If you can't tell, I am regularly influenced by the ministry of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Recently I have been listening to his sermon series on Romans. In the message I listened to today (on Romans 1:16-17), Piper discussed "the gospel, ... the power of God for salvation." He asked of the text, "What are we saved from?"
This is a great question! I have heard many answers to this question, and they are all biblical. The gospel saves us from: sin, death, hell, bondage, etc. But in the CONTEXT (which is so terribly important for us to understand precisely what the author intended to convey), we see in the very next verse exactly what we need to be saved from. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." Piper went on to point out more verses that support this, but we don't need to dig much to understand Paul's argument. The gospel is the power of God for salvation from God's wrath against ungodliness and unrighteousness.
This also helps us see the difference in regeneration and salvation. (Regeneration is the point in time which God changes our hearts and we become believers.) It is biblical to say that I was saved at some point in time in the past, but it is also biblical to say that I will be saved on that great day when the cup of God's anger is full and he pours out his wrath on all unrighteousness. We have no hope at that time except for the shed blood of Jesus Christ! God may never say, "Why should I let you into my heaven?" He may say, "What will stay my hand from your eternal destruction?"
If we do not depend only on Christ's sacrifice to pay for our sin, and his righteousness to make us acceptable to God, whe have no hope. This is the power of the gospel.