At the core of every belief system, the anchor of salvation is not only highly important, but is also highly controversial, as this is what separates religions from one another. The Gnostic view of salvation is obviously through the divine knowledge or gnosis. While many believe that simply acquiring this gnosis will bring about salvation, there are specific reasons as to why the Gnostics believe this way.
The Gnostics hold that evolutionary forces alone are insufficient to bring about spiritual freedom, thus, the individual must free themselves from the bondage of the material world. This places the humans in quite a difficult predicament as our physical existence is combined with our ignorance of our true origins; these are essential to our nature and ultimate destiny. If humans are bound within a flawed physical world, but are blind to the fact that the world is actually flawed, how will we ever know how to save ourselves?
The Orthodox Christians insisted that humanity needed a way beyond its power to approach God. Of course, this had to be a divinely given way. Through the means of apostolic succession, the bishops, priests and popes would lead the wretched souls of humanity to salvation. Without the church, there was no salvation. The orthodox view of salvation is worthless to the Gnostic
While Gnostics believe that Jesus was the savior, they do not look to salvation from sin; rather, they look to salvation from ignorance – the ignorance of spiritual realities. This ignorance will only be relieved through gnosis. It was not through Christ’s suffering and death, but through his life and his teachings that humanity will be saved.
While some see the Gnostic view of salvation as a spiritual do-it-yourself project, and even as blasphemous, the Gnostics view it as merely a different interpretation of Christ’s life and message. Because of the knowledge of humanity’s true nature, those who have achieved the gnosis will be upheld from the bondage of the earthly existence. This knowledge will come from outside sources, namely, a Messenger of Light (Seth, Jesus, and Prophet Mani).
Some heresiologists believed that the Gnostic worldview and their view of salvation was conducive to suicide, but this is hardly the case. At the end of the individual’s life, death will release the divine spark from its prison (the fleshly body from the material world). If the gnosis undertaken by the individual throughout their mortal life is lacking, the spark will be hurled back into and re-emptied into the pangs and slavery of the physical world. Simply put, if the individual does not achieve gnosis in their first lifetime, the mortal body will be disposed of and the soul (the divine spark of that individual) will be sent back to the physical, material world to begin the process over again – imprisoned in yet another body. However, if the individual achieves a satisfactory level of gnosis throughout their lifetime, the spark is released from its fleshly prison and will ascend through the realms to be re-united with its partner in the pleroma.