Doctrine Of Salvation
The Bible declares that God exists, is holy and eternal, and that man is a fallen being, under God’s wrath and in need of redemption. The Bible also reveals God’s provision for the life of man, His love for fallen mankind and His desire to save them to live with Him forever. But without question, God stipulates that faith is required to please God and commands belief on the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God as the only means of Salvation: The new birth and adoption into the family of God is the only means of that salvation.
The Meaning of Salvation
Salvation is akin to being rescued, by someone, from a situation that you can’t save yourself from, in spite of your best efforts or intentions. It requires external intervention by one that is qualified and capable of performing the task.
The Source of Salvation
According to the Holy Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ is the only source of Salvation. He is God, and in the person of God the Son, He saves you from Himself, by Himself and for Himself. God shed His own blood as an atonement for our sins to meet His own requirement for perfect holiness.
Man Needs Salvation
Man is a three-part being (Flesh, Soul, Spirit). Because of Adam’s disobedience he is a being that, although initially made in God’s image, is positionally alienated from the life of God in this world. His flesh is under the captivity of sin and the power of death, but within that flesh dwells a procreated and immortal soul that is motivated by a spirit that is at enmity with the holiness of God. That flesh cannot be saved, but the soul bound within it must be cutaway from that flesh by a renewed spirit. It is done by the operation of God, a circumcision if you will (see: Col. 2:12, Romans 2:29 & Heb. 4:12) by the word of God.
Why Are Men Lost?
Succinctly summarized, men are lost because of unbelief. They reject God’s word because they are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Although they may believe in the existence of a God (see: James 2:19), they reject what the Holy Bible declares about the Lord Jesus Christ being the Son of God. Man does not realize that he is lost because he chooses not to hear the warnings of his own conscience or admonitions of the Spirit, because these things are foolishness to him. He cannot even begin to perceive the truth until he comes under conviction by the Spirit of God and the love of God (Romans 2:4). He views the world from a perspective that he is the center of his world. He fears death, but does not know why. Therefore he seeks answers that seem right to him, unwilling to accept that he may be wrong.
In these last days of this present evil world, man has mastered the sciences to the point where he can correctly identify a 3.5 million year-old fossil as evidence of ancient life on the Earth, but can’t explain where that creature came from or why it is dead and blindly accepts the illusion that its death is just a part of the natural way of things. He rejects the notion of God’s creation of a literal Adam and dismisses the Biblical account of mankind’s fall about 6,000 years ago as nonsense because he sees evidence of death in geologic antiquity, long before Adam was made. And he is correct in his observations about the time differentials. He rightfully scoffs at the nonsense of "Creation Science" and, therefore, reasons that the Bible must be a collection of myths and fables. He then takes false comfort in dismissing the word of God as such, not knowing that the Holy Bible holds the very essence of true knowledge that can answer his intellectual questions about Deep-Time. He cannot, because it is spiritually discerned and, without the new birth, cannot even comprehend why.
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
(Romans 5:12 KJV)
Sin ENTERED Adam’s world by Adam’s transgression but sin did not originate in Adam’s world. Where did it come from? It originally came from the world that was on the face of the Earth before the regeneration of the seven-days and the world of Adam (see: Isaiah 14:12-16 & Ezekiel 28:13-17). The scientist’s dead fossil is dead because of SIN – not the fossil’s sin – but the sin and death unleashed into the creation by Lucifer’s rebellion in the ancient past. Sin is a spiritual entity that permeates the very fabric of the physical world and caused the eventual demise of the original creation (See: Genesis 1:1-2).
When God regenerated the heavens and Earth and made the world of man, He began by making a distinction between His spiritual light (Genesis 1:3) and the spiritual darkness of the physical realm. When God formed Adam from the dust of the Earth (Genesis 2:7), God created a living soul within a container of physical material already tainted by the corruption of sin, yet the man himself had no sin because he was created innocent. His flesh was not immortal but his soul was immortal. Had he not disobeyed God, his flesh would have still eventually died unless he partook of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22) and God would have made provision to preserve him whole and sinless. But that did not happen.
The Bible leaves no doubt that evil was already present in Adam’s world (Genesis 2:9). We know that Satan, present in the garden in the person of the serpent, was already at enmity with God, was evil and was a sinner BEFORE Adam sinned. And, because of Adam’s unbelief in God’s commandment and disobedience, sin entered Adam’s world, as did spiritual death, resulting in eventual physical death and separation from God. So without question, man (made in God’s image) became guilty before God and his natural seed after him is under the same condemnation. Sin entered Adam’s world because of Adam.
A sinless man in the flesh, with sinless blood, would be the required sacrifice to make atonement for Adam’s sin. That was now an impossibility. That is why God the Son was conceived of a virgin woman and became flesh, but His blood was God’s blood. And, although the Lord Jesus Christ checkmated Satan at the cross (Colossian's 2:15), the enmity between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s seed (Genesis 3:15) continues until the final conclusion of the matter. Even in the future, when the Lord Jesus Christ bodily returns to reign on the Earth as the King of Kings for one-thousand years (Revelation 20), even after the heavens and Earth are regenerated again following the Great Tribulation (Isaiah 65:17) in preparation for His reign over His people (Israel), there will still be death present on the face of the Earth (Isaiah 65:20-23), although the life expectancy of mortal man will be increased greatly during that time. This is because death is not finally vanquished until after that one-thousand-years (Revelation 20:14).
The False Hopes of Salvation
Salvation cannot be obtained by works of the Law because of man’s sin nature. The Law of God is holy and it reveals sin (Romans 3:10). Man is sold under sin, and even attempting to live by the Law is impossible, because knowledge of it brings forth concupiscence (Romans 7:8), because the Law is spiritual, but man is carnal and his flesh is sold under sin (Romans 7:14). This is why the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation:
"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:"
(Romans 8:3 KJV)
One must become dead to be released from the Law and be born again to enter into spiritual life. Our works can’t accomplish that, and our works can’t be added to salvation to keep it. We cannot be made perfect in the flesh by keeping the Law.
The Threefold Method of Salvation
There is a threefold methodology of how God saves an individual:
a. Conviction: The sinner must be convicted of his nature and realize he is lost. The Law is a schoolmaster that points man to the cross (Galatians 3:24-25). And repeated failures at attempting to keep the Law only magnify the hopelessness of the situation. It is the Holy Spirit of Truth that convicts and reveals God’s wrath against sin and leads man to a realization of his eternal position before a Holy God.
b. Transformation: Men are commanded to Repent, but repentance does not mean reformation, it means a transformation of the heart. This is the operation of God alone. The new-birth (1 Peter 1:23) is a renewal of God’s Spirit within him and adoption into God’s family.
c. Sanctification: After the new birth of man’s spirit, God’s Spirit works within a man’s heart to change him from the inside and bring forth fruit to righteousness, something man can not accomplish when he is still in the flesh. As man’s heart and mind grow in the knowledge of the Lord, he is washed from his old ways and fulfills the Law in the Spirit (Romans 12:2). This is an on-going process throughout the saved sinner's remaining life on the Earth (Titus 3:5).
The Work of The Trinity in Salvation
A man cannot be saved by his own desire to be saved. It is ALL the work of God. You must ask God for salvation, only He can give it. Salvation is a gift.
First, he or she must be drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ by God the Father (John 6:44). It is God the Father that calls (Acts 2:39) through God the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s convicting work brings men to know their lost condition and points them towards their need for salvation. This work is accomplished through the testimony of the Law and the Prophets and the hearing of the word of God and appeals to man’s internal conscience (Psalms 73:21, Acts 2:39 & 9:5). God the Holy Spirit leads men to God the Son, who Himself provided the only sacrifice acceptable (Romans 5:11) to God the Father on behalf of the sinner. As the ancient Hebrew high-priest took the blood of the brazen alter at the earthy tabernacle and sprinkled it before the mercy seat within the holy place each year (See: Leviticus 16), so now has our high-priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, presented His shed blood before God the Father’s mercy seat in the heavenly temple (Hebrews 6:20) for a permanent atonement. By this atonement, the sinner is made dead to the Law through Christ, buried with the Lord and resurrected in the Lord Jesus Christ, forever (Hebrews 1:3).
The Old Testament 'Types' of Salvation
a. Adam & Eve: God shed the blood of an animal to provide them covering for their nakedness (Genesis 3:21). That animal was a lamb (Revelation 13:8).
b. Cain & Abel: The offering of Cain was not accepted by God, because it was from works. The offering of Abel was accepted because it was of blood.
c. The Ark and the Passover: God provide rescue for Noah and his family by placing them inside the Ark which rose above the flood of waters. He spared the Hebrew (and anyone else that believed) by applying the blood of the Passover on the door of the house they were in.
d. Abraham and Isaac: Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son to obey God’s command, but God then provided a substitute Himself in the form of the goat caught in the thickets nearby. This is one of the reasons Jesus referred to himself as the "son of man" – a son upon whom the sins of the father are placed.
e. The Manna and the Smitten Rock: Through God, Moses provided the nourishment that man needed to satisfy his hunger. Jesus declared that He was the true Manna that was necessary to satisfy the soul’s hunger for eternal forgiveness and eternal life (John 6:57-58).
f. The Brazen Serpent: Moses told those that were bitten of the fiery serpents to look toward the brazen serpent on the pole to be cured. This points to the Lord Jesus on the cross who became sin to cure man from the poison of sin (John 3:14).
g. Naaman: In Naaman’s example (2 Kings 5), he was told to simply Wash and be Clean. God commands us to do the same in the blood of Jesus to be healed of the leprosy of sin.
h. The Tabernacle: Through the setting and design of the Tabernacle, God illustrates the separation that exists between Him and man and presents the solution required to atone for sin and please God. It is noteworthy that there is no tabernacle or temple necessary on the new heaven and earth of eternity (Revelation 21:22).
The Vocabulary of Salvation
There are 13 key words in the vocabulary of salvation:
Conversion: It is belief in what God says about who Jesus is and acceptance of that truth. In John’s letters concerning the subject of the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7), he specifically points out that the denial of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is the world’s great sin:
"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."
(1 John 4:3 KJV)
The religion of Islam rejects the notion that God has a Son. Judaism rejects that Jesus was/is His Son. Apostate Christianity rejects that He was bodily resurrected. Each of those three rejections are part of the same lie. Only through the hearing and believing of the true word of God (faith) can man repent (change of mind) and accept this great truth. Conversion comes by the Spirit and by faith comes the transformation.
Substitution: The Lord Jesus Christ, God Himself, took our place for the punishment of sin. The One whose very nature is holiness, became sin and suffered the eternal punishment of sin in our place. This is the love of God. This was not something any man could do, yet He endured and arose from the grave without sin, breaking its power and securing the victory over sin and death, something a sinner could not do.
Reconciliation: Having purged the sin of the world through His shed blood on the cross, our sin debt has been paid. The wrath of God against us is appeased, and through the Lord Jesus Christ we can now approach unto the Father and be welcomed into the family of God. In Jesus, there is no longer a barrier between us and Him who loved us enough to give Himself for our sins.
Propitiation: In His death, burial and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ paid the price for the sins of the entire world. For the sins of every man and woman whoever lived, past, present and future. Through Him there is complete forgiveness. To reject such love will be unforgivable. That is the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:31-32; Luke 12:10).
Remission: Only in Jesus can we get remission of sins (Acts 10:43), putting them away, under the blood so that we can be forgiven of them in God’s sight. Accepting that our sins are covered by the shed blood, we receive peace and have assurance that we can approach the Father for our needs and know that we are loved by Him, regardless of our personal sinfulness. It also enables us to forgive ourselves and others.
Redemption: The Lord Jesus Christ has purchased us from the slavery of sin. He has freed us from the slave master. And, although that slave master makes threats against us, telling use that we still are his property, through faith we have assurance of our freedom and know that we no longer are required to obey the Law of sin and death. In Christ we are married to another husband, for the old husband is dead.
Regeneration: When one is born again, they are transformed from the seed-line of the first Adam and into the seed-line of the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). They are born into a new family, a new generation of being in the image of God. Although our flesh is not regenerated, our spirit is and God’s Spirit within this sinful flesh gives us power to resist the lusts of the flesh (Romans 7:25).
Imputation: It is the designation of accountably. Before being born-again we were imputed with sin, as a fleshly descendent of Adam’s family. In accepting the Lord Jesus Christ our sin is imputed to Jesus’ account and Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to our account. It is a transaction, if you will, of what is on the accounting books of heaven.
Adoption: God transforms us into the image of His Son and places us into His family. We are brought into His house and received as children, given an inheritance with the Son of His own family line and full fellowship with the Father and Son through the eternal Spirit (Proverbs 29:21 & Psalm 27:10).
Justification: Justification is our legal standing before God. We are not acquitted, pardoned or paroled but freed from the penalty of our guilt and transformed and consigned to be changed. Faith is the way a man is justified before God, not by his works, but a justified man will then produce good works as a fruit of his faith.
Sanctification: Sanctification is an ongoing work to make the justified man a more perfect man in acts of righteousness before God and man. It is a on-going process that follows the new birth, whereby we are changed by the washing and regeneration of the word in our behavior in the flesh and continuing separation from the world. BTW, The misunderstanding about this process is one of the roots of contention concerning the argument against "Once saved, always saved" doctrine that arises when saved people are not observed as perfect in the flesh by those without full assurance of their own salvation (Free Will Baptist vs. Fundamental Baptist, for example).
Glorification: This follows the forgiveness, justification, transformation and the ensuing sanctification process of our remaining life on the earth. When we are resurrected from the grave following death, or caught up to heaven in the "Rapture" – in either case, this happens at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ when the Bride is called. It is when the saved receive a new glorified and eternal body. It will be in the image of the Lord’s glorified body.
Preservation: God has promised to save us from sin. It is a faithful promise that is contingent not on the works of the believer but on the work of God:
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Romans 8:38-39 KJV)
The Assurance of Salvation
Assurance of Salvation is by faith, not feeling. You trust Him (not yourself) with the preservation of your eternal soul. As a child of God, in the process of sanctification, you grow up as a child. Yes, you will be chastised sometimes by the Father for disobedience in the flesh, but knowing that He loves you and will raise you in the way you should go will prepare you so that He can better use you for His glory. When a child first comes into the world, it is totally dependent on its parents for feeding, cleaning, clothing and development. We can’t clean our own diapers and the messes we make in the house. As we grow, and know the love of our heavenly Father, and His patience, it is both assuring and humbling.
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Gaines R. Johnson, D.D., D.Th.
The Bible, Genesis & Geology Ministry
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