Apr 30, 2012

The Doctrine of Salvation

The Application of Redemption
Redemption occurs when God applies the benefits of the cross on our behalf (Rom 4:3-6). God appoints some for redemption according to his own good pleasure and perfect will (Eph 1:4-6, 12). God’s eternal purposes in election are by his grace and not because of any merit of those whom he predestines unto salvation (Rom 8:28-30).
        A.  Election and reprobation
I believe election is where God sovereignly decrees or chooses some people to be saved (Acts 13:48). God’s grace is free and cannot be demanded and so God is not obligated to save all (or any!). In his infinite wisdom and justice, God does indeed pass over others; he does not elect all and these are called the reprobate (Rom 9:17-18). These are not chosen for salvation and instead are justly punished for their sinful rebellion against God (Jude 4, 1 Pet 2:8).
B. The gospel call and effective calling
I believe the gospel call is when God’s Word is proclaimed and the command to repent is given. I believe the invitation for salvation includes the promise of forgiveness and eternal life (Rom 6:23). I believe effective calling is when God draws some (Matt 22:14) men to himself in order that they most certainly will respond with faith (John 6:44; Acts 16:14; Rom 8:30). Effective calling is not based on any merit (2 Tim 1:9; Jn 1:12-13) or worthiness of the creature but rather the free and sovereign purpose of the Triune God (Eph 1:11).
C. Regeneration
I believe that being born again is necessary (Jn 3:3, 5) to enter heaven but that it will not occur outside of a divine miracle of God, whereby he imparts new life to whom he will (Jn 3:8). This God-derived begetting (1 Pet 1:3) is an internal event which gives new spiritual life (2 Cor 5:17). Regeneration results in a new heart or disposition towards God, whereby one is permanently transformed in his or her very core (Ezekiel 36:26-27).  
D. Conversion (faith and repentance)
I believe conversion is when a person willingly and sincerely repents of their sin and trusts in Christ. Repentance means to turn and/or to change one’s mind. This means they abandon their sin and place their faith in Jesus (Acts 2:37-38; 2 Cor 7:9-10). Saving faith is a full reliance and loving commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Matt 11:28-30). Faith does not earn merit but is simply the channel by which God’s grace flows through.  
E. Justification
Justification is a legal act by which God declares us forgiven and righteous in his sight (Rom 8:33-34). Justification is accomplished by the work of Christ (Rom 5:18-19), attained through faith and is not the result of meritorious work on the part of the sinner (Rom 3:20). In justification, God credits or imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer (Phil 3:9; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 4:5). Justification puts once guilty sinners in right standing with a holy, perfect, and just God (Rom 3:21-22).
F. Adoption
Adoption is a declarative act of God, whereby he makes us legal members of His family (Rom 8:15, 23). Adoption is concerned with the believer’s relationship with God and procures for us sonship, which means we are heirs (Rom 8:17). The foundation of adoption is the work of Christ (Gal 4:4-5) and is based upon God’s elective decree (Eph 1:5).
G. Sanctification
I believe sanctification is a progressive and joint work whereby we increase in holiness and become more like Jesus (Rom 8:29; Phil 3:13-21). Sanctification involves the cleaning out of the pollution of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, who conforms us into Christ’s image (2 Cor 3:18). Just as there is a past aspect of sanctification (Rom 6:6; 1 Pet 2:24), there is also a future aspect at our physical death. In God’s presence, we will know him and be like him in a holy state of perfection (Phil 1:6; 1 Thess 3:13; 1 Jn 3:2).
H. The question of baptism in the Holy Spirit
I believe that Christians are baptized in the Holy Spirit at conversion (1 Cor 12:13). Some Christians believe there is a post-salvation baptism in the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals believe that this experience results in the recepient speaking in tongues (I disagree, see 1 Cor 12:11). I do not believe these ideas are correct but instead we are to grow in our spiritual maturity, and this means we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18-20).
I. Perseverance of the saints
I believe that all the regenerate (who have been adopted!) will be preserved, kept and guarded by the sustaining power of the Triune God until the end of their lives (Jn 6:38-60; 10:27-30). The reason Christians remain in Christ is due solely to God’s sustaining power (Phil 1:6; Rom 8:30, 39). I believe those who apostasize were never born again (1 Jn 2:19).
J. Death and the intermediate state
Death is the result of living in a world that is fallen (1 Cor 15:26). At death, the souls of believers go into God’s presence (Lk 23:43; Phil 1:23) while the souls of unbelievers go into eternal punishment (2 Cor 5:8-10). Here we await the resurrection of our bodies. There is no soul sleep, purgatory, or reincarnation (Heb 9:27).
K. Glorification
I believe that at the Second Coming of Christ, believers will be glorified (1 Thess 4:14-16). Glorification completes our salvation (Rom 8:23-24; 29-30) and gives us new, resurrected bodies (1 Cor 15:53). Our glorified bodies will not die, nor experience pain (Rev 21:4; 22:3).
L. Union with Christ
I believe to be “in Christ” means to be in union with Christ. This union results in spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3), enables us to be sanctified (Rom 6:10-12), creates a supernatural bond with other believers (Rom 12:5; Gal 3:28), and removes all condemnation for sin (Rom 8:1).

BRIEF ADDENDUM: Common Grace            
I believe God gives unmerited blessing to all humans by restraining evil (Rom 13:1-4; 2 Thess 2:6), giving people talents (Luke 16:8), and showering humanity with non-salvific gifts (James 1:17), such as rain and nourishment (Matt 5:45). Rebel sinners deserve none of these things (Luke 6:35) and they all testify to God’s goodness (Ps 145:9; Rom 2:4). I also believe the church, as a gospel witness, is an example of God’s common grace to the world (Matt 5:16). 

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