There has been a great deal published about what salvation means to evangelical Christians. Does it mean eternal life after death? What part of a person is thus "saved"? Does it mean "rescue" and can therefore apply to the present life?
As I wrote earlier, I want to spend some time with N. T. Wright's book, "Surprised by Hope." In it he stated that Jesus' resurrection was not simply evidence of a posthumous life in heaven, nor just the hope of being resurrected like Jesus in a new earth yet to be revealed. There is another hope, and "intermediate hope...that comes forward from God's ultimate future into God's urgent present." This ministry of the present toward those who are hurting and crushed by the cares and traumas of the present is not something that one must "tack on to the gospel as an afterthought." It is what Jesus was doing. Luke 4:18-19 has become one of my favorite scriptures. It reveals the heart of God as it relates to people's lives...right here; right now. It's no "pie in the sky" look at life. It is the reality of bring the reign of God to bear in God's good creation. As Wright put it, the people "saw him, (Jesus), saving people from sickness and death, and they heard him talking about a salvation...that would go beyond the immediate into the ultimate future." For Jesus, salvation involved rescue from death into resurrected life, to be sure. But, it also involved rescuing those who were perishing in this present world, also.