The Doctrine of Salvation
A. OVERVIEW: Salvation, including Justification, Reconciliation, and Glorification, is accomplished by Grace alone and accessed through Faith alone in Christ alone, completely apart from works. That is to say that Salvation is the Gift of God brought to man by unmerited favor alone, and received by personal faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, whose substitutionary atonement fully reconciles all those who believe in Him to God completely apart from works. Eph 1:7; Eph 2:8-9; Jn 1:13; 1Pet 1:18-19; Rom 3:19-28; Rom 4:1-8; Rom 4:16; Ps 32:1-2, Rom 5:1-2; Isa 53; Isa 55:1-3; Lev 16; Acts 13:38-39; Gal 2:16
B. Repentance: “Repent” and “repentance” are words, derived from the Old French word “repentir,” which are used in modern English translations of the Scriptures to represent 5 words in the original languages (2 Hebrew and 3 Greek). Some of these words have similar meanings but others have diverse meanings. The only word translated repent or repentance in all of the Scriptures, which is also related to reconciliation with God (being saved, receiving Eternal Life, being justified, etc…), is the Greek word Metanoia (Metanoeo). This word carries the meaning of critically rethinking something and coming to a different conclusion. That is having a change of mind, through investigation, being convinced or being persuaded. It is the present ministry of God the Holy Spirit to convict and convince the World of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment. In the carrying out of this ministry God the Holy Spirit will “open the heart” of the one being witnessed to, that is to cause the person to pay attention to the message with serious consideration, and He will do the actual convincing. The unbeliever being witnessed to must repent, that is to change their mind about Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment in order for them to be in a position to have faith in the Gospel, which is a message of deliverance from the danger they are in. In short, one cannot be assured unless they are first disturbed. At least 150 times in the Scripture the reception of Eternal Life is conditioned on faith alone. All men everywhere are also commanded to repent. Simply, it is that repentance is a condition for faith in the Gospel of Grace.
It is clear from the Scriptures that Metanoia (or Metanoeo), as it relates to the reception of Eternal Life, is not about the reformation of one’s life. In reference to being reconciled with God is defined as one recognizing and agreeing with God that their own sin is evil, that God is righteous and that He will rightly judge their sin justly. “Repentance Unto Life” isn’t about changing one’s life, it is about agreeing with God. God uses many things to lead people to this repentance; i.e. illumination and conviction from the Scriptures, testimony of believers, creation, His goodness, mercy, good works of Believers, fearful circumstances, close calls, misery, pain, and sickness to name but a few possible things.
Passages to consider: Mat 9:13; Mk 1:15; Luk 16:19-31; Luk 17:3-4; Luk 24:46-48; Jn 16:5-11; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30; Acts 19:4; Acts 20:17-24; Acts 26:19-23; Rom 2:4; Rom 4:1-8; Rom 4:16; 2Cor 7:10; Heb 6:1; 2Pet 3:9
C. The Believer’s Faith: It is the Object of faith (the Lord Jesus Christ) Who saves, not the quality of the faith, or the faith itself. The Believer’s faith, (sometimes called “saving faith” though faith does not save in itself) is like Abram’s faith when he “Believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” The Believer’s faith is assurance in the Person of Jesus Christ based on having received the Gospel. True saving faith is when a guilty, ungodly sinner knows that Jesus Christ has completely paid that sinner’s own due penalty so that they are fully reconciled to God having received the Gospel of Christ.
Passages to consider: Rom 4; Gen 15:6; Acts 15:7; Acts 18:8; Rom 1:16; 1Cor 4:15; 1Cor 15:1; Eph 1:13-14
D. Repentance and Faith Manifested: One has truly repented when one is fully convinced that they need to be saved from the righteous judgment of their own personal sin knowing that this Judgment is both right and sure to come. Having repented, one truly has faith when they are assured that the Lord Jesus Christ the Righteous has paid the full and just penalty for their sin and that this has been accepted by God the Father as the only, and complete, payment to secure their personal reconciliation to Him. It is perfectly reasonable to expect a Believer to “do the works befitting repentance” and to be submitted to the mastery of Christ in their life. However, these are not conditions for Salvation and often require exhortation and discipleship unto maturity to foster and maintain. The Believer possesses two natures, which war with each other; that of the Flesh and that of the Holy Spirit. It is fully reasonable to expect actual believers to suffer struggles with sin, and also to have desires for righteousness. Salvation is instant, perfect, and cannot be revoked or reduced. Positional Sanctification, (being separated unto God for Him and His purposes) is also instant at the moment of Salvation and is irreversible. Practical Sanctification (the manifestation and experience of holiness in a Believer’s life) a process worked in the Believer by God the Holy Spirit as the Believer submits which may vary with time or circumstance.
Passages to consider: Acts 26:20; Rom 6:13; Rom ch7; Rom 8:12-13; Gal 5:16-25; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:10; 1Pet:14-16; 1Jn 3:5-9
E. The New Birth: Being “born again” is the gracious act of God in conferring upon those who believe, the nature and disposition of “children of God” imparting to them spiritual life. (Adapted from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)
In order for fallen (depraved) man to have fellowship with Holy God we must be “born again” or “regenerated.” This new birth happens upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is accomplished by God the Holy Spirit and coincides with His in-dwelling of the Believer. The New Birth is not a gradual process nor is it reversible. It is instantaneous and permanent.
The New Birth is not accomplished by or in accordance with the will of man but is according to the will of the God, brought about by God by conviction of the Holy Spirit. Man does not choose to be born again, but God gives the right to be born again to those who believe in Christ. It is at this point that the person becomes a New Creation, where as he or she now possesses not only their own fallen (Old/Adamic) Nature but also the perfect (New/) Nature of Christ. This New Nature desires the things of God and wars with the Old Nature as described in Para 8. D. It is this new birth, and new nature of Christ (based solely on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ) that allows us to fellowship with God, not the performance of works.
Passages to consider: Jn 1:10-13; Jn 3:1-21; Jn 3:36; Jn 5:24 Jn 6:40; Rom 3:20-26; 2Cor 5:17-21; 2Cor 6:14,19; Gal 6:12-15; Eph 1:13-14; Col 1:13-14; Heb 11:3; 1Pet 1:3,13-25; 1Jn 5:1