Thursday, April 14, 2016

What If God - a brief soteriological statement

The discussion of the biblical doctrine of salvation has been dominated for about 400 years by considering a person’s beliefs as either Calvinism or Arminianism. Within Baptist circles there are these views and those along a line between the two. The most prominent with Baptists in the U.S. today is one that roughly takes the first and last points of Calvinism merged with the second, third and fourth points of Arminianism (roughly, I say!).

Start with the idea “What if God” -- “What if God” saves people however he wants to? If we don’t find how he saves to our liking, remember these words: “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” We all come to our study of biblical salvation with presuppositions. It is especially difficult if we have a well-devised theological system. We often find it “necessary” to whittle difficult verses to fit into the presupposed (vacuum-sealed) system.

In trying to kick against the traces of systematic soteriologies, “color outside the lines,” and find the truth of the biblical text, I have come to believe the following. My understanding of the biblical doctrine of salvation flows from twin truths:

  1. God is absolutely sovereign in salvation. Salvation begins and ends with God.
  2. Man suffers absolute impairment in salvation. Man cannot save himself; he is unwilling and unable to come to God by himself.

Meaning, God moves toward man and not man toward God. There is no salvation otherwise.

Here are my “5 points” (which are actually seven):

  • Eternal preparation (Revelation 13:8; Acts 2:23)
  • Complete satisfaction (John 1:29; Romans 3:26)
  • Distinct application (John 1:12; Galatians 3:22)
  • Effective persuasion (John 6:29; John 6:37)
  • Responsible cooperation (1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:15)
  • Spiritual procreation (John 1:13; John 3:7)
  • Utmost preservation (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Peter 1:5)

God undertook from eternity to deliver man from sin, and in time Jesus died as a sacrifice to save all who believe. The Spirit draws men to Christ, and under that state of conviction one can become both willing and able to believe in Christ. All those who believe are born again, are justified through faith, and are kept by the power of God unto salvation.

*   Soteriology – the doctrine of salvation in Christian dogma
** I’ve been meaning to make a brief soteriological statement for some time and haven’t gotten the way to state the post exactly to my liking. Due to questions, I’ve posted it anyway and may need to make revisions and clarifications shortly.

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