What is Biblical Salvation? Many of us that are born again Christians think of salvation as an outward act of receiving the Lord by repeating the sinner’s prayer, repenting from our sins, renouncing Satan and making Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives. Now that salvation has come we are ready to go to heaven. Although there is nothing wrong with this scenario, it only tells a portion of the miracle of salvation. The complete story of salvation actually began before the foundations of the earth were established and has nothing to do with man’s efforts. (Eph 1:4-5) says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” When we examine the scriptures, we find that salvation isall God and nothing of man. Let’s look more closely at this.
The antecedent of salvation is predestination. Of all the doctrines we find in the Christian faith, predestination is probably the least understood. When we finally start putting all the elements of salvation together, the idea that God chose “the many” to salvation before anything existed on earth goes beyond the capacity of human understanding and does not seem to have any practical significance. However, when we look to the Bible we find verses such as Eph 1:4-5 that tell us that God did choose a people for Himself before there was anything on this earth, for the “good pleasure of His will.” In Ro 8:29-30, Paul gives us a sequence of steps in the process of salvation that is all God. The word predestination comes from the Greek, proorizo, which means, “to mark out beforehand,” and occurs six times in the New Testament (Ac 4:28; Ro 8:29-30; 1Co 2:7; Eph 1:5, 11). It is saying that God, by His sovereign choice, marked out His elect in eternity past.
Predestination includes all events, not just individual salvation. However, for our purposes we will only deal with it according to the election of the children of God. The paradox of election and predestination is that it does not take away man’s responsibility to act on the faith given to him by Grace. Eph 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God:” Man is held accountable for his choices. We don’t see anything in the Bible that gives man a reason for being lost because he wasn’t elect or predestinated; what we do see is the emphasis in scripture that man is lost because he doesn’t want to come to God. The Bible gives us several characteristics that show what predestination does with respect to salvation. It determines our status as adopted sons of God Eph 1:5, says those that are “elect” will be “…conformed to the image of His son…” The elect will also know their calling, as Peter says, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for it ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2Pe 1:10). Those who are predestinated to salvation are also justified and the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to them. Salvation is truly a miracle of God.
Predestination ultimately assures the elects’ glorification. Paul says in the next verse, “…what shall we say to these things…if God be for us, who can be against us?” It is all GOD! Salvation is of God! That is why when God chooses someone to salvation He has predestinated him before the foundation of the world, they are adopted sons of God, conformed to the image of His Son, called, justified and glorified; Therefore, they can never fall away. God does not go back on His Word. God does not change His mind,“For I am the LORD, I change not…” (Mal 3:6). Remember the author of salvation is God and not man. Therefore, we find that by its very nature, the Christian faith represents something quite different from the way in which we previously lived. We were once dead in sins totally separated from God, but now we have a new life in Jesus Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Co 5:17). In that new life in Jesus Christ, we should find some proofs of genuine Christianity, and I am not talking about things like visible morality, religious involvement, intellectual knowledge, an active ministry or even a conviction of sin. These are outward evidences that neither prove nor disprove a person’s faith. A true Christian will demonstrate genuine humility, a love for God, true repentance, separation from the world, spiritual growth, continual prayer and study, selfless and obedient living. These are the evidences that show the fruit of true Christianity. If these things characterized your life then you can have the assurance that you are one of God’s elect and he is preserving you as you persevere day by day.
In many Pentecostal churches, you see the same people going forward for salvation week after week. This is the outworking of the Arminian system of “works salvation,” where a person after every altar call goes forward to be resaved. The most radical and troubling aspect of Arminianism is that it teaches the loss of salvation. Arminian theology says a person must live righteously if salvation is to be retained, and if not, salvation can be lost and the person damned. This is clearly a violation of the teachings of God’s Word. One of the saddest realities is that the people under this kind of theology lack assurance of their salvation. They have no assurance of their security in Christ and that their sins are forgiven, knowing they have a place reserved for them in heaven. Arminian theology teaches if a Christian becomes too secure in his/her salvation, then it would be possible to become spiritually negligent. This is also the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
Therefore, with “works salvation,” people being exposed to Arminian teaching believe in the deep recesses of their heart that they are a little bit good and not dead in sin, and totally separated from God. This is an anti-Biblical theology. Eph 2:5, this scripture says we were dead in sins; dead means dead. Sin dominated our lives. A good example of the danger of this anti-Biblical theology concerns Mother Theresa. This devout Roman Catholic demonstrated her Arminian theology, by saying that other systems of religion can get a person to God and heaven. If this was true of her, then she was Biblically incorrect and cannot be in Christ, even though she did many wonderful deeds. The Bible would consider her a lost humanitarian sinner. None of her good works would help her in the least to secure her salvation in Jesus Christ. This is the danger of Arminianism, Semi-Pelagian or any system where man has to cooperate with God for salvation. A person can say they love the Lord and be a devout Christian, yet be as lost as a goat. There are many scriptures in the Bible that refute this system of works, one of the clearest is Eph 2:8-9. Did you notice it says “…not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Man cannot do anything to help God with salvation; it is a gift of God. A person can say they love the Lord and be a devout Christian, yet be lost. The Roman Catholic system is another “works salvation” system whereby your salvation is in jeopardy from week to week. This will be address in more detail in a later chapter.
The Doctrine of Salvation covers a large area of Biblical teaching and human responsibility. This doctrine talks about conversion and regeneration, which deal with the change of our inward nature and spiritual condition. Conversion is the change as viewed from the human perspective; regeneration is the change as viewed from God’s perspective. While there is human responsibility in salvation, there is first a Divine side to it in which God sovereignly acts to secure the sinner’s salvation. The Word of God is replete with scripture that support this concept. These scripture verses will be brought forth as we go along in developing true Biblical Salvation.Download Book