Paul's Passing Thoughts

Thanks to the Institutional Church the Discussion Continues: “What Does It Mean to be Saved?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 23, 2015

Note the above Tweet I posted today. So true. As Christians, we all need help and a hand up, but because we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and completely capable as new creatures, our attitude must be, “Gee thanks, now I will take it from here.” If all of your knowledge comes from others, you had better do an emergency evaluation of your present standing.

There are only two individuals that are part of the institutional academia of the church that I have any respect for: Dr. Jay Adams and his associate Donn Arms who I think might have his doctorate by now. Apart from those two, to the best of my remembrance at this time, the whole of Protestant academia makes me sick. For the most part, they are mindless cowardly tyrants ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of truth. Seminaries continually pump men into the institutional church who have no gift for teaching, but have spent money to certify themselves as faithful regurgitators of Protestant orthodoxy.

Mindless followers of orthodoxy (the traditions of medieval tyrants) who do so for some sort of personal gain embody the worst of what humanity has to offer. I do not believe in the saying that evil can only prevail when good men do nothing—there is no such thing as a good man who does nothing—that’s an oxymoron. There is only one thing worse than pure evil: those who watch it and do nothing. Voyeurism is not commendable for any reason.

So here we are, more than 500 years after Calvin’s post tenebras lux, Dr. Jay Adams sees the need to write a recent article on what it means to be saved. And this is by no means unusual; googling “What is the gospel?” will produce a myriad of recent articles that take on the subject. And since Calvin et al propagated a false gospel that has been driven into the psyche of Western culture for more than 500 years, we might suspect that Biblicists must continue to work on using biblically accurate ideas, terminology, and words accordingly, and Dr. J’s article, with all due respect, is no exception.

A little past the introduction, Adams states:

The biblical usage of the word translated “saved” is precisely the same as ours. A newspaper headline that reads “Child Saved From Drowning,” means he was rescued. To be saved is to be rescued—rescued from sin and its consequences. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (that’s what Romans 3:23 has to say about everyone, including you). When God saves someone He rescues him from the penalty of sin, which is eternal punishment in hell. He also gradually rescues him from the power of sin in this life. And, ultimately, He rescues him from the very presence of sin by taking him to heaven. That is what it means to be saved.

My only protest to this definition is the wording in reference to the days we are in. Salvation must be spoken of in hard past-tense terms. Does God “gradually” “save” us from the power of sin? No, there is NO gradual rescue from sin. We are NOT rescued from sin on the installment plan; we are COMPLETELY rescued from sin when we are saved. There is now “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ—condemnation does not gradually decrease, it’s completely gone.

Sin still has the power to bring about death in our lives, but it is our choice to be lazy disciples or diligent ones, but either way, the final culmination is not condemnation nor is condemnation present in the interim. The word “sin” must be defined in reference to both justification and sanctification when presenting the gospel.

The Bible is clearly saying that you must depend upon Jesus Christ. But, what does that mean? It means that you must entrust your entire life, here and hereafter, to Him. It means that you must depend wholly upon what He has done, to be saved.

I must also object to this kind of wording in our day. We live in days that require much more clarification. Familiar terms will not suffice. There is no, I repeat, no future commitment and future dependence on Christ for purposes of salvation. The only requirement is to believe in Christ and what the present consequences are. If a cow wants to become a duck, he need not be concerned with depending on water in the future—being a duck comes with desiring water by virtue of being a duck. Better stated, committing to being Christ’s brother in the future doesn’t save us.

Being a brother isn’t a commitment any more than a future commitment to being born again. The new birth is a one-time event that we have no control over in the future. You cannot make a future commitment to prevent unbirth or debirth via a commitment. The new birth is beyond the realm of any commitment we make. Therefore, future commitment is assumed in the same way we assume that ducks can always be found in a pond. No future commitment to water is necessary for becoming a duck, the former is part of being a duck. You are either a duck or you aren’t.

Believing in Christ is to follow Him in death and resurrection. It is saying goodbye to who you presently are, and becoming whatever Christ chooses to make of you. What we need is biblical language in the gospel that emphasizes the new birth as much as the cross.

Jesus Christ died on the cross, bearing the punishment that was due to all who throughout the ages will believe on Him. He rose from the dead, giving evidence that God accepted His penal, vicarious sacrifice. The wrath of God fell on Him instead of them. All who trust Him as Savior have their sins forgiven. This is the “good news” that the apostles proclaimed around the Mediterranean world and that you are now learning in this blog. If you depend upon the saving work of Christ on the cross you will be saved.

The other words aside with no relevant disagreement, I would like to focus on, “He rose from the dead, giving evidence that God accepted His penal, vicarious sacrifice,” and offer the following comment: “No! No! No! No! No! No! No!”

Christ did not have to be resurrected in order to prove that he was approved of God—that happened at His baptism and has little relevance to the gospel. Again, we see our penchant for overemphasizing the cross at the expense of the new birth. The resurrection by the Holy Spirit was a promise made to Abraham and Christ, not proof of His approval by God.

Christ died so that we can die with Him and escape the law’s condemnation; Christ was resurrected so that the Spirit can resurrect us as well to serving His law in love. Christ died and was resurrected so that our relationship to the law can be transformed from condemnation to love. That’s the gospel.

Notice, the “gospel” is good news to be believed; not good deeds to be done. News has to do with something that has already happened; not with something yet to be done. You cannot be saved by depending upon your good works, on ceremonies like baptism, or church membership. Nothing you have done or ever could do will save you. You must look away from yourself and others and look in faith to Christ alone. It is depending on the Lord Jesus Christ alone that saves. You cannot be saved by some vague invitation to “come forward,” or to “let Jesus come into your heart.” There must be an understanding of the good news that Christ died on the cross for guilty, condemned sinners like you, and a willingness to depend on His death and resurrection to save you from your sin.

All of this is true, but again, in our day, the distinction between justification and sanctification must be made in order to not add to the prevailing progressive justification of our day. We MUST ALWAYS delineate between works salvation and new creature love lest we confound the two…

Notice, the “gospel” is good news to be believed; not good deeds to be done

…is the exact same language used by the progressive justification crowd that is firmly in charge of the American church. With all due respect, the statement separates good deeds (love) from the results of the resurrection (new birth), and that’s an extremely unfortunate result.

Because of prevailing progressive justification in our day, the very things Adams lists are described as the “means of grace” that “impart grace” and “keep us in the love of Jesus.” They are faith alone works that we “depend” on to keep us saved.

“Depend” is a bad word to use in conjunction with the good news of being born again. I was born of my mother and father, but I do not depend on what they did to stay alive. What they did is a finished work. For some time, I depended on them for the necessities of growing up in life, and my birth made that possible, but again, is a finished work, not the progression of growing up which is not yet finished.

Salvation is a finished work and includes regeneration. It is dying with Christ and being quickened by the new birth. It’s two-fold: Christ accomplished the first part and the Holy Spirit accomplishes the second. If you are going to say that a Christian needs to continually “depend” on Christ for salvation, you are wrong, but excluding the Spirit in that dependence is even more wrong and compounds the confusion. It also adds to the Chrsitocentricity of progressive justification. If you are going to be wrong, at least be wrong more accurately and include the Spirit. Salvation is Trinitarian—not Christocentric.

Let’s exclude the “depend” wordage in the gospel and replace it with “believe.” If you would notice, “believe” is the word always used in conjunction with the gospel in the Bible and that is not an accident.

“Depend” implies an ongoing work that should always be qualified as the new Christian life and NOT the finished work of regeneration. And that dependence should always include the Holy Spirit. Be sure of this: neither justification nor sanctification is Christocentric.

The completion of our new life is not salvation, salvation is a finished work—the completion of our new life is redemption. That’s the salvation from the weakness of our mortal bodies—not the salvation of our souls.


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