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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–No article of any confession compares in significance with that concerning salvation. The whole of theology is bound up with it: our understanding God, the world and our very selves. The manner in which we understand salvation decides and reveals the way in which we think about God, and vice versa.

According to the Scriptures, and as formulated by one saint, the true subject of theology is the human being, guilty of sin and condemned before God, the Justifier and Savior of the sinner.

This biblical understanding of salvation is a two-edged sword which must be all-determining for our thought: any theological statement which does not conform to it and cannot trace its way back to it must be severed and discarded as error.

It is of great importance, and entirely biblical, that this article concerning salvation begins with the emphatic statement that “salvation involves the redemption of the whole man.” On the one hand, this affirmation guards us against supposing that only our lower, physical desires are in need of remedy.

The Scriptures teach us that our fallenness extends to the whole of our person and infects even our highest religious aspirations (Galatians 2:16; Psalm 143:2). Once we assume that part of us is free from corruption, we necessarily fall into various forms of legalism or asceticism (e.g. Colossians 2:16-23).

The Son of God in his incarnation, death and resurrection took upon himself all that we are in order to redeem us.

This means, on the other hand, that salvation includes the resurrection of the body. The Christian hope is not that of an ethereal, disembodied existence, but the eternal life of the resurrected and transformed body (Romans 8:23).

Jesus Christ is the risen Lord, who has triumphed over sin, death and the devil. To have him as Lord means that we reign with him over all such things in the hope and faith which has already dawned and shall be consummated at his coming again (Hebrews 2:5-9).

As this article makes quite clear, salvation is found in Jesus Christ and in him alone. The good news of salvation in Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed freely to all persons everywhere. In this proclamation the Church shares in God’s work in the world and bears great responsibility before him. Nevertheless, salvation is to be found only in Jesus Christ, whom one must know by name and call upon as Lord in order to be saved (Acts 4:12; Rom 10:14-17).

The saints prior to his coming perceived these things only dimly and partially, as they believed in the Christ who was coming (1 Peter 1:10-12). Apart from those such as Abraham, Moses, David and others named in the Scriptures, we shall never know precisely how the Spirit of God imparted faith in God and his promises to them.

Now, however, the promise of God has come to fulfillment in the resurrection of the crucified Christ. It is this gospel of the Christ who has come which God has sent forth to the nations, and nothing else: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the message of Christ” (Rom 10:17).

The Scriptures speak with varying perspectives on the salvation which God has wrought for us in Christ.

“Regeneration” has to do with God’s having made us entirely new creatures in Christ: all that we are in ourselves was put to death with him (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

“Justification” has to do with the forgiveness of our sins and our acknowledgement of God’s just claim against us that we are liars and transgressors (Rom 3:5-8, 21-26).

“Sanctification” has to do with God’s possessing us as his own and setting us apart from the world which is condemned and defiled (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

“Glorification” has to do with our instatement as “sons of God” at the resurrection from the dead, when God’s triumph in us shall be complete (Rom 8:28-30).
Seifrid is an associate professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

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Full text of Article 4: Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

B. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.

D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.

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    About the Author

  • Mark Seifrid