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SALVATION (Heb. yeshû‘âh, Gr. sōtēria). What God in Mercy does for his sinful, finite human creatures is presented in the Bible through a variety of metaphors, images, and models (e.g., Redemption and Justification). Of these, none is more important or significant than Salvation: thus God is called “Savior” (
The need for salvation
According to the Genesis account, when God created Man He entered into a Covenant with him in which, by following the pathway of Obedience, man might then rise to a confirmed state of Holiness; if he chose to disobey, he would then fall to enslavement under Sin. Obedience would lead to eternal life in communion with God; disobedience would bring death and slavery to Satan. The positive dimension of this covenant is to be inferred from the Scripture, whereas the negative side is explicit.
In Adam all men sinned (
Because of man’s sin he is deserving of God’s Judgment. After establishing from
The sense of guilt for disobeying God is immediately evident in the account of the Fall. After nodetitle and Eve had taken of the forbidden fruit we learn of their vain effort to hide from God. A sense of shame compelled them to flee from their Creator. Man in his fallen condition has been doing this down through the entire course of human history. But all men exist in a responsible relationship to their Creator, and if they do not fulfill this responsibility in loving obedience to Him through faith in then only judgment and the second death await them.
Because of sin man’s predicament may be described as one in which he finds himself a victim of anxiety, dread, despair, frustration, alienation, absurdity, meaninglessness and estrangement. He has cut himself off from God, his fellow-man and himself. In this situation man either seeks to make meaning for himself by deifying himself (humanism) or by admitting his failure to discover any meaning (nihilism).
Evidences of man’s estrangement from his God, his fellow-man and even himself scream at us in contemporary art forms—literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, drama, motion pictures.
The nature of salvation
1. Hebrew יֵ֫שַׁע, H3829, יְשׁוּעָה, H3802. The word yash’ and its cognates have the basic meaning, “to be wide,” “roomy”; fig., “to be well off” or “prosperous”; “to be free.” An understanding of this OT word group is imperative to an understanding of what is implied in Matthew’s statement concerning Jesus as meaning “savior” (
b. Salvation is accomplished in history. The first occurrence of the word yasha’ is found in
d. Salvation is deliverance to the Lord. Yahweh not only delivered His people from that which would destroy them but He also brought them to Himself. His salvation was not merely a rescue from a dangerous situation but it was also a rescue for a special purpose, that purpose being that those rescued should worship, praise and glorify Him through lives dedicated to obeying Him in all of life (
A unique feature of the Old Testament concept of salvation, as compared to the pagan religions of that time, is the fact that it was understood as the prerequisite rather than simply the goal of obedience. The order is well expressed by the psalmist, “Save me, that I may observe thy testimonies” (
e. Salvation is appropriated solely by faith in God apart from any reliance upon supposed merit or human effort. This was true salvation both on a national and individual scale (
2. Greek σωτηρία, G5401. As used in the LXX the word was frequently equivalent of yasha’, denoting the saving power of God in the crises of history nationally and in the people of God individually. This saving grace is further seen not to be confined to this age but to also anticipate the future, and it causes the man who has experienced it to rejoice and glorify his Creator.
In the New Testament soteria is used of “deliverance from enemies” (
b. Jesus is the center of God’s saving work; in no one else is there salvation (
c. Salvation in the New Testament sense of spiritual deliverance means a total salvation. God saves fallen man—body and soul. Specifically, soteria is salvation from physical illness (
d. Salvation is eschatological. Although the Christian begins to enjoy his salvation here and now there is yet a time coming when he will realize it in all its fullness. That time will be at the Second , a day when He will be enthroned as King of all the world (
In summary, soteria is the rescue of fallen man through Christ from all that would ruin his soul in this life and in the life to come.
The word or idea of obedience is used of Christ with sufficient impact in the NT to be taken as a comprehensive characterization of His redeeming work. Paul wrote, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (
The New Testament employs four terms which when taken together give a most comprehensive portrayal of the saving work of the Triune God. These are: sacrifice, propitiation, reconciliation and redemption. Sacrifice views salvation as the answer to man’s guilt; propitiation as the answer to God’s righteous wrath; reconciliation as the removal of the ground of God’s alienation from fallen man; and redemption as a release from bondage to sin.
b. Propitiation (Greek ἱλασμός, G2662). This word is used only three times in the New Testament (
c. Reconciliation (Greek καταλλάσσω, G2904). This word is used in only four Pauline passages (
d. Redemption (Greek ἀπολύτρωσις, G667). This word speaks the language of purchase and ransom. Redemption is the securing of a release by the payment of a price. In the theological sense, redemption means the release of the shed blood of Christ. Redemption from sin embraces the several aspects from which sin is to be viewed scripturally: (1) redemption from its guilt (
The necessity of the atonement.
There are two major views reflected in the historical development of theological thought.
The hypothetical view
This position maintains that God could have saved sinners without atonement. Other means were open to an all-powerful God, but He chose this means as the best for the accomplishment of His purpose. Two outstanding exponents of this view were Augustine and Aquinas.
The consequent absolute necessity view
By the word “consequent” is meant the idea that God did not have to save anyone; but, consequent upon the fact that He determined to do so, this view maintains that He had to do so by means of atonement. Among those prominent theologians holding this position there may be mentioned such men as G. Smeaton, A. A. Hodges and L. Berkhof.
Theories of the atonement
The ransom theory
(Origen, 185-254). This view, sometimes termed the military theory, argues that Christ paid a ransom to Satan for the deliverance of those who were his rightful captives. This position has been called the patristic theory inasmuch as it was held in one form or another by a number of the Early Church Fathers.
The satisfaction theory
(Anselm, 1033-1109). This view maintained that Christ’s death provided full satisfaction for our sins and that His merit was more than equal to any obligation which man could possibly incur toward God. Christ’s death was centrally conceived of as His voluntary discharge of man’s obligation to God.
The moral influence theory
(Abelard, 1079-1142). This view maintained that the life and death of Christ was the supreme revelation of God’s love calculated to awaken in man a reciprocal love and gratitude. The response of love is then taken to be the basis both of justification and the forgiveness of sin.
The example theory
(Socinus, 1539-1604). This view maintained that Christ’s death effected reconciliation by affording motives and encouragement to man to repent and believe. Christ’s power to save is based on the import of His teaching and the influence of His example. Christ’s death was simply that of a noble martyr.
The governmental theory
(Grotius, 1583-1645). This view maintained that Christ’s death is an exhibition of divine regard for the law though He did not suffer its precise penalty; God graciously accepted His suffering as a substitute for the penalty. The atonement is viewed as a satisfaction, not to any internal principle of the divine nature, but to the necessities of government.
The dramatic theory
(Gustaf Aulén, 1879). This view maintains the essence of Christ’s work is to be seen in terms of man’s liberation from the tyrants of sin, death, wrath and the devil. Aulén maintains that this was the view of the early Fathers, subsequently lost by Anselm and medieval scholasticism but recaptured by.
The penal substitution theory
(Calvin, 1509-1564). This view maintains that Christ’s death must be seen centrally in terms of the forensic category of penal substitution. Penal substitution is central to the Biblical teaching of atonement (
All the theories defined above have elements of truth but none of them taken by itself provides a totally adequate explanation of the atonement. Christ by His death did make full satisfaction for our sins; He did by His death seek to evoke the love and gratitude of the believer, but not as a basis of acceptance before God. He did provide an example for believers to follow (
The extent of the atonement
The extent of the atonement is a matter about which there has been much controversy. There are three major views within what may be loosely called Protestantism. See Atonement.
This is the view that God purposed to save all men (including angels, according to some who hold this view) by means of the death of Christ, and that in consequence all will be saved eventually, whether in this life or the afterlife. This position is reflected in ecumenical theology, but there is also an evangelical type of universalism.
This is the view that God planned to save all men by the atonement but that all will not be saved because ultimately of a failure to believe. This view is held mainly by Arminians.
This view maintains that God purposed by the atonement to save only the elect and that in consequence only they are saved. This view is held by consistent Calvinists, and is popularly referred to as “limited atonement” but more correctly termed “particular redemption.”
The specific issue of extent revolves around the question of design, or intent of the redeeming work of Christ, not that of its value. In The Canons of thewe read with respect to value: “The death of the is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” With respect to intent the Canons state: “For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of , that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect.”
The accomplishment of salvation
The divine elective purpose—views.
Its basis is seen in God’s eternal counsel—His elective purpose.
There are three major views to be noted in respect to the doctrine of election.
The Arminian view.
This view maintains that God elects on the basis of foreseen faith. According to Arminius, “This decree has its foundation in the foreknowledge of God, by which he knew from all eternity those individuals who would, through his preventing grace, believe, and, through his subsequent grace would persevere, according to the before described administration of those means which are suitable and proper for conversion and faith; and by which foreknowledge, he likewise knew those who would not believe and persevere” (The Writings of James Arminius, I, 247).
Appeal for this position is made to such passages as
The Barthian view.
According to this view election is, primarily, the election of Jesus Christ; secondly, the election of the community; and thirdly, the election of the individual. The first of these ideas is most important in Barth’s development of the doctrine. Reconciliation in Christ can be understood only in terms of the mystery of God’s decisive word of election in Christ, a word which respects all men. The miracle of God’s electing grace is discovered in the fact that Jesus Christ is at the same time the electing God and the elect man. While it is necessary to speak of a double predestination this may be done only in terms of the cross. All men are both reprobate and elect in Christ. There is no question here of a distribution of election and reprobation over such and such people, as in the historic Reformed position, but only of double predestination in and concerning Christ.
Barth’s radical revision of the Reformation view of election inevitably raises the question of whether his position does not require as a logical corollary the acceptance of universalism. Although Barth replies with an emphatic No! many of his critics cannot accept such an answer. G. C. Berkouwer states, “There is no alternative to concluding that Barth’s refusal to accept the apokatastasis (universalism) cannot be harmonized with the fundamental structure of his doctrine of election” (The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of, p. 116).
The Calvinistic view.
This view maintains that God elects unconditionally; that is, there is nothing in the creature which conditions His choice of some and passing over of others. The moving cause is in the sovereign will of God alone (
Those who adopt this position appeal to such passages as
In summary it may be fairly stated that whatever view one may adopt concerning election, the fact of it must be seen as the Biblical basis upon which God’s redemptive work was accomplished. What God determined in His eternal counsel He then had to accomplish in history.
Christ’s redemptive work—views.
Its execution is seen in Christ’s redemptive work in history.
This is an area of major dispute in present theological discussion. Two major views seem to emerge from all the controversy: (1) The Existential school—Bultmann; (2) The Historical school—Cullmann.
The existential school.
According to Bultmann, the essence of the Christian message as set forth in the NT is that of a call to decision—a response which brings with it a new understanding of oneself, a sense of authentic existence. Bultmann almost entirely divorces the question of existence in the NT from that of salvation history. Regarding the historical Jesus Bultmann states, “I do indeed think that we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Christ...” (Jesus and the Word, p. 8). Bultmann maintains that we can preach the Christ of faith without the Jesus of history. His view can be called an existentialistic approach to the Biblical message developed in the context of a historical skepticism.
Bultmann belongs to the radical-critical school of Ger. Biblical criticism. Following a “form historical” method he views Jesus as only a man whom the later faith of the Church deified. He acknowledges that the gospels relate to the history of Jesus from a supernatural perspective which at the same time bears the character of preaching, but he argues that this preaching does not give us a trustworthy account of what occurred; it represents only the faith of the later church. Ridderbos states, “The gospels, according to Bultmann, are not concerned with Jesus but with the faith and the preaching of the church with respect to Jesus. And what interests him as an historian is the question: How did this preaching acquire this form? or in other words: Along what way or in what manner has this preaching grown up or developed into our gospel accounts?” (Bultmann, p. 12).
The historical school.
According to Cullmann the essence of the Christian message is both salvation history (Heilsgeschichte) and Christian existence. The essential feature of Christianity which distinguishes it from other religions is the fact of the central divine act in history of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Only in Judaism is the historical of equally fundamental importance. The focal point of Christianity is not metaphysics but history. Redemption is something accomplished by God through Christ in time.
Cullmann states, “Redemptive history is the heart of all theology which is based upon the Bible. It represents an essential aspect of all theology. It is the perspective from which the very objects of all Christian theology, God and Christ, are seen. Obviously the objects of theology are God and Christ, but the perspective from which they are viewed is not that of metaphysical or existentialist speculation, but rather that of redemptive history” (Soli Deo Gloria, ed. J. McDowell Richards, p. 13).
In ancient times redemptive history was challenged in the name of a metaphysical philosophy (Gnosticism); more recently it is being challenged in the name of an existential position (Modern Philosophy). But now as then, Christianity proves to be invulnerable to all such attempts to destroy it. As Scripture makes clear the very essence of Christianity is redemptive history. Bultmann’s dehistorization of the NT in terms of the extended approach of Heidegger spells a tragic departure from historic Christianity. Theology is thereby reduced to anthropology and another gospel is preached.
One further word should be given to differentiate between those of the Heilsgeschichte position and those of a more traditionally conservative position. While both schools would agree as to the historical objectivity and divine meaning of God’s redemptive work, they would not agree as to the basis on which these Biblical events are to be interpreted. Those of the Heilsgeschichte school would tend to look to some suprarational existential experience to discern it, whereas those of the more conservative school would tend to look to the divinely inspired record of Scripture as ultimately definitive of its meaning.
The application of salvation
The problem of the Ordo Salutis.
The ordo salutis (the way of salvation) has to do with the process whereby the work of salvation, accomplished in Christ, is subjectively realized in the hearts of men. The emphasis is not on what man does in appropriating the grace of God but on what God does in applying it. Though this is a unitary process, when one examines the Biblical data it becomes evident that various movements can be distinguished in the process, movements which are to be understood in terms of logical order rather than temporal sequence.
One important question which arises in a discussion of an ordo salutis is, Does the Bible supply information sufficient for the construction of a single fixed ordo? A study of Scripture would seem to lead to a negative answer. It would seem, however, to allow for the legitimacy of constructing a flexible ordo salutis for dogmatic or systematic reasons. In fact, more positively, it may be stated that we gain definite guidance for our arrangement of topics from the Scripture themselves, though we must use great caution.
But even here the order is not detailed; that is, it is far from complete. There is no mention of regeneration, conversion, adoption, perseverance, sanctification, etc.
The general call.
This is a call which comes through the preaching of the Gospel; it is a call which invites sinners to salvation in Christ. It is a call which issues forth from the kerygma (the apostolic message concerning Christ). This message is not to be optionally related but authoritatively proclaimed. It is a message which contains three essential elements: (1) historical fact—the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, (2) theological interpretation—“for our sins,” 3) ethical demand—Believe! Repent! The first element answers the question What?, the second answers the question Why?, and the third So what?
This general call given by the prophets under the OT, by
The effectual call.
This is a creative call which accompanies the external proclamation of the Gospel and which brings the hearer to the divinely intended response of faith and repentance. The effectual call is efficacious; that is, it always results in salvation. In the NT the terms for calling, when used soteriologically, are almost always applied, not to the general call of the Gospel but to the call which actually brings men into a state of salvation, that is, the effectual call. (Cf.
As the Gospel is proclaimed, the general call goes forth like sheet lightning, but God in accordance with His sovereign purpose causes it to strike like a forked flash in the lives of some. Such are those who have been effectually called out of the gross darkness of their sins into the glorious light of the Son of righteousness (
It is God the Father who calls His own out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, but the sinner must do the coming. And yet, how can he? Is he not dead in trespasses and sin? The spiritual dilemma of the minister is analogous to the utter futility of a doctor’s efforts to revive the lifeless body of one of his patients. Whether we preach the terrors of hell or the blessings of heaven, whether we proclaim the law or the Gospel, there can be no response apart from a miracle of grace. But it is the glory of God’s sovereign grace that it overcomes this dilemma. God’s call, when it is effectual, carries with it the operative grace necessary to secure a response of faith in Christ. This grace is the grace of regeneration or quickening. In the Calvinistic tradition this grace of regeneration is bestowed only on the elect, but in the Arminian tradition all men are given ability to respond either in faith or disbelief to the call of the Gospel. The Arminian position is based on the doctrine of prevenient grace.
The noun regeneration (Gr. παλιγγενεσία, G4098) is found only twice in Scripture. In
The reality of regeneration is referred to in a number of words and images. Perhaps the most well-known figure is that of new birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The word another can mean “from above” as well as “again.” In either case the language presupposes a first birth to which regeneration is the second. Note the following contrasts between the two. The first birth is of sinful parents, the second of God; the first is of corruptible seed, the second of incorruptible seed; the first is of the flesh—carnal, the second of the Spirit—spiritual; the first marks one as Satan’s slave, the second as Christ’s free man; in the first man is viewed as an objective of divine wrath, in the second as an object of divine love.
A difficult problem emerges from
In connection with this problem one should examine
In the most definitive sense regeneration denotes that act of God whereby spiritually dead men are made alive through the Spirit. By this act God plants a new spiritual life in the soul; one is born again from above. Regeneration in this restricted sense is solely a work of God. Hence the words of Christ to Nicodemus, “You must be born anew” (
Regeneration is a passive work; man can no more contribute to his spiritual conception than an infant can to his natural conception. The very nature of the work clearly shows that it is not in the power of men to do it; it is represented in Scripture as a creation, a new creation, and only God can truly create (
Regeneration is an instantaneous work of the Spirit; it is not like progressive sanctification. As an infant is generated at once and not by degrees, so it is in spiritual generation. One does not gradually become alive. No man can be said to be more regenerated than another, though of course once regenerated one may be said to be more sanctified than another. This work of regeneration is a mysterious work as Christ indicates in His words to Nicodemus. This work of the Spirit is like the wind; “you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes” (
In the theology of modern-day evangelism the term regeneration (new birth) is generally used to denote that which results from faith and perhaps therefore it would be wiser to employ the term quickening for what has been generally understood in Reformed theology to be regeneration in a limited sense.
As to the meaning of conversion it may be noted that both the Heb. and Gr. terms for conversion mean basically “to turn” and, in the religious sense, denote a change of outlook and a new direction in life and action. Conversion involves a turn both toward and away from something or someone. (See Conversion.)
Positively, the turn toward something or someone is what may be appropriately called faith. In the religious sphere it is a turn toward God (
This turn, or act of faith, may be defined as an understanding of and mental assent to certain basic facts concerning the person and work of Christ (
The first indispensable element in saving faith is information. We must know who Christ is, what He has done, and what He is able to do. We are not called to put faith in someone of whom we have no knowledge. In order to exercise faith we must know about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without such knowledge faith would be but a foolish leap in the dark.
The second element is that of conviction concerning the truthfulness of that which is known. It is possible, of course, to understand the import of certain propositions of truth and yet not believe these propositions. In saving faith, truths known are also accepted as true.
The third element is that of commitment. Knowledge of and assent to the truth of the Gospel is not saving faith. These must be accompanied by trust in the person of Jesus Christ Himself. Christian faith is not merely intellectual assent to the divinely revealed truths of Scripture; it must include personal encounter with Christ, the One in whom all truth is summed up.
Negatively, turning away from something or someone is what may be called repentance. The Biblical term for repentance indicates a change of mind and conduct. It properly denotes a change for the better, a change of mind that is productive of good works. Repentance is the gift of God, the purchase of Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit (
Repentance is an abiding principle. The Scriptures teach that there is not only a necessity for an initial conversion of the sinner but also subsequent conversions of erring saints. It is the latter which is prob. stressed in
Repentance is a turning from idols (
As for the means of conversion Scripture clearly teaches that the efficient cause is God, not man. The drastic change wrought by conversion is not in man’s power to effect. An Ethiopian might just as well try to change his skin or a leopard his spots (
In a fundamental sense, justification is concerned not with our spiritual condition but with our spiritual relation; it is not a matter of our actual state but of our judicial position. Justification is the answer to the disrupted relationship between man and his God brought about through sin. As the result of sin all men stand before God as guilty, condemned and separated from their Creator. Justification is the restoration of man to his original relation to God through the work of Christ. Significantly it includes, according to Paul: removal of guilt by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (
Justification must be seen from a twofold perspective, actual and declarative. Actual justification means that a sinner is constituted righteous by having Christ’s righteousness imputed to him. Only in this way may a just God justify the ungodly. Declarative justification means that the one who has been constituted righteous in Christ is also judged righteous before Him. Justification is a forensic or legal term, and it should be carefully distinguished in meaning from sanctification which is experiential and progressive. The distinction between the two concepts may be stated as follows: Justification has to do with Christ for us, sanctification with Christ in us. Justification has to do with our position; sanctification, with fellowship. Justification has to do with our acceptance; sanctification with our attainment.
The foundation of justification is God’s grace not man’s works. Paul emphasizes that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law (
Long ago Job asked, “How can a man be just before God?” (
It is imperative to understand that faith is never the ground of justification, but only its means or channel; it is the hand which simply reaches out to accept the gift. The prepositions “through” (dia) and “of” or “by” (ek) set forth the way in which man is granted salvation in Christ. No preposition is ever employed with such grammatical case of the noun faith as to require a tr. like because of or by reason of faith. Faith is never portrayed as meritorious; it is always and only instrumental. Faith is man’s positive answer to God’s justifying grace; it is the correlative of promise.
When we consider the value of justification certain things become immediately clear from the NT. Justification provides the ground of peace with God (
The sonship referred to is not confused with that which Christ sustains to the Father as the only Son. Nor is it to be equated with the relationship which all men sustain to God as His children by creation (
This doctrine is exclusively Pauline. The Gr. word rendered “adoption” (Gr. υἱοθεσία, G5625) occurs only five times in Paul’s letters. Once it is applied to Israel as a nation (
There has been much discussion as to whether the root of Paul’s use of the term adoption is Jewish, Greek, Roman, or some other tradition. The most recent study and research into this issue would tend to support the view that it was Rom. In the act of adoption a child was taken by a man from a family not his own, introduced into a new family, and regarded as a true son, entitled to all the privileges and responsibilities belonging to this relation.
The reality of spiritual adoption may be outlined as follows: (1) Fallen mankind are strangers to the family of God. As enemies of God they are of their father, the devil. (2) Yet despite this fact mankind are invited to enter God’s family; to take His name upon them; to share in His fatherly care and discipline. (3) Such as accept this invitation are received into His family and care. From this point they are called the sons of God and are privileged to address Him as Father.
God as the heavenly Father of believers provides care (
When one is converted to God he must ask how his new life is to be lived out here on earth. When such a question is faced, the subject of Biblical ethics becomes an important aspect of the doctrine of sanctification; the one cannot be properly considered without the other.
Sanctification has to do with the progressive outworking of the new life implanted by the Spirit in regeneration (quickening). Christian ethics has to do with the study of the basis upon which, the power whereby, and the goal toward which the believer’s life is lived.
The indicative of justification leads to the imperative of sanctification; justification is the theological base of an evangelical ethic. The gift of God in Christ impels to a recognition of our task for Him. In the Pauline writings, expositions of the doctrine of justification are generally followed by exhortations to duty. It is not good works which make a good man, but a good man who does good works.
The distinctive feature of a Christian ethic is found in the matter of motivation. As our Lord made clear in the
The basic meaning of holy is “separated,” or “set apart.” In addition to God being holy as separate from His creatures, He is also separate from sin. It is this latter ethical aspect of God’s holiness that provides the basis for our understanding of the doctrine of sanctification; and yet, sanctification is not only a separation from that which is sinful but also a separation unto a reflection of the image of God. Sanctification is the progressive refashioning of our natures by the Holy Spirit, into the image of God, through Jesus Christ. (See
The sanctified are the elect of God. All whom the Father chose in eternity, He sanctifies in time in Christ. The subjects of election, redemption, and sanctification are the same persons (
Sanctification involves the totality of the believer’s being—body, soul and/or spirit (
Sanctification involves the believer’s being positionally set apart unto God by virtue of his new life in Christ. This is not a matter of the degree of one’s spirituality. Concerning the carnal Christians at Corinth Paul wrote, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (
Sanctification includes the believer being experientially set apart to God by reason of the ministry of the indwelling Spirit. This aspect of sanctification is progressive; it admits of degrees. Although no one can be more or less regenerate than another, for one is either dead or alive, one may be more sanctified than another. Scripture frequently exhorts believers to grow in holiness. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (
Sanctification also involves the believer’s being completely set apart to God. Ultimately his practice and position will be brought into perfect accord (see
Sanctification is required of every Christian (
The ethical standards (principles) for the development of a holy life, a life which increasingly reflects the imago dei, are set forth in Scripture both on a personal and social seal level. In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, for example, he deals with personal ethics under the rubrics of “putting off” and “putting on.” In chapter 3, the apostle first describes what is to be put to death (
In all the relationships of life, personal and social, Christians are to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The dynamic for the realization of this goal is the Holy Spirit. The motivation is God-given agape love. The guidance is provided by the moral law, to be appropriately applied under the leading of the Holy Spirit in each situation. Since God is holy we are to be also.
Perseverance is the doctrine that all believers will be preserved by God’s grace to the end through a faith that works. Perseverance does not mean that everyone who professes faith in Christ, is baptized, and made a member of a church is thereby secure for eternity. Many who profess to have salvation do not possess it. Nor does it mean that it is impossible for a Christian to backslide; that is, to follow a path of disobedience to God for a time (cf.
The NT would seem to suggest a synthesis between God’s preserving grace and the believer’s persevering. This is well expressed for example by Peter “who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (
Those who would adopt a Reformed view on this matter must face the problem of Biblical warnings. Are we not to take seriously those passages which warn against apostasy? Must we not acknowledge the possibility of a real and final falling away from faith? What of all those “if” passages which cannot simply be answered by tr. “since.” There are not a few of these:
In addition to those passages which speak conditionally there are a number which warn against apostasy as a real threat. Note for example:
Reformed theologians would argue, however, that such conditional warning passages must be related to the total context of Scripture. Even if this is done, who is to establish whether the unconditional texts are to be interpreted in terms of the conditional or vice versa? If God’s grace, according to Scripture, does not stop short at the limits of human freedom then faith and grace cannot be viewed synergistically as is done in the Arminian view.
According to Reformed theology, if we properly understand the Biblical relationship of faith to grace, then we will realize that our persevering cannot be a factor independent of God’s preserving us. God’s grace insures our persevering but this does not make it any less our persevering (
One of the most difficult passages in a consideration of perseverance is
Another problem passage is
This taking away and burning may happen in various stages. Such mere professing Christians may gradually wither and drop off at their own accord or they may have to be excised by the knife of excommunication. Still others may continue in this world. But ultimately every such branch is taken away at death.
One of the strongest supports of the doctrine of perseverance is found in the significance of Christ’s intercessory prayer. During the closing days of Jesus’ earthly life He encountered Peter in a mood of intense selfconfidence. On that occasion Peter boasted to his Master that he would follow Him wherever it might lead and at whatever cost. But Jesus, knowing Peter better than Peter himself, revealed to him that Satan desired to sift him as wheat, but Jesus said, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (
Glorification is the final climactic act in God’s redeeming work (
Glorification also means full participation in eternal life. By God’s grace believers even now have eternal life (
Glorification will bring a full realization of freedom from sin and death (
Glorification also includes the perfecting of the body. Scripture attributes a dignity to the human body. Genesis teaches that man is not a soul merely inhabiting a body unity. It is the total man who is said to have been created in the image of God (
Glorification then, is the climax of God’s saving work, a work which extends from eternity to eternity. Glorification involves the total man—soul and/or spirit together with the body. In that day all will be complete; death will be swallowed up in victory and God will be everything to every one.
B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, rev. ed. n. d.; G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Sanctification (1952); Faith and Justification (1953); J. Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (1955); K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. IV, Part 1 (1956); Church Dogmatics, Vol. IV, Part 2 (1958); G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Perseverance (1958); K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. IV, Part 3 (1961); Church Dogmatics, Vol. IV, Part 4 (1962); H. Küng, Justification (1964); O. Cullmann, Salvation in History (1967); C. M. Horne, Salvation (1971).
There are two further aspects to salvation in the OT. First, salvation refers to the future action of God when he will deliver Israel from all her enemies and ills and create a new order of existence (“a new heaven and a new earth”) in which she and all people will worship the Lord and live in peace and harmony (see
Further, in the OT the theme of salvation is closely related to the themes of God’s righteousness and God’s creation. God is righteous when he acts to preserve his side of the covenant he made with the people of Israel. Thus when he acts to deliver his people, he acts in righteousness, and his act is also one of salvation (
Peter preached that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (
Bibliography: C. R. Smith, The Bible Doctrine of Salvation, 1946; E. M. B. Green, The Meaning of Salvation, 1965; O. Cullmann, Salvation in History, 1967; J. D. Douglas (ed.), Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 1975; J. R. W. Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, 1975; H. D. McDonald, Salvation, 1982.——PT
In the Bible the word may mean deliverance by God from almost any kind of evil, whether temporal and material or spiritual-defeat in battle (Exod. 15:2), trouble (Ps. 34:6), enemies (2 Sam. 3:10), exile (Ps. 106:47), death (Ps. 6:4), sin (Ezek. 36:29). It does not necessarily have a theological connotation. At first the Israelites thought of salvation primarily as deliverance in a material sense and as a national thing, but as their sense of moral evil deepened, salvation acquired a profound ethical meaning, and it gradually was seen to include Gentiles as well as Jews (Isa. 49:5,6; 55:1- 5). With the unfolding of the messianic idea, it came to be used of their deliverance from sin to be brought in with the Messianic Age. Among the Israelites, salvation was acquired through a sincere observance of the law, moral and ceremonial. The ritual sacrifices could not of themselves bring pardon of sin, for they were merely typical of thewho was to die for the sins of the world (Isa. 53).
In the teaching of Jesus, salvation usually denotes deliverance from sin, to be experienced now, although its complete fulfillment is eschatological. He taught that salvation is only through Him, the incarnate(John 3:16). In the apostolic age salvation is through the death of Christ (Eph. 2:13- 18) and includes all the redemptive blessings which believers have in Christ, chief of which are conversion, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. It is God's solution to the whole problem of sin, in all its aspects. It brings deliverance not only from the guilt of sin, but also from its power, and ultimately from its presence. Although provided through Christ's sufferings, death and resurrection, salvation becomes realizable in experience through the , on the condition of faith. Its effects will someday embrace the whole universe. The curse will be removed from nature, and all history will find its consummation and completion in Christ (Rom. 8:21,22; Eph. 1:10).
G.B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation (1905); E.F. Kevan, Salvation (1963); E.M.B. Green, The Meaning of Salvation (1965); O. Cullmann, Salvation in History (1967).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
I. IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
4. Moral Law
6. Ritual Law
II. INTERMEDIATE LITERATURE
2. The Law
III. THE TEACHING OF CHRIST
1. The Baptist
3. Present and Future
5. Moral Progress
2. Moral Progress
3. The Spirit
4. Mystical Union
V. THE REST OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: SUMMARY
Inof the Bible the words "salvation" "save," are not technical theological terms, but denote simply "deliverance," in almost any sense the latter word can have. In systematic theology, however, "salvation" denotes the whole process by which man is delivered from all that would prevent his attaining to the highest good that God has prepared for him. Or, by a transferred sense, "salvation" denotes the actual enjoyment of that good. So, while these technical senses are often associated with the Greek or Hebrew words translated "save," etc., yet they are still more often used in connection with other words or represented only by the general sense of a passage. And so a collection of the original terms for "save," etc., is of value only for the student doing minute detailed work, while it is the purpose of the present article to present a general view of the Biblical doctrine of salvation.
I. In the
(2) Salvation, then, means deliverance from all that interferes with the enjoyment of these blessings. So it takes countless forms--deliverance from natural plagues, from internal dissensions, from external enemies, or from the subjugation of conquerors (the exile, particularly). As far as enemies constitute the threatening danger, the prayer for deliverance is often based on their evil character (
(2) But even when it was realized that a man lost salvation through his own fault, the converse did not follow. Salvation came, not by the man’s mere merit, but because the man belonged to a nation peculiarly chosen by God. God had made a covenant with Israel and His fidelity insured salvation: the salvation comes from God because of His promise or (in other words) because of His name. Indeed, the great failing of the people was to trust too blindly to this promise, an attitude denounced continually by the prophets throughout (from, say,
Hence, of the human conditions, whole-hearted trust in God is the most important. (Belief in God is, of course, never argued in the Bible.) Inconsistent with such trust are, for instance, seeking aid from other nations (
4. Moral Law:
(1) Next in importance is the attainment of a moral standard, expressed normally in the various codes of the Law. But fulfillment of the letter of the commandment was by no means all that was required. For instance, the Law permitted the selling of a debtor into slavery (
(2) Certain breaches of the Law had no pardon, but were visited with death at once, even despite repentance and confession (
(1) The acceptance of repentance as expiating past sins was an act of God’s mercy. And so His mercy instituted other and additional means of expiation, most notably that of the sacrifices. But a theology of sacrifice is conspicuously absent from the whole Old Testament, for
(2) Most sins required a sacrifice as part of the act of repentance, although in case of injury done the neighbor, only after reparation had been made. It is not quite true that for conscious sins no sacrifices were appointed, for in
6. Ritual Law:
Of the other means of salvation the ritual law (not always sharply distinguishable from the moral law) bulks rather large in the legislation, but is not prominent in the prophets. Requisite to salvation was the abstention from certain acts, articles of food, etc., such abstinence seeming to lie at the background of the term "holiness." But a ritual breach was often a matter of moral duty (burying the dead, etc.), and, for such breaches, ritual means of purification are provided and the matter dropped. Evidently such things lay rather on the circumference of the religion, even to Ezekiel, with his anxious zeal against the least defilement. The highest ritual point is touched by
II. Intermediate Literature.
(1) The great change, compared with the earlier period, is that the idea of God had become more transcendent. But this did not necessarily mean an increase in religious value, for there was a corresponding tendency to take God out of relation to the world by an intellectualizing process. This, when combined with the persistence of the older concept of salvation in this life only, resulted in an emptying of the religious instinct and in indifferentism. This tendency is well represented in Ecclesiastes, more acutely in Sirach, and intimes it dominated the thought of the Sadducees. On the other hand the expansion of the idea of salvation to correspond with the higher conception of God broke through the limitations of this life and created the new literary form of apocalyptics, represented in the Old Testament especially by Zechariah 9-14; Isaiah 24-27, and above all by Daniel. And in the intermediate literature all shades of thought between the two extremes are represented. But too much emphasis can hardly be laid on the fact that this intermediate teaching is in many regards simply faithful to the Old Testament. Almost anything that can be found in the Old Testament--with the important exception of the note of joyousness of Deuteronomy, etc.--can be found again here.
(2) Of the conceptions of the highest good the lowest is the Epicureanism of Sirach. The highest is probably that of 2 Esdras 7:91-98
2. The Law:
(1) The conceptions of the moral demands for salvation at times reach a very high level, especially in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (making every allowance for Christian interpolations). "The spirit of love worketh together with the law of God in long-suffering unto the salvation of men" (Test. Gad 4:7) is hardly unworthy of Paul, and even Jubilees can say, "Let each love his brother in mercy and justice, and let none wish the other evil" (Jub 36:8). But the great tendency is to view God’s law merely as a series of written statutes, making no demands except those gained from a rigid construing of the letter. In
(2) As God’s commands were viewed as statutes the distinction between the moral and the ritual was lost, and the ritual law attained enormous and familiar proportions. The beautiful story of Judith is designed chiefly to teach abstinence from ritually unclean food. And the most extreme case is in Jubilees 6:34-38--all of Israers woes come from keeping the feasts by the actual moon instead of by a correct (theoretical) moon (!).
(3) Where self-complacency ceased and a strong moral sense was present, despair makes its appearance with extraordinary frequency. The period is the period of penitential prayers, with an undercurrent of doubt as to how far mercy can be expected (So of Three Children verses 3-22; Pr Man;
(4) Important for the New Testament background is the extreme lack of prominence of the sacrifices. They are never given a theological interpretation (except in Philo, where they cease to be sacrifices). Indeed, in Sirach 35 they are explicitly said to be devotions for the righteous only, apparently prized only as an inheritance from the past and "because of the commandment" (Sirach 35:5; yet compare 38:11). When the temple was destroyed and the sacrifices ceased, Judaism went on its way almost unaffected, showing that the sacrifices meant nothing essential to the people. And, even in earlier times, the Essenes rejected sacrifices altogether, without losing thereby their recognition as Jews.
III. The Teaching of Christ.
1. The Baptist:
The Baptist proclaimed authoritatively the near advent of the kingdom of God, preceded by a Messianic judgment that would bring fire for the wicked and thefor the righteous. Simple but incisive moral teaching and warning against trusting in national privileges, with baptism as an outward token of repentance, were to prepare men to face this judgment securely. But we have no data to determine how much farther (if any) the Baptist conceived his teaching to lead.
2. Kingdom of God:
It was in the full heat of this eschatological revival that the Baptist had fanned, that Christ began to teach, and He also began with the eschatological phrase, "The kingdom of God is at hand." Consequently, His teaching must have been taken at once in an eschatological sense, and it is rather futile to attempt to limit such implications to passages where modern eschatological phrases are used unambiguously. "The kingdom of God is at hand" had the inseparable connotation "Judgment is at hand," and in this context, "Repent ye" (
3. Present and Future:
But the fate of man at judgment depends on what man is before judgment, so that the practical problem is salvation from the conditions that will bring judgment; i.e. present and future salvation are inseparably connected, and any attempt to make rigid distinctions between the two results in logomachies. Occasionally even Christ speaks of the kingdom of God as present, in the sense that citizens of the future kingdom are living already on this earth (
That the individual was the unit in this deliverance needs no emphasis: Still, the divine privilege of the Jews was a reality and Christ’s normal work was limited to them (
5. Moral Progress:
Moral effort, through God’s aid, is an indispensable condition for salvation. But complete success in the moral struggle is not at all a condition, in the sense that moral perfection is required. For Christ’s disciples, to whom the kingdom is promised (
7. Person of Christ:
(1) Salvation from physical evil was a very real part, however subordinate, of Christ’s teaching (
(2) Ascetic practices as a necessary element in salvation can hardly claim Christ’s authority.
It is too often forgotten that the Twelve were not Christ’s only disciples. Certainly not all of the hundred and twenty of
Instead of laying primal stress on Paul’s peculiar contributions to soteriology, it will be preferable to start from such Pauline passages as simply continue the explicit teaching of Christ. For it is largely due to the common reversal of this method that the present acute "Jesus-Paulus" controversy exists.
That Paul expected the near advent of the kingdom of God with a judgment preceding, and that salvation meant to him primarily deliverance from this judgment, need not be argued. And, accordingly, emphasis is thrown sometimes on the future deliverance and sometimes on the present conditions for the deliverance (contrast
2. Moral Progress:
(1) The moral ideal is distinctly that of character. Paul, indeed, is frequently obliged to give directions as to details, but the detailed directions are referred constantly to the underlying principle,
3. The Spirit:
That this growth is God’s work is, however, a point where Paul has expanded Christ’s quiet assumption rather elaborately. In particular, what Christ had made the source of His own supernatural power--the Holy Spirit--is specified as the source of the power of the Christian’s ordinary life, as well as of the more special endowments (see Spiritual Gifts). In the Spirit the Christian has received the blessing promised to Abraham (
4. Mystical Union:
(1) This growth in actual holiness, then, is fundamental with Paul: "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (
Because of faith--specifically, faith in Christ (except
Summing up, there is a double line of thought in Paul: the remission of penalties through the atoning death of Christ and the destruction of the power of sin through strength flowing from Christ, the human element in both cases being faith. The question of the order of the steps is futile, for "to have faith," "to be in Christ," and "to have the Spirit" are convertible terms, i.e. in doctrinal phraseology, the beginnings of sanctification are simultaneous with justification. Attempts to unify the two lines of thought into a single theory cannot claim purely Biblical support. The "ethical" theory, which in its best form makes God’s pardon depend on the fact that the sinner will be made holy (at least in the next world), introduces the fewest extraneous elements, but it says something that Paul does not say. On the other hand one may feel that considering Paul as a whole--to say nothing of the rest of the New Testament--the pure justification doctrine has bulked a little too large in our dogmatics. God’s pardon for sin is an immensely important matter, but still more important is the new power of holiness.
(1) Baptism presents another obstacle to a strict unifying of Pauline theology. A very much stronger sacramentarianism is admitted in Paul today than would have been accepted a generation ago, and such passages as
(2) Salvation from the flesh (
(3) Quite in the background lies the idea of salvation from physical evil (
(4) Salvation from sin after conversion is due to God’s judging the man in terms of the acquired supernatural nature (
V. Rest of New Testament: Summary.
(1) John had the task of presenting Christ to Gentiles, who were as unfamiliar with the technical meaning of such phrases as "kingdom of God" or "Son of Man" as is the world today, and to Gentiles who had instead a series of concepts unknown in Palestine. So a "translation of spiritual values" became necessary if the gospel were to make an immediate appeal, a translation accomplished so successfully that the Fourth Gospel has always been the most popular. The Synoptists, especially the extremely literal Mark, imperatively demand a historical commentary, while John has successfully avoided this necessity.
(2) The "kingdom of God," as a phrase (3:3,5; compare 18:36), is replaced by "eternal life." This life is given in this world to the one who accepts Christ’s teaching (5:24; 6:47), but its full realization will be in the "many mansions" of the Father’s house (14:2), where the believer will be with Christ (17:24). A judgment of all men will precede the establishment of this glorified state (5:28,29), but the believer may face the judgment with equanimity (5:24). So the believer is delivered from a state of things so bad as expressible as a world under Satan’s rule (12:31; 14:30; 16:11), a world in darkness (3:19), in ignorance of God (17:25), and in sin (8:21), all expressible in the one word "death" (5:24).
(3) The Jews had real privilege in the reception of Christ’s message (1:11; 4:22, etc.), but the extension of the good tidings to all men was inevitable (12:23,12, etc.). Belief in Christ is wholly a personal matter, but the believers enter a community of service (13:14), with the unity of the Father and Son as their ideal (17:21).
(4) The nature of the moral ideal, reduced to the single word "love" (13:34; 15:12), is assumed as known and identified with "Christ’s words" (5:24; 6:63, etc.), and the necessity of progress toward it as sharply pointed as in the Synoptists. The sinner is the servant of sin (8:34), a total change of character is needed (3:6), and the blessing is only on him who does Christ’s commandments (13:17). This "doing" is the proof of love toward Christ (14:15,21); only by bearing fruit and more fruit can discipleship be maintained (15:1-6; compare 14:24), and, indeed, by bearing fruit men actually become Christ’s disciples (15:8, Gr). The knowledge of Christ and of God that is eternal life (17:3) comes only through moral effort (7:17). In John the contrasts are colored so vividly that it would almost appear as if perfection were demanded. But he does not present even the apostles as models of sanctity (13:38; 16:32), and self-righteousness is condemned without compromise; the crowning sin is to say, "We see" (9:41). It is the Son who frees from sin (8:36), delivers from darkness (8:12; 12:46), and gives eternal life (11:25,26; compare 3:16; 5:24; 6:47). This emphasis on the divine side of the process is probably the reason for the omission of the terms "repent," "repentance," from the Gospel in favor of "faith" (6:29, especially), but this "faith" involves in turn human effort, for, without "abiding," faith is useless (8:30,31).
(5) An advance on the Synoptists is found in the number of times Christ speaks of His death (3:14,15; 10:11,15; 12:24,32; 17:19) and in the greater emphasis laid on it, but no more than in the Synoptists is there any explanation of how the Atonement became effectual. A real advance consists in the prospect of Christ’s work after His death, when, through the Paraclete (7:38,39; 14:16 ff), a hitherto unknown spiritual power would become available for the world. And spiritual power is due not only to a union of will with Christ but to mystical union with Him (15:1-9). See above, III, 7, for the relation of these thoughts to the synoptic teaching.
The one other distinct contribution to New Testament soteriology is made in 1 Peter’s evaluation of the vicarious suffering of the "Servant" of
(1) Salvation is both a present and a future matter for us. The full realization of all that God has in store will not be ours until the end of human history (if, indeed, there will not be opened infinite possibilities of eternal growth), but the enjoyment of these blessings depends on conditions fulfilled in us and by us now. But a foretaste of the blessings of forgiveness of sins and growth in holiness is given on this earth. The pardon depends on the fact of God’s mercy through the death of Christ--a fact for religious experience but probably incapable of expression as a complete philosophical dogma. But strength comes from God through the glorified Christ (or through the Spirit), this vital union with God being a Christian fundamental. These two lines are in large degree independent, and the selection of the proportions profitable to a given soul is the task of the pastor.
(2) That human effort is an essential in salvation is not to be denied in the face of all the New Testament evidence, especially Paul taken as a whole. And yet no one with the faintest conception of what religion means would think of coming before God to claim merit. Here the purely intellectual discussions of the subiect and its psychological course in the soul run in different channels, and "anti-synergistic" arguments are really based on attempts to petrify psychology experience into terms of pure dogma.
(3) Still more true is this of attempts to describe mathematically the steps in salvation--the ordo salutis of the older dogmatics--for this differs with different souls. In particular, New Testament data are lacking for the development of the individual born of Christian parents in a Christian country.
(4) Further, the social side of salvation is an essentially Christian doctrine and cannot be detached from the corporate life of the Christian church. Salvation from temporal evils is equally, if secondarily, Christian. Nationalism in salvation is at present much in the background. But it is as true today as it was in ancient Israel that the sins of a nation tend to harm the souls of even those who have not participated actively in those sins.
The literature of salvation is virtually the literature of theology (see under separate articles, ATONEMENT; JUSTIFICATION; SANCTIFICATION; PERSON OF CHRIST; JOHANNINE THEOLOGY; PAULINE THEOLOGY, etc.), but a few recent works may be mentioned. Indispensable are the works of Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation and The. Garvie’s Romans in the "New Century" series should be used as a supplement to any other commentary on Romans. The juridical theory has as its best defense in English Denney’s The . The ethical theory is best presented in the works of DuBose, The Gospel in the Gospels, The Gospel according to Paul, and High-Priesthood and Sacrifice (Sanday’s The Expositor reviews of the two former, reprinted in The Life of Christ in Recent Research, should be read in any case).