Originally created to have fellowship with God, man defied God, choosing to go his independent way, and was thus alienated from God. The consequence of this rebellion from God is the corruption of human nature, so that people are unable to please God in any way. The Fall took place at the beginning of human history, and all individuals since have suffered these consequences and are in need of the saving grace of God. The salvation of humanity is, then, wholly a sovereign work of God’s grace, not the result, in whole or in part, of human effort or works of goodness.
Salvation becomes a reality in a person’s experience when he or she admits his or her own sinfulness and inability to save himself or herself, and receives God’s gift of forgiveness by faith. By this act of faith, each person acknowledges his or her own need for repentance and solely relies on Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. When God has begun a saving work in the heart of any person, He gives assurance in His word that He will continue performing it until the day of its full consummation.
What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?
Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19). More often, the word “salvation” concerns an eternal, spiritual deliverance. When Paul told the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, he was referring to the jailer’s eternal destiny (Acts 16:30-31). Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-25).
What are we saved from? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, we are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.
How does God save? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued us through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). Scripture is clear that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
How do we receive salvation? We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel—the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe—fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
A definition of the Christian doctrine of salvation would be “The deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.” Salvation is available in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and is dependent on God alone for provision, assurance, and security.