Salvation is not just an important concept in Christianity. To the devout Christian, it is actually the desired outcome to be gained from living a pious Christian life. In Christianity, salvation means eternal life after death, and freedom from sin and the consequences of sin. The salvation of a soul spares that soul the wrath of God’s judgment and an afterlife of eternal damnation.
Original sin is the idea that all human beings are born imperfect and sinful. Saint Augustine put forth the idea, and it has been an important part of Christian doctrine ever since. Christians who believe in the doctrine of original sin believe that it explains the presence of imperfection and evil in a world created by a perfect and benevolent God. Original sin (and death) began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit. Christians believe that the birth of sin created a chasm in the relationship between God and humanity.
The central figure in the history of Christianity is Jesus, who devout Christians believe to be the messiah and Son of God. In Christianity, salvation is not possible without accepting Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. This is repeated throughout the New Testament, and is the basis of the oft-quoted verse from the Gospel of John (3:16): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Christians believe that when God sent Jesus to walk the earth, first as a teacher and then ultimately as a divine sacrifice, it was an act of grace and love so powerful that it closed the chasm between God and humanity. This is known as the Atonement. According to Christianity, any person willing to seek forgiveness and follow the message of Jesus Christ can receive salvation because of the Atonement.
Salvation and the Afterlife
Many Christian denominations teach that the reward for salvation is eternal life after death and a reprieve from the harsh judgment of God for earthly sins. This is where the concept of heaven comes in. Heaven is understood by most mainstream Christians to be the holy place where the souls of saved Christians go after death. In heaven, Christians believe there is no sin, illness, or suffering. Those souls that are admitted to Heaven are in the constant presence of God and Jesus Christ, which inspires many Christians to strive for salvation and a life of piety.
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