How does Man receive salvation? This has been the primary question of every culture since Man can remember. Thus, every religion provides a way to save ones self, except Christianity, which states humans cannot save themselves and require a savior.
Faith in Jesus Christ
The Gospel Message. Who is saved? While this is not a question Christians should be asking, it is probably the question most frequently asked. The answer is those who've heard and truly responded to the Gospel. The Gospel appears throughout Scripture as it is contextualized for various cultures (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 2:14-39; Acts 17:22-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) and can all be distilled to these basic tenets: Every person has broken their relationship with God due to sin and the punishment for sin is physical and spiritual death (Romans 6:23). However, God's mission has been to seek all humans in order restore His relationship with them. Thus, God became a man, His son Jesus Christ, to take the penalty for sin and offer His right standing so that whoever has faith that Christ took their sin and repents will receive forgiveness for their sins. Those who have been saved are called to proclaim the Gospel to all others. Accepting the Gospel is a spiritual transaction, not an assent of belief, opinion, or understanding. Hence, anyone the transaction has been conducted for is saved, even if their theology of the process is deficient.
Non-negotiable aspects of Salvation that God has revealed in His Word serve as dogmas. By definition, salvation requires a problem that Man needs saving from. Christianity reveals that the relationship between God and Man has been severed by sin and must be restored. Restored relationship between societies, classes, or all human peoples is insufficient because they fail to account for sin. Thus, as the evil history and culture attest, Man needs salvation. Since Man's condition is of his own making, God does not owe us Salvation, but because of His love for us has chosen to provide a work of grace to save humans from the power of sin and its effects. The scope of this salvific work is not universal in application, but is only available through the death of Jesus Christ. The means of salvation (or requirement for conversion) is through faith, that is truly believing that Christ has taken the penalty for sin and restored the relationship with God (often symbolized by baptism). Salvation cannot come from the Church, a sacrament, or any other form of works. The timing of Salvation occurs in three stages: Justification, which occurs at the time of Regeneration (being born again) and Conversion (faith and repentance); Sanctification occurs throughout the life of the believer (spiritual growth); and Glorification, which occurs after death upon receiving the restored resurrection body. How Salvation is achieved is via Vicarious Penal Substitutionary atonement and is directly linked to Christology. Christ acts as our vicarious substitution bearing the wrath of God for sin in Man's place while Christ's righteousness is imputed to Man. Other atonement theories may compliment Vicarious Penal Substitution (such as Ransom, Christus Victor, and Satisfaction), but are insufficient in themselves since they either equate Satan's power with God's, or they do not account for the problem of sin (Moral Influence, Example, and Healing in the Atonement). The recipients of salvation are those chosen via God's Election (those God predestined to save); however, believers can disagree on what basis God elects.
Negotiable aspects of Salvation are regulated to the inciting cause and order of events. Christians have done damage to the Church and her reputation due to disagreements between the perspectives of Monergism and Synergism on salvation. The difference ultimately stems from beliefs regarding God's sovereignty as it impacts the ideas of direct agent causation and free will. This ultimately impacts the inciting cause of salvation and subsequently its order. Monergism holds that God is the sole sovereign agent in salvation (including the “task” side of salvation) and is commonly held be Reformed (Calvinist) or Molinist theologies. God incites salvation only for those whom He has elected based on His lavish grace and keeps them from apostatizing because humans are unable to respond positively to the gospel without divine intervention. Molinism differs slightly by advocating an unlimited atonement that people (the reprobate) opt out of due to their free will (ambulatory model). The order of salvation thus follows naturally: Election, Gospel call, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, Perseverance, Death, and Glorification. Synergism holds that human beings must participate with God to bring about salvation and is commonly held by Arminian theologies. Humans incite salvation because it is freely available to everyone and they have the ability respond positively or (negatively) to the gospel, which God foresaw in order to elect them, but just as humans can freely choose salvation they can freely choose to lose it. The order of salvation is similar to Monergists, except Conversion precedes Regeneration or sees them as simultaneous. While Christians are free to disagree over these perspectives, they must do so humbly and recognize that whatever position they lean toward will greatly impact their entire theological system.
How Christians should live in light of the essentials of Soteriology. Christians should live in obedience to Christ's final command, the Great Commission of Christ. For it was through another believer's obedience to the Great Commission that they themselves received salvation, and in turn they should seek to see other people's relationship with God restored. In fact, the sheer gratitude a Christian feels toward God for forgiving their sins should fill them with the desire to share the good news that saved them with others. Since it is impossible to determine or judge who God's elect are, both a monergistic and synergistic perspective should conclude with the active and liberal proclamation of the gospel to all peoples near and far so that God's saving grace may be experienced by the greatest number. All believers should learn the basic tenets of the Gospel so that it is rightly proclaimed and the faith of the recipient may be placed in the saving grace of the one True Gospel.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.