shall those who lived according to the law given by Moses, live in the same manner with Jacob, Enoch, and Noah, in the resurrection of the dead, or not?"
I replied to him, "When I quoted, sir, the words spoken by Ezekiel, that 'even if Noah and Daniel and Jacob were to beg sons and daughters, the request would not be granted them' [Ezek. 14:20], but that each one ... shall be saved by his own righteousness, I said also that those who regulated their lives by the law of Moses would in like manner be saved. For what in the law of Moses is naturally good, pious, and righteous, and has been prescribed to be done by those who obey it. And what was appointed to be performed by reason of the hardness of the people's hearts was similarly recorded and done also by those who were under the law. Since those who did that which is universally, naturally, and eternally good are pleasing to God, they shall be saved through this Christ in the resurrection equally with those righteous men who were before them, namely Noah, and Enoch, and Jacob, and whoever else there be, along with those who have known this Christ, Son of God. (Dialogue with Trypho 45)
Since we find it recorded in the memoirs of the apostles that he is the Son of God, and since we call him the Son, we have understood that he proceeded before all creatures from the Father by his power and his will ... and that he became man by the virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same way in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived by the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced the good news to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Highest would overshadow her. Therefore, also, that which was begotten by her is the Son of God. (Dialogue with Trypho 100)
"All men come short of the glory of God" and are not justified of themselves, but by the advent of the Lord—those who earnestly direct their eyes toward his light. (Against Heresies IV:27:2)
Who are they that have been saved and received the inheritance? Those, doubtless, who believe God and who have continued in his love, as did Caleb, son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, son of Nun, and innocent children, who have had no sense of evil. But who are they that are saved now and receive life eternal? Is it not those who love God, who believe his promises, and who in malice have become as little children? (Against Heresies IV:28:3)
Of this Jerusalem [the one prophesied in Rev. 21] the former one is an image—that Jerusalem of the former earth in which the righteous are disciplined beforehand for incorruption and prepared for salvation. ... And as [man] rises actually, so also shall he be actually disciplined beforehand for incorruption, and shall go forward and flourish in the times of the kingdom, in order that he may be capable of receiving the glory of the Father. (Against Heresies V:35:2)
Now, since man is a living being compounded of soul and flesh, he must needs exist by both of these: and, whereas from both of them offences come, purity of the flesh is the restraining abstinence from all shameful things and all unrighteous deeds, and purity of the soul is the keeping faith towards God entire, neither adding thereto nor diminishing therefrom. For godliness is obscured and dulled by the soiling and the staining of the flesh, and is broken and polluted and no more entire, if falsehood enter into the soul: but it will keep itself in its beauty and its measure, when truth is constant in the soul and purity in the flesh. For what profit is it to know the truth in words, and to pollute the flesh and perform the works of evil? Or what profit can purity of the flesh bring, if truth be not in the soul? For these rejoice with one another, and are united and allied to bring man face to face with God. (The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. Transl. by Robinson, Armitage D.D. PDF. [NY:MacMillan Co., 1920] Par. 2.)
No one will be so impressed by the exhortations of any of the saints as he is by the words of the Lord Himself, the lover of man. For this, and nothing but this, is his only work—the salvation of man. Therefore he himself, urging them on to salvation, cries, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" [Matt. 4:17]. Those men that draw near through fear, he converts. (Exhortation to the Heathen 9)
I anoint you with the ungent of faith, by which you throw off corruption, and show you the naked form of righteousness by which you ascend to God. (Exhortation to the Heathen 12)
The greatest and most important point of the instructions which relate to life must be implanted in the soul from the beginning: to know the eternal God, the giver of what is eternal, and by knowledge and comprehension to possess God, who is first, highest, one, and good. For this is the unchangeable and immoveable source and support of life, the knowledge of God ... For ignorance of him is death, but the knowledge and appropriation of him, and love and likeness to him, are the only life. (Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved 7-8)
A man becomes a Christian; he is not born one. (The Soul's Testimony 1)
... while the salvation of believers depends upon two things, their understanding of the faith and the perfection of their works, it is the element of faith ... that is taken as the first step in salvation, whereas second place is given to perfection of works. (Origen. Commentary on Song of Songs III:12. Cited from Ancient Christian Writers vol. 26, p. 228. Thank you to Errol Vincent Amey for pointing this out to me.)
The priest is not made. He must be born a priest; must inherit his office. I refer to the new birth—the birth of water and the Spirit. Thus all Christians must became priests, children of God and co-heirs with Christ the Most High Priest. … The Christian priesthood costs life, property, honor, friends and all worldly things. It cost Christ the same on the holy cross. ("First Sunday after Epiphany" from Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. IV [Grand Rapids, MI:BakerBooks, 2007] p. 9)
As I have frequently stated, the suffering and work of Christ is to be viewed in two lights: First, as grace bestowed on us, as a blessing conferred, requiring the exercise of faith on our part and our acceptance of the salvation offered. Second, we are to regard it as an example for us to follow; we are to offer up ourselves for our neighbors' benefit and for the honor of God. This offering is the exercise of our love—distributing our works for the benefit of our neighbors. He who does so is a Christian. He becomes one with Christ, and the offering of his body is identical with the offering of Christ's body. (ibid.)
The offering of [the body] is called a spiritual sacrifice because it is freely sacrificed through the Spirit, the Christian being uninfluenced by the constrainst of the Low or the fear of hell. (ibid., p. 10)
Beware, I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If thy heart be renewed, if thou shalt hate the things that thou didst once love, and love the things that thou didst once hate; if thou hast really repented; if there be a thorough change of mind in thee; if thou be born again, then hast thou reason to rejoice: but if there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then thy saying "I am saved" is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee. (Unknown, cited by Revival List)
Except the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus make a man sick of his opinions, he may hold them to doomsday for me; for no opinion, I repeat is Christianity, and no preaching of any plan of salvation is the preaching of the glorious gospel of the living God. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 391)
I do say that the importance they place on theory is even more sadly obstructive to true faith than such theories themselves: while the mind is occupied in enquiring,'Do I believe or feel this thing right?'-the true question is forgotten: 'Have I left all to follow him?' To the man who gives himself to the living Lord, every belief will necessarily come right; the Lord himself will see that his disciple believe aright concerning him. If a man cannot trust him for this, what claim can he make to faith in him? It is because he has little or no faith, that he is left clinging to preposterous and dishonouring ideas, the traditions of men concerning his Father, and neither his teaching nor that of his apostles. The living Christ is to them but a shadow; the all but obliterated Christ of their theories no soul can thoroughly believe in. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 392-3)
Do you ask, 'What is faith in him?' I answer, The leaving of your way, your objects, your self, and the taking of his and him; the leaving of your trust in men, in money, in opinion, in character, in atonement itself, and doing as he tells you. I can find no words strong enough to serve for the weight of this necessity—this obedience. It is the one terrible heresy of the church, that it has always been presenting something else than obedience as faith in Christ. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 393; emphasis in original)
When you say that to be saved a man must hold this or that, then you are forsaking the living God and his will and putting trust in some notion about him or his will. To make my meaning clearer: Some of you say that we must trust in the finished work of Christ. Or you say that our faith must be in the merits of Christ—in the atonement he has made—in the blood he has shed.
All these statements are a simple repudiation of the living Lord in whom we are told to believe. … No manner or amount of belief about him is the faith of the New Testament.
With such teaching I have had a lifelong acquaintance, and I declare it most miserably false. (The Truth in Jesus [Minneapolis, MN: BethanyHouse; 2007] p. 59, emphasis in original)
It is the one terrible heresy of the church that it has always been presenting something else than obedience as faith in Christ. (The Truth in Jesus [Minneapolis, MN: BethanyHouse; 2007] p. 62)
Do you suppose [Jesus] ever gave a commandment knowing it was of no use for it could not be done? He tells us a thing knowing that we must do it or be lost. He knows that not even his Father himselfd could save us but by getting us at length to do everything he commands. There is no other way we can know life or learn the holy secret of divene being.
He knows that you can try, and that in your trying and failing he will be able to help you, until at length you shall do the will of God even as he does it himself. (The Truth in Jesus [Minneapolis, MN: BethanyHouse; 2007] p. 67)
Whatever may be the cheap and frivolous teaching of many, that the only necessity is to be 'saved' and everything is all right - a teaching which accounts for no small measure of the present deplorable condition in Christianity - the Apostles most positively did NOT take that view. They 'laboured night and day' that believers should know what they had come into. All the eternal counsels concerning Christ and God's eternal purpose as to Him are bound up with the Church. There are very many and very great values in a true Church life, that is, a true Body relatedness, and there can only be very great loss in not knowing or apprehending this. ("According to Christ")
The first eight chapters of Romans form a self-contained unit. The four-and-a-half chapters from 1. 1 to 5. 11 from the first half of this unit and the three-and-a-half chapters from 5. 12 to 8. 39 the second half. A careful reading will show us that the subject-matter of the two halves is not the same. For example, in the argument of the first section we find the plural word 'sins' given prominence. In the second section, however, this is changed, for while the word 'sins' hardly occurs once, the singular word 'sin' is used again and again and is the subject mainly dealt with. Why is this?
It is because in the first section it is a question of the sins I have committed before God, which are many and can be enumerated, whereas in the second it is a question of sin as a principle working in me. No matter how many sins I commit, it is always the one sin-principle that leads to them. I need forgiveness for my sins, but I need also deliverance from the power of sin. The former touches my conscience, the latter my life. (Angus Kinnear, ed., The Normal Christian Life; Paperback edition [Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press), Ltd.: Bungay, Suffolk, Great Britain, 1971] p. 11)
You know, people say that today. "I am a saved sinner." That is like saying you are a married bachelor. That is like saying you are an honest thief, or a pure harlot. you can't be a saved sinner. You are either saved or you are a sinner. He came. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall save his people from their sins." (unknown, cited by Revival School)
But if we come to Paul with these questions in mind — the questions about how human beings come into a living and saving relationship with the living and saving God — it is not justification that springs to his lips or pen. When he describes how persons, finding themselves confronted with the act of God in Christ, come to appropriate that act for themselves, he has a clear train of thought, repeated at various points. The message about Jesus and his cross and resurrection — 'the gospel', in terms of our previous chapters — is announced to them; through this means, God works by his Spirit upon their hearts; as a result, they come to believe the message; they join the Christian community through baptism, and begin to share in its common life and its common way of life. That is how people come into relationship with the living God. (What Saint Paul Really Said, p. 116-117)