INTRODUCTION TO SOTERIOLOGY
Soteriology comes from the Greek term "soterion" meaning salvation and
"logia" meaning study. A study of salvation.
The meaning of salvation communicates the following ideas in Scripture:
deliverance, safety, preservation, soundness, restoration, and healing.
It is in a general sense a work on the behalf of man, by His creator. In
specific, we are talking about that act or work of God that restores full
and inseparable fellowship between God and man.
We will be covering the doctrine of Salvation by topics. The topics
will be covered in the following order: conviction, repentance, faith,
forgiveness, regeneration, propitiation, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification,
justification, security, fore-knowledge/predestination/election, Calvinism
vs. Armenianism, atonement, and glorification.
I heard an interview of three women healers years ago. One of them was
Ruth Carter Stapleton. The host of the talk show asked her what it meant
to be born again. She related that it could be many things. It could be
one thing for a Roman Catholic, and something else for another person.
She mentioned that it could happen when you saw a beautiful painting. She
called it a religious awareness. Several questions sprang into my mind
after hearing her definition of being born again.
Is there a difference between being born again and religious awareness?
Can you be born again in more that one way? Does knowing you've had a religious
experience get you to heaven?
On the tape is a woman that was in the hospital and she picked up her
Bible and opened it. She opened to two pages that were completely blank.
On those pages God literally wrote with Jesus Blood the words "I love you."
Is it any wonder why some pastors preach against the Charismatic movement?
Personally, I wonder why more pastors don't.
I trust salvation and being born again mean more to you than seeing
a beautiful painting.
In salvation two thoughts come to mind. Chafer puts it this way, "on
the one hand, to be saved is to be rescued from a lost estate, while, on
the other hand, to be saved is to be brought into a saved estate, vitally
renewed, and made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints
in light." (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Dallas, TX: Dallas
Seminary Press, 1947, p 5)
Let us look at salvation as a whole and see where it has been as well
as where it is going.
Salvation is from eternal hell: Jn 3:16 All of mankind is under the
penalty of death, and eternal torment. This is true no matter how hard
the liberal theologians deny it. It is a sentence that is set, and it is
a sentence that is to be carried out.
Some tell us not to talk about hell, because we do not want to scare
people into heaven. Personally if they have a genuine salvation experience,
what does it matter if they listened out of fear, or even terror. It is
the Gospel message that must be given, and it is hell that is a part of
the message. Christ spoke of eternal torment a number of times in His own
Salvation is for God's purpose: Eph. 2:7 "That in the ages to come he
might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us
through Christ Jesus."
Naturally man is the recipient of all this, yet God did it because He
desired it - not because we conned Him into it. We surely benefit from
His grace and His riches, but grace and riches are only a by-product of
His overall program - bringing glory to Himself.
Salvation is free and not attainable by works: Rom. 6:23 "For the wages
of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus
Christ our Lord."; Eph. 2:8-10
Salvation, the most important, the most beautiful, the most valuable
thing that man might gain. It is free, it is without strings, and it is
a gift from our Creator.
Many there are through the centuries that have tried to work for salvation,
to fight for salvation and to gain salvation, yet it is there for the asking.
Salvation is a past, present and future condition in two ways:
1. THE PHYSICAL REALM: It is offered in the Old Testament economies,
it is offered in the New Testament economy, and it will be offered in the
future millennial economy. It was available to all of mankind in the past,
it is available to all of mankind in this present time, and it will be
available to all of mankind in the future days. It will be offered until
the consummation of the age.
2. THE SPIRITUAL REALM: On an individual basis it is past, due to the
election of God. It is present in that the saint is being saved from eternal
damnation. It will be a completed work in the future.
We are beings in transition in this life. We are saved in God's mind
at this moment in time, yet we are not yet completely and finally saved
until we are present before Him in our glorified bodies.
1. God has always been in the saving business and will remain in that
business until all is complete.
2. None that should be saved will be left, for God will not cut off
the program before someone gets there.
Might I share a personal belief with you. I think that it is a valid
application of an Old Testament account. The people who owned and occupied
the land of Israel, before the Israelites conquered them, were a vile people.
God gave them the forty years that Israel wondered in the wilderness to
turn to Him. He was longsuffering with them. He gave them extra time, just
in case they might change. This gave them many years to turn to God yet
they did nothing. There would have been grace for them just as there will
be grace for any that want to respond to him today!
The solemn point is this; at some point in time the Lord will cut off
His offer of salvation. He will swing into the completion of His program
for this earth and it's people, closing the door to salvation.
In closing, just remember that salvation was God's idea. He did a fine
job of putting together His plan in eternity past, even though man attempts
to change that plan from time to time by denying God's part in it, or by
denying that man needs the plan.
We need the plan, and it is free!