Soteriology Theology

Soteriology: Grace, Faith, and Justification

As a Small Groups Pastor of a local church there are three topics that I encounter most when interacting with Christians: grace, faith, and justification. They are essential topics that every Christian learns about, wrestles with, and tries to live out. Growing as a Christian leads to improved understanding of these three topics and should result in living them out better and better. As I continue my series of soteriology blog posts, I hope to give you a biblical description of each of these topics and point you to some ways you can live out grace, faith, and justification in your life.

Grace, Faith, and Justification

Soteriology - Grace, Faith, and Justification

Photo Credit: Rembrandt, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”


We have been given a gift we don’t deserve.

A. In Grace, God Punishes Jesus, Not Us

In Paul’s letter to the Romans he talks about grace in the third chapter saying,

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight [literally “declares us righteous”]. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. (Romans 3:24–25, NLT)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from the New Living Translation, 2015 revision[/ref]

Let’s take each part of this verse and examine grace.

1. God Takes Initiative

Paul tells us that God “in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight” (v. 24) and “God presented Jesus” (v. 25). It’s clear that God takes the initiative to provide grace to us. This is something he does for us, and it is not something we have caused. 

Soteriology Theology

Soteriology: What Christ Did on the Cross

While attending Dallas Theological Seminary one of the richest classes that I took was the class on salvation, also known as “Soteriology.” For an entire semester we talked about elements of salvation, biblical views on what it means to be saved, historical interpretations of salvation, as well as people that have tried to make salvation something other than what the Bible describes it as.

Soteriology - What Christ Did on the Cross

Photo Credit: “Christ Dies on the Cross” by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804)

In this post I want to talk about salvation. More specifically, five things Christ did on the cross.[ref]These five things are adapted and simplified from a teaching given by J. Scott Horrell at Dallas Theological Seminary.[/ref]

I. SUBSTITUTIONChrist died in our place and took the sinners’ just punishment.

A. Substitution in the Old Testament


A Summary of the Doctrine of Christian Living

Continuing my series through the basics of Christian theology includes some thoughts on Christian Living. I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide which reads:

Christian Living. Article #8. We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

A Summary of the Doctrine of Christian Living

The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt


Justification and sanctification go hand-in-hand giving evidence of each other. Our faith in Jesus Christ has made us righteous (Rom 8:1; 1 Cor 1:2; Eph 2:8-9; Phil 3:9; 1 Peter 1:1-2) while that faith has caused sin to no longer be our master (Rom 6:1-14). Instead, our changed nature compels us to want to live in a Godly way (Rom 6:2-4; 8:29-30; Phil 1:6; 2:13; Titus 2:11-14).


Christians live out their faith first by showing love for other Christians and non-Christians. It was love that compelled God to send his son to die for sinners, and it should be love that compels us to have good relationships with Christians and non-Christians.


Living out our faith means that we love God and love others. We love God by focusing our minds and hearts toward him (Deut 6:5-9). As a result of this, we also love others (Matt 12:39; John 13:34; Eph 5:25; 1 John 4:8-10) and care for others (Rom 12:10, 16; 14:13; 15:7, 17; 1 Cor 13:12; Gal 5:13; Eph 4:2, 32; 5:19, 21; Col 3:13, 16; 1 Thess 5:11; Heb 10:24; 1 Peter 1:22; 3:8; 4:9; 5:5; cf. Acts 4:32, 34-35).

The poor, aliens, and disenfranchised have been part of the entire history of the Bible and will always be part of the church age (Deut 15:11). Christians are supposed to care for these people (Prov 14:21, 31; 22:9; 28:27; Matt 25:31-46; Luke 14:12-14).


This world is a fallen world (Gen 3:14-24) where Satan roams the earth (Job 1:6-8; 2:1-2; Luke 22:3; 1 Peter 5:8), has control over it (1 John 5:19), and is the ruler of it (John 12:31; 1 Cor 4:4; Matt 4:8-9).  Evidence of spiritual warfare between Satan and his minions against Israel and the church is clear throughout Scripture (Dan 10:12-14; Luke 10:18; Rev 12). Yet, with God’s Word (Eph 6:11-18), the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name (Matt 17:14-20; James 4:7-8), believers can combat Satan and his minions (Luke 10:17-20; John 12:28-32; Col 2:13-15; Heb 2:14-15; 1 Peter 5:6-8; Rev 12:11).

Ecclesiology Theology

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Church

Today I take a brief look at the doctrine of the church. This is commonly known as “ecclesiology.” I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith. That statement reads:

The Church. Article #7. We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Church

Photo Credit: Russ Harlan


A. Justification

Soteriology Theology

The Doctrine of the Work of Jesus Christ

Today I’m sharing some material about the doctrine of the work of Jesus Christ. This blog post is based on the Evangelical Free Church of America’s Statement of Faith which reads:

The Work of Christ. Article #5. We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation.

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Work of Christ

Lippo Memmi (1291-1356)


Bible Revelation

Michael vs. Dragon (Rev 12:7-12)



A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 12:7-12

7Then there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels waged war against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war back. 8But, the dragon was not strong enough to find a place for himself and his angels in heaven. 9Next, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the one called the Devil and Satan—he is the one who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to earth with his angels. 10Then I heard a loud noise in heaven saying, ‘Just now the salvation, power, kingdom of our God, and authority of his Christ has come. This is because the accuser of our brothers—the one who brings charges before God day and night—has been thrown down to earth. 11But, they overcame [conquered] him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. 12For this reason, o heavens and all who live there rejoice. Woe to the earth and to the sea because the Devil has come down for you with tremendous anger because he knows he has a short time left.’” (Rev 12:7-12)


Michael vs. Dragon (Rev 12:7-12)C. General Remarks

“The basic message of the Apocalypse is that Satan has already been defeated at the cross, and the victory of the saints is assured.” (Osborne, Revelation, 476)

“John sees here the mother of all wars. It is a vision of Satan’s rebellion against God. The vision gives us no idea of how Satan’s rebellion relates chronologically to the creation.” (Mulholland, “Revelation” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, vol. 18, 514)

II. SATAN LOSES (Rev 12:7-9)

A. Michael and His Army Versus Satan and His Army (v. 7)

Καὶ ἐγένετο πόλεμος ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Μιχαὴλ καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ τοῦ πολεμῆσαι μετὰ τοῦ δράκοντος. καὶ ὁ δράκων ἐπολέμησεν καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ,

“Then there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels waged war against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war back.” (Rev 12:7)


1. Michael the Archangel

Michael the archangel held a special role in protecting Israel in the Old Testament. The angel sent to the prophet Daniel was held up by the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, so Michael went and did battle against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia so that the original angel could go to Daniel (Dan 10:13). That same angel later says that the only person who helps him battle the spirit princes is the archangel Michael (Dan 10:20). When describing the end times Daniel says that Michael stands guard over the nation of Israel (Dan 12:1). In the New Testament, the only reference to Michael is when Jude says that Michael argued with the Devil about Moses’s body (Jude 9).
I do not often point to extra biblical writings when studying the Bible, but there are numerous other references to the archangel Michael in extra biblical writings. See 1 Enoch 20:5; 24:6; Testament of Levi 5:6; Testament of Dan 6:2; b. Hagigah 12b; 3 Barauch 11:4; and The Assumption of Moses.

Soteriology Theology

Christmas All Year Long

If you are like me you become sad when you see homes take down their Christmas lights, remove Christmas decorations, and toss the Christmas tree out to the road for the garbage man to pick up. However, the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ’s birth—is about much more than the one month of celebration during December. It is about the things Christ did for us through his life and death. There are five things that I like to use to describe what Christ did on the cross.