By Dwight Knight
Soteriology -The Greek word “soteria” means, the salvation of the soul. Thus, we derive at the study of God’s plan to save man’s soul. To outline our look into Soteriology we will focus our gaze into three areas. They are:
I.The Descriptions of Salvation
II.The Doctrine of Salvation
III.The Definitions of Salvation
I. The Descriptions of Salvation
a.) Salvation from the Penalty of Sin ~ Justification
b.) Salvation from the Power of Sin ~ Sanctification
c.) Salvation from the Presence of Sin ~ Glorification
Salvation is described as the process which a righteous, holy, loving God provides all the necessary components to redeem fallen humanity. To accomplish this, the act of God on this matter must be comprehensive, complete and correct.
It must be comprehensive in its work so that there can never be claims of exception or exemption. No one may ever say that salvation was not available when needed. It must also be complete in its work, so as to satisfy all the requirements necessary to appease God’s wrath. If even one tenet of man’s fallen condition is not addressed, God would be compelled by the dictates of His own nature to banish mankind from His presence and exact on man the eternal punishment that man justly deserves. And finally the work of salvation must be correct. The process that would redeem the lost must be flawless in every component. There is no luxury for error or fallibility. Else, God’s holiness is a farce; man’s hope for eternal life is a fable and he (mankind) is still lost for eternity.
Therefore, the work of salvation must deliver us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin.
The penalty of sin is not just banishment to hell. Because man comes to God with his need already in place, God must provide a means also that will deal with the corruption and contamination in man’s heart that already exists. The process that God uses must provide a way to eliminate the sin of man’s past offenses. This process is known as justification.
Justification is brought about through the resurrection of Jesus (See Rom. 4:24, 25). This act eliminates our past sins (See Rom. 3:24, 25), and allows us to appear before God as though the past sinful acts never existed. This means that the issues surrounding man’s condition must be revealed and also remedied. The forces of darkness hold mankind against his will in the slavery of a sinful world system (See Heb. 2:14, 15). Therefore, to rescue man from slavery and pay the cost to release him from the one who imprisons him against his will, God must redeem and ransom him or as the words suggests “buy back” the hostage mankind by paying the acceptable price for his freedom.
So, it becomes necessary that God provide a plan that will change the fallen nature to that which is eternally converted and thereby impervious to the contamination of future sinful acts, while also protecting man from the retribution that comes from living a sinful life before a righteous God. This very necessary transaction would require that the perfect sacrificial body of Jesus (Heb. 10:4-10) offered would appease God’s wrath and provide man with sanctification. That is, man can be made holy in his spirit (the part of his being that was made to be the dwelling place of God), and live holy by desire with his soul (that part of man the is his essence where volition of will is found) and choice without fear of death, proving in other words, that God has also saved us from the power of sin, upon which man can please God with the actions of his body (Romans 12:1).
To bring about the work of sanctification, three very important works must be done at conversion. First, there is the work of impartation. Impartation is the act where we are placed in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) and He in us (Gal. 2:20). Because of the act of impartation, God now sees us in His Son; man is no longer forced to stand before God having his own merit or deeds to represent him (Phil. 3:9). This process is also known as the baptism of the Spirit (I Cor. 12:13). As a result of impartation God is can now declare righteousness on everyone who by faith receives Christ as their Savior. Righteousness means, “To declare one in right standing before God”. This declaration is solely a gift from God (Rom. 5:17b). The righteousness of God is imputed, meaning it was given on the behalf of someone else. God imputed His righteousness to us because of the love He has for His Son. Everything God does for the believer is because of His love for His Son. As a result of having God’s imputed righteousness and being placed in His Son, the Bible teaches that we are holy and we should live holy. God decided in eternity past that everyone that comes to Him through His Son would be made holy (Eph.1:4). That is, we are as holy as His Son Jesus because we are in Him. This is known as positional holiness. We are sanctified because of Jesus Christ alone, not by any accomplishments of our own (Heb.10:10). But God also requires us to live in such a manner that does not follow after the world and its philosophies, but rather He expects us to live in a way that reveals a change in nature from our former lifestyle of sin.
II. The Doctrine of Salvation
a. What Calvary Costs
b. What Confession Cancels
c. What Conversion Changes
1. new nature
2. newness of life
The vicarious death of the Lord Jesus Christ and the subsequent events around it comprise the must important acts of all time and eternity. For it was at the cross, that a God who owed nothing to anyone, gave everything to anyone. The giving of God’s only begotten son to die a sinner’s death was the greatest act of love ever displayed. When one considers, that an infinite God, who is infinite in wisdom, power, understanding and genius, could have chosen from an infinite number of ways to save mankind, he chose only the one that would cost Him the most. This begins to give us an understanding of what Calvary cost.
To display His mercy on humanity, a wholly just and righteous God must first appease His own standard of holiness. In other words, God must somehow allow for the justice of His holiness to act and the mercy of His heart to act. One does not cancel out the other. Justice looks at a righteous standard and decides accordingly. If there has been even one violation of His commands (James 2:10), God is forced by His own nature to judge and mete out the appropriate punishment. Every man has violated God’s law. Every man is worthy of God’s justice. Every man is worthy of the appropriate punishment. There are no exceptions to this reality.
So, how does God bring about this very important transaction without invalidating His own moral code? The answer is propitiation. Propitiation is God’s determine process of changing justice to mercy without making a farce of justice, and without making a façade of mercy. Propitiation says that if there is one who satisfies all of the essentials, i.e., (a) a sinless past, (b) a perfect flawless spirit, (c) maintain a perfect, law fulfilling life; this same person, if willing can pay the price for all. This selfless act is the only way that the judgment seat becomes the mercy seat. Jesus Christ did just that for all of lost humanity. And because of His giving of Himself for us, God gives us not only His mercy, but also His grace. Grace is the favor one shows on another, without the receiver deserving or asking for it. God’s love gift to His Son for dying for us was that He would provide His limitless favor on sinners redeemed. That is, God would treat the followers of Christ as He would his own Son, Jesus Christ. Christ death on the cross was able to appease God’s justice without violating His holiness, while also giving to ruined creation God’s boundless favor.
He introduces for us in clear terms what every believer should study and adhere to. This is a discussion about what conversion changes.
Every person, who has had a heart change, i.e., a new nature (II Cor. 5:17), by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior now can live in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-4). The new nature removes the uncontrollable tendency to sin without choice. This new nature provides us with the internal working of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:17; Phil.2:13) as the new governing principle of control in our lives. This simply means that because we have a new operating source in our hearts there should be a new behavior pattern in our everyday life (Phil.2:12). Newness of life is the very least that God should expect from us (Rom. 12:1) if we are really His. This new nature that God in His infinite love and grace has given us, demands a new life that is a living witness of the completed work of Calvary on our behalf. Everyone who by faith has come to trust Him for eternal life should strive by the power of the Holy Spirit and the instruction from the word of God to honor our Lord by keeping His commandments. This above all else proves if the love we say we have for Him is genuine.
These points that have been shared are the basic point of the doctrine of Soteriology. For a more in depth study, read Romans chapters 5 and 6. This will give you Paul’s presentation of the saving work of Calvary. We recommend that these passages presented here and the Paul’s work in Romans be study over and over until there is no doubt of the completed work that God has done. God’s love for the saint and His provision to rescue lost humanity from sin, Satan and eternal punishment is not transitory or temporary. The work of Calvary fro everyone who by faith believes, is eternal. Nothing can separate us from the love of God and His work in our lives. We may sin and we are capable of imperfect acts, but, salvation was never based on our work but His. In return, our love gift to Him should be our lives lived for Him.