After these things I looked carefully and a large multitude, which no one was able to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, was standing before the throne and before the Lamb, having dressed in white robes and having palm branches in their hands. And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God, who is sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Rev 7:9-10.
Salvation is an issue Christians like to disagree about. While the subject should be our greatest delight, we find ways to argue about it. I recently wrote about "forgiveness of sins" in the Gospel of John. Someone called to tell me that I was wrong. Sins don'tget forgiven, people do! She pointed to the text, "Your sins are forgiven unto you" (Mark 2:9). I pointed out that in another place (Matt 26:28) Jesus did talk about the "forgiveness of sins." I have no problem with her point except that the biblical witness is richer than that.
The word "salvation" in the Bible, for example, is not a precise term, it is a metaphor, an illustration. It is one of many biblical metaphors about getting right with God. These metaphors usually describe a problem and a solution. For example "salvation" is a metaphor from the world of rescue missions. The sin problem is described in terms like "lost" or "taken prisoner," the solution is to be "rescued" or "saved." Anyone who has ever been lost in the forest can relate to this metaphor.
From the perspective of the medical world, if we speak of the human condition as "sick" in sin, the solution is to find "healing." (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50B in Greek the word for "healing" is the same as the verb for "salvation!") From the banking world we speak of sin as a "debt" that we owe, what we need, then, is "forgiveness." In sanctuary terms, the sin problem has to do with "defilement," being dirty, the solution, in that case, is "cleansing." If the sin problem is the result of unfulfilled hunger needs, the solution would be to feed on the Bread of Life.
If the problem is stated in legal terms, sin is "condemnation," a guilty verdict in court, the solution to the problem, then, is "justification," a verdict of acquittal. If the problem is enmity with God, the solution is "reconciliation." If the problem is slavery, the solution is freedom.
What God was doing in the Bible was not describing the matter of salvation in precise, Western, scientific terms. Instead He was inspiring people to use language from everyday life to illustrate His "plan of salvation." The beauty of all this is that the Bible has a metaphor for every situation. It would be a tragic thing if we required everyone to be satisfied with our pet metaphor. The broader the biblical net, the greater number of people can find their way to God!