Salvation


Salvation

We believe that Satan, possibly the highest of God’s created angels, rebelled against God’s authority. Scripture also refers to him as Beelzebub, Belial, and the devil. Many angels followed him in this sin. Scripture refers to these as demons (Luke 11:15). The judgment of God awaits them along with Satan (Genesis 3:15; John 12:31; 16:11; Revelation 20:10).
We believe that in the garden of Eden, God tested Adam, telling him, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17). Satan tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, and “she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). Through Adam s willful choice to disobey God, sin entered the world and spread to all mankind (Genesis 3:1-7; Romans 5:12). With sin came condemnation and death (Romans 5:12-21). In this way, humankind became corrupt and “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

We believe that in mercy and love God has taken the initiative to reach out to us (John 3:16; John 16:8-11). He has done this by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save us from sin and its consequences (John 3:16; Luke 19:10). He was born of a virgin, whose name was Mary. She came to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). In this way, the Son of God veiled His glory and “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus, therefore, is true God and true man, though without personal sin (Luke 1:35; John 1:1-14;1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

We believe that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, taking the penalty that was justly ours (Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). Jesus rose on the third day never to die again (Romans 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). We believe His work of salvation is finished, and that the righteous demands of God are fully satisfied (Romans 3:24,25; 1 Peter 1:18,19; 2:24; John 19:30; Hebrews 10:18).

We believe that Christ died for all mankind (John 3:16). He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (1 John 2:2). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

We believe that God offers salvation to all. He saves those who repent and place their faith in Christ alone for salvation (Mark 1:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 20:21; John 1:12,13; 1 Peter 1:9). This salvation is a free gift from God received through faith and apart from human merit (Romans 6:23; 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:21; 3:10). God put our sins to Jesus’ account that God’s righteousness might be put to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21). This imputation of the righteousness of God to the credit of the believer is by the declaration of God. It is what the Bible calls justification. “God is the one who justifies” (Romans 8:33). He justifies the ungodly sinner who believes in Jesus (Romans 4:5). The imputed righteousness of God is available “through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:22-25).

We believe that without God s help, no man by his own initiative would seek God (Romans 3:10-18). God, however, urges men to repent, sending forth the Holy Spirit to “convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8).

We believe that God in His sovereignty has given man a will, and that though God desires all men to repent and be saved, most are not willing (Genesis 1:26; John 3:19; 7:17; Luke 7:30; Revelation 22:17). Jesus told the Jews who were opposing Him, “You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40).

We believe that those who through faith receive God’s offer of salvation at that moment become “born again” (1 Peter 1:23), regenerated (Titus 3:5), new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17), children of God (John 1:12), “redeemed” (1 Peter 1:18), and “forgiven” (1 John 2:12). Henceforth, God sees them “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-14; 1 John 5:20). Sealed with the Holy Spirit, they are eternally secure in Christ, kept by God for heaven (Ephesians 1:13,14; John 10:28; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Jude 1:24,25). They can also have personal assurance of their salvation (1 John 5:13).

We believe that God predetermined this glorious plan of salvation (Acts 2:23, 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7). He also predestined those who would be saved to certain blessings. These include being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29,30), being adopted as sons (Ephesians 1:5), and obtaining an inheritance in heaven with Christ (Ephesians 1:11).

We believe that God chose the church in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4). The saints are “God’s elect (Romans 8:33), against whom no one can raise a charge. Nothing can separate them from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39)

We believe the outward evidence of new birth is obedience to Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (John 14:21; Galatians 5:16-26; 1 John 3:4-10; James 2:14-26). One of the first responsibilities of obedience for the new believer is to publicly confess Christ in baptism (Matthew 28:19; Acts 16:31-33).

We apply these doctrines as follows

Repentance

Repentance is an inward response to the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). It is a change of mind about God, sin, and self. The sinner begins to fear God (Proverbs 1:7; Isaiah 55:7; Acts 10:35). He acknowledges God’s rightful authority over his life and his guilt before God because of sin. Scripture promises: “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Proverbs 28:13).

Faith

Saving faith is trusting Jesus, and Him alone, as Savior. It is more than simply agreeing with certain facts about Jesus. It is a sinner placing his full faith in Christ as the one who died in his place, taking his punishment. The Scriptures are the basis of faith. Jesus is the object of faith. What one must believe about Him is the gospel: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Assurance of Salvation

A Christian can have personal assurance of his salvation as he understands and rests in the finished work of Christ, accepts the biblical promises of salvation, and observes the confirming evidences of salvation in his life. These evidences include freedom from the tyranny of sin, a new sensitivity to sin, a desire to please God, the ability to understand God’s Word, and the inward assurance of the Holy Spirit that he is a child of God (Romans 6:1-23; 8:15-17; 1 John 2:27).

Baptism

Baptism in water is a public confession of faith in Christ. It is, therefore, only for those who have made a personal choice to trust Christ for salvation.

Baptism symbolizes the washing of regeneration and the possession of a clear conscience before God (Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). Additionally, we can see in the act of baptism our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection to the newness of life (Romans 6:1-11). Baptism portrays this as the person is lowered into the water and then raised again. Baptism is not a means of salvation, but a confession of salvation already received through faith in Christ.

We baptize by immersion. We believe this is best in keeping with the meaning of the Greek word “to baptize,” the example of the New Testament, and the intended symbolism of the act. When baptizing new believers, we use the words given to us by Christ, baptizing the person “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

Divine Election and Human Will

The same Scriptures that teach God has chosen the saints “from the beginning for salvation” (2 Thessalonians 2:13) also teach that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Sound biblical teaching should keep both these truths in view. It should assist those in the church in understanding the relationship between divine election and human will, rather than emphasize one doctrine at the expense of the other. We must also be ready to accept that our finite minds may not be able to fully comprehend this matter.

We must also recognize that good Christians differ on this subject. Unfortunately, some in misdirected zeal have endlessly crusaded for their position, causing controversy and division. Those within the church holding views different from their elders should refrain from persuading others within the church of their position.