What is Salvation?
Posted on paulspassingthoughts.com by Paul Dohse for the Potter’s House and TANC Ministries
Let me begin this post by stating the following: I believe most people, if not all, whether professing Christians or not, know what salvation is. The Bible makes it clear that all people are born with an intuitive knowledge of God’s existence. Knowing of God’s existence is a created state of being.
Secondly, people know salvation is about hope for a happy ending to life as set against death and judgment. In other words, people are born with a vague notion of God who vanquishes all things that distress and destroy. It is assumed God is good and will deliver all human experience from death and evil and will usher in utopia.
The Bible also states that many people will deliberately suppress this intuitive knowledge in unrighteousness, but all in all, every person born into the world has a vague understanding of these two things when all is boiled down to the least common denominator: God and hope.
Unfortunately, most gospel presentations are canned theological mini-treatises. The Bible does not contain a singular prescribed gospel presentation. Furthermore, there is something else intuitive in people that finds these canned mini-treatises peppered with Bible verses underwhelming.
Intuitively, people know that salvation is obtained by a radical transaction enacted by God. This is the new birth described in the Bible. A vague notion of the new birth or some kind of radical transformation by God is also intuitive unless an individual has been desensitized into believing something else. People can be trained to ignore and suppress intuitive knowledge flowing from the conscience created in every person born into the world. According to the Bible, the conscience is a judge of God’s good works created in every person that either accuses us or excuses us.
People do not become saved because of four basic reasons: they find enough hope to suffice in the present world; the gospel presentations they hear do not ring true; they fear giving up who they are now for whatever God would make of them; they love their present life too much to give it up for something else.
In other words, people know intuitively that the new birth is a radical transaction; it is exchanging their present life for a new one. People who desire salvation seek an escape from their present life or life in general for a life that has eternal hope. This could be based on a deep desire to find truth regarding life’s deepest questions. Many people are tormented by confusion and unanswered questions about life.
Unfortunately, most salvation presentations focus on law and not love. Rather than focusing on a newfound love for the truth informing us on how to love God and others, the focus is living up to manmade expectations that supposedly come from the Bible. Doing wrong things is a breaking of some commandment instead of a failure to love. As true Christians, we abstain from certain things because it’s a failure to love, not the breaking of some commandment.
Salvation is the literal adoption into God’s family via the new birth obtained by believing on what Christ did to end condemnation. Christ died on a Roman cross to pay the penalty for our sins against the law, and was resurrected three days later “for our justification.” This established the new birth as a way of salvation. Now, those who believe this and seek entry into God’s literal family are baptized by God’s Spirit who raised Christ from the grave. The Spirit of God baptizes us into Christ’s death, and resurrects us to new life by the same power in which He resurrected Christ.
Hence, in the same way that people who have died are no longer under the reach of the law, newborn believers cannot be condemned by the law. The old us was under the bondage of the law and its condemnation, but now we are free to uphold the law for purposes of love without fear of condemnation.
The new birth established by God’s election, Christ’s death, and the power of the Spirit frees us from the law’s condemnation. In regard to believers, this defines “holiness,” not perfect law-keeping because we are free from the law’s jurisdiction in regard to condemnation. This doesn’t mean we will always follow the law perfectly in our endeavor to love God and others, but it does mean that “there is NOW NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.”
“Where there is no law there is no sin.”
This doesn’t mean that believers use this truth for an excuse to be unrighteous, that isn’t love—love is the goal, not law.
This freedom will cause conflict with religion because the new birth makes a person individually able to please God. If a child of God gifted by the Spirit can please God individually, this makes the traditions of religion and its claims of authority irrelevant. The born-again child of God is accountable to the Father of the “household of faith” and no one else.
This is why home fellowships where likeminded believers gather for edification are so important; it is a visual statement that God’s people are a literal family and not an institution. It also focuses on one authority, one mediator, and a focus on individual gifts given to free children who do not have to seek permission to practice their gifts. Like all families, they function on organization and cooperation not the authority of men claiming to be sub-mediators in addition to Christ. The family of God is organized according to gifts, not dictated by institutional authority.
“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”