4.4 God's plan of salvation

Holy Scripture uses the term "salvation" in the sense of "deliverance", "protection", and "redemption". God's activity is intended to bring about salvation. This process is known as the history of salvation. In it we can recognise a sequence of divine actions that follow a plan made by God.

The history of salvation begins immediately after the fall into sin. It continues with the deliverance of Noah from destruction in the flood, the divine election and blessing of the patriarchs, the covenant with Israel, and the history of the Old Testament people of God. The central event in salvation history is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, His sacrifice on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven. This is followed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the spread of the gospel by the Apostles of the early time, and the further development of Christianity right up until the reoccupation of the Apostle ministry. This development is geared toward preparing the bridal congregation for the return of Jesus Christ. This will be followed by the activity of salvation during the thousand years of peace, until the Last Judgement. Finally, God will create the new heaven and new earth. This whole sequence is described as "God's plan of salvation".

The first expression of any divine thought of salvation is found in God's actions after the fall into sin (see 4.2). Accordingly, Christian tradition considers the cursing of the serpent to be the first reference to the coming Redeemer, the focal point of the plan of salvation.

The nature and extent of salvation to be imparted are variously structured by God during the different phases of the history of salvation. But above all stands God's will to save, which applies to all of mankind in every time period.

See also