Salvation

Contents

Summary

If you “call on the name of the Lord” in love (Matthew 22:37-38) and not hate (Matthew 8:29), you will be saved from your sins and eternal separation from God (Romans 10:13). Jesus’ Gospel is summarized in Titus 3:3-8, and above all Bible verses, we encourage you to read and believe Titus 3:3-8. Have confidence in justification on Judgment Day in knowing that you don’t need to be perfect (James 2:10): you just need to not “go on sinning deliberately” (Hebrews 10:26-27; I John 3:7). Remember to never divide with anyone who calls himself a Christian (Romans 14:4) unless he changes the Gospel or divides over non-Gospel matters (Titus 3:10-11), commits any of these 6 sins on purpose (I Corinthians 5:11,12-13), or refuses to be accused of sin (Matthew 18:15-17).

Endorsements

Almost all Christians agree in our “Simplified Gospel” section. Though many debate over confidence and justification, the Lutheran church, 3 other churches, and the Vatican say in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification that they agree in how real faith manifests itself through good works. John Piper also speaks to how justification is both past and in the future.

Concepts

Salvation summary

The Gospel

All sin (Romans 3:23) against a perfect God (Matthew 5:48), deserving death instead of living sinfully with Perfection (Romans 6:23). God prefers that all live (II Peter 3:9); so, in grace and mercy (James 2:13), Jesus dies on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8-9; Romans 3:24) as the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 4:15). He proved our Father resurrecting Him, defeating evil (I Corinthians 15:4-6,55-57). If we believe in Him instead of our own ego (Ephesians 2:8-9), we’ll have eternal life instead of condemnation (John 3:16-17) and live a great life of doing good works (Ephesians 2:10). This starts with repenting of all sins (I John 1:9), forgiving everyone (Matthew 6:14-15), purification of the Spirit (John 14:26). The Greatest Commandments are to love God and people (Mark 12:29-31), which practically is fully understanding the Bible’s commands and doing them (John 14:15) in the name of God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20).

Core Doctrine

The required doctrine that all Christians must believe is Titus 3:3-8 because Titus 3:9-11 tells us what biblical laws are worth dividing over. I Corinthians 15:3-6 is also included because Paul says it is the Gospel of salvation (I Corinthians 15:1-2). It is very important to not add or subtract from core doctrine, for this is what determines if a person is truly saved or not:

  1. Sinful Nature: We are sinners (Titus 3:3).
  2. Love of God the Father: God the Father is good, kind, and loving (Titus 3:4).
  3. Jesus is God: Jesus is a man and also is God, Lord, and Savior (Titus 3:4,6).  This is known as the hypostatic nature, that Jesus was fully God and fully man.
  4. Repentance through Mercy: He causes us to repent of our sins by His mercy, not our works (Titus 3:5).
  5. Regeneration by the Spirit: The saving happens through regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
  6. Holy Spirit is God: The Holy Spirit is also God (Titus 3:5-6) because the saving happens through the Spirit, and the Savior is Jesus.
  7. Death, Burial, and Resurrection: Implicit in “pouring” (Titus 3:6) is how Paul also defines the Gospel of salvation (I Corinthians 15:1-2): Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and proved His resurrection (I Corinthians 15:3-6).
  8. Eternal Life: We are justified so we can have eternal life (Titus 3:7).
  9. Justified by Grace for Works: Justification happens only through God’s grace proven by works (Titus 3:7-8).

Confidence in Salvation

Confidence in our salvation comes from trying to obey Jesus.

There is no other way to heaven (John 14:6Acts 4:12) because Jesus is the only person to never sin (Hebrews 4:15). Because God is perfect, He can’t accuse Jesus of anything and therefore accepts Him (John 8:46-47). Although we know we should obey Him, how should we feel when we keep sinning (Romans 7:24)? Obedience is not about being perfect before death (James 2:10): obedience is trying to keep every law (Romans 7:15-20), for those who practice righteousness are perfectly righteous like Jesus (I John 3:7I John 2:28-29). Hell is for those who deliberately sin (Hebrews 10:26-27I John 3:8). If you’re unsure if you’re actually sinning or not, be like Paul, who understood logically if his accusers had proof or not (Acts 24:10,13).

Confidence is an assured heart, filled with love.

Ultimately, confidence is about that emotional feeling inside that doesn’t condemn you as a sinner (I John 3:21). This feeling is gained using the above section: trying to be obedient (I John 3:18-19). There will be times that your heart will condemn you for not fully being obedient, but know that God is stronger than those condemning feelings and that He will comfort you (I John 3:20) and help you succeed in your works (Philippians 1:6). This assurance is the same feeling of loving God and people (I John 5:2), for if you are loving, you are near God (I John 4:16). This nearness or abiding is confidence before God (I John 2:28I John 4:17).

Justification

We’re justified by grace through faith proven by works.

Unlike other religions and the Pharisees who boast in their works earning them into heaven, Christians believe no amount of works can pay for our sins, only by believing in God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:2,5). Being justified before God, though, is not just saying you have faith: you must prove to Jesus you believe in Him by doing His good works that He created for you (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 2:13). You should have peace knowing you are righteous as long as you try to obey (I John 3:7) yet examine if your works actually prove “whether you are in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5; James 2:21,24). This is how justification is both past (Romans 5:1,9) and future (Romans 2:13; Matthew 12:36-37). We have come to this definition based on John Piper’s opinion and the Joint Declaration of many Protestant churches and the Catholic church.

Division

We cannot divide with someone who believes Jesus is God.

Of utmost importance in Christian unity, anyone who believes that Christ our God has come in the flesh as Jesus is sent by God (I John 4:2-3). Any Christian who says someone or some group who believes Jesus is God is a false teacher, they must be avoided (Romans 16:17).

We are to divide with only 3 groups of people.

Christians can’t allow anyone into their churches, for the Bible gives us 3 groups to divide with but still love (Luke 6:27). We are to divide with those who change the Gospel of Titus 3:3-8 (Romans 16:17Titus 3:10-11), divide with those who commit these 6 sins on purpose (I Corinthians 5:11,12-13), and divide with those who refuse to be accused of sin (Matthew 18:15-17).

Division is avoidance, not ignoring.

Many Christians avoid other Christ-followers out of hate, because they hurt their ego (I John 4:20) instead of agreeing to disagree (Romans 14:10). Although we are to avoid spending time with specifics groups of people (Romans 16:17Titus 3:10-11), we must never ignore them and always greet our enemies, including those we divide with (Matthew 5:47). This differentiation is important because we must correct those we see as evil false teachers (I Timothy 1:3II Timothy 4:2-3).

We cannot condemn unless proven with the Holy Spirit’s power.

“In passing judgment on another you condemn yourself” to hell (Romans 2:1,3; James 4:11; Luke 6:37), for “who are you to judge your neighbor” (James 4:12; Romans 14:4)? It is required to “judge the sin, not the sinner” (John 7:24), and this judgment extends to associating (I Corinthians 5:5,12I Timothy 1:19-20). Anytime the “ministry of condemnation” (II Corinthians 3:9) happens in the New Covenant (Acts 13:6; Acts 5:4), their right to condemn is proved by enacting the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 13:9,11; Acts 5:5). 

Full plan of salvation

As you grow in obedience to God, you should start to desire to learn more about God (Proverbs 9:10). The following is a chronological explanation of every aspect of God’s plan for filling heaven:

  1. Trinity’s Nature: God is perfect (Matthew 5:48) and is the definition of love (I John 4:18). He was not created (John 1:3) but is eternal (Psalms 90:2). He exists as 3 co-eternal and co-equal Persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; Titus 3:4-5,6).
  2. Foreknowledge of Human Nature: God already knew that we would sin because free will naturally is selfish (Romans 3:11,23) but that we could be redeemed (Romans 8:29).
  3. Creation and Bride: Jesus created all of space, time, and matter (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-2). He created humanity (Genesis 1:27) to be like His wife (Ephesians 5:27,31-32) living in a utopia called the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8).
  4. The Fall and Original Sin: The first humans, Adam and Eve, were tricked by Satan into sinning (Genesis 3:4-5,6); so, God cursed His world and humanity (Genesis 3:16-19) to quicken our understanding of the consequences of disobedience (Galatians 3:10). This led to humanity’s “total depravity” or “original sin” nature (Romans 5:12; Psalms 51:5).
  5. Justice and HellJustice requires fair punishment for this sin (Leviticus 24:17,19-20), for holiness can only exist after purification of wrongdoing (Hebrews 9:22). The system God created for paying is hell (Matthew 5:22,26).
  6. Mercy and Grace: God wants no one to be eternally tortured (II Peter 3:9), for mercy is more powerful than justice (James 2:13). In mercy (Matthew 9:13), God created a plan of grace (Ephesians 2:7-8). 
  7. Predestination and Election: Before anyone did good or bad, God destined certain people to be elected for salvation (Romans 9:11; John 15:16) while others would be destined for wrath in hell, as an example of what not to do (Romans 9:22-23). Election can’t be based on works because even the best humans don’t naturally seek God (Romans 3:11).
  8. Calling of Contrition: The elect are called to follow God’s will (Romans 8:28), starting with repenting of all sins (II Corinthians 7:10; Proverbs 28:13).
  9. Old Covenant of a Kingdom of Priests: Before Jesus, people could atone for their sins by sacrificing animals (Leviticus 5:9-10). Whoever obeyed would become a priest to quicken the spiritual development of society (Exodus 19:6). This form of atonement was temporary (Hebrews 9:8-9), only for the body (Hebrews 9:10,13).
  10. Incarnation: The Christ existed with and as God (John 1:1), and He took on a human form as Jesus (John 1:14,17).
  11. Virgin Birth and Hypostatic Nature: The everlasting sacrifice must be perfect. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was seeded by the Father as a virgin (Luke 1:30-31,34-35). This meant that Jesus was fully God and fully man (John 1:1,14).
  12. JesusDeath and Burial: The permanent plan of atonement was through Christ, for only He can purify our conscience (Hebrews 9:14). Because Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22), He infinitely paid the price of our sins (Hebrews 9:25,26) by shedding His own blood and dying (Romans 5:6). This death was proven by his grave being guarded for 3 days, from Good Friday to Easter (Matthew 27:63-66; Matthew 28:1).
  13. Jesus’ Resurrection and Evidence: Jesus proved He actually was the only sinless God by resurrecting (Romans 1:4) and providing evidence (I Corinthians 15:4-8).
  14. New Covenant of Faith: Now that Jesus paid for our sins, payment can come through a better plan (Hebrews 8:7,13): having faith in Jesus as Lord (John 14:1,6) in a New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15). This faith is from grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), taught by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 8:10), not mainly by people (Hebrews 8:11; I John 2:27).
  15. Sealing of the Spirit: The moment we believe in Jesus is the moment the Holy Spirit starts to live inside of us (Ephesians 1:13). This seal assures our hearts that we really are saved (II Corinthians 1:22).
  16. Redemption and Forgiveness: This small seed of faith (Matthew 17:20) is enough for Christ to redeem us from disobedience to the law (Galatians 3:10,13) by forgiving our sins (Hebrews 10:17-18; Colossians 1:14).
  17. Reconciliation: Although sin put us “in bad standing” with God, with forgiveness comes a “good standing” (II Corinthians 5:18-19). As long as we obey Jesus, He is our friend (John 15:14-15).
  18. Regeneration and Renewal through Sanctification: As our friend, Jesus fixes what was broken (Ezekiel 36:26) and teaches us all truth (Romans 12:2) with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17), for the purpose of committing ourselves to righteousness (Romans 6:19).
  19. Baptism: The first step of our friendship with Jesus is to make a commitment before God to follow Him, which is done symbolically by being cleansed with water (I Peter 3:21; Matthew 28:19).
  20. Fellowship and Communion: The next step is to find a church and spend time getting to know them (Hebrews 10:24-25). We should also eat bread and wine (grape juice) with them routinely to remember Jesus’ sacrifice (I Corinthians 11:24-26).
  21. Justification by Grace for Works: The sign that a person actually accepted God’s grace, worthy to be called a friend of God, is doing good works (James 2:22-23). Justification is based in grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and proven in works (James 2:24) because faith without works is dead (James 2:26).
  22. End Times and Millennial Kingdom: At some point, our current dispensation of grace will end with the Antichrist trying to replace God (II Thessalonians 2:3-4), but the Lord will defeat him and initiate a 1000 year reign (Revelation 20:4).
  23. Judgment Day: Everyone will eventually physically die (Hebrews 9:27), and Jesus will judge all of our sins (Matthew 12:36), sending us to heaven or hell (Matthew 25:46).
  24. Restoration, Adoption, and Glorification: Once God justifies us on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36-37), our sin nature will be eradicated (Romans 8:21), we’ll be adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:23), and we’ll receive a new body similar to the Christ (Philippians 3:21).
  25. Eternal Dwelling: God’s new home will be with humanity (Revelation 21:3). Heaven will be on an improved earth (Revelation 21:1-2), everyone will get their own house or room (John 14:2), and there will be no more pain (Revelation 21:4).
  26. Total RestorationThe Gospel will be preached to the dead in hell (I Peter 4:6), they will submit in faith to Jesus (Philippians 2:10-11), they will get out once their sins are paid for (Matthew 5:26), and their life will be restored in heaven (I Corinthians 15:22).

FAQ

Confidence

Shouldn’t our confidence come from being sealed, not obedience (Ephesians 1:13II Corinthians 1:22)?

The Bible says the sealing is not what gives us confidence: it’s the Holy Spirit Himself (II Corinthians 1:22). It doesn’t say how the Spirit will “assure” us in this chapter, but it does in I John 3:18-19: through “loving in deed and in truth.”

Are we eternally secured (Romans 8:38-39)?

Also known as “preservation of the saints” or “once saved always saved”, God’s elect are eternally secured (Ephesians 4:30John 3:16Jude 24). We should be confident in our standing with God (Ephesians 3:11-12) because we only need to try to be righteous (I John 3:7I John 2:28-29). We should not be arrogant in our eternal security, not assuming we are “right in our own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15), nor assume we 100% know our salvation is secured (I Corinthians 8:1-2). Instead, we should always be testing if our good works prove our faith (II Corinthians 13:5; James 2:26).

Does confidence come from “good standing” with a church?

God never said this. See What should Christians consider to be authoritative?

Is believing in Jesus enough (I John 5:12-13)?

Belief is enough only if you are confident (Hebrews 3:14), not just verbally saying it (Matthew 7:21). The context of this knowledge is one of confidence, not absolute assuredness. For example, the following verses say a person who believes in Jesus will have all of their prayers answered (I John 5:14-15), but implicit in “we” is that only the righteous will be heard by God (I Peter 3:12). Therefore, this confidence in our salvation is conditional on our real belief in Jesus through obedience (Matthew 7:21), not just verbally saying, “I believe in Jesus.”

Justification

Is salvation by “faith alone?”

If sola fide means that salvation is only possible by “grace alone” and that grace is evidenced only by “faith alone” and not our works, this is right (Ephesians 2:8). If this means that faith does not lead to the evidence of good works, it’s wrong (James 2:21). This is because “faith is completed by works” (James 2:22), completed in the same way a court case is completed or finished at the showing of evidence (Proverbs 12:17). We personally don’t use the phrase “faith alone” because it logically sounds like the opposite of the Bible’s “not by faith alone” (James 2:24), yet we agree with Martin Luther: “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

Are we justified in the past or future?

We agree with John Piper’s opinion that it’s both. Some focus on the finished work of redemption (Colossians 1:13-14) while others focus on the future work of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Christians “have been justified” (Romans 5:1,9) because our genuine prayers to the Spirit guarantee our place in heaven (Jude 24I John 5:15). Christians have yet to actually be justified because Jesus said “you will be justified” on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36-37) when you prove your faith with your good works (James 2:21-22). This paradox is similar to a trust fundGod is the “grantor” who has already given us, the “beneficiary,” eternal life; but we also, as the “trustee” must manage this gift of grace effectively to actually receive it, during glorification. You should have peace knowing you are righteous without doing anything (I John 3:7) yet examine if your works actually prove “whether you are in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).

Isn’t James 2:14-26 talking about justification before people only?

Logically, if this was about justification before men, then many people would’ve saw Abraham’s deed, not just his son who already believed in him (James 2:21). The Lord through an angel actually says that the deed was done so that he could prove he fears God (Genesis 22:12) and be worthy of God’s blessing (Genesis 22:16-17). Even more directly, the start of the conversation of justification talks about salvation (James 2:14), not proving ourselves before men, which we shouldn’t be doing in the first place (Galatians 1:10).

How was Abraham justified (Romans 4:2; James 2:21)?

In both cases, “ex ergon edikaiothe” is used to say that Abraham was and was not justified by works. In both cases, belief in God is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:3; James 2:23), but in Romans justification is through faith, and in James, justification “was fulfilled” by faith. This proves that justification is both past (Romans 5:1) and future (Matthew 12:37; John Piper’s opinion).

Is justification from belief or repentance?

We believe both sides are saying the same thing, and should realize the mutual understanding of relying on God’s power over one’s own (Philippians 4:13). Free grace, cheap grace, and easy-believism, taught by Arminianists and Baptists, focus on that faith in Jesus is all that is needed for salvation (John 6:47) and not an iota of good works is necessary (Romans 3:28). This gift of grace is free (Ephesians 2:8), and you don’t need to work on your own power to maintain it (Romans 3:20). While you must repent of the sins you know of, you don’t need to repent of every sin, for that is a process. Lordship salvation, taught by Reformed Calvinists and Catholics, focuses on the teachings that if the faith was real (James 2:14), it would lead to the sacrifice (Luke 9:23) of fuller repentance (I John 1:8-9) and good works (James 2:17). You cannot “believe in Jesus” without repentance, and you cannot repent unless you believe in Jesus (Mark 1:15).

If we accept God’s grace, our future sins are forgiven, so, are we already justified?

We agree on 2 of the 3 major points of the theology of hyper-grace. We agree that, because God lives outside of time, He already forgave the sins of those who would accept God’s grace (I John 5:13,15). We also agree that it is impossible to choose sin if we accepted God’s grace (Romans 6:14), for that sin is not done by that person’s spirit’s desire, but by the sin nature dwelling within him (Romans 7:20). Even so, this sin must be repented of and confessed because it is still “owned” by you (I John 1:8). The saved children of the New Covenant are commanded to repent (I John 1:9-2:1).

Division

Shouldn’t we divide with false Jesuses, teachers, gospels, and unbiblical teachers?

Be sure to get the facts before dividing. The Bible says to unite with anyone who believes in the Gospel (Titus 3:3-8), and divide with those who try to divide over any other issues (Titus 3:9-10,11). We can’t divide with any preacher, including people like Joel Osteen, despite their lack of a biblical focus, if they hold to core doctrine (Titus 3:3-8; proof).

Shouldn’t we divide with obvious liars?

Don’t put yourself in the place of God, for only He is allowed to judge those called brothers in Christ (James 4:11-12; Romans 14:4). If you divide with a person who verbally claims “Jesus is God” (I John 4:2-3) and you start claiming that he’s lying, you’re devoting yourself to “evil suspicions” (I Timothy 6:4) causing constant friction in the body (I Timothy 6:5) and are the person who should be avoided instead (Romans 16:17Titus 3:10-11).

Shouldn’t we divide with Pharisees?

Jesus strongly disliked the Pharisees (Matthew 23:33) because of their hypocritical desire to preach but not do good works (Matthew 23:3). Although we shouldn’t be a part of their churches (Matthew 23:15) or follow them as spiritual guides (Matthew 23:16), we must listen to them because they too follow the Bible (Matthew 23:2-3). Note that not everyone who acts like a Pharisee is condemned (Matthew 23:15), for Jesus spoke positively with Nicodemus (John 3:1-15) and actually converted the worst of Pharisees to be the main writer of the Bible (Acts 23:6I Timothy 1:15). Yet still, most Pharisees are too arrogant to accept correction, and these individuals should be avoided (Matthew 18:15-17).

Shouldn’t we divide over the sufficiency of Scripture?

Although we at Answering Problems believe the Bible is the only authoritative, sufficient and infallible Scripturedividing over the definition of Scripture is not allowed for in the Bible. Quite the opposite, Paul warns us to not “quarrel about the law” (Titus 3:9), and most Christians like the Catholics do share the exact same definition of the Gospel of salvation (Titus 3:3-8).

Shouldn’t we divide over interpretations of the Trinity?

Although we at Answering Problems believe in the co-eternal and co-equal nature of one God as 3 persons, we are not allowed to divide over the intricacies of this because the Bible never tells us to. It’s a very complex topic that no one should be claiming to fully understand. We do, however, divide over the divine nature of each person of the Trinity because the Bible mentions how each is God (Matthew 28:19): the Father (John 6:27), the Son (John 1:1,14,17), and the Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 3:17Mark 12:29).

Who can we call out by name?

Many Christian leaders verbally slander the character of many politicians or pastors they disagree with, but we should never speak negatively about anyone (James 4:11). We should excommunicate individuals by name without defaming them only if they are in your church, as the purpose is to warn others (I Timothy 1:20). Not once in the Bible does someone call out an individual from another group. It is ok to call out other groups of people (Matthew 23:2-3; I Timothy 6:20) only if that group denies the core doctrine (Titus 3:3-8).

Can we vote for Christians who we would kick out of the church (I Corinthians 5:11)?

Yes, but the only reason you should vote for someone who has unrepentant sin is if the alternative is worse. Although association is about tying one’s name to another and voting does that in writing, ignoring voting ties your name equally to both evils. For example, Jesus didn’t “want” the Curse on Humanity, but He did “vote for” it because it was the lesser of 2 evils. We should judge which is “lesser” based on I Corinthians 5:11, not our personal opinions about which rights and values are more important. This is because certain sins are more infectious than others (I Corinthians 5:6-7).

Other

Is election conditional?

We support the unconditional election view. Conditional election says that God predestines based on seeing if they would do right or wrong (Romans 8:29-30; I Peter 1:1-2), but God’s purpose of election is showing his mercy, which is irrelevant of works (Romans 9:11). At that time, many believed the older deserves more, but God wanted to show people that God ultimately is the only Giver (Romans 9:12). For this reason, he chose to love Jacob despite his flaws, and hate Esau’s sins (Romans 9:13). Although this naturally sounds unfair (Romans 9:14), mercy is unfair (Romans 9:15; Matthew 20:12,15) because otherwise, we’d all permanently stay in hell (Romans 6:23). Paul directly says that election is not dependent on what a human does but purely on mercy (Romans 9:16).

Is atonement limited?

We support the unlimited atonement view. Jesusgift of eternal life is free for anyone who believes (John 3:16) because his atonement is available to anyone, not just the elect (I John 2:2; I Timothy 2:6; John 1:29). Because many people don’t accept Jesusgift, they pay for their own sins in hell (Matthew 5:26), meaning that His life was only given to “many” not “all” (Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:28). Jesus did not lose any that was given to Him (John 6:39), but all those who went to hell are lost because their soul dies (II Peter 3:7). Some say unlimited atonement is illogical because God wouldn’t pay for sins on the cross of people that have to pay in hell, but He’s paying for their future sins, after they accept Him in hell (I Peter 4:6) and are restored to life (I Corinthians 15:22).

Is God’s grace irresistible?

We support irresistible grace. Although people can resist God’s calling and go to hell (Matthew 12:14), no one would choose God without making His grace irresistible (Romans 3:11). God changes the free will of the elect to choose Him (Romans 9:18-19).