I wrote a series on doctrinal issues for my church a few years ago. My present church has been going through the study and I thought I'd post the notes on salvation that we are presenting tonight.
The Basic Elements
“The gospel in a nutshell” - Ephesians 2.8-10 - For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works...we are...created in Christ Jesus to do good works...
The meaning of salvation: The word basically means rescue or deliverance, especially from a threatening situation. The most profound meaning is deliverance from the lostness caused by sin.
First, salvation is a comprehensive word that sums up all the blessings resulting from God’s saving activity in Christ.
Second, it involves a new dimension of life. We are saved not only from a deadly peril but also to a new way of living. Delivered from: condemnation to eternal life (John 3.16-17); from slavery to freedom (Gal. 5.1); from guilt to forgiveness (Eph. 1.7); from fear of evil powers to victory and assurance (1 John 4.18; 2 Tim 1.7); from darkness to light (1 Pet. 2.9)
The tenses of salvation: past, present and future.
1. Past – refers to a) the provision of salvation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; and b) to the time when we, by faith, accepted salvation as our own 9compare Eph. 2.8; Titus 3.5; 2 Tim. 3.9)
2. Present – Salvation involves a process of growth. Conversion is not the end of God’s way with us, only a beginning. See 1 Cor. 1.18; 2 Cor. 2.15; 1 Pet. 2.2)
3. Future – Salvation anticipates the consummation of God’s redeeming activity. See Rom. 13.11; Heb. 9.28. This forward look assumes salvation as a past experience and a present condition but also points forward to the time when salvation is brought to its fullness.
The meaning of grace: Grace is the free, spontaneous, and unmerited love of god for sinful people. See Rom. 3.23-24; 5.15; Titus 2.11.
Grace is personal: The grace of God is nothing less than God Himself in His graciousness toward us. One man wrote, “Grace is not something God himself gives us, it is the way he gives us himself.” The gift and the giver are one. When we experience grace, we experience god as a gracious personal presence working in our lives.
Grace is free: First it is unmerited (not earned or deserved). It is always a gift and can only be accepted. See Titus 3.4-5.
Faith is the means by which we receive God’s gift of salvation. It involves an attitude of openness and receptivity to the saving presence of God in Christ. Faith is a genuine human response, but it is evoked or drawn forth by God’s gracious activity. In grace, God in Christ gives Himself to us; in faith we give ourselves to Him. This response involves both knowledge and trust.
The purpose of salvation: The purpose of salvation is a live of devoted service. Look back to Eph. 2.10. See 1 Cor. 5.10; 2 Cor. 5.17). the purpose of God’s saving work is expressed in the phrase “for good works.” God does not intend for us to bask in inward experiences, but to live lives that reflect our relationship with him. God works are not incidental to salvation. They are part of God’s eternal purpose for us.
The evidence of faith: James 2.14-26. Two related questions – What good is it if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Two related questions provide an answer: faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead (v. 17). A person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone (v. 24).
Pictures of Salvation
Salvation as Justification: Justification involves a change of status in our relation to God. The background of the term is legal. The scene is a law court in which the defendant stands before the judge. Guilt is obvious. The sentence is sure. Instead of the death penalty (Rom. 6.23), the verdict is acquittal. Sin is forgiven. See Rom. 4.3-8.
Salvation as Sanctification – this involves being set apart to God and gradually transformed into His likeness. It describes the beginning of the Christian life (set apart) and the development of that life (gradually transformed). It is both an act and a process. It is God’s work: 1 Thes. 5.23. It is completed: 1 Cor. 6.11. It is a continuing work: 2 Peter 3.18. Though it is God’s work, it is also our responsibility. Discipline and effort are required (see Phil. 2.12-13).
Salvation as Adoption – It is the act by which a child not born into a family becomes a member of the family and an heir. See Rom. 8.15, 23; 9.4; Gal. 4.5; Eph. 1.5.