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What the Bible teaches about salvation – Part 1

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What the Bible teaches about salvation – Part 1
Posted on June 26, 2020  - By Dr. Scott Shiffer

In the Christian faith, we talk a lot about the concept of salvation. Salvation is a simple concept — but it has life-changing implications. In this post, we will tackle the issues that deal with the basics of what Christians mean when they talk about salvation.

The Scriptures teach us very plainly what it means for someone to be saved and what one must do in order to become saved.

  • Acts 16:30-31: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Acts 2:38: Repent and be baptised
  • Acts 3:19: Repent and be converted
  • Romans 10:9-10: Confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that it in your heart
  • Romans 10:13: Call upon the name of the Lord
  • Romans 15:12: Hope or trust in the Lord
  • Matthew 28:19-20: Become a disciple and go and make disciples
  • Matthew 16:24: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ

The bottom line is that salvation is receiving the gift of God through Jesus Christ. All Christians are saved by God’s grace, as they place their faith in Christ.

The turning point

By confessing our sins, we are agreeing with God that our sinful actions and nature are wrong.  We are admitting to God that our sins separate us from Him because He is Holy. We are confessing that we are in the wrong and that we do not want to be separated from Him or be out of fellowship with Him. When we confess that Jesus is Lord, we are stating that we believe Jesus Christ is exactly who He claimed to be: the second person of the Trinity.

When we confess that Jesus is Lord, we are stating that we believe He is exactly who He claimed to be: the second person of the Trinity

We are told in 1 John 1:9 that we are to confess our sins. Here, we see that this idea goes hand-in-hand with the concept of repentance. It is impossible to confess without repenting, because repentance is a changing of heart and mind.

If confessing is admitting our wrong and being reconciled to God, then repentance is a necessary step in our confession. Confessing and repenting also go hand-in-hand with believing. If we believe in Christ, we will confess His Lordship over our lives, and we will repent of the things we have done in disobedience to Him.

No Lordship, no Christian

The apostle Paul says in the book of Romans that we are to call Jesus our “Lord”. Peter also says we are to confess Jesus as Lord. This means that believers are to accept Christ as Master, King and Lord of their lives. We are to bow in submission to Him, and we are to declare obedience to Him. Giving Christ Lordship over our lives proves that we have genuinely repented and believed.

Some have argued that individuals may become Christians without making Christ their Lord, but this is certainly not the case. The idea contradicts numerous passages in Scripture. The terms ‘Christian’ and ‘disciple’ are synonymous.

In Matthew 28:19-20, we are commanded to make disciples; the Church has always interpreted this passage as a call to evangelism. If we distinguish between discipleship and evangelism, the Great Commission leaves us teaching people to become disciples without first presenting the gospel to them. This passage also states that you cannot be baptised until you become a disciple. Furthermore, Mark 16:15 is a command to preach the gospel to all the world. This is a command, not an option.

The historic view of the Church is that a Christian is a disciple, and a disciple is a Christian.  When someone comes to this realisation, all problems concerning the relationship between salvation and the Lordship of Christ disappear. Being a disciple is a condition of being a Christian. A Christian is a learner and follower of Jesus Christ.

Being a disciple is a condition of being a Christian. Giving Christ Lordship over our lives proves that we have genuinely repented and believed

What do you believe?

Faith includes repentance and commitment (John 3:16). Some things we believe do not change our lives, but others do and require a commitment. Saving faith is accomplished in the exercise of accepting Christ according to the Gospels and through the commitment of one’s life. You cannot have a major turn-around without a change in commitment.

We have now seen that salvation is received through believing in Christ and making Him Lord of our lives. But what exactly is it that we must believe about Jesus?

Dallas Theological Seminary requires that their students believe seven things in order to attend seminary:

  1. The Trinity
  2. The Full Deity and Humanity of Christ
  3. The Spiritual Lostness of the Human Race
  4. The Substitutionary Atonement and Bodily Resurrection of Christ
  5. Salvation by Faith Alone in Christ Alone
  6. The Physical Return of Christ, and
  7. The Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture

Of these seven major beliefs, I would add to the third one the belief that we are utterly lost both physically and spiritually. Additionally, I would note that only four of these seven beliefs are necessary to salvation:

  1. To be saved, one must have a Trinitarian concept of God, because if God is not seen in a Triune way, then the god being seen is not the God of Christianity.
  2. One must also believe in the full deity and humanity of Christ; if Christ did not become human, He could not have made the sacrifice to redeem us.
  3. One must believe in the lostness of mankind. If we are not lost, there is no sin. If there is no sin, Christ had nothing to redeem us from.
  4. Finally, to be saved, one must believe in the penal substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ. The penal substitutionary atonement is the idea that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins as a substitute in our place. If Christ did not die as a substitute for the sins of all of mankind, then His death was in vain. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then God did not accept His sacrifice and we are still under the Law, and all of us are condemned for eternity.

If Christ did not die as a substitute for the sins of all of mankind, then His death was in vain

A person may not recognise all these things when he or she first accepts Christ. But a true believer will not deny them as he or she is taught about the faith and comes to understand these ideas.

If someone does not believe these four things, then he does not believe in the Christ of the Scriptures and neither does that person have any part in the Kingdom of God.

When we share our testimonies it is important to tell people what we believe and not just how we came to believe. When someone first comes to receive salvation, the individual will not fully understand these four concepts, but if the salvation experience was real, the person will not deny these things as he or she grows in knowledge of the faith.

The process of salvation

The Biblical view of Christ’s death encompasses four things: redemption, propitiation, the concept of substitution, and reconciliation.

Redemption is the deliverance of something or someone by the paying of a price. Christ redeems believers from their separation from God and from the bondage of sin (Romans 7:14, 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Exodus 12 teaches that the Passover Lamb removed the death of the first-born. We are shown this as an example of the Israelites’ redemption when they had to put the blood on the doorpost; it redeemed them (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Propitiation is how Christ’s death satisfies God’s wrath and extends forgiveness to believers. Christ died as a sin offering in place of humanity. Christ reconciles us by bringing humanity back into fellowship with the Father.

We will look at these concepts and the process of salvation in more detail in our next post.

Dr. Scott Shiffer

About Dr. Scott Shiffer

Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Faith and Culture Now, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations, including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for many years. Scott is married and has four children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges every day.



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