Salvation – What and How?

Audio # 1

I. Atonement

1. Different Aspects of the Atonement

The atonement is what has earned our salvation. “Salvation” is a broad word. At root, it means “to be rescued from a dangerous or threatening situation”. Note that it includes the dimensions of:

  • what we have been saved from
  • what we have been saved for

a) We deserve to die as the penalty for sin. This requires a Sacrifice.
b) We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin. This requires Propitiation.
c) We are separated from God by our sins. This requires Reconciliation.
d) We are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan. This requires Redemption.

2. Our Experience of the Atonement

  • We were saved (Eph 1:4; 2Thess 2:13)
  • We were being saved (2Cor 5:18,19; Rom 6:6-8)
  • We are saved (Rom 8:1; 2Cor 5:17)
  • We are being saved (2Cor 3:18; Eph 4:22-24)
  • We will be saved (Mt 10:22; 1Cor 15:51-53; Rom 8:23)

3. Jesus’ Work of Atonement in the Cross

  • Satisfaction.
  • Substitution.

Audio # 2

II. Regeneration

1. Regeneration is totally a work of God

a) Regeneration is a sovereign work of God

  • God the Holy Spirit – Jn 3:8
  • God the Father - Eph 2:5; 1Pet 1:3

b) Regeneration is brought about by the Word of God

c) Regeneration as an act of God is a mystery to us

d) Regeneration is an instantaneous event

2. Regeneration occurs before Saving Faith

3. Genuine Regeneration must bring results in life

Evidences by which we can be sure that the inward act of regeneration has occurred:

  • Faith – the ability to respond to God in faith is the first result of regeneration. (1Jn 5:1 – NIV)
  • No longer living in continual sin (see 1Jn 3:9; 2:29).
  • Love. (1Jn 4:7 – NIV).
  • Overcoming the world. (1Jn 5:4 – NIV).

Audio #3

III. God’s Sovereignty in Salvation

The Order of Salvation:

(i) Election (God’s choice of people being saved)
(ii) The gospel call (proclaiming the message of the gospel)
(iii) Regeneration (being born again)
(iv) Conversion (faith and repentance)
(v) Justification (right legal standing)
(vi) Adoption (membership in God’s family)
(vii) Sanctification (right conduct in life)
(viii) Perseverance (remaining a Christian)
(ix) Death (going to be with the Lord)
(x) Glorification (receiving a resurrection body)

1. Election

a) Bible verses affirming that God ordained beforehand who would be saved:

∑ Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; 9:11-13; Eph 1:4-6, 11; 2Thess 2:13; 2Tim 1:9; Rev 13:7,8; 17:8

b) Reasons why the Bible presents the teaching of Election:

  • As a comfort.
  • As a reason to praise God.
  • As an encouragement to evangelism.

c) Is Election fatalism?

  • In relation to the ordaining - God predestines outcomes in love (Eph 1:5)
  • In relation to the ordained - People are genuine persons who make willing choices

d) Is Election based on God’s foreknowledge of our faith?

  • Rom 8:29 God a person, not just a fact
  • Our faith is not the reason why God chose us.
  • Election is not based on God fore-seeing some good in us (like a tendency to believe)
  • Focussing on foreknowledge still does not solve the problem of free will.

Audio # 4

2. What about the non-elect?

Predestination includes both election to salvation and to what theologians call “Reprobation”. But there are important differences in what God does in Election and in Reprobation.

3. What about free-will?

We are free to choose whatever we desire. But the dilemma is in what people desire.

4. The Effective Call

The call is just as much an act of God as the predestination is

a) Effective calling

5. Definite Atonement

In a Reformed view, the atonement is not merely a potential work of salvation, but an actual salvation of those whom God has chosen. The stress is not on any supposed limitation in the power of the atonement, for the work of Christ is infinite in magnitude and sufficient for the salvation of everyone. But it is efficient (as opposed to sufficient) for some.

Audio # 5

IV. Faith

1. The Meaning of Faith

  • Faith is not merely “believing” something to be true.
  • Faith is not positive thinking or an irrational commitment to something despite strong evidence to the contrary.
  • A better word to use in modern culture is the word Trust.

2. The Components of Saving Faith

a) Saving faith requires knowledge, but knowledge alone is not enough

b) Saving faith requires knowledge and approval, but knowledge and approval alone are not enough

c) Saving faith requires personal dependence on Jesus

3. Faith and Works

Saving faith (or what James would call living faith in contrast to dead faith) is seen to be real faith by the fact that it inevitably leads to works of obedience. It has been summed up in the following formula: “We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” We are saved by faith not works, but real faith works.

Audio # 6

V. Repentance

1. The Meaning of Repentance

  • An intellectual understanding (that sin is wrong)
  • An emotional approval of the teachings of scripture (sorrow for and hatred of sin)
  • A personal decision to turn from it.

2. True and false repentance

3. Faith and Repentance

  • Repentance primarily focuses on turning from sin,
  • Faith is turning to Christ.

a) The Bible often links faith and repentance in speaking of our coming to God
b) Some passages stress the need of faith in coming to Christ for salvation
c) Some passages stress the need for repentance in coming to Christ for salvation
d) These lists assume that the other dimension is understood

4. A Life of Faith and Repentance

a) Conversion: faith and repentance at the beginning of the Christian life.
b) Lifestyle: faith and repentance as the ongoing attitudes of the Christian life

Audio #7

VI. Justification

1. The Meaning of Justification

Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he:

  • ∑ Thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us
  • ∑ Declares us to be righteous in his sight.

2. Justification is a legal declaration

a) We are declared to be forgiven

b) We are declared to be righteous

  • Adam’s guilt was imputed to us (God viewed it as belonging to us)
  • Our sin was imputed to Christ (God thought of our sin as belonging to him so he paid the penalty)
  • Now, in justification, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (see 1Cor 1:30; Phil 3:9)

3. God’s declaration of Righteousness is not based on Merit

4. The Practical Implications of Justification by faith alone

Audio #8

VII. Perseverance and Assurance

The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power, and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.

1. Promises of Perseverance

2. Only those who persevere to the end have been truly born again

3. Those who finally fall away may initially give external signs of conversion

4. If only those who persevere to the end are truly saved, can we know assurance of salvation prior to the end?

There are several ways to look for true assurance:

a) Do I have a present trust in Christ for salvation?
b) Is there evidence of a regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in my life?
c) Do I see a long-term pattern of growth in my Christian life?

Brian Watts is Pastor of The King's Community Church and lives in Langley with his wife Rosalind.
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