While the Lord Jesus Christ is the central theme of the Bible, Christ's work in securing our salvation is equally significant. The doctrine of salvation can be compared to a magnificently cut diamond—it is multifaceted. It can be viewed from various perspectives, whether oriented towards humanity or God, each providing a unique understanding of what it means to be saved.

Not comprehending this "diamond" fully can result in extreme or one-sided interpretations of the doctrine of salvation. A prime example is the long-standing perceived conflict between the teachings of Romans and James in the New Testament—specifically, the concepts of GRACE and WORKS.

Romans 4:5 (KJV)
"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

James 2:17 (KJV)
"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."

Philippians 2:12-13 (KJV)
" out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you..."

These passages highlight the balance between faith and works in the Christian doctrine, emphasizing faith as the foundation of righteousness and the importance of works as evidence of genuine faith.

As illustrated in the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul discusses the work of God's grace within us—the root; whereas, James examines another aspect of this multifaceted doctrine, focusing on the work of God through us, which serves as the manifestation of that initial grace—the fruit. The passage in Philippians interweaves these perspectives, underscoring the harmony between faith and works. For further contemplation, II Peter 1:3-9, particularly verse 5, enriches this dialogue.

The discourse extends back to the 5th Century A.D. with the "Augustinian-Pelagianism controversy," and has evolved through the ages, notably during the Protestant Reformation, into the "Calvinist-Arminian controversy." This enduring debate often arises from a rigid adherence to a singular viewpoint of God's multifaceted salvation, allowing each faction to find scriptural backing for their beliefs.

Students are advised to approach the doctrine of salvation with caution, avoiding extreme interpretations that overlook the comprehensive scriptural narrative on this subject. Achieving a balanced understanding is crucial.

What is "Salvation"?

Theologically speaking, "Salvation" encompasses the entire process through which an individual is liberated from anything that impedes achieving the ultimate goodness God has destined for them. Salvation, in essence, is the experiential enjoyment of this divine provision. It manifests in a threefold manner:

  • Past: We have experienced the forgiveness of sins.
  • Present: We currently enjoy fellowship with God.
  • Prospect: We will enjoy eternal communion with God.

While individuals may hold incorrect beliefs on various Scriptural matters and still attain Heaven, being mistaken about the nature of salvation carries the risk of irrevocable consequences.

Misconceptions About Salvation

Salvation has historically sparked controversy, as highlighted in Matthew 10:34-36. Since the era of the New Testament, illustrated by the dispute over Judaistic legalism in Acts 15:1, there have been misconceptions about the path to salvation. A critical look at various false religions, cults, and certain contemporary Christian doctrines reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of salvation, summarized by the concept of "DO!" This contrasts sharply with the biblical declaration of "DONE!", illustrating a core conflict.

Human nature instinctively tries to earn salvation through personal efforts, reminiscent of Adam and Eve's attempt to cover their shame with their own actions. Questions posed by individuals seeking salvation in Mark 10:17 and Acts 16:30 further underscore this inclination. The "works-for-salvation" philosophy, while diverse in its manifestations, shares the common goal of endeavoring to merit God's acceptance through human deeds.
In modern Christian thought, certain erroneous beliefs stand out:

A. Universalism: This belief posits that ultimately, everyone will be saved, often accompanied by assertions like "God is too loving to condemn anyone to hell" or "all paths lead to the same destination." Such views starkly contradict biblical teachings that affirm salvation as a singular path through God's grace, repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ, as emphasized in John 3:3-5, 14:6, and Acts 4:12. The assertion that different faiths have their own avenues to salvation is fundamentally flawed according to scripture.

B. Baptismal Regeneration: A more nuanced version of the "salvation by works" doctrine, baptismal regeneration incorrectly assigns baptism a salvific role. This doctrine, upheld by Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Reformed churches, as well as various infant-baptizing groups and the Church Of Christ, mistakenly suggests that baptism is either a means to salvation or an integral part of it.

The Supreme Importance of Salvation

Many among us fail to grasp the critical significance of being saved, leading to a lifestyle marked by carelessness and indifference. This underestimation of salvation's value prompts a lukewarm response to the soul-saving mission of the church. To gauge the real attitude towards salvation, one might observe the effort put forth in evangelistic endeavors within their church community. Often, the enthusiasm for secular activities outweighs the commitment to spiritual revival, indicating a pervasive undervaluing of salvation's importance.

A. It Is The Only Deliverance From Eternal Death.
Salvation is not some decision a person makes to align with a particular group, nor the subscribing to a creed. One does not become a Christian by joining a church, by natural birth, by baptism, or by the performance of good deeds - but by the personal act of “fleeing from the wrath to come” and “calling upon the Name of the Lord.”

The word “salvation” implies we are saved FROM something.

B. It Is The Only Guarantee Of Entrance Into Blessedness.
Scripture makes it clear that salvation also serves a positive purpose: it is the gateway to eternal joy and fulfillment. This aspect of salvation assures us that it's not just about what we're saved from, but also what we're saved for.

C. It Is The Only Preparation For Service.
Only those who have experienced salvation can truly serve God with heartfelt devotion. God finds no pleasure in service that doesn't stem from a genuine relationship with Him, as evidenced by Proverbs 15:8. Thus, salvation is foundational for any meaningful contribution to the Lord's work.

For a clear presentation of The Gospel by which we must all be saved, view here!
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