My Salvation Doctrinal Statement

Salvation is God’s way of delivering people from sin, death, and divine wrath. It also describes the spiritual blessings both temporal and eternal.[ref]“[S]alvation in its theological sense denotes, negatively, deliverance from sin, death, and divine wrath and positively, the bestowal of far-ranging spiritual blessings both temporal and eternal. God freely conveys these benefits on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Mediator.” Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997), 27. Salvation is “God’s way of providing people deliverance from sin and death.” Philip W. Comfort and Walter A. Elwell, eds., Tyndale Bible Dictionary: A comprehensive guide to the people, places, and important words of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 1152.[/ref]

My Salvation Doctrinal Statement

Photo Credit: Waiting for the World

Essentially, salvation is the application of the work of Christ to the lives of humans.[ref]Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 826[/ref]

I. The Method and Instrument of Salvation

The Word of God is the method and instrument used by God to describe himself and show how humans can know him. 2 Timothy 3:15 says the message of salvation is contained in the Scriptures revealing God but also revealing his plan for salvation.[ref]Comfort and Elwell, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1153.[/ref] In fact, the Bible’s central message is about the spiritual recovery and salvation of lost men and women.[ref]“The central message of the Bible concerns the spiritual recovery or salvation of lost men and women.” Demarest, Cross and Salvation, 25.[/ref] The Bible shows God’s love and salvific plan in both the Old Testament and New Testament.[ref]“The Word of God is the means not merely to the beginning of the Christian life, but also to growth in it. Thus, Jesus told his disciples that they were made clean through the Word he had spoken to them (John 15:3). He also prayed that the Father would sanctify them in the truth, which is the Father’s Word (John 17:17). The Lord told Joshua that the book of the law is the means to a life of rectitude: ‘Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful’ (Josh. 1:8).  The Word of God guides our feet (Ps. 119:105) and provides us protection as we engage in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:17).” Erickson, Christian Theology, 937. Furthermore, “The Word of God plays an indispensable part in the whole matter of salvation. In Romans Paul describes the predicament of persons apart from Christ. They have no righteousness; they are totally unworthy of his grace and salvation (Rom 3:9–20). How, then, are they to be saved? This is by calling upon the name of the Lord (Rom 10:13). For them to call, however, they must believe, but they cannot believe if they have not heard; therefore someone must tell them or preach to them the good news.” Ibid., 936-937.[/ref]

II. Why Salvation is Needed

Sadly, sin is the reason that salvation is needed (Gen. 3:16-19).[ref]Because of the fall: 1) Man is separated from God: humanity’s relation with the Creator is broken. 2) Man is separated from himself: guilt, need for love/significance, pain in childbirth, and literal death. 3) Man is separated from man: evidenced in Adam, Eve, and devil accusations, Cain killing Abel. 4) Man is separated from nature: banished from Garden of Eden, nature paid price for man’s nakedness. 5) Nature from Nature: “Cursed is ground because of you” (Gen. 3:17) and “thistles and thorns” (Gen. 3:18). Horrell, The Need for Salvation, 6-7.[/ref] Sin is falling short of the holiness of God.[ref]“Genesis 1-3 establishes the religio-philosophic categories that give meaning to the rest of the Christian faith, particularly in the assertions that an infinite, personal God created a perfect world and a sinless human couple, who then rebelled against him bringing catastrophic consequences to all earthly creation: To negate the historicity of these chapters is to destroy the greater framework in which salvation through Jesus Christ has significance and all the rest of biblical revelation makes sense.” Ibid., 1.[/ref]

Because of the literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3, salvation through Jesus Christ has significance and causes all of biblical revelation (Eph. 4:3-4) to make sense. Starting in the Old Testament sin was one of three categories:

  • knowing that a kind of sin was committed (Psalm 51:1-2);
  • something contrary to the norm;
  • disobedience with both deliberate and passive elements (Heb. 9:7).[ref]Ibid., 11.[/ref] Moving to the New Testament sin: 1) always has a moral standard of which it is committed against; 2) all sin is a rebellion against God; 3) evil may present itself in more than one way; 4) responsibility of man is clear.[ref]Ibid., 12.[/ref]

III. Salvation in the Old and New Testaments

Now that a definition of sin has been provided in both the Old Testament and New Testament (which shows the need for salvation), a look at salvation in the Old Testament and New Testament is needed.

A. Salvation in the Old Testament

Salvation in the Old Testament was seen in a “promissory and provisional way” (Jer. 31:31-33).[ref]Demarest, Cross and Salvation, 25.[/ref] For Israel, the Exodus was the primary event by which they witnessed salvation provided by the Lord.[ref]“Israel’s concept of salvation was rooted in the historical experience of the exodus. This momentous occasion was an opportunity to witness the salvation of the Lord firsthand.” Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1152.[/ref] The hope of a future Messiah who would bring salvation was uttered in Isaiah 49:6 and Zechariah 9:9.[ref]“The messianic hope is indicated in passages that speak of an individual who will bring God’s salvation. Isaiah speaks of the Servant who brings salvation to the ends of the earth (49:6), while Jeremiah writes of deliverance by God’s righteous Branch (Jer 23:5-6). The mention of the king who brings salvation in Zechariah 9:9 reflects this messianic theme and is applied to Jesus Christ in Matthew 21:4-5.” Ibid.[/ref] Furthermore, the basis of this salvation in the Old Testament was always the death of Christ, required by faith in God (Micah 6:7; Job 19:25-56).[ref]Horrell’s Overview of Salvation in the Old Testament Through New Testament Eyes: 1) The Basis of Salvation Is Always the Death of Christ . . . salvation can only come through the cross of Jesus Christ. Old Testament believers, indeed all those received by God from all human history, are saved on the basis of Christ’s death even though his crucifixion had not yet taken place. 2) The Requirement Is Always Faith. . . . The Old Testament did not teach a works salvation. There is no possible way that we as fallen creatures can accomplish our own salvation. 3) The Object of Faith Is Always God. 4) The Content of Faith Changes According to Divine Revelation: Our Lord makes himself known to different degrees and at different times, but faith is not in any other than him for salvation. In this is the distinct advantage of dispensationalism.” Horrell, Salvation in the Old Testament, 12-13.[/ref]

B. Salvation in the New Testament

Salvation in the New Testament[ref]“In the Gospels, ‘salvation’ is clearly connected with the Old Testament concept of salvation; it is applied to the coming of Christ in Zechariah’s prophesy (Lk 1:69, 71; cf. Pss. 106:10; 132:17) and in Simeon’s hymn of praise (Lk 2:30).” Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1153.[/ref] is the salvation which is enjoyed during the current age. The foundation of salvation is in Jesus.[ref]“The NT teaches that salvation has as its source in Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:10; Heb 5:9), who is the ‘author’ and mediator of salvation (Heb 2:10; 7:25). Salvation is God’s work (1 Thess 5:9) and is offered by his grace (Eph 2:8-9).” Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1153.[/ref] He is the open invitation for others to come and know him.

IV. Christ’s Work on the Cross

Christ’s work on the cross for the salvation[ref]Among the many verses that could be quoted to describe soteriology one will be quoted and numerous others mentioned. Nearing the end of his life Jesus addresses his disciples saying, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves (Luke 22:25–27, NLT). This verse is speaking primarily about Jesus and his work on the cross. In this work Jesus, “appeals to the position which He at this moment occupies among them,–a position in which every guise of a superiority falls away.” Lange, John Peter, and J. J. van Oosterzee. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Luke. Translated by Philip Schaff and Charles C. Starbuck. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 341. In this passage Jesus shows that he calling the lost to him. He is here ready to save them and bring them to God. “Although Jesus is clearly ‘greater’ then the disciples, his behavior during his earthly ministry was one of serving them.” Stein, Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24. The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 549. Jesus’ way of serving was through his sacrifice and his love. He died as the way to serve—saving others from their deprivation and lostness. In other words, the one who announced the coming of God’s kingdom was its King and will reign as king. Stein, Luke, 551. These verses show that Jesus was king and that he had a unique relationship to God because in just a few hours after uttering these words he would submit to suffering, humiliation, and death in order to faithfully serve God and fulfill God’s plan to establish a new covenant with God and God’s people. Allison Trites, The Gospel of Luke, Acts, ed. Philip Comfort, in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip Comfort, vol. 12, (Carole Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006), 290.[/ref] of all is best understood through the different descriptions of what occurred which are broadly referred to as the “atonement.”[ref]Atonement is the entire work of Christ on the Cross (Lev. 5:10). “Christ as the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.” Chafer, Systematic Theology. Vol. 3, 128. “[T]he word atonement (Lev. 5:10) is the term upon which men have seized to express the entire work of Christ upon the cross. . . . The almost universal use of atonement for this purpose may go far to give it authoritative acceptance regardless of its inaptitude for the immense service thus thrust upon it. Though etymologically the word atonement suggests at-one-moment, it feebly relates itself to the New Testament truth which presents Christ as the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.” Ibid.[/ref]

A. Six important elements of the atonement are:

  1. Justification: Christ’s righteousness imputed[ref]“Christ’s righteousness imputed” Horrell, What Christ Did on the Cross, 12. “The gift of righteousness that God gives is not innate to us; it is not based on our personal holiness, nor necessarily always reflected by our practice and works (although it should be). It is in one sense a juridical (forensic) gift of God received by faith that declares Christ’s righteousness to be applied to the believer. Thus we are clothed in Christ himself before the judgment seat of God. . . . while a free gift of grace, justification carries a second sense that the believer is made righteous in union with Christ. Justification is the promise to the believer as she enters covenant community of the eschatological hope of full justification. Justification declares now what will be.” Ibid., 14.[/ref] to believers as a legal standing before God[ref]“Justification envisions one’s legal standing before God.” Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1153.[/ref] by acknowledging that Christ is righteous'[ref]“[D]ivine acknowledgment and declaration that the one who is in Christ is righteous. That which God thus publishes He defends. Justification is immutable.” Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 128.[/ref]
  2. Redemption: The payment of a ransom price[ref]“Redemption implies the payment of a ransom price, and, in the redemption which Christ has wrought, the divine judgments against sin having been measured out, these stand paid by Christ’s voluntary sacrifice. This, again, is not something yet to be done; but, being already accomplished, is something to believe.” Ibid., 129.[/ref] that frees sinners from the consequences of sin,[ref]“’The act of paying the ransom/price to purchase something.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law; he himself paid the price to free sinners from the power, consequences, and condemnation of sin.” Horrell, What Christ Did on the Cross, 9.[/ref] which therefore is the means of salvation (Psalm 49:14-15);[ref] “[R]edemption speaks more of the means of salvation-the payment of a price to bring one back to God.” Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1153.[/ref]
  3. Satisfaction:[ref]“God manifests his holy wrath against sin. In the OT, the wrath of God against sin is spoken of 858 times. In the NT, divine wrath is an essential theme. . . . [P]ropitation indicates an actual meeting (fulfilling) of the wrath of God; and this satisfaction of righteousness is not only that of God the Father put that of the entire Holy Trinity.” Horrell, What Christ Did on the Cross, 11-12. “Propitiation, which evokes the OT sacrificial system and points to the turning away of God’s wrath.” Tydndale Bible Dictionary, 1153.[/ref] Because of God’s honor[ref]“[I]t was God’s honor that needed payment or satisfaction. Just as when a serf insults or offends a lord, so God must demonstrate his displeasure with sin and vindicate his honor. Sin is any failure to subject oneself to God, and so shame God, robbing him of his rightful veneration and dignity. God’s nature is such that he requires compensation for damages done. Horrell, Theories of the Atonement, 4.[/ref] God has holy demands against sin which Christ’s payment satisfied;[ref]“The forces of modern thought have been for nearly a century arrayed against the doctrine of satisfaction. The offense of this doctrine is the claim that God, having certain holy, inherent demands against sin, which claims arise from His outraged righteousness and character, has accepted as satisfying the payment which Christ has made. This doctrine must be considered at length in the following chapter of this thesis.” Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 129.[/ref]
  4. Substitutionary: Christ suffered and died in place of sinners to satisfy God’s justice[ref]Christ died in my place to satisfy God’s justice “as Christ’s death in our place to satisfy the holiness of God and his wrath against sin. . . [T]he penal substitution theory emphasize three aspects. First, Christ death is vicarious. The Son of God become a man as the perfect substitute ‘in our place.’ Second, the model is juridical (or penal) imputation it satisfies the law of God, something that animal sacrifices could never accomplish. Third, Christ’s death pays the ransom not to Satan, or to God’s honor, but to God’s holiness. It satisfies divine wrath against sin. The substitutionary model marks classical Protestantism and Evangelicalism.” Horrell, Theories of the Atonement, 5.[/ref] so that men might not be required to bear this burden of condemnation;[ref]“Christ suffered and died that men might not be required to bear their burden of condemnation Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 130.[/ref]
  5. Recapitulation: The primary theory in the early church that Jesus’ death was the victory over sin, death, and Satan. Therefore, Jesus was the Last Adam who reversed the fall;[ref]Horrell, Theories of the Atonement, 3.[/ref]
  6. Reconciliation: The change in relationship[ref]Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1153.[/ref] as a result of Christ’s death that makes people right (friends) with God (Rev. 6:9-10).[ref]“Through personal experience, we each have some understanding of being alienated and then reconciled with someone we care for—a lover, brother or friend. . . . Scripture states that God has redeemed, propitiated, and reconciled the world. It seems certain aspects of atonement are said to be offered to every person.” Horrell, What Christ Did on the Cross, 11-12.[/ref]

V. Eternal Security

Finally, Christians can have assurance of their eternal security and sealing by the Spirit (John 3:36; 11:25).[ref]“’[W]hen you believed in Christ you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession.’ The seal of the Spirit parallels the ancient custom of sealing a letter with a sax or molten metal; the seals were not to be violated by anyone except the addressees, in many cases of death. Every believers is sealed by the Holy Spirit en route to God; no one can violate its destiny.” Ibid., 21.[/ref] This assurance is because of the past (the once and for all pardoning at the moment of faith and the inhabiting of the Holy Spirit),[ref]“Past: 2Ti 1:8-9; Ac 16:30-31. Occasional Pauline use that at the moment of faith, once for all, the sinner is juridically pardoned and inhabited by the Holy Spirit. The act of “getting saved” delivers from the judgment and leads to [present and future salvation].” Ibid., 5.[/ref] present (ongoing experience of being liberated from the power of sin),[ref]Eph. 4:17-18 “Present: Jas 1:21; 1Pe 1:9; Lk 9:23-34; Mt 10:37039; Mt 16:25-26; Jn 12:23-26; Php 2:12-13. . . [T]he ongoing experience of the believer’s liberation from the power of the effects of sin, reflecting the victory of Christ and the full salvation to come. The phrase the salvation of the soul denotes a present, ‘existential’ deliverance from the old life to the new in Christ. Similar to LXX use, the term sozo as used by Jesus, Jude, Peter, John, Hebrews, even Paul, usually denotes being freed from sin and the effects of sin.” Ibid.[/ref] and future (the complete liberation from sin when joined with Christ).[ref]”Future: Ro 13:11; 2Ti 2:10; 3:15; 1Pe 1:5. We anticipate complete liberation from the effects of sin when glorified with Christ.” Ibid.[/ref] In this, salvation is a one-time act that continues until the believer is called home.[ref]“Salvation is variously thought of as a single occurrence at the beginning of the Christian life, a process continuing throughout the Christian life, or a future event. Some Christians regard salvation as basically complete at the initiation of the Christian life. They tend to say, ‘We have been saved.’ Others see salvation as in process—‘we are being saved.’ Yet others think of salvation as something that will be received in the future—‘we shall be saved.’ Two or all three of these views may be combined, in which case the separate aspects of salvation (e.g., justification, sanctification, glorification) are understood as occurring at different times.” Erickson, Christian Theology, 827.[/ref]

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at