We understand what forgiveness means, but how clear are we about terms such as redemption, salvation, justification, righteousness, and sanctification, or the statement, "Jesus Christ died for all, but not all will be saved"? Since these are terms we encounter when we read the Bible or discuss our faith, a brief explanation of each can help.

Our redemption was brought about by Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection. It was the series of events that makes salvation possible. When our first parents sinned, lost paradise and some of the preternatural gifts originally possessed, as representatives of all mankind they affected the entire human race, not just themselves. What Jesus as both fully God and fully man was able to do was to restore the relationship between God and man and make it possible for us to enter heaven. Thus all mankind has been redeemed.

Salvation, the goal of our faith, is eternal life with God. It is the fulfillment of God's promises and His gift to us. It is a process that first required our redemption, which then made possible forgiveness of sin, sanctification, and justification (used interchangeably with righteousness), which are steps along the road to salvation. While the sacrifice of Jesus brought about redemption for all mankind, our salvation depends upon our cooperation with His work. Thus St. Peter could tell us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, an effort not everyone is willing to make. Note also that reaching our goal is an on-going process that St. Paul indicates has past, present, and future connotations: "For by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians); "through it [the gospel] you are also being saved" (1 Cor.); "For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed" (Romans). It is not just a moment in time.

Sanctification and justification (righteousness) are other terms we often encounter. To be sanctified is to be set apart as holy or for holy purposes; to be consecrated. St. Paul uses this terminology several times in his letters when he mentions the conduct of the believers. Justification is the act of becoming right with God. To be justified is to become "just-as-if-I’d" never sinned. Believers are justified in many ways: by grace, faith, the blood of Jesus, works, etc.

Understanding the distinction between the various terms used in the language of our faith can clarify what has been done for us and what is required of us to obtain eternal salvation. We need to make the valiant effort to achieve it.

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