Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8, continued

Article 4: Salvation (Continued)
The beauty of this article on salvation, even with the one minor problem mentioned previously, is that it approaches salvation from a God-centered perspective, rather than a man-centered perspective. Salvation is initiated by the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Justification is the declaration of God the Father, declaring us righteous based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and accepting the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross in our behalf. Once declared righteous in Christ, we proceed to become righteous by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. In glorification we enjoy all of the blessings of salvation in full, that up to that point were only “seen in a mirror dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

This article is also careful to point out two other very important aspects of salvation. First, that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone (Acts 4:21 Acts 4:12). Many commonly view Jesus’ illustration of the narrow gate and the wide gate in Luke 13 as a contrast between seeking God and not seeking God. What is really in view here is the difference between the narrow gate of Acts 4:21 Acts 4:12 and 1 Timothy 2:5, and the wide gate of “There are many ways to God.”, or “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere”.

The second very important detail found in this article is that repentance and faith must be found together. Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ is only possible by that change of heart that is wrought, hammered out, by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. There is none of this nonsense that we can believe in Jesus now for salvation, and at some later date, give our lives over to Him in obedience.

So, as I asked in the beginning of this study on salvation: Is there enough in this article to point you to Christ for salvation? I think not. This is one reason why the articles are set up the way they are. Once the foundation of all authority is laid, namely God’s word, we need to understand what is contained in the next two articles. Salvation really means very little until we have a knowledge of who this righteous, holy, and just God is. We also need to know who we are, and what our predicament as fallen creatures is. Last of all, to understand the significance of salvation, we need to know who the Savior is. The beginning of regeneration by the Holy Spirit is our conviction of sin, and then our seeing the need for a Savior. Only after all of this occurs does salvation make any sense.

So, now for the other questions asked at the beginning.

  • What are we saved from? We are saved from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18).
  • What are we saved for? God’s holy purpose, to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1).
  • Is salvation a one-time thing, or does it take you your entire life to be saved? Answer: We have been saved. We are being saved. We will be saved. All of this is to say that salvation begins at justification, and you are saved. But that is not the end of it, for you are being saved by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, making you more and more like Christ. Still more is involved as you pass from this world, where you inherit all those blessings in their fullness.

In [Christ Jesus] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14 ESV)

One question that continues to nag on me. If the Southern Baptist Convention is made up of a minority of believers holding to the doctrines of Sovereign Grace, then how has a strong particular-redemption phrase in the first paragraph of this article escaped the notice of the majority. Next week we will look at God’s Purpose of Grace, where there will be even more wonders to behold. The more I study the BFM 2000, the more I wonder if anybody has bothered to read it. Maybe I should be happy and shut up. I know that when I teach it the way it is written, and back it up with Scripture, the class frowns and fusses a bit, but then they accept it because that is how God’s word teaches it. Hopefully, some day it will all soak in and begin to cause them to see the power and majesty and beauty of a sovereign God and Savior.

Previous Lessons:

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1 (An Introduction)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #2 (On the Doctrine of Scripture)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #3 (On the Doctrine of God)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #4 (On God the Father)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #5 (On God the Son
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #6 (On God the Holy Spirit)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #7 (On the Doctrine of Man)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (On the Doctrine of Salvation)

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