God’s Glory in Salvation
We believe we are saved by grace through FAITH – Ephesians 2:8-10. Our view of salvation can thus be summarized in five “doctrines of grace” which may summarized in the word “FAITH” as follows:
F – Fallen Man
Mankind is utterly affected by the Fall of Adam and Eve. The heart of every human is incapable of fully loving God and the things of God. The mind of every person is corrupted and unable to understand the things of God. The will of every person is in bondage to sin and prone to evil self-indulgence. Every person thus deserves God’s wrath. No human being is capable of helping or assisting in his or her own salvation. Each person is dead in sins and trespasses, which means he or she needs a savior. – Romans 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:1-3
A – Autonomous God
God is autonomous (in control), which means He has complete authority over salvation. Logically, He is sovereign in salvation because if His actions and choices were forced upon Him by what a person did or if He was limited by the decision of a person, God would cease to be autonomous and sovereign. More importantly, Scripture never presents God as being restricted by His creatures or obligated to them by what they do. God chooses (“elects”) whom He will save entirely on His own. He does it without being obligated to save anyone and without regard to their works, virtue or foreseen future actions.- John 6:37,44; Ephesians 1:3-6; Ephesians 1:11; 2Timothy 1:9
I – Individual Redemption
Jesus died to save particular individual men and women and purchase their salvation. His death on the cross did more than just make salvation possible for a group of hypothetical sinners who might one day believe in Him. He did more than just make it possible for all people to be offered salvation (universal potential salvation). Christ’s death, as the purchase of a New Covenant between Man and God, bought the complete salvation of God’s chosen (“elect”) persons, in redemption (payment for sin) obtained through repentance and faith. Since His sacrifice was the full atonement of those persons whom God had already chosen to save, it paid for their sins and also secured their repentance and faith necessary for salvation. – John 10:11, 14-16, Ephesians 1:7-10
T – Transforming Grace
God applies a saving (transforming) grace to people of His choosing. God is generally gracious to all people, and offers His mercy to all people, but fallen humans ultimately always reject God’s promises of mercy. However, God’s grace, when it is given to a person for the purpose of his or her salvation, is fully effective in changing the heart, mind and desires of the recipient. God changes that person’s heart, mind, and will, so that the spiritually dead sinner is made spiritually alive, is given a new heart inclined towards God, a mind capable of understanding the truth of the gospel, and a will that is no longer in slavery to sin, but one that is bent towards repentance and saving faith in Christ. – John 3:3-9, Ephesians 1:13-14
H – Holding Power
God has the power to keep those who are His. The power to preserve them and retain them in the faith, and to ultimately save them and present them to His Son in glory, is God’s alone. A person who is chosen by God for salvation has no power to either preserve himself in his salvation or to fall away from it entirely. God uses means, such as prayer, Scripture reading, and fellowship, to keep His chosen ones (“the elect”) from complete renunciation of their faith or forfeiture of His gracious gift of salvation to them. God preserves them and retains them in the faith, ultimately saving them through all struggles with circumstances, sin, and doubt. – Romans 8:26-39, John 10:27-29
In short, where salvation is concerned, we provide the sin, God brings everything else.
Note: These concepts are also commonly summarized using the acronym TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints). However, it is hoped the above FAITH conveys the concepts without requiring as much explanation.
Unless otherwise cited, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ® (ESV ®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.