The Foundations of Belief: Exploring the Core Doctrines of Christianity – Salvation

Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith…”


Summary of the Doctrine of Salvation

Salvation is the lynchpin of Biblical Christian doctrine. The central protagonists, God and Man, are divided by sin, and redemption is the only solution. Interestingly, as straightforward as we’ll discover salvation is, it is also one of the most misunderstood doctrines. Usually, this occurs because men have set their own requirements. As we’ll see, that’s precisely what happens.

Here’s what the Bible will show as a summary of the Doctrine of Salvation:

  1. God is holy, perfect, and sinless.
  2. All of mankind, because of the sin of Adam, are depraved and reprobate.
  3. Consequently, they are at enmity with each other.
  4. God devises a plan to pay the penalty for man’s sin and reconcile the relationship.
  5. Before the foundation of the world, God sovereignly chooses some for salvation, not due to merit, status, or works but according to His mercy.
  6. In God’s timing, all those chosen will be called and, through faith and repentance, accept God’s gift of salvation.
  7. Those chosen can never lose their salvation.
  8. Of their own free will, the rest of humanity will refuse God’s gift.
  9. Regrettably, many will even falsely believe they are redeemed.

A Holy God, Reprobate Mankind, and the Resulting Enmity

Several verses discuss the holiness and sinlessness of God. For example, Isaiah 6:3 declares, “…Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty…” and 1 John 3:5 states, “In Him [Christ] there is no sin.” We also know that all men are born with the sin of Adam as Romans 5:12 claims, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—”

Indeed, mankind is depraved. Why? Because, by nature,

  • they suppress truth with wickedness: According to Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”
  • they willfully reject God: Romans 1:21 continues, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…”
  • they misplace their worship: Romans 1:2 states, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…”
  • they have no limits or restrictions on their sinful behavior: Romans 1:29-31 acknowledges, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy,” and
  • they demonstrate no desire for change, even celebrating their status: Romans 1:32 states, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

It needs to be emphasized that mankind, because of their iniquity and reprobate status, is incapable of initiating a reconciliation between themselves and God. This is shown in Romans 8:7, which claims, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

God’s Plan of Redemption

To coexist with a holy God, justice demands that someone pay the penalty of sin—someone without sin of their own. That leaves only Christ Jesus, who, in His incarnation, became both fully man and fully God, to bear the punishment of sin as man’s substitute.

Isaiah 53:10-11 speaks directly of this prophetically with Christ as the sacrifice that will lead to the salvation of mankind, and states, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him [Christ]; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Ephesians 1:4-5 describes individuals chosen before the world’s creation, stating, “even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

Romans 9:16 also confirms that this election is not according to man’s will but God’s mercy, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Furthermore, it was not according to status or merit as 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 shares, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

To consummate His divine plan, God has purposed that, in His timing, an effectual call would regenerate the depraved souls of those who have been chosen. This is shown in Acts 13:48, which states, “And when the Gentiles heard this [the gospel], they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

Finally, this gift of salvation is irrevocable and cannot be lost or surrendered. This is stated in Ephesians 1:13-14 which promises, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Christ also confirms this in John 6:39, “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

Where Man Gets Salvation Wrong – The Lost and Deceived

The rest of humanity, even throughout history, will steadfastly refuse this gift of salvation. This is pictured in Revelation 9:20-21, where even though the gospel is preached throughout the world and God and His wrath are clearly evident, man continues to reject—“The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries [drugs] or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

Even now, many people will believe they are saved till the very end. Christ spoke of this deception in Matthew 7:21-23, stating, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day [the judgment], many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Humanity gets salvation wrong in several areas. Apart from outright rejection and deception, many believe salvation results from their will or efforts—good deeds and the lack of evil deeds. In fact, all religions outside Biblical Christianity teach a system of works for obtaining salvation. The Bible, as demonstrated above, never teaches this. It is God who chooses, and good works are a result of salvation, not a condition precedent. This is shown in Ephesians 2:8, which claims, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…” This is also described in Titus 3:5, which states, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his mercy…” Finally, Ephesians 2:10 demonstrates that good works result from salvation, stating, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

The Biblical reality is that no one can will or work their way unto salvation.



1 Timothy 2:3-4 demonstrates the heart of God when it states, “…it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Unfortunately, many will be deceived, and even more will repudiate Him. I pray everyone who reads this will see the truth and accept Christ’s gift of salvation.

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