What is the Christian doctrine of Salvation?
1. What is Salvation?
The word Salvation means to be delivered from danger or suffering, to save, help in distress, rescue, deliver or set free. Most often in the Bible the word “salvation” is related to an eternal, spiritual deliverance. An example of this can be found in Acts 16:30-31 “And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” In this instance Paul spoke these words to the Philippian jailer in regards to his eternal destiny. Jesus also related being saved with entering the kingdom of God. Let us read in Matthew 19:24-25 “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
So we need to ask the question, What are we being saved from? Salvation is being saved from the righteous judgment of God upon a sinner. All who have sinned against God are under the judgment of God. But because God is Holy and loving, He made a way of escape so that we do not have to face His righteous judgment.
Salvation is only found in Jesus Christ alone, who is God in flesh as it says in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”” and also in John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”. Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. It says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I have preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures,”.
The reality is that all of us have sinned against God and deserve judgment. But Jesus Christ who came to this earth never sinned. 1 Peter 2:21-22 says “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;”. He fulfilled the Law of God perfectly. Because of this, He has a perfectly righteous standing before God. The Jewish leaders at the time rejected Christ’s claim to be the Messiah, and forced His crucifixion, but God used this event as the means to place the sins of the world upon Jesus, as it was prophesied in the Old Testament. This is when Jesus became sin on our behalf.
1 Peter 2: 24 says “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”
It also says in 1 John 2:2 “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
The crucifixion is the place where Jesus bore our sins in His body, and suffered in our place. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we were healed.” No sinner can please God perfectly and no sinner can offer a perfect sacrifice to God. Only God in flesh, Jesus, could do that.
As per Isaiah 64: 6“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; ….”, so there is nothing we can do that is righteous before God. We cannot please an infinitely holy and righteous God by anything we do, but on the other hand Jesus is perfectly righteous before God the Father and He died in our place, because we could never do it on our own.
In order to escape the righteous judgment of God, you must trust in the sacrifice of God. You need to be made right before God, by God. This righteousness is given to you when you accept Christ and the sacrifice Christ made for you, trust in Him and believe in what He said. This is why the Bible says we are saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” When you trust in what God has done on the cross and in no works of your own, then the righteousness of Christ is given to you, just as your sins were given to Christ. We have traded our sins for His righteousness.
Once you have trusted in what Christ has done, then you possess eternal life, and you will never face the judgment of God. John 10:27-28 says “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.”
2. What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?
We often associate the word repentance to mean “turning from sin”. The other biblical definition for repentance also means “to change ones mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will also result in a change of action. Acts 26:20 says “but declare first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the regions of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”
To repent in relation to salvation is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost he concludes with a call for the people to repent. Acts 2:38 says “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” So what is Peter asking them to repent from? We read a few verses earlier in Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Peter is calling the people to change their minds from the rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior. This is the same in the world, when the people of this world, come before Christ in repentance, it is the changing of their minds to know and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Repentance and faith can be understood as 2 sides of the same coin. It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is the change of mind and heart. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.
We need to understand the importance of the meaning of repentance, it is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself. John 6:44 says “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
While repentance is not a word that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly fully change your mind without causing a change in action. Repentance always results in a change of behavior. This is why John the Baptist called out to people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,”)
A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to, faith in Christ will always have evidence of a changed life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Repentance is absolutely necessary for salvation. Repentance by the changing of your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation. Acts 3:19 says “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted our, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” Repenting in such a manner results in turning from your sins. A genuine change in your mind and heart, and the belief that it is only through the blood of Jesus Christ, we can be saved. This is true salvation.
If you have never given your life to Christ, and you feel the call of God in your heart. Now is the time to respond and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
You can receive remission of your sins, not by your own works, but through faith in Jesus Christ who already paid the price for us. All you have to do is to accept his sacrifice in your place as a free gift. Take this moment to declare you have accepted the free gift by saying the following prayer:
“God I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me. Amen.”
If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact us and we would love to talk to you about living a life with Jesus as the center of your life.
Bible reading: New King James Version (NKJV)
Resources: carm.org, gotquestions.org, etc…