The topic of Soteriology, theology dealing with salvation is the key foundation of many theological principles. The great questions of “how are we saved, who can be saved, and what salvation takes” are of the upmost importance! Our answer to these questions results in salvation correctly taught and received, or damnation and apostacism.
The importance of this topic is witnessed by the Bible’s vast coverage of this topic. The New Testament is abounding on the topic of salvation, it is at the heart of the Christian faith. Also, the history of the church is ripe with splits and expositions on this topic. E.g. the reformation in which a simple German monk in realizing the beautiful simplicity of the gospel message started a revolution in Christendom (Martin Luther).
What saves us? One only needs to write this topic in a google search to realize the plethora of teachings regarding it. While opinions vary, the Bible is quite clear on this issue: salvation is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus, very God of very God, took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, suffered, died, and rose the third day in our sted. Jesus IS salvation, He IS our redemption and hope, no other, nothing else!
“Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the Gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold onto the message I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).
Salvation is by grace alone (unmerited favor), through faith alone (wholehearted trust), in Christ alone (the object of that faith and trust). “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is God’s girft–not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Galatians 5:1-2).
There exists in society and in many religions the concept of our, as humans, “aiding” in salvation. The catholic church is a prime example of such. Salvation in Catholicism is elusive, it’s never truly guaranteed…the utter simplicity of the gospel is muddled and lost.
One reason for this is the confusion between “infusion,” and “imputation.” The Roman catholic church teaches that upon conversion, baptism, one is infused with the righteousness of Christ. This infusion is not a total and all sufficient righteousness but rather an “enabling grace.” Having been infused with grace we are then to “make complete ” that righteousness by means of obedience and partaking in the sacraments. You see, we are like gas tanks, when we “get low” on grace we fill back up. ((https://carm.org/catholic/catholic-salvation-regain).
However, our Lord does not teach such! Our righteousness is imputed at the moment of conversion. A complete, all satisfactory cleansing of sin and imputation of Christ’s righteousness. It is not an “interplay” of Jesus’ all sufficient sacrifice and our “goodness.” (See definition of “imputation ” at the end of post).
“He made the one who did not know sin to be sin sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Wait, what about repentance, Evan?! Yes indeed, the gospel message is indeed to repent and believe the good news: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). And “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance: (2 Peter 3:9).
Yes, we indeed are all called to repentance and faith and to preach such. Even our repentance, however is a work of God: in our flesh we are unable to do anything.
“It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us–our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
Upon our imputation, our covering in the righteousness of Christ, an “alien righteousness,” we are sanctified in Christ: being made more and more into the image of Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit.
Let us rejoice in God our savior for His incredible mercy in Christ Jesus: We are made clean in the blood of The Lamb. Thanks be to God for the perfection of the gospel! So simple a child can receive it. Yet so offensive against our view of ourselves that we rebel against it in Hope’s of adding “our own good.”
So “what’s the big deal, Evan?!” Does it really matter? Absolutely! It’s an issue of eternal importance, concerning one’s future after this life. Further a correct understanding of salvation results in complete Thanksgiving on to God for His unmerited gift of salvation in Christ Jesus, absolute humility and an eagerness to please Him in our daily lives.
“The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so he would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:22-26).
“I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, a curse be on him!” (Galatians 1:6-9).
“You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing in the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3).
- “IMPUTATION: “Charging to an account, used in the Bible with legal reference to sin and salvation being recorded by God.”1
- IMPUTATION: “is used to designate any action or word or thing as reckoned to a person. Thus in doctrinal language (1) the sin of Adam is imputed to all his descendants, i.e., it is reckoned as theirs, and they are dealt with therefore as guilty; (2) the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them that believe in him, or so attributed to them as to be considered their own; and (3) our sins are imputed to Christ, i.e., he assumed our “law-place,” undertook to answer the demands of justice for our sins. In all these cases the nature of imputation is the same (Rom. 5:12-19; comp. Philemon 1:18, 19).” 2