Question: One commentator suggested that you do not know the difference between redemption and salvation. He claimed that they are not the same--—indeed, we are all redeemed, whether Christians, Jews, Muslims, or animists, because this is basic Christian doctrine held even by traditional Protestants. How would you respond?
Response: This idea is just plain wrong. In fact, there is no distinction between “redemption and salvation,” and I have not seen any biblical references to prove there is. Anyone who is redeemed is saved, and one can only be saved by being redeemed, as numerous verses prove. Take, for example, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph:1:7; Col:1:14); and “...the gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom:1:16). Redemption is tied to forgiveness of sins and comes through Christ’s blood being shed for us—but salvation comes the same way, through believing the gospel, which is about Christ dying in our place to obtain forgiveness of sins for us. Hebrews:9:15 states that redemption gives the promise of “eternal inheritance [life]”; and Galatians:4:5 says that we receive the “adoption of sons” (i.e., are born again) through being redeemed by Christ. But to be born again and to receive eternal life is what it means to be saved—or to be redeemed; both terms have the same meaning.
Beyond that, it is not “basic Christian doctrine, even [held by] traditional Protestants,” that “we are all redeemed—Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists.” The Bible teaches that Christ paid the price for the redemption of all mankind; redemption from Satan’s power is offered to all, but it is only effective for those who personally accept Christ as Redeemer. They are known as “the redeemed”; for example: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (Ps:107:2). That’s a definite group of people, not the whole world. Consider also, “they sung a new song, saying...thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rv 5:9). If the redeemed were redeemed out of the rest of mankind, then one cannot say that all mankind is redeemed!
Look up the words “redemption,” “redeemed,” and “redeemer” in a concordance. These words are never used of the world in general but only of God’s people, whether Israel in the Old Testament, or the saints (believers in Jesus Christ) in the New. To be redeemed means to be set free “from the curse of the law” (Gal:3:13), to be “justified freely by his grace” (Rom:3:24) and to have “the forgiveness of sins” (Eph:1:7; Col:1:14). None of these blessings accrue to Jews, Muslims, or animists, but only to those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior.