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 Basic Bible Doctrines

Chapter 5, Salvation

      The doctrine of salvation is of the utmost importance because it addresses man’s complete deliverance from his depravity—his sinful, lost, spiritually dead condition.

      Every major denomination in Christendom has some form of teaching on the subject of salvation; however, here the similarity stops. There are numerous areas of disagreement and division—almost as many as there are different denominations.

      The doctrine of salvation is a major area of confusion among denominationalists as a whole. For a doctrine of such great importance to every living person, this is a sad state indeed! We trust that by sound teaching we will be separate from those who distort the clear presentation of the gospel of the grace of God.

      The word salvation in the New Testament is from the Greek word soteria and literally means to deliver, to preserve, or to save. Salvation as used in the Bible applies to many different areas. It can mean salvation from an enemy, from problems, from error, and of course, salvation from sin. This chapter is concerned with salvation from sin.

 

A DISPENSATIONAL SUBJECT

      In all respects salvation must be considered a dispensational subject. Though God has always made known His intention to deliver man, God has progressively and dispensationally revealed how He saves.

      Various aspects of salvation have also changed with God’s different dispensational programs. For instance, in the Old Testament Israel under a covenant relationship with God was promised a salvation which, though we now know had a personal aspect, was national in character. It concerned the whole nation, collectively, and involved primarily physical blessings and physical deliverance from their enemies into a literal physical, earthly kingdom.

      It is this national salvation or deliverance of which Paul spoke in Romans, where he said:

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (Romans 15:8).

      In this dispensation of grace, however, salvation involves no present physical blessings and is personal and positional in character. Soul salvation, that is, the deliverance of a man’s soul and spirit from the penalty of sin, has always been an individual matter. From the beginning every individual since fallen Adam has been spiritually dead and in need of personal salvation. Every man has been responsible for his own sins and has been required to believe God’s appropriate message for the salvation of his soul. This was true in the Old Testament under the kingdom program, and it is true today in the program of grace. Men in the past did not necessarily understand this while God was dealing with them under a national plan of salvation, but theirs was also a personal need. This became clear through progressive revelation—first with Christ’s earthly ministry and ultimately through the fullness of revelation given through the Apostle Paul.

      Today, with the full revelation of God’s secret purpose, we have the fullness of revelation on this subject of salvation as well. Today, therefore, we must emphasize that salvation is personal and individual. It involves eternal deliverance from judgment for sin and permanently places the believer into a glorified position in Christ—all by grace through faith plus nothing.

 

A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING

      When we approach people about salvation, we want to make sure that they understand exactly what we mean. When referring to God’s plan of salvation in this dispensation, salvation means saved from sin—saved from sin’s penalty (God’s judgment); saved from sin’s power (now we can live for the Lord); and one day saved from the presence of sin (we will be in glory with Christ).

      People can misunderstand our terminology! When we witness, we must clearly explain every term we use. Do not just use words like saved and born again without explaining the Bible meaning; otherwise, many people may agree with you even if they do not understand what you mean. Understanding salvation from sin presupposes that men understand that they are sinners, dead in their condition, and headed for a Christless eternity. Once they admit this, then they can appreciate the salvation message God offers.

 

SAVED FROM WHAT?

      We believe that salvation has three tenses. First is salvation from the penalty of sin. This happens the moment we trust Christ as Savior and is eternal in nature. Sin’s penalty is condemnation, death, and ultimately, the second death in the lake of fire. Every true believer is eternally saved from this penalty.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).

In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14).

      The second tense is salvation from the power of sin. We are being saved (present) from the power of sin. All true believers have died with Christ, are raised with Him, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, though the old nature is still with us, sin’s power has been broken, and we need no longer walk under its control.

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Romans 6:6).

For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14).

      The third tense is salvation from the presence of sin. We shall be saved from the presence of sin. This is in the future when we shall receive glorified, resurrected bodies and dwell forever in God’s presence. 

Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21).

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our lowly body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself (Philippians 3:20,21).

 

FORGIVENESS & JUSTIFICATION

      The believers’ sins were laid on Christ, and He bore their judgment. The sin question has been forever settled at Calvary. Those who trust Christ are placed into His death—all their sins are paid for in full. Because the sins are paid for, God declares that man is righteous! The believer is dead, buried, and raised with Christ and is given Christ’s very righteousness. The Bible word for this transaction is justification.

      Justified means to be declared righteous. It is a judicial act of God based upon His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 

Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

For He hath made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

      Bible salvation is an act of God whereby He justifies or declares righteous an ungodly sinner, having granted the complete forgiveness of sins. This salvation is a gift given by grace through faith and is based solely upon the merits of the cross. Perhaps you have heard the saying, “Justified means just as if I’d never sinned.” That saying is not what the Bible teaches about justification, so please do not use it. Justification is God declaring the sinner righteous because the debt of sin is paid and he is forgiven. It should be clearly understood, then, that salvation means the obtaining of the righteousness of God by faith through the forgiveness of sins.

      For the remainder of this chapter, we will consider three aspects of salvation: the source, the ground, and the means.

 

THE SOURCE OF SALVATION

      In the Roman Epistle we can find all three of these points. However, as we consider the source of salvation, we read:

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

      The source of salvation is the grace of God. Grace is defined as unmerited favor.  Someone once said that grace (thinking of the letters G R A C E) was “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” This verse would indeed support that saying. We must understand that grace is the opposite of works; when there is a debt, it means that something has been earned through work.

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (Romans 4:4).

      If men could prove themselves to be perfect and sinless by good works, then God would be indebted or obligated to save them as a payment for their works. The whole point of Romans 3 is to show that just the opposite is true:

…There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Romans 3:10–12).

      Finally the law was added:

…that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19).

      In Romans 3:24 we learn that men are justified freely (or without a cause). This justification is as a gift by God’s grace:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).

      Because of man’s sinfulness, works have been eliminated; any form of boasting has been ruled out. The free gift of salvation by grace is the only possible way that sinful men can receive the righteousness of God!

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5–7).

      It is in this exact regard that this day in which we live is called the dispensation of the grace of God.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men (Titus 2:11).

      We ask, “When did grace appear?” We know that God has always been gracious. We read in Genesis:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8).

      God told Moses:

…I…will be gracious to whom I will be gracious… (Exodus 33:19).

      Also in John we read:

…Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

      These, however, were God’s grace in past dispensations. There has been grace within every dispensation, but there is only one dispensation of grace! The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians:

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me toward you, how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before in few words) (Ephesians 3:2,3).

      God has revealed a new dispensation separate and apart from prophecy—an administration of grace in which, as proven sinners, both Jews and Gentiles now can be saved on the same ground by God’s grace. Thus, the gospel of this dispensation is called the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24). This is the good news that now both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled into “one new man” upon trusting Christ as Savior. This “new man” is called the Body of Christ (and the church which is His body) and is unique to this dispensation of grace which began with Paul.

      When Titus 2:11 says that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” we believe this grace is the supreme characteristic of a new dispensation that appeared first to and through the Apostle Paul.

      Verses 12 through 14 of this same passage tell us that this grace not only saves but teaches believers to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.

      The usual accusation of those who believe in a works-oriented salvation is that grace is a license to sin. Nothing could be further from the truth! Grace that saves also teaches the denial of ungodliness and sin. Grace operates upon a completely different principle than works to accomplish this. Grace manifests the love of God toward hell-deserving sinners. Through faith alone grace imparts the very righteousness of God to men who are dead in trespasses and sins. Grace saves and motivates by Christ’s love, and this love constrains us to yield our hearts and lives to Him.

      Turning back to Romans we read:

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

      Notice that what grace has given is justification. We have already explained that justification means to be declared righteous by God. Therefore, we have been declared righteous by God’s grace—the teaching of this whole context.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law, is manifested… (Romans 3:21).

      This verse means that now (this word now is a dispensational indicator and tells us that now something is different) through the revelation given to Paul God has made known that the receiving of the righteousness of God is possible. How is it received?

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference (Romans 3:22).

      What does the grace of God afford? Nothing less than His very righteousness, and it is unto all and upon all who believe. This should settle once and for all the question of what it really means to be saved in this dispensation of grace. It does not mean that we are on probation. It does not mean that we are not sure until the end. It means that upon believing the gospel of grace we are justified and possess the righteousness of God.

      Verse 23 continues by explaining why this is applicable to all men—that none can be saved any other way: 

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

      No man is outside of the need of God’s pure grace for deliverance from judgment and the lake of fire. But redemption full and free is the theme of grace and the proclamation of the gospel.

      In our study of the Pauline Epistles we find that a number of terms are synonymous with salvation in the soul sense. Justification is one of these terms.

      Another is this term redemption. Two basic Greek words are translated by this term, and both have to do with being purchased by payment of a ransom.

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

      The word redemption here is the Greek word apolutrosis, which literally means to be loosed by payment of a price.

For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20).

In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

      Therefore, redemption means that we have been purchased and loosed from sin (both its penalty and control) and placed into Christ—again by God’s grace. Another word that can apply to salvation is the word reconciled.

And you, that were once alienated and en­emies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled (Colossians 1:21).

      The word reconciled means the eliminating of the differences between two persons, resulting in peace where there once was enmity. Thus, in Christ we have been brought to a place of fellowship and peace with God because our sins are forgiven. Our sins were a wall of alienation between us and God that separated us from His life and presence. But because of God’s gracious provision, we can be personally reconciled to Him, born anew into God’s family and kingdom by believing the gospel.

      One last word we will consider is the word sanctification. The word sanctified means to be set apart, and by the grace of God every believer is set apart from sin and placed into Christ.

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, both theirs and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2).

      These believers at Corinth were sanctified or set apart in Christ and called to be or, more literally, called saints. To be saved is to be sanctified—to have a set-apart position in Christ, possessing His righteousness. This is what enables one to be called a saint. A saint is not a dead Roman Catholic but a living believer who, by grace, is in Christ.

      Another aspect of sanctification is the practical one, that is, having to do with our state.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

      Later in this same Epistle Paul said:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

      These verses do not directly refer to our position in Christ but rather to our walk—that it might be equal to our position, that we might be set apart in our daily lives, and that we might constantly be a testimony for Him. In this practical sense sanctification is progressive because we grow more and more set apart and Christ-like in our walk with each day—or at least we should!

 

THE GROUND OF SALVATION

      In Romans 3 we will begin to look at the second point of our study, the ground of salvation. Speaking of Christ we read:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in [in = by means of] His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:25,26).

      Verses 25 and 26 go together as time verses. They are not referring to time in your life but rather to dispensational time. They have to do with the ground of justification—the shed blood of Christ.

      Concerning salvation, God set forth Jesus Christ to be a propitiation by His blood (that is a mercy seat or a satisfaction) through faith. With man God was not satisfied. Man had broken the law and had proven in every respect that he was unrighteous.

      But with Christ and the work He accomplished, God was fully propitiated (satisfied). Christ’s righteousness was perfect, and His shed blood marked the acceptable payment for sin. Like the blood-sprinkled mercy seat in the holy of holies in the tabernacle, Christ’s shed blood (signifying His death) was the only thing that could truly satisfy the righteous requirement of a holy God.

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).

      From the very beginning God has required the shedding of blood. We read in Genesis 3 that God made coats of skins to clothe Adam and Eve. In Genesis 4:4 Abel brought an offering of the firstlings of his flock, and it says that God had respect unto his offering.

      God’s dealings with the nation Israel were based upon blood sacrifices, beginning with Abraham, then Moses, and the Passover and proceeding on to the sacrifices and offerings of the law of Moses, all of which (we later learn) were a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      As God led Israel under the First Covenant, He made provision for them to come into His presence only once a year into the holy of holies and only through one man, the high priest, and only with blood, which was to be sprinkled before and on the mercy seat that covered the law.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people, The Holy Spirit thus signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while the first tabernacle was yet standing (Hebrews 9:7,8).

      The holy of holies was closed off with a heavy curtain or a veil which was there to say, “Keep out!” The veil blocked the way to God because He is holy and man is sinful and cannot in that condition come into His presence. Only the sacrificial blood in the hands of the high priest could allow God to overlook the sins of the people. But why blood? What was so significant about blood? The reason is that shed blood signifies death, and death is the only payment for sin.

      Blood signified the death of the sacrificial animal under the First Covenant, but this only atoned for sin (temporarily covered the sin thus maintaining the covenant). The shed blood of Christ also signified His death—the perfect lamb of God dying for the sins of others. However, His blood that was shed once for all is the heart or basis of the New Covenant. This is precisely why Paul said:

In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

      In 1 Corinthians we find one of the most important references to Christ’s death in relation to our salvation. That Christ died for our sins is literal, as is attested to by the fact that His blood was shed:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

      Here, the great truth of why His blood was shed is fully understood. If any one passage should be memorized and used to win the lost, it is this one. Christ’s blood was shed, and He died for our sins. He did not die for His own sins. He did not have any sins to die for, but God made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us. It was our sins that He bore and our debt which He paid—in full. His death, burial, and resurrection are foretold in the Scriptures and are the basis of soul salvation for men of all ages.

      The death of Christ is not the mystery of which we so often read in the Pauline letters. But the death of Christ is the central aspect of salvation whether under the kingdom program or under the mystery program of grace. The revelations given to Paul, however, give us the full understanding of Christ’s death and all that was accomplished concerning God’s secret purpose in Christ. It is in this regard that the Apostle Paul said in Romans:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (Romans 3:25).

      It was His death, the blood He would shed, that allowed God to remit the sins of men before the cross.

      Though men did not understand how God was able to save, God was looking to the cross all the while; and it was on the basis of the blood of Christ that was to be shed that God could accept men’s faith and save them by His grace.

      Verse 26 addresses the declaration of these very truths for the now time, for this time:

To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of Him who believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:26).

      Thus, because Christ’s blood was shed, because God was propitiated or satisfied, He is now declared to be just (that is, just and righteous in His method of salvation). God’s righteousness was not compromised in saving sinful men. God can justly declare the believing sinner justified (righteous) as an act of His grace without compromising or wrongdoing in any way. We can, therefore, declare from our understanding of His substitutionary death that soul salvation always involves being united with Him in death, burial, and resurrection.

      It is in this regard that Paul says in Colossians 2:10 that “we are complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power.” Our completeness is our position in Christ, and we received that position by way of death—a death that signified our debt of sin was paid. Our sins are no longer between us and God because Christ paid for them. We can never be judged for our sins (as regards redemption) because for us judgment is past. Death is the end or payment for sin, and we died with Christ, were buried, and raised with Him. Therefore, God has given us His righteousness and an eternal position as members of Christ’s Body, the church of this dispensation of grace.

      This is what is meant by this passage in Colossians when it says that we are “complete in Him.” Men will try to tell us that we must do good works to be saved. They will tell us that if we stop believing we will be lost, but the Scripture says our position is “complete in Him.”

      Colossians 2:11,12 goes on to explain exactly what the completeness is. Verse 11 says that we are “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.” This is a reference not to the Jewish rite of circumcision on the eighth day (which was a cutting off of the flesh of the foreskin), but this is a figurative usage and is actually a reference to the cross where Christ was cut off from the land of the living. This refers to His death and says that we were circumcised or cut off with Him—we died with Christ.

      Verse 12 says that we were then buried with Him in baptism. This is not a reference to any water ceremony. It really means we were buried with Him by identification with His death, in which we are also risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God. Mark well that each of these actions is the operation of God—not the clergy!

      Titus 3:5 states that we were saved by the washing of regeneration, or the washing of new birth, even the renewing of the Holy Spirit. These are the things that happen to every person the moment they trust Christ as their Savior. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says that “by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body,” and that is also a reference to the instant we believed. Thus, Paul declares that our completeness in Christ is that we died, were buried, and were raised again with Christ. How much more complete could salvation be? Christ is the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and we are fully complete in Him, a completeness that rests not on our works or our worthiness but on the operation of God—performed the moment we believed!

      Returning our thoughts to the blood of Christ, we have seen that if His blood had not been shed, if He had not died, then we would have to die for our own sins. But in that He did die, the just for the unjust, we know that God can justly save any man; and any who are saved have died with Christ and their sins are paid for—and that means all of their sins: past, present, and future.

 

THE MEANS OF SALVATION

      The means of salvation is faith.

Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith (Romans 3:27).

      This is a very pertinent question that the Apostle asks in relation to salvation. “Where is boasting then?” In other words, can any man boast in his own works, his own merits, or his own righteousness? The answer is a very simple one: “It is excluded.”

      Both without law and under law man has been proven helpless and sinful. Therefore, the salvation that God has provided by His grace is the only possible way for a man to be accepted with God. All other means or attempts are excluded. No man can boast or glory in anything except the finished work of Christ. Paul says that boasting has been excluded by a law, i.e., “the law of faith.”

      The law or principle of works is that if a man could keep the law perfectly, if he could manifest a perfect righteousness by works, then God would indeed save him! Paul said concerning the works principle:

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life; But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath (Romans 2:7,8).

      Verses 9 and 10 repeat this law saying:

Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 2:9,10).

      Paul’s next statement should be an awesome declaration to those who choose this avenue:

For there is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2:11).

      Any man who is evil will receive tribulation and anguish. Keep in mind that Scripture says:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)!

      We can clearly see why the law of works cannot save any man. Boasting is excluded by the law of faith.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith (Romans 3:27).

      What exactly is the law of faith that excludes our boasting? Scripture says it is “the righteousness of God, …unto all and upon all that believe” (Romans 3:22). It is the principle that faith in God’s Word brings His blessing. This is a principle that God has manifested from the very beginning. In Genesis 4:4 it says that Abel brought an offering of the firstlings of the flock and that God had respect unto his offering. Hebrews offers commentary on that very event saying:

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4).

      The Scripture says that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

      And so God set a precedent from the beginning that this principle of faith was the only way to please Him. As further proof of this, we read:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

      Outside of faith there is only man’s feeble efforts to uplift his own righteousness, which is as filthy rags in God’s sight. But through faith God is able by His grace to operate on the basis of Calvary and gloriously save the sinner.

      We should ask at this point, “Exactly what is faith?” Faith is believing God! Faith is not a thing, that is, not an entity that is given to us or taken from us, but rather faith is a response. It is the response of man’s intellect (his spirit) to that which is made known. Faith is simply an affirmative answer to God based on His statement of truth.

He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal to this, that God is true (John 3:33).

      The individual receiving (expressing faith in) God’s testimony (His Word) sets his seal that God is true, i.e., that His Word is true!

      Although faith sees the invisible (as with Moses who Hebrews 11:27 declares, “endured, as seeing him who is invisible”), faith is not blind. Man does not place his faith in nothing; faith is rather a response to revelation. Faith is based upon facts of knowledge; it is not a leap into the dark.

      An excellent verse to show faith in action or the characteristics of faith is in Hebrews.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

      The word substance [Greek, hupostasis] means the understanding or foundation, i.e., the assurance, of things hoped for; and the word evidence [Greek, elegchos] means the proof or conviction of things not seen.

      There are a number of words that are synonymous with the word faith that will help in our understanding. The Greek words involved are pistis (a noun that is almost always rendered faith) and pisteuo (a verb that is almost always rendered believe). These two words are forms of the root word peitho (to persuade, to cause belief in a thing). This word is translated by a number of English words in the New Testament, some of which include: persuade, obey, trust, and believe.

      Thus the words faith, believe, and trust all have the same basic meaning and are all used in relation to salvation. There are several passages where this can be demonstrated.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

      Here these words faith and believe are used interchangeably.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law (Romans 3:28).

      Notice that the phrase justified by faith is the same truth as the last part of verse 26, which says: “…that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference (Romans 3:22).

      Here again, the words believe and faith are used interchangeably.

      Faith in relation to salvation is not mere mental assent, i.e., mere recognition of historical facts. Many believe that Jesus was an historical figure but have not believed the truth of the gospel, i.e., personally believed that Christ died for their sins and is their risen Savior and Lord.

For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:21).

      Faith unto salvation is belief in God’s Word about who Christ is and what He has accomplished.

      As to whether or not a man can believe the gospel, we quote from the chapter on Depravity:

      “But can the natural man be confronted with the gospel and understand his lost condition and his need of Christ? We will let the Scripture speak in answer:

“…The word is near thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed (Romans 10:8–13).

      “These verses say nothing about man being unable to understand. What they do say is that with the heart man (and that is the natural man) believeth unto righteousness. They further say nothing about not being able to believe. Rather, verse 17 says simply that ‘faith cometh by hearing [or as in the Greek, faith is by hearing, which literally means faith can be expressed upon hearing] and hearing by the Word of God.’

“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above); Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead). But what saith it? The word is near thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach (Romans 10:6–8).

      “If we follow Paul’s reasoning in verses 6–8, the salvation of God and its offer should not be turned into an issue of our ability to respond but to the response itself. Paul shows that the issue is not one of hypothetical or stubborn questions but of believing what God says. It is unwise in light of these and other Scriptures to question man’s ability to respond.”

      Returning to our previous thought, it is the law (the principle) of faith not the principle of works that saves.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham be­lieved God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3).

      And again in verse 5 we read:

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

      God’s Word could not be clearer on this matter. In this dispensation of grace justification is to him who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the un­godly. In this passage we see the doctrine of imputation clearly taught. By faith righteousness is counted to (put to the account of or imputed to) the believer. Abraham was the chief example, the father of this principle, and now God has declared it in its fullness—righteousness is imputed by grace through faith alone!

      As we made mention earlier, it is this one issue with which God has always been concerned—the issue of faith. God has always had a message for man to believe. There has always been gospel or good news from God to man. Though God’s messages of good news have changed as the dispensations unfolded, we now know that the center of all God’s good news is Christ. Nevertheless, whatever God required men to believe, it was their simple faith in His Word that gained them righteousness and acceptance with Him.

      To Noah God’s good news was to build an ark to the saving of his house. To Abraham God’s good news was “in thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” To the people of Israel the good news preached by our Lord and the Twelve Apostles was the good news of the kingdom. Here we would like to pause for just a moment to say that this gospel of the kingdom is not the gospel that God is sending forth for men to believe today.

      This gospel concerned the millennial kingdom that Christ will establish to bless the earth through the nation Israel, and of course, faith in Him will still be the requirement. But under that gospel the Jews were first. They were expected to believe that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and that Jesus was the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God. They were to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). There were also signs and wonders that would follow those who believed that gospel of the kingdom.

      Today the gospel of salvation is consistent with the dispensation of grace. Today there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:12,13).

      The gospel today, then, is simply “believe and be saved”:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9,10).

      Both the heart and the mouth in this verse are a reference not to a literal mouth or the heart muscle but to the inner man (the spirit and mind) trusting Christ as Savior.

      Today, God is not offering the kingdom under the prophetic program but is rather offering salvation from sin, that is, justification to any man by grace through faith alone according to the revelation of the mystery. This gospel for today is specifically called the gospel of reconciliation and the gospel of the grace of God.

 

REPENTANCE

      Though repentance is somewhat inseparable from faith, God does not today preach repentance as part of the gospel as he did to Israel. Israel’s gospel included the aspect of repenting: first, before the cross from their waywardness from God under the First Covenant, and second, after the resurrection from crucifying their Messiah.

      Today, however, these are not aspects of the gospel of grace. All men are approached as sinners and exhorted to be reconciled to God by the death of His Son.

 

COMMON TERMS

      One term that is common to both gospels is the term everlasting life. To be saved from sin in any dispensation is to have eternal or everlasting life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

      And again we read:

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36).

      The apostle Paul also used this same term:

… [those] who should hereafter be­lieve on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1:16).

      Faith then is the means by which all men can be saved, or have this everlasting life, in the person of Christ.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [salvation] not of yourselves, it [salvation] is the gift of God—not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).

      Here we see again that salvation is the gift of God; it is not of ourselves, not by our works, but by grace through faith. God provides salvation; Christ procures salvation; and faith possesses salvation.

      Salvation is the complete forgiveness of sins and the obtaining of God’s righteousness. We believe that salvation is an event not a process, that it happens the moment a person believes the gospel, and that it is of eternal duration. All of these points can be seen in the following passage:

in whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also af­ter ye believed, [or literally, having be­lieved,] ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13,14).

      Salvation was purposed by the Father, purchased by the Son, received by faith, and enacted and sealed (guaranteed) by the Holy Spirit. This salvation and seal are not just until we slip but rather until the redemption of the purchased possession. May the Lord help us to hold forth these precious truths and to walk worthy of this glorious calling, living as becometh saints.

 

 

Inside BBD
The Bible
The Godhead
Christ
Depravity
Salvation

 

God loves you, Christ died for you... believe and be saved!
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of god... The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

 
 

 

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