Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION EIGHT: SALVATION
Honestly, this lesson is very important. It tells you how you can know if you will go to heaven or not. Consequently, I take up the grand doctrine of our salvation. Though I cannot cover all the truths, I will touch on eight important subjects within that overall doctrine: regeneration, conversion, faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification, and security of believers. These are separate yet interconnected truths that weave together to bring about our salvation. It is a lot of ground to cover, but you will be introduced to the most fantastic news in the universe.
I. THE DOCTRINE OF REGENERATION
I first define the doctrine of regeneration, and then tell of its need and characteristics. Regeneration is that act of God in which He implants within us new life that makes holy the governing tendency of our soul. This new life is eternal and spiritual. We become a new creature, born from above by the Holy Spirit, and partakers of the divine nature of God. We are born into the family of God (John 1:12, 13; 3:37; 5:21, 24; Ephesians 2:1,10; 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4; Colossians 3:10; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 3:9; Galatians 5:17).
I have mentioned before that we all have a dire need to be born again. Personal holiness is an absolute necessity to gain peace, favor and fellowship with God. Holiness means conformity to His law.
We are in reality, however, just the opposite. We need a radical inner change in our nature by which our soul is fundamentally altered. The Bible says, we are spiritually dead and Christ said “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3; see John 3:3, 5, 7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Galatians 6:15; Jeremiah 13:23; Romans 3:11; Ephesians 2:3).
Regeneration solves this problem. In a direct, creative act, the Holy Spirit brings a radical, instant change in our sub-conscious life that affects the entire person: intellect, emotion, and will (1John 5:1, 4-7, 18; 2:29; 3:7-10; 4:7; John 8:42; Romans 8:16). All parts of our being are affected.
Looking down on our need and motivated by His love, God in His grace and mercy invites sinners to receive the salvation only available through Christ. God does this through people by the preaching of the gospel and the Bible along with earnest appeal for people to receive Christ by faith and gain forgiveness of sin and eternal life. To those who believe, God regenerates their heart through the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:13). Pretty outstanding, I would say. Wouldn’t you? Now I turn to the next phase of our salvation: conversion.
II. THE DOCTRINE OF CONVERSION
Conversion is man’s outward expression of being born again. It involves turning away from sin and a turning back toward God (Acts 3:26; 9:35).
Repentance is a key part of conversion. The mental part of repentance brings a changed view of your life. The past is recognized as a life of sin, personal guilt, profane and helpless before God. It is the personal admission of, “I have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Emotionally, repentance involves a genuine sorrow for sin committed against a Holy and Just God, and it brings about a godly change in life (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10). Repentance changes our will. From inside our hearts we choose to turn from sin and seek pardon and forgiveness (Acts 2:28; Romans 2:4).
It should be remembered, however, that the power of conversion and repentance comes from the Holy Spirit who has brought about regeneration in our hearts and enables us to live for God (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25; John 6:44; Philippians 2:13).
Before that regeneration experience we did not and could not turn our lives to God through Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14). But, that new life principle that He places into our heart enables us and motivates us to turn from sin and toward genuine heartfelt worship and service to Jesus Christ.
Now we turn to that all important issue of saving faith.
III. THE DOCTRINE OF SAVING FAITH
The Bible says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). What does “believe” mean? Well, faith is the instrument or channel by which we receive salvation. To understand what saving faith is we first need to see what it is not.
1. Saving faith is not historical faith. This kind is merely a mental acceptance of the truth of the Bible, but lacks a genuine spiritual response. Many people, for example, believe that Christ existed, perhaps He was a good man, maybe even divine, and that the Bible is inspired by God, But simply to acknowledge Christ’s existence is not saving faith. Even the Devil believes in God and he is certainly not saved (James 2:19)!
2. Saving faith is not temporary faith (Matthew 13:20, 21). This kind may even be persuaded of spiritual truth and be emotionally stirred. It does not have, however, an abiding nature and fizzles under the stress of trial, temptation and persecution. This faith is grounded in the emotional life and has personal enjoyment as its goal rather than the glory of God. Sometimes this faith is exhibited by someone in deep trouble. While the trouble remains they become very religious, but when it passes away they forget about God.
Saving faith is not the kind that believes God will make us well, provide for our needs, give us food, make us rich, or keep us safe as we fly or sail overseas.
Now I focus on the positive side of saving faith. Saving faith is something the Holy Spirit plants deeply in our heart at regeneration. It is a clear, convinced belief in our hearts about the truth of the gospel and a genuine trust on the promises of God concerning salvation in Christ. There are four elements to saving faith.
The first element is intellectual (Romans 10:17). We gain knowledge which contains a sincere recognition of the truth of the gospel in the Bible. It has spiritual insight that brings a definite response deep in the heart of the sinner. It is a clear, certain knowledge that fully rests on the promises of God.
The second element is emotional (Mark 12:32: John 1:12). Though closely related to the knowledge part of faith, the emotional stresses the assent or agreement of the truth. It is that which grips the heart. It places great importance, value and desire on the object. It is that curious mixture of fear, gratitude, relief, desire, acceptance, and confidence that pushes us to an object.
The third element is the will (John 1:12: 2:24). We can know something is true, feel strongly about it, but we must also choose and take action to obtain the object desired. This is the part of our will. We act. We reach out to receive God’s salvation. It is a personal trust in Christ as Savior. It means we surrender ourselves as guilty to Christ and receive Him as the only source of pardon and eternal life. We deliberately choose to surrender and trust in Christ alone – just like when we board an airplane and trust the pilot to fly us safely to Auckland, Manila, or Honolulu.
The fourth element is the object of our saving faith. People trust many things for salvation: their baptism, church membership, good works, or philosophy. Some trust their church, denomination, or the gods of their religion. The object in which we place our trust is vital, because to trust in the wrong thing means we will go to hell - a very unfortunate choice!
TAKE NOTE: the object of saving faith is Jesus Christ and the promise of salvation through Him, and based on His death, burial, and resurrection from the grave. This the complete trust of salvation through Christ alone.
Let me illustrate saving faith this way. Let us say our family is having a big feast. We get the oven ready, the food cooked, placed on the table, and everyone is now ready to eat. You are hungry. Looking at the roasted pigs, yams, pineapples, watermelons, sweet potatoes you believe in your mind that the food will satisfy the hunger in your stomach. You are moved in your emotions with eagerness and desire to grab a chicken leg or coconut and begin eating.
Finally, you choose with your will. You walk to the table reach out and partake of the food which is the object you desire and know in your heart will satisfy your hunger. So it is with saving faith. You believe the gospel, feel moved, and cast your trust on Christ, the object of your faith. Friend, remember: it is faith alone that saves you.
From here, I leave regeneration, conversion and faith, and skip over to our fourth treasure of truth, our justification.
IV. THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION
Justification is that legal action of God whereby based on the righteousness of Christ, He declares and treats the sinner as righteous. This experience is instant, complete and deals with the change in our standing, or relationship before God.
Justification solves one of the great problems of the ages: how can a holy and just God justify an unholy and unrighteous man or woman?
In this world, when we rob, murder or commit a crime we are arrested, tried before a judge, and sentenced to a cold, dreary prison. There we must serve our punishment. It is the same with God. You and I have committed crimes against Him, and the law says if we commit even one little sin it is enough to send us to hell for eternity (James 2:10). Let’s consider this dilemma in greater depth.
Man cannot be justified by moral goodness, good works or being religious (Psalm 143:2; Romans 3:20; 4:9-11. On the other hand God is holy and just and cannot break His law by saying that He will just let us get away with our sins (Romans 2:12,13; 3:10-19; James 2:10; Isaiah 6:1-4). A good judge would not let a guilty, convicted person go free. And God is a perfect judge.
God’s law could be satisfied in two ways: paying its demands through a perfect life, and/or paying its penalty through eternity. God solved the dilemma through Christ. He kept the demands of the law by a perfect life and paid its eternal penalty by going to the cross.
As an infinite person, Christ could satisfy the eternal penalty of the law (Isaiah 53:6). Christ had perfect value and worth, which was sufficient to satisfy the eternal penalty for all sin committed against God. The result is that God can justify us based on the law’s satisfaction by Christ’s death. Put simply: Christ paid the penalty for our sins. Our penalty was transferred to Him, and His righteousness was transferred to us! We gain a full pardon, justified by faith (Romans 3:28).
Justification is a onetime legal action, a decision or verdict rendered in the highest court in the universe. There are no appeals available. Paul wrote, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies” (Romans 8:33).
I turn now to the fifth truth about our relationship with God: our adoption as His children.
V. THE DOCTRINE OF ADOPTION
Adoption means that we have been legally admitted into the family of God (Galatians 4:1-7; Romans 8:15-17, 23; 9:4; Ephesians 1:5). We have a double guarantee: by regeneration we are born into the family of God; by adoption we are given that legal status. There can be no doubt that we belong to God in a very special family relationship. Adoption occurs when we receive Christ (1 John 3:2; Galatians 3:26).
Great, abundant blessings are automatically granted to the believer from being God’s children. We become objects of God’s special love, His fatherly care and protection, the family name, likeness and love, fatherly chastisement, comfort and family inheritance and status (John 17:23; Luke 12:27-33; 1 John 3:1; Romans 8:29; John13:35; Hebrews 12:5-11; 2 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
In this life we have our special station. Some of you are members of a noble or royal family. Some belong to wealthy or powerful families. Some sons and daughters live on a little island or high in the mountains, and spend all your life raising yams and pigs, catching fish and gathering coconut to eat.
Other sons, like Prince Charles from England, spend their lives with wealth, travel, privilege, and honor. As Christians, you and I belong (by birth and adoption) to the family of God. We are joint heirs with the King of Kings (Romans 8:17) and our Father is the one who governs the universe and owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the gold of every mine. That is who you are, your special niche in eternity! Now I turn to our sixth topic for this lesson, our sanctification.
VI. THE DOCTRINE OF SANCTIFICATION
Sanctification deals with our life after we become a Christian. In justification we are declared righteous, in sanctification we are being made righteous over time. I define it as the continuous work of the Holy Spirit whereby He purifies us, renews us into the Image of Christ and enables us to perform good works (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:22-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Sanctification is a supernatural work by God, but in which the believer cooperates (Philippians 2:12, 13; 1 Peter 2:1, 2; 2 Peter 3:18). Whereas justification is a one-time event, sanctification is a progressive work to be completed on the day of our resurrection.
Sanctification results in, or produces good words. Good works are required by God as the exhibits of our faith, an expression of thanksgiving, assurance of our faith, and to glorify God (Romans 7:4; 8:12, 13; James 2:14, 17, 20-22; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Peter 1:5-10; John 15:8; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Again, good works do not save anybody, but are a result of salvation. We are saved by faith alone. The Bible says “”For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2:8, 9).
John Wesley said “It is by this faith we are saved, justified, and sanctified” (Burtner & Chiles, (eds.) John Wesley’s Theology, p. 158). To illustrate: the other day I was driving out to the bush and saw a cart loaded with farm produce being pulled by a horse. The horse came first, then the cart followed along behind. In the same way, salvation by faith comes first, and then good works follow.
VII. THE DOCTRINE OF GLORIFICATION
Glorification is the final phase in the overall process of our salvation. It includes the perfection of our soul and body, complete possession of eternal life and complete realization of freedom. The completed experience occurs at our resurrection.
The reason we will be glorified is grounded in the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. His death solved the great problem of sin. He provided the righteousness of God to sinners (Romans 3:25), brought reconciliation between God and those who receive Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), executed the purification of sin (Hebrews 1:3), and won redemption for the believing sinner (Ephesians 1:7). There are four characteristics connected to our glorification.
1. The perfection of our soul is completed (Ephesians 5:27; cf. Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 1:22; Jude 24). This includes our moral purity (Colossians 1:22), absence of offensiveness, and being faultless and blameless before God (Philippians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 5:23).
2. Complete possession of eternal life is involved (John 5:24-28). Eternal life contains both a quality (abundant, John 10:10), and is everlasting as to duration (John 3:15, 16, 36; 11:23-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). Though we possess eternal life at the moment of regeneration, the full and complete realization and participation in that life is at the future resurrection- our glorification.
3. Believers experience the fully realized freedom from sin (John 8:33-36; Romans 6-8; Galatians 5:1, 13), and death (1 Corinthians 15:56; Hebrews 2:14-18). Our full freedom in Christ will be experienced in that we will be in experience what we are now in position. Now we are in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. At glorification the job will be complete.
4. Our bodies will be perfected, glorified like Christ’s body (Philippians 3:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; 1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15; Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:39, 43, 50; John 20:17, 22, 27).
This is the future we have to look for. It is called our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). Does it sound exciting to you? I confess that it sure does to me!
VIII. GOD’S SECURING OF BELIEVERS
My final wonderful truth for this lesson gives tremendous assurance to the truly born again Christian. It refers to that constant work of the Holy Spirit by which He brings to ultimate completion that salvation He began in the heart of the believer (John 10:28, 29; 11:42; Romans 11:29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 1:12; 4:18; Hebrews 3:14; 6:11; 7:25; 10:22; 2 Peter 1:10; Romans 8:29-39).
In the present time as we live our lives in this world, God keeps the believer from continued sin that would lead to their damnation. In the future, God will finally complete our salvation. There are two sides to look this sometimes complex issue: it is God who preserves us, and also the believer perseveres but under the influence, operation and power of the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:9; 2 Titus 2:19).
There are those, however, who once claimed to be Christians but have fallen away into sin. Unfortunate for them, they were never Christians to begin with or they are Christians who have backslidden into sin. God will bring backsliders to a hatred of their sin and back to fellowship with Himself. The Bible says that though Christians will sin, we cannot continue to live in a persistent state of sin as a way of life (1 John 1:8; 3:9).
Sometimes, if Christians persist in sin, God will take them home (1 John 5:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 11:29-31).
Here I bring this lesson to a close. The doctrines are absolutely the best news in the universe. They are full of richness and power. It might be good if you take some time and dwell on each doctrine, and to look up all the Bible verses I have added.
As a final note, I you have not, let me urge you to personally receive Christ as your Savior. Don’t delay, do it even right now.
Next we turn to the fascinating doctrine of angels. Are they real? What are they? Where did they come from? What do they do? Let’s look at how the Bible answers these questions.
NEXT, Chapter 9
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