Salvation

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SALVATION IN ETERNITY PAST

THE DECREE OF GOD. The decree of God is his eternal purpose, based on His most wise and holy counsel, whereby He freely and unchangeably, for His own glory, ordained, either efficaciously [that is, with purpose] or permissively (preceptively), all that comes to pass.

ELECTION. I believe that before the foundation of the world, God chose to give certain people every spiritual blessing in Christ; those whom he thus chose are the elect (Eph. 1:3-4). His desire is that all would be saved (John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:3-6; 2 Pet. 3:9), and his salvation is available to all (Titus 2:11, 1 Tim. 2:4); yet he has foreknown that some would receive that salvation (John 1:12, Acts 2:41, Rom. 8:29) and others would reject it (Acts 7:51, Rom. 2:4-10). Since before the foundation of the world, God has written in the book of life the names of those who would believe (Rev. 13:8). These were not chosen on the basis of any merit of their own, whether good deeds or belief; but on the basis of God’s perfect and holy will and his free gift of grace.

I believe that in the working out of God’s perfect and holy will, some (like Saul/Paul) respond because of God’s effectual calling; in a word, they could not reject the calling even if they wanted to. Others respond because of God’s permissive call, his desire and will that none should perish (2 Pet. 3:9). In God’s omniscience, he knows who will respond; he is not surprised pleasantly or otherwise by the choice of any individual. I do not believe that either God’s foreknowledge or his foreordained plan is subject one to the other or that one precedes the other; both are inextricably linked to God’s sovereignty and his omniscience.

PREDESTINATION. Whereas election relates to salvation (2 Tim. 2:10), predestination relates to glorification through conformity to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). Predestination guarantees that the elect of God have received the inheritance of sons (Eph. 1:5, 11) – presently, the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit; eternally, glorification in God’s presence.

SALVATION IN THE PRESENT

I believe the gospel can be simply stated: God defeated sin and death by offering his son, Jesus Christ, as a substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf; and he calls us to respond in faith and repentance. Concise statements of the gospel can be found in many Biblical passages, not the least of which are 1 Cor. 15:3-4, John 3:16, and a series of verses in Romans (3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10).

By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ accomplished the perfect and complete atonement of all who believe. The guilt and liability of sin were completely removed (Ps. 103:3) and, from an eternal perspective, sin and death were defeated. Those who through faith believe are made new and are reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:17-18), no longer enemies (Rom. 5:10) but friends (John 15:15). Jesus’ sacrifice purchased our redemption (Rom. 3:24, Eph. 1:7), buying us out of slavery (John 8:34, Rom. 6:16-17) into freedom and sonship (Rom. 6:18, Gal. 3:7). On the cross, Jesus became the propitiation—the substitutionary sacrifice—for the sins of mankind; he became sin (2 Cor. 5:21) and bore the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9) for our sins so that we can experience God’s mercy (Luke 1:50, Rom. 11:32).

God applies salvation by his grace to those whom he has called (2 Tim. 1:9) and who respond in faith and repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Cor. 7:10). He regenerates (makes new – 2 Cor. 5:17) by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) and justifies those who are thus made new (Rom. 4:5, Titus 3:6), counting as theirs the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 4:3ff, Php. 1:11, Php. 3:9) and adopting them as not only heirs, but sons also . He has sanctified (1 Cor. 6:11) and is sanctifying (Heb. 10:14) those who are justified as we await the day that we will be glorified with Christ (Rom. 8:17, 30). Until that day, we do the works that God has for us (2 Cor. 9:8; Eph. 2:10), not to earn or maintain our salvation, but to bring him glory (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12).

Evangelism is the act of sharing the gospel (the good news; the “evangel”) with those who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ’s invitation to reconciliation with God. Missions is the extension of evangelism as the global work of the church taking the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:18-20).

SALVATION IN THE FUTURE

As followers of Jesus Christ, we not only have reconciliation now but also the certain hope of eternal life with God (John 3:16, Rev. 7:9). The ongoing sanctification of a believer’s character is a part of her glorification in which she is, even now, being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). When Christ returns, we will be glorified with him (Rom. 8:17, 30; verse 30 speaks of glorification as a completed thing – not necessarily completed in the past, but its completion is certain); at that time we will receive a new, glorified body (1 Cor. 15:42ff, Php. 3:21) with which we will glorify God eternally as we worship, finally and fully, “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

Download my full Doctrinal Statement here.