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3DS - Three Dimensions of Salvation

This developed from an exposition of Romans chapter 8 in the Bible for a Nigerian RCCG church in August 2011. Since then, the idea of 'three-dimensional salvation' has become more useful, and this page is being built to be a summary of it, prior to fuller discussion.


Salvation has three dimensions.

Each of these seems to have been present in the New Testament era, but became largely lost in the mediaeval church. Each began to be rediscovered at a different period in history over the past 500 years, giving rise to different movements and mindsets. 500 years ago the first was rediscovered via the Reformation. 150 years ago the second was rediscovered via the Holiness and Pentecostal movements. Today the third is being rediscovered.

The three working together bring a full, rich, glorious redemption that satisfies and transforms all spheres of life (Romans 8:28-end). With only one or two, salvation remains one-dimensional or flat two-dimensional.


This page is in process of construction. Some of the above are incomplete, some only in outline form. Please enjoy what is there.

A Story

I put my trust in Jesus Christ to make me right with God.
I was told that guaranteed my place in heaven when I died.
I should be thankful and serve God all the rest of my life.
"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" [Romans 8:1].

But I didn't have any experience of God in my life.

No answered prayer;
The Bible was a textbook;
No changing of my nature by the Holy Spirit;
No miracles;
No joy;
No heartfelt calling God "Father".
Worship was a duty.

My salvation had but one dimension'.
(This is the salvation the Reformers discovered and died for in the 1500s.)

Through Philippians 2:13 I began to discover these things.

Prayers started to be answered.
The Bible started to be fascinating for me.
I genuinely desired what God wanted.
Prosperity of various kinds grew.
I gained joy.
I loved God, as my Father.
Worship became natural.

My salvation gained a second dimension to salvation -
We can expect to experience God here and now!
"Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" and calling God 'Abba Father' [Romans 8:14-17]
(This is the salvation experienced by Pentecostals and in revivals from the 1800s onwards.)

But this seemed rather self-centred,
a constant chasing after more experiences of God.
It made little impact on world problems.
It had little to do with my everyday life in the world.

Prayers centred on me, God and those I loved.
Scriptures not relating to me were boring.
My love for God was like teenage infatuation.
Worship became the chief end of Man.

It started to seem a bit flat, merely two-dimensional.

Then I discovered a third dimension to Christ's salvation.
God's main purpose in saving us is not just for our sakes
but for the blessing of His world
by people who are like Christ.

Prayer began to be part of ministry in the world.
The Bible shone with new light, even well-known verses.
I felt God with me in bold environmental politics.
I felt God with me in academic life.
I rejoiced in God's heart for His world.
I gained a new understanding of the times.
"The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God" [Romans 8:19-23].

Here is a summary in tabular form, which also acts as index into the main text. Skip to main text.

Table Summarising the Three Dimensions
(Click on links for more.)
Dimension 1
'No condemnation'
Dimension 2
'Abba Father'
Dimension 3
Blessing the rest of creation
When rediscovered widely 1500s, the Reformation 1800s, the Pentecostal and Methodist revivals 1980s onwards (no name yet)
Why each dimension is important Depth; without it, just thin versions of humanism Excitement and power; without it we operate by rule Impact in world, representing God and further His Plan; without it we are self-absorbed
Problems addressed Guilt, need for forgiveness;
Separation from God
Promise of heaven with little experience of God here and now;
Things of God mean little to me;
Lack of inner Christlikeness;
Lack of power
Inwardlookingness, elitism, selfishness (of those who experience D1, D2);
"Affluence, Arrogance, Unconcern" [Ezek 16:49]
Effect of this dimension of salvation
(What it means for us)
We are right with God
Sins forgiven
"No condemnation" [Romans 8:1]
All by faith
Experience God here and now [Romans 8:14]
We grow to be like Christ
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Loving God as Father [Romans 8:17]
Fruit of the Holy Spirit [Galatians 5:22,23]
We bring blessing to the world [Romans 8:19, Galatians 6:10]
We do this with Christ and in the power, guidance and joy of the Holy Spirit
We have the same self-giving attitude to the world as God does
The error of making a division in creation between sacred and secular (SSD) is disclosed and addressed.
... So we are engaged in gospel dissemination to all, healing work to human and non-human creation, changing structures of society (juridical, attitudinal and beliefs), academia (building humanity's body of knowledge in all disciplines).
We understand the times, especially the need for environmental responsibility, where we take leadership.
Dimensions of what Jesus Christ does / has done His death paid the price for our sin He makes us ready to receive the Holy Spirit;
He showed and told us how to live in the world [Matthew 5-7 etc.]
Dimensions of the Holy Spirit Convicts, draws to Christ and regenerates the individual Sanctifies, assures, comforts, gifts the individual Guides individuals and groups, empowers, brings unity
Dimensions of God the Father Sends Christ Sends the Holy Spirit Creates, speaks; His kingdom
'Kingdom of God' Those who are justified God's rule in our inner person and our lives;
Transformation of our worldviews [Rom 12:2]
God's rule in our lifestyles;
Structures of society (laws, attitudes, assumptions) in line with God's intent;
The world filled with the knowledge of God [Hab. 2:14]
The glory of each dimension (click each for more) Atonement, no condemnation;
The self-sacrifice of God.
Sanctification, devotion, worship Representing God in His world; Natural world saved, Social justice, God's people in vanguard
Dangers of elevating each (click each for more) Dry, rule-based Christianity Self-absorbtion and 'prosperity gospel' Humanistic, 'social gospel'
What each dimension might say to a non-believer "You are worth something to God; Christ died to bring you put you right with God." "Your life is messed up; Christ died dto give you newness of life and so the Holy Spirit can work in you." "Your desire for justice is echoes the heart of God. Christ died and the Holy Spirit comes to make you effective in as representative of God."
Sinful attitude in each dimension Ignoring God.
Relying on religious rituals or good works to please God.
Holding onto things in my life that the Holy Spirit wants to change. "Affluence, arrogance and unconcern for the poor" [Ezek 16:40]
What each dimension says about persecution and perseverance: "Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life" Joy in the midst of persecution "We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has beforehand prepared for us to do." Eph 2:10
What each dimension says about sin "Sin makes us guilty before God" "Sin is unChristlikeness" "Sin in structures of society"
Personal life
Seeking God Seek God's hand - rejoice in seeing Him doing great works Seek God's face - rejoice in His Presence, in worship Seek God's heart - rejoice as He does when the world is healed, or when someone repents
Attitude Always aware - including deeply - of how much I need God's mercy, grace, forgiveness. Experiencing God every day, and every week in fresh ways not tasted before. Deeply concerned about, and active in and giving time to, environmental concern as well as justice for the poor, powerless, under-resourced and voiceless.
Decline in attitude I get complacent that God loves and accepts me. My experience of God here and now palls or becomes rote. I vote for those who protect my own lifestyle, my own family, my own nation, rather than those who seek justice and mercy for those who have no voice or resources.
Communal life
Status of the body of believers Those chosen out of the world The worshipping community, the community of support and gentle critique Representing God in the world
Societal, global life
Why we are still in this fallen world? To invite people to Jesus the Christ, letting them see the difference that the Holy Spirit makes. To become more like Jesus the Christ; this happens because of difficulties, troubles, persecutions, etc. [K.P. Yohannon] To be salt and light, bringing justice in the world, encouraging people towards rightness, and leading the world in opening up the diverse potential of the creation.
Prosperity (wealth, comforts, conveniences, pleasures, safety) Prosperity can be an idol, drawing and turning our hearts and devotion away from the True God. Luke 9:24, 18:22. See more. God's people are always provided for with all they need. Never have God's people been abandoned nor "begging bread" [Psalm 37:25]. Usually this is 'just-enough' and we gain deep enjoyment from all around; occasionally, to overcome a false asceticism, God gives abundantly. What should they do with wealth? That is answered by D3. See more.

Enjoyment of life is to be seen as a gift, not as a goal or a right, and God's people should learn to be content in whatever circumstances they find themselves.

Prosperity is given to God's people, not for their own comfort, convenience, pleasure or safety, but so they be effective in representing God in the world - so that they can give generously to others [Eph 4:28; II Cor 5:15], have resources to do good, and use their nation's prosperity for the good of the entire world and planet. As in the reigns of Ahab and Manasseh, prosperity turns us to idolatry and injustice, misrepresenting God. See more.

Origin of the Idea of Three-Dimensional Salvation

For those, like me, who want major theological ideas grounded clearly in Scripture, I will say that this idea of three dimensions came to me while I was reading Romans chapter 8. It begins "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (dimension 1), progresses through the struggle of spirit and flesh to "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" and calling God 'Abba Father' (dimension 2), to "The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God" (dimension 3). An exposition of this is given in a separate page on Romans 8.

For those like me, who are suspicious of theological ideas built on just a single verse or passage, Romans 8 must be backed up not just by a few other passages but all through Scripture. Indeed, whatever is truth is 'breathed' throughout Scripture. I have found the three dimensions breathed throughout Scripture, though only clearly fulfilled in Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit in each culture as it unrolls in the Cosmic Plan of God.

This document seeks to explore the three dimensions and how they are breathed throughout Scripture and how they make sense of the times in which we live as well as the past 4000 years. Sadly, for 1500 years or so, Christians have tended to make D1 and then more recently D2 the sum total of God's Cosmic Plan, but when D3 is introduced, they are seen as narrow or flat, lacking the richness and joy that D3 can bring. However, each dimension has its own special glory, but each is also incomplete without the other dimensions. For each dimension there is a section that sets this out, and outlines how the dimension has been recognised through the ages. Following these is a comparison of them, so that we can see a whole picture.

Historical Revealing of Each Dimension

Dimensions of salvation are what God thinks important, as a goal or purpose of bringing salvation into the creation. All dimensions are necessary for full salvation. One-dimensional salvation is basic, necessary but narrow; two-dimensional salvation is better but still flat; three-dimensional salvation is rich, full, exciting and motivating. Since the Reformation and Renaissance the dimensions have been revealed (rediscovered by Godward people) in order D1, D2, D3, and this section outlines that history. However, in fact the three dimensions should all be there together, and to some extent were all present in partial form in the Mosaic Law and the Prophets of Israel, and this is described too.

Dimension 1 Rediscovered

From the Middle Ages in Europe, Roman Catholic Christendom (RC) has seen salvation as gaining a place in heaven. In the middle of the second millennium the Reformation questioned the RC means of gaining heaven (enacting the Mass and doing things to shorten the time in Purgatory), and found in the Scriptures the importance of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ 1500 years earlier, which 'paid the price' for our sin and obtained justification. But they did not question the goal of salvation, to gain a place in heaven, though they gave it a different emphasis, often calling it 'justification' or "being made right with God".

The following are some of the people whom God used in widespread redisovery of Dimension 1 (incomplete list):

Dimension 1 Rediscovered

Around the 1800s, though perhaps a bit before, something more emerged among those who read Scripture: enjoying God's presence now, holiness, love and power here and now in this life, as an immediate, intimate experience. This expanded the concern with justification (D1) by making it relevant to this life (D2), as sanctification and indwelling by the Holy Spirit. D1 should lead to D2 (as James said, faith without works is dead), but D2 cannot be achieved without D1 (works without faith are useless). But it's not just works here and now, but, as some Methodists discovered, love, joy and peace of the Holy Spirit, and, as the Pentecostal movement discovered, gifts of the Holy Spirit. Salvation was broadened into the here and now, not just the hereafter.

Here are some of the people whom God used in widespread redisovery of Dimension 2 (incomplete list):

Dimension 1 Rediscovered

Since around the 1980s, Bible-centred Christians have discovered what is perhaps a third dimension, D3. Both D1 and D2 could be inward-looking, focused on 'me'. Dimension 3 is concerned with the rest of creation - both human and non-human - and is outward-looking. D3 is concerned with restoring humanity's mandate to represent God to this rest of creation. D3 gives wider, deeper and richer meaning to D1 and D2 beyond merely experiencing God, to "working together with God' in hi world, while D1 and D2 are necessary conditions for full effectiveness in D3.

The following notable individuals had a yearning for action in God's world, but they stood out as lone heroes, whom ordinary Christians might admire (or loathe!), but not seek to emulate (incomplete list):

But from the 1980s Dimension 3 began to be something that every Christian could be involved in. Initially it focused on social justice, then it widened to environmental responsibility under God, and now it goes wider still. D3 is a home for those who wish to bridge what Mark Green calls the sacred-decular divide. D3 more clearly expresses the nature of God, and what Christopher Wright calls the mission of God. D3 resolves various conundrums that arise from the other two.

There have always been echoes and hints of D3. For example, in D1 there is the supposed imperative to evangelise, but it is understood only as a command to obey rather than something that inspires us. Liberal Christianity has always been interested in social justice, but has denied both the power of the Holy Spirit and the need for justification. Pentecostal and Charismatic movements facilitated a renewed interest in faith communities, but these were still seen as isolated from the world and even at war with the world, rather than bringing healing to the world.

The Dimensions in Mosaic Law and Prophets

The Law of Moses (Torah, Pentateuch) contains many references to all three dimensions, and some with all three together.

However, they are in unfuliflled, incomplete form, as shadows or foretastes of the full version instituted when Christ came. They are all in the context of nationhood and peoplehood among the other nations of the world as it then was, rather than about personal acceptability, holiness and being a blessing.

In the Prophets we find perhaps more emphasis on Dimension 3, probably because the nations of Israel and Judah had overlooked that one the most.


Dimension 1 concerns our status before God as sinners who are saved, and our eternal destiny.

2.1 The Glories and Importance of Dimension 1

2.2 The Insufficiency of Dimension 1

2.3 Dimension 1 Anticipates Dimensions 2, 3


Dimension 2 concerns our experience of God here and now, in our lives.

3.1 The Glories and Importance of Dimension 2

3.2 The Insufficiency of Dimension 2

3.3 Hints of a Third Dimension?


Dimension 3 concerns our role in the world, to 'image' or represent God in this world, bringing knowledge and some experience of God to the rest of humanity and the rest of creation, at all levels (personal, communal, societal, global).

4.1 The Glories and Importance of Dimension 3

4.2 The Insufficiency of Dimension 3


5.1 Issues and Themes

5.2 Why Each Dimension is Needed

Some who focus on D1 think that D2, D3 are distractions. Some who focus on D2 see D3 as distraction and D1 as merely a necessary precondition. Some who focus on D3 leave D1 and D2 behind and even deny them. But in New View, all three are needed together, and we don't leave D1, D2 behind. On the other hand, it recognises that D1 and D2 are not complete without D3. The following sets out several kinds of reasons why each is needed.

Some of those who find each dimension precious often tend to react when the next dimension enters.

5.3 The Message of Each Dimension

(These to be completed.)

What each dimension might say to a non-believer:

What each dimension might wrongly say about being 'truly spiritual':

What each dimension says about persecution and perseverance:

What each dimension says about sin and what the Holy Spirit convicts us of (John 16:8):


To be written. For now, See New View. This idea of Three Dimensions emerged out of thinking about a new view.


This section discusses how it relates to the thinking of Christian thinkers and practitioners in the UK and Europe, in America, in Africa and China. It provides principles for comparing this 'new view' of three dimensional salvation with others: principles of humility yet boldness.

7.1 UK Christian Thinkers

7.1.1 Christopher Wright 'Mission of God'

7.1.2 N.T. Wright

7.1.3 John Stott

7.1.4 C.S. Lewis

7.2 European Thinkers

7.2.1 Karl Barth

7.2.2 Herman Dooyeweerd

7.3 American Thinkers

7.3.1 Billy Graham

7.3.2 Rick Warren

7.3.3 Rob Bell

7.4 African Thinkers

7.4.1 Janani Luwum

7.4.2 Benson Idahosa

7.4.3 Adeboyi

7.5 Chinese Thinkers

7.5.1 Watchman Nee

7.5.2 Brother Yun

See Brother Yun page.

7.6 Principles of Comparison with Other Thinkers

  • Humility
  • Self-critique
  • Seek to engage: affirm, critique and enrich
  • Love builds up
  • Find the good
  • Uncover assumptions
  • Reveal presuppositions
  • Especially the sacred-secular divide
  • Remember God's Cosmic Plan

    The Usefulness of Three Dimensional Salvation


    We need people who will take Christ seriously, not just for justification by the death of Christ on the cross, not just for the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification and giving us power here and now, but for their responsibility as mature 'sons' of God to heal and bless the world, including the non-human creation. These are the three dimensions of what it means to be God's representatives (image) in the world, and Christ's witnesses and likeness.

    That does not mean we must just focus on the third, allowing the first two to be replaced by human self-justification and effort, but rather there is a two-way inter-dependence between them all. The first two are necessary for fulfilling the third, and they are both incomplete and 'thin' without the third. The three are not in any order of importance; they are dimensions of equal importance, but a sequence of foundational and anticipatory inter-dependence. The three dimensions need each other both for this life and the life to come.

    This page is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome.

    Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2012, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

    Written on the Amiga with Protext.

    Created: 3 January 2012. Last updated: 23 January 2012 more comparisons. 13 February 2012 benefits. 22 April 2012 persecution. 11 November 2012 types of sin, some alterations to comparisons. 23 December 2012 bullets done, and new intro. 12 May 2013 indenting correct. 12 May 2013 better intro. 26 May 2013 filled up table, and moved it forward. 4 May 2014 reword intro, Contents. 18 May 2014 we don't leave behind D1,D2. 20 July 2014 sinful attitudes in each. 3 August 2014 prosperity. 26 November 2015 Thanks to Chris Gousmett who pointed out that speaking of "bridging the sacred-secular divide" is a category error. 1 May 2016 Intro improved; d1.insuff added to about seeking sinfulness. 17 July 2017 concl.