Soteriology / Salvation
Dr. Herbert Lockyer, in his work All the Doctrines of the Bible (1964) stated, ‘No evangelical theme is more deserving of prayerful and careful study than that of salvation. The pre-eminent reason for a Biblical understanding of this basic doctrine is that it represents the supreme mission of the Master. Why was He, when HE was so rich in heaven, willing to become poor on earth? Why did He willingly discard a garment of glory for the robe of our humanity? Paul answers these, and other pertinent questions associated with Christ’s incarnation (deity taking on flesh). He came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). …He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). His saving name… ‘Thou shall call His name Jesus (Savior): for He shall save His people for their sin (Matthew 1:21).’
Lockyer continues, ‘…Negligence or rejection of this matchless salvation is made more terrible because of all Jesus endured to provide it. By His blood-shedding, death and Resurrection, He secured a perfect salvation for a sinning race. It is therefore a precious salvation, seeing it has come down to us drenched with the precious blood of Christ. He had to give His life as a ransom in order to save us (Matt.20:28; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:19). Creation was a great work of God, but it only cost Him His breath. ‘He spake, and it was done.’ But when it came to our salvation, He had to give more that His breath; He had to give His blood. We were purchased by that precious blood (Acts 20:28). It is the Holy Spirit who makes possible the actual work of salvation in the heart of the believing sinner… The terms of salvation are so simple that a child can understand them. ‘What must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved (Acts 16:30).’ Repentance toward God and faith in Christ form the channel of salvation… (Paul ‘kept back nothing…’) ‘Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).’ Because God loved the world, and through the finished work of His Son, provided salvation for all the world. He wills all men to be saved. Alas, however, multitudes will not come to Him that they may have life!’
Now Lockyer wrote many other things, some which are debatable; but in these that i offered, he speaks well of the Gospel and truth. But many forget that word, that word with Jesus preached, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near (Matt. 4: 17).’ That same word which Peter added when asked, ‘what must we do?’ And Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off… (Acts 2:38-39).’
So yes, a child can understand the terms of salvation; and yes, we all have a free will; and the Lord desires that none would perish, but salvation is not as simple as belief alone, as James says, ‘you believe there is one God, you do well, the demons (devils) also believe and tremble (James 2:19).’ Of course they know their Maker and the very Son of God, but their belief does not save them. So there must be more – is it repentance alone? Is it some form of absolute predestination where we explain away how God desires that none should perish, but nevertheless – through He ‘created us for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11)’ to worship His alone by choice, rather than animating the ‘stones to cry out (Luke 19:40),’ He picks and chooses who He shall save and who He shall send to eternal sorrow? If that was the case would He be a just judge; could He be called a loving God?
However, the Scriptures make it clear that we are ‘saved by grace… not by works (Eph. 2:8-9).’ Wait it might be important those words in the middle of that verse, ‘by grace you have been saved, through faith.’ So it is not by just one thing – grace or faith – and faith in exactly what? These things and others are very important and shall be explored in our quest to understand soteriology. What role Councils, denominations and universities have played in influencing ministers and laymen should also be taken into consideration.
i seek to work somewhat chronologically before coming to the arguments of some modern geniuses who influence the teachings at Christian universities through their works, and thus through the ministers that come out of this institutions, also influences millions of adherents. Additionally, the power of their broadcast word through all forms of media – especially television, radio and books – cannot be understated.
Of course, if i was coming from a purely chronological order i would start with Genesis and go through the prophets, kings, priests and apostles. For example, ‘If f you do what is right, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it (Gen. 4:7).’ And i would proceed to Revelation, passing through the explanation of God’s name in Exodus (34:6-7) speaking of sin, trespasses and iniquity… forgiveness… and the guilty; and also through James’ detailed explanation of how mankind is ‘tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed’ and how ‘when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings for death (James 1:12-15).’
Yet, in order to both show what notable Christians taught and how we received various creeds, formulas, commentaries, requirements, teachings; i shall endeavor to provide some bits and pieces of the vast expanse of works by a myriad of authors, which if added to the ‘many other things which Jesus did, if they should be written… the world itself could not contain the books that should be written (John 21:25).’ For ‘of the making of many books there is no end, and much study wears out the body (Eccl 12:12);’ yet, if it would save more of my countrymen, i would plead like Abraham (Gen. 18:16-33); i would nearly speak like Moses, ‘Lord, please forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book (of life) (Exo. 32:33)’ because I am one of them and they are my people and Your people.
Yet, knowing the Lord will replied, ‘whoever has sinned (and does not repent – see Ezekiel 18, Hebrews 10:26 etc.) against me I will blot out of my book (Exo. 32:33),’ i shall not tempt Him (Matt. 4:7). Through many men are presumptuous, though we are encouraged to ‘enter His courts (Psalms 100:4)’ and ‘come boldly before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16);’ there are few that can stand before Him like ‘Noah, Daniel and Job (who) could save themselves by their righteousness (Ezek. 14:14)’ or like ‘Moses and Samuel (Jeremiah 15:1)’- yet there are many that approach the Lord ‘in an unworthy manner’ and upon some who do not ‘examine themselves (1 Cor. 11:27; 2 Cor. 13:5)’ comes ‘sickness and even death (1 Cor. 11:30).’
So due to my analytical nature and by compelling wisdom, i shall in the following parts try to lay out the subject matter in chronological order from the early church fathers until modern teachings. i shall however also respond and answer compelled (2 Peter 1:21) by the spirit of wisdom and understand and council and knowledge and truth (Isaiah 11:2; John 16:13).
End of Part Two
a servant – Resipsa