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Doctrine of Soteriology - Pastor Jeremy Thomas

Soteriology - the study of roominess or broadness in contrast to narrowness or oppression, giving rise to the concept of freedom from something that binds or restricts, and thus deliverance. In Scripture what binds us is sin and God frees us through Christ.

  1. Three Tenses of Salvation
    1. Past - we have been saved from the penalty of sin (justification; Rom 5:1)
    2. Present - we are being saved from the power of sin (sanctification; Heb 7:25)
    3. Future - we will be saved from the presence of sin (glorification or the rapture; 1 Thess 5:9)
  2. The Basis of Salvation is always the Death of Christ.
    1. The Content one had to Believe for Salvation in the OT
      1. Before the Flood
        1. All men had the same revelation of salvation through the sacrifice of a promised seed/offspring (Gen 3:15). Salvation was by faith in God who would provide an offspring who would be sacrificed for sin.
      2. After the Flood
        1. Gentile Nations - All men initially had the same revelation of salvation through the sacrifice of a promised seed (Gen 3:15). However, this knowledge was suppressed and, after the Tower of Babel, distorted forms of the original revelation were captured in the myths and folklore of various tribes and nations. Evidently, salvation for Gentile nations was by faith in the one true God who saves (Jethro (Exod 18); Rahab (Josh 2); the Ninevites (Jon 3:5; cf Matt 12:41), et. al)
        2. Israel - the revelation of salvation through the sacrifice of a promised seed was amplified in the Abrahamic Covenant. The seed would come through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10), the tribe of David (1 Chron 17:10b-14), through Solomon (2 Sam 7:12-16), but not Jeconiah (Jer 22:30). As such the seed would be virgin born (Isa 7:14). This seed became known as Messiah. Salvation for Israel was by faith in God who would provide the Messiah through this line who would be sacrificed for sin.
    2. In the NT
      1. During the Gospel period Until the Cross, salvation for Gentile nations continued to be by faith in the one true God and for Israel by faith in God who would provide the Messiah through the Davidic line who would be sacrificed for sin. When John the Baptist came on the scene, Israel needed to repent with a view to forgiveness of sins which would be provided by the Messiah (Mk 1:4). When Jesus was identified as the Messiah, faith in Him was required for salvation (John 1:29; 11:25-26).
      2. From the Cross Until the Present Day, salvation for all men is by faith in God’s Messiah, Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again (Acts 4:12; 17:30-31; 1 Cor 15:3-4).
        1. It is essential that we send out missionaries to those who have never heard because…
          1. They know God but do not have an excuse for not acknowledging Him as God (Rom 1:20-21)
          2. They remain under the wrath of God (Rom 1:18) and will suffer eternal judgment if they do not believe (John 3:18)
          3. People cannot be saved apart from hearing the message of the gospel (Rom 10:14, 15, 17)
        2. Infant Salvation (and retarded persons) is derived from
          1. The love and grace of God
          2. The inability of the infant to understand and believe
          3. At moment of ability to understand and believe they become responsible to believe
          4. This is a logical doctrine, not Scriptural. The Scriptures are silent. We know what God is like, so we can trust God in these matters.
  3. The Meaning of the Death of Christ
    1. Substitutionary Blood Atonement
      1. The death was substitutionary. This means Christ died in our place, instead of us, so that what we owed, our life, He paid by laying down his own life. (Matt 20:28 αντι; Luke 11:11 (e.g. of αντι as instead of); 1 Tim 2:5-6 υπερ; 2 Cor 5:21 υπερ again). It was also as a moral example, but this is not the central importance of the cross.
      2. The death required shedding of blood. Christ shed His blood. The life (Heb - nephesh - i.e. soul) is in the blood (Lev 17:11). His life (i.e. soul) is literal life (i.e. soul) given. His life given provides atonement for our lives. Blood as a metaphor is based on liberal word study in TDNT. The blood was literal. He could not have died in any manner. He had to die by the shedding of blood because the life is in the blood. He did die twice, once a spiritual death (during the 3 hours of darkness as He took the sins of the world upon Himself), and once a physical death (when He breathed His last and released His human spirit).
      3. The death atoned for sin
        1. The death was propitiatory in relation to God. Christ died for our sin to satisfy God’s justice (1 Jn 2:2; 4:10; Rom 3:25)
        2. The death was redemptive in relation to sin. Christ died to pay the penalty of sin (1 Cor 6:20 (αγοραζω; 7:23; Acts 20:28 περιποιεω, acquire, obtain; 1 Pet 1:18ff λυτροω, free by paying ransom; 2 Pet 2:1 αγοραζω; Rev 5:9 αγοραζω)
        3. The death was reconciliatory in relation to man. Christ died to make peace with the mankind (2 Cor 5:18-20 καταλλαγη - re-establishment of broken relationship; Rom 5:10 καταλλασω - exchange of hostility for friendly relationship)
    2. False Views of Atonement
      1. Ransom Theory - Christ was paying a ransom (λυτρον) price to Satan to release us from slavery to him (Origen and Augustine). Christ did pay a ransom price, but the payment was to God, not Satan.
      2. Moral Influence Theory - Christ died to move people by the love of God to repent and live better lives (Abelard). While there is a moral motive to Christ’s death, it is not the central meaning of the death.
      3.  Example (Martyr) Theory - Christ died as an example of obedience to the point of death that ought to inspire people to reform their lives (Socinians and Unitarians).
      4. Governmental Theory - Christ’s payment was not equivalent to what the law required, but God accepted it as a token payment, setting aside the requirement of the law, freeing Him to forgive sinners. This view compromises God’s justice because it does not require a full payment for sin.
  4. The Extent of the Atonement
    1. The Question: for whom did Christ die?
      1. 2 Pet 2:1 - redemption is for all men, He bought even those who deny him.
      2. 1 John 2:2 - propitiation is for all men, He is the propitiation for our sins and not ours only, but the sins of the whole world. The whole world does not refer to the elect or a subset of humanity, it refers to all inhabitants of the world.
      3. 2 Cor 5:19 - reconciliation is for all men, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them. All that remains is that men be reconciled to God.
      4. 1 Tim 2:4, 6; 4:10 - He desires that all men be saved and He gave Himself as a ransom for all (πας). He is the Savior of all (πας) men, especially of believers. The word πας can sometimes be used in a limited sense (e.g. Luke 2:1), but in most contexts it clearly refers to all without exception. 
      5. Heb 2:9 - by the grace of God He tasted death for everyone (πας).
      6. John 3:16 - for God so loved the world. The world does not refer to the elect, or a subset of humanity, but to all inhabitants of the earth. Limited atonement/Particular redemptionists, are forced to teach that God does not love all men, but only the elect (contrary to Mark 10:21).
    2. The Answer: for all men, the world, everyone
    3. The Explanation: God sent Christ to die for the sins of all men, and they desire that all men be saved (1 Tim 2:4, 6), but only those who believe have the cross work applied to them.
    4. The Criticisms
      1. :If God the Father intended to save only some, and the Son died for all, then the Father and the Son do not have agreement.
        1. Response: God the Father and God the Son desire for all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4, 6), and therefore, the Son died for all men, but not all men desire to be saved, therefore, not all men are saved.
      2. If Christ died for all men then all men will be saved (universalism)
        1. Response: The death does not automatically apply itself to those for whom it was made. It requires faith on the part of the person for application (John 6:47).
  5. Pre-Salvation
    1. Preaching - How will they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10:14)
    2. Hearing - How will they believe if they don’t hear? (Rom 10:14; John 5:24; Eph 1:13)
    3. Conviction of the Holy Spirit
      1. He convicts the world of sin, because they do not believe in Him. World hasn’t believed.
      2. He convicts the world of righteousness, because Jesus goes to the Father and you no longer see Him. World has righteousness available.
      3. He convicts the world of judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. World is under judgment.
  6. The Gospel
    1. The True Gospel
      1. Gospel means “good news”. It is from the root ευαγγελ- which is a compound word from “good” and “message.”
        1. The good news of John the Baptist’s conception (Lk 1:19)
        2. The good news of Jesus’ birth (Lk 2:10)
        3. The good news of believers living by faith (1 Thess 3:6)
        4. The good news of the kingdom relates to the nearness of the kingdom (Matt 4:23)
        5. The eternal good news (Rev 14:6)
        6. The good news of grace (Gal 1:6)
          1. There are other gospels, but there is no other gospel of grace (Gal 1:7)
          2. Anyone who preaches another gospel is to be accursed (Gal 1:8, 9)
          3. This gospel was clearly preached in Acts 13 and includes the death (13:28-29) and resurrection (13:30-37) of Christ that one must believe (13:39).
      2. The gospel is clearly stated in 1 Cor 15:3-4, the death is the essential, the burial is the evidence of the death, the resurrection is essential, the appearances are the evidence of the resurrection. One must believe that Jesus is the Christ who died for our sins and rose again.
    2. The False Gospels
      1. Roman Catholicism
        1. Salvation by the sacraments
        2. Salvation through the one true Church
        3. Justification is a process of becoming righteous, not a legal declaration of righteous
      2. Lordship Salvation (aka Mastery Salvation, Discipleship Salvation)
        1. Salvation is by having the right kind of faith (saving faith, true faith, et. al)
        2. It’s faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is never alone (it is always accompanied by works (James 2:14-26; Matt 7:16-20; Heb 6:4-6 (cf Heb 2:9 for γευομαι - tasted))
      3. Crossless Gospel
        1. Salvation is attained by believing in Jesus for eternal life. There is no content to this Jesus. This is the desert island approach that is defended on the basis of the gospel of John. However, the purpose of John’s gospel is stated in John 20:31, which says that these signs were written that men might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The last sign is the crucifixion, recorded in John 19:16ff and the resurrection that followed recorded in John 20ff. So, that must be believed, it is the ultimate sign in John’s gospel!
        2. This is the message, not the gospel. The gospel is only for believers (1 Cor 15:3-4).
        3. Claim that assurance is of the essence of saving faith. If you don’t have assurance, you aren’t really saved. Assurance is based on trusting the promises of God, it is not intrinsic to the gospel. One did not have to believe that he had eternal life, he had to believe that Jesus died for his sins and rose again. To say one must have assurance to be saved is to put the onus of salvation on one’s subjective experience.
      4. Ask Jesus into your heart. Nowhere are we told to do this. This is just confusing, especially for a child who thinks you are asking Jesus to come into the muscular bloody tissue of the human heart. Avoid such confusions.
  7. Condition of Salvation
    1. True View of the Condition
      1. Faith alone
        1. The condition is always faith alone. Almost 200x’s the Scriptures say “faith”[i] or “belief.”[ii] Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). The Ninevites believed in God (Jon 3:5). Paul said to the Philippian jailer, “believe in the LORD Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). If faith is not enough, then many passages give an incomplete statement on what a person must do to be saved.
        2. Faith means “confidence, trust” in an object. It is not an existential leap. “Leap of faith” is Neo-orthodox terminology for an irrational idea, an unjustifiable action. Our faith is grounded in the truth of God’s word and it is reliable because of who He is.
        3. For salvation, faith must be in the correct object, Jesus Christ. He saves, not our faith (John 1:12-13; 3:16; Acts 16:31; et. al.). Faith never saved anyone. God is the only one who saves. Failure to understand this one point is at the root of much confusion on the gospel and the condition of salvation.
    2. False Views of the Condition
      1. You must have the right kind of faith.
        1. There are not different kinds of faith such as saving faith, temporary faith, demon faith, persevering faith, etc…Faith is faith. Either you have it or you do not. There is such a thing as persevering in the faith (i.e. keep on in Christian doctrine).
        2. As such, the saying of Calvin, that it is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is never alone, is dubious. The statement is flawed on many levels. First, it is not true that faith alone saves. Only God can save. Faith never saved anyone (the Arminian thinks faith saves, which is why they think you can lose your salvation, for if you lose faith, then you lose what your faith acquired). Faith is the human response through which God saves. Second, biblical faith is not a faith that works, it is a faith without works. Works do not have to follow faith in order for a person to be saved. Works should follow, but only as a person lives by faith to grow in sanctification. These works do not figure into why a person goes to heaven. Only Christ’s work can do that.
        3. Faith is not a work (Rom 4:3). It is the opposite of works. Faith is not the gift of God in Eph 2:8-9. The gift is salvation or the “by grace through faith salvation.” The grammar will not allow faith to be the gift. This would be logically irrational as well, for if God gives one the faith so that that one can give it back makes the condition of faith nothing on man’s side since God meets the condition for him. Faith is the means through which the gift is received. Faith does nothing, it receives what God provides (John 1:12-13).
      2. Believe and Repent. The Bible does not teach believe and repent as two separate conditions for salvation (as in a two step process). Repent means “a change of mind.” When connected with salvation, it is used as metonymy for faith (Acts 11:17, 18). Faith and repentance are not two steps, but two sides of the same coin. When one has faith in Jesus he has also had a change of mind concerning Jesus. The two are inseparable. There is no such thing as the need to repent of sins in order to be saved from the penalty of sin. The word repent not include the concept of sin. The word repent does not include the concept of sorrow. The word repent does not include the concept of turning from sin. It simply means a change of mind.
      3. Believe and Confess. The Bible does not teach believe and confess as two separate conditions for salvation. Confess means “admit, acknowledge.” Confess in Rom 10:9-10 seems to be a synonym for a believer calling on the LORD in v 14 for deliverance in sanctification, not justification. An alternate view is that “confess” is being used as a synonym for “believe” in vv 9-10. This view is based on the chiasm in verses 9-10.
      4. Believe and be Baptized. The Bible does not teach believe and be (water) baptized as two conditions for salvation. In Mark 16:16, the condemnation is based solely on unbelief. The baptism is passive voice and refers to being baptized by the Spirit, not water baptism. In 1 Cor 1:18 Paul says he was sent to preach the gospel, not to baptize. Therefore, baptism is not a part of the gospel unto salvation, or else Paul would have been commissioned to do it. In Acts 2:38 the nation needed to “repent” (plural) for the forgiveness of sins, but individual Jews needed to be water baptized (singular) in order to be saved from the coming judgment in AD70 for the nations unpardonable sin of rejecting Messiah. This was a special dispensational issue.
      5. Believe and Pray. The Bible does not teach believe and pray. We do not have to pray a sinners prayer in order to be saved. We are saved through faith alone.
  8. Some Results of Salvation
    1. Justification - faith is credited as righteousness. A legal verdict, declaration of righteousness (Gen 15:6; Rom 3:22, 26, 28, 30; 4:3, 4, 7-8, 9; 5:1). We cannot face double jeopardy, so we have security. Luther and the snow illustration. Simul Iustus et peccator.
    2. Regeneration - we are born again (Titus 3:5), stated elsewhere as born from above (John 3:3). The impartation of a new nature that desires to please God. Occurs as a result of faith. Faith precedes regeneration. Regeneration does not precede faith.
    3. Peace with God - a state of concord, peace, harmony. We are no longer at enmity with God, but having been justified, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1)
    4. Reconciliation - exchange of a hostile relationship for a friendly one (Rom 5:10-11; 2 Cor 5:18). We are friends with God.
    5. Adoption - we are a part of the family of God, before far, now brought near by the blood of Christ (Eph 1:5; Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5).
    6. Sin Nature judged - we are saved from the penalty of sin (Rom 6:2, 3-7). We still have a sin nature and can submit to it, but we are not under it’s authority and do not have to obey it (Rom 6:12-14, 16-18). We are no longer condemned to live by the flesh (Rom 8:1).


[i] 58 passages that condition salvation on “faith” alone; Matt 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20; 7:50; Acts 14:27; 15:9; 24:24; 26:18; Rom 1:5; 1:17; 3:22; 3:26, 27, 28, 30, 31; 4:5, 9, 11, 13, 4:14, 16; 5:1, 2; 9:30, 32; 10:6, 17; 11:20; 16:26; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; Gal 2:16; 3:2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 22, 24, 26; 6:10; Eph 2:8; 4:5; Phil 3:9; Col 2:12; 2 Thess 2:13; 3:2; 2 Tim 3:15; Heb 4:2; 10:39; 1 Pt 1:5, 9; 2 Pt 1:1; 1 John 5:4.

[ii] 140 passages that condition salvation on “belief” alone; Luke 8:12; 12:46; John 1:7, 12; 2:23; 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 4:39, 41, 42, 48; 5:24, 38; 6:29, 30, 36, 40, 47, 64, 69; 7:5, 31, 38, 39, 48; 8:24, 8:30, 31; 9:35, 36, 38; 10:25, 26, 37, 38, 42; 11:25, 26, 27, 40, 42, 45, 48; 12:11, 36, 37, 38, 39, 42, 44, 46; 13:19; 16:9; 17:8, 20, 21; 19:35; 20:31; Acts 2:44; 4:4, 32; 5:14; 8:12, 13, 37; 9:42; 10:43; 11:17, 21; 13:12, 39, 48; 14:1, 2, 23; 15:5, 7, 11; 16:1, 31, 34; 17:12; 34; 18:8, 27; 19:2, 4, 18; 21:20, 25; 22:19; 28:24; Rom 1:16; 3:3, 22; 4:3, 5, 11, 17, 18, 24; 9:33; 10:4, 11, 14, 16; 11:20, 23; 13:11; 1 Cor 1:21; 14:22; 15:2, 11; 2 Cor 4:4; Gal 2:16; 3:6, 9, 22; Eph 1:13, 19; 1 Thess 4:14; 2 Thess 1:10; 2:12; 1 Tim 1:16; 4:3, 12; 2 Tim 1:12; Jas 2:23; 1 Pt 1:8-9, 21; 2:6, 7; 1 John 3:23; 5:1, 5, 10, 13; Jude 1:5.

Last Update

Monday, January 6, 2020