What Is the Doctrine of Salvation for Christians? Some people say, “Believe it, and you will be saved! They think that everything else is a false “salvation by works”. Others claim that certain specific actions allow you to “earn” a better place in the afterlife. What is the truth? The answer may surprise you!
Is there a conflict between obeying God and accepting His grace? When He gives His grace to a Christian, does He ask for something more?
God asks us to repent and be baptized, but what is “salvation by works”? Many so-called Christians absolutely do not understand the role of grace and obedience in their lives. They do not understand what the Bible actually teaches about obedience to Jesus Christ and the meaning of salvation.
At some point in your life, you have probably been asked this question: “Are you already saved? What did you answer? We know that all who respond to God’s call, sincerely repenting and being baptized, will be forgiven of all their sins and will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – this spiritual power that will allow them to live life news. But what exactly does it mean to answer the call of God?”
What Is the Doctrine of Salvation?
On the day of Pentecost in the year 31 AD, in the first sermon inspired by the New Testament Church, the Apostle Peter spoke in front of thousands of people gathered in Jerusalem. After having convinced them of their responsibility in the death of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, they asked Peter and the other apostles: “Brother men, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37)
If indeed they had nothing else to do but “believe”, it was the perfect time to tell them. Did Peter tell them that? No ! What did he say to them?
“Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost “(Acts 2:38).
He told them great news – they could be forgiven of their sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. But to benefit, he insisted on two things – that they repent and be baptized.
If you had heard the apostle Peter, and if his speech had saddened you by discovering your share of guilt in the death of Christ, what would you have done then to make you forgive and change your life? Would you have answered Peter: “No, I will not repent! I do not want to be baptized! And I do not need to win my salvation! In that case, you would also have criticized many other instructions.
Nobody can win his salvation.
But if you deliberately disobey divine instructions, you are not converted, and you have not deeply repented.
How did the crowd react on this day of Pentecost? The scriptures reveal to us his magnificent attitude.
“Those who accepted his word were baptized, and on that day the number of the disciples increased by about three thousand souls. They persevered in the teaching of the apostles, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers “(Acts 2: 41-42).
That day, 3000 new Christians obeyed divine instructions – they repented and were baptized. They did what Jesus asked every Christian: “After John was delivered, Jesus went into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God. He said: Time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near. Repent, and believe the good news “(Mark 1: 14-15).
1 – What Is Repentance?
The Apostle Peter’s instructions were very simple – but many people do not accept them today. They want to be “saved” emotionally, but they ignore the very important subject of repentance that precedes baptism.
What is repentance? The Greek word translated “repentance” is metanoeo and means “to change one’s spirit”. We must repent of our sins – that is, change our minds to see sin from another eye. “Everyone who commits sin transgresses the law, and sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3: 4). When you transgress one of the Ten Commandments, you sin. The Apostle James specifies: “For whoever observes all the law, but sins against a single commandment, becomes guilty of all. For he that said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not kill. But if you do not commit adultery, but commit murder, you become a transgressor of the law. Speak and act as to be judged by a law of liberty “(James 2: 10-12).
When we repent of our sins, we deeply regret having transgressed the divine law. We no longer have a hostile attitude toward God and His law of freedom. We no longer have a carnal attitude that is enmity against the divine law (see Romans 8: 7). After our repentance, we seek to stay in harmony with God’s law of love – the Ten Commandments. Repentance brings a profound change in our way of thinking and a commitment to living from every word that comes out of the mouth of God. As Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4).
Repentance is much more than an awareness of sin.
True repentance brings deep regret for our sins. Think of this woman who wet her feet with tears (see Luke 7:38). This is an example of deep repentance.
Know that there is also sorrow in the world that is not true repentance. Notice how the Apostle Paul described the repentance of the Corinthians: “I rejoice at this hour, not because you have been grieved, but because your sadness has brought you to repentance; for you have been grieved according to God, to receive no harm from us. In fact, sadness according to God produces repentance to the salvation of which we never repent, while the sadness of the world produces death “(2 Corinthians 7: 9-10). Could we possibly find the answer to the question “What is the doctrine of salvation for Christians?” in these sentences?
Without a profound change in your hearts and conduct, your incessant sins will lead you straight to death!
Some criminals express sorrow around the world, they claim to regret their crimes (or their sins), but in their hearts of hearts, they think, “I am unhappy to have been caught. I’m sorry to feel guilty and pay the fine for my crime. But if I have the opportunity to commit another, I will do it. It’s not just criminals who have this kind of regret around the world. Many people who engage in unhealthy and oppressive behaviors – sexual sins, drug use, or alcohol abuse – may feel sad and regret the consequences of their actions. But without a profound change in their heart and in their conduct, their incessant sins will lead them straight to death! Because the sadness according to the world leads to death!
On the other hand, sadness according to God – true repentance – brings a very different and better fruit. The scriptures describe its characteristics to us: “And behold, this same sadness according to God, what eagerness did it not produce in you! What justification, what indignation, what fear, what ardent desire, what zeal, what punishment! You have shown in all respects that you are clean in this matter “(2 Corinthians 7:11).
2 – Think and Act Differently!
Those who sincerely repent think and act differently. They are diligent in their commitment to change the way they live! They are making impressive changes by the grace they have received. Do you remember John the Baptist’s response to the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him to be baptized? “The inhabitants of Jerusalem, of all Judea, and of all the land round about the Jordan, came to him; and, confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the waters of the Jordan. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Races of vipers, who taught you to flee the wrath to come? Produce fruit worthy of repentance “(Matthew 3: 5-8).
If we continue to live in sin, without changing anything in our attitude or in our life, there is no true repentance. King David confessed his sin in Psalm 51. Read this whole psalm, and you will understand more deeply the meaning of repentance. You notice that he asked nothing in compensation for his “justice”! For David’s righteousness meant for him the penalty of death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)! But David implored divine mercy with a repentant attitude: “O God! Have mercy on me in your goodness; according to your great mercy, erase my transgressions; wash me completely from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin “(Psalm 51: 3-4).
He recognized his sin! He prayed sincerely for God to cleanse him. Have you prayed so?
“For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is constantly before me. I have sinned against you alone, and I have done evil in your sight, so that you will be right in your sentence, without reproach in your judgment “(verses 5-6).
Was it “only” against the LORD that David had sinned? He had committed adultery with Bathsheba, and he had sent his husband Uriah, who was a soldier, to be killed on the front line. He had also sinned against those people, for God had commanded, “Thou shalt not kill. You shall not commit adultery “(Exodus 20: 13-14). David had sinned against the Lawgiver and was under the fine of death pronounced by God.
The repentance of King David is a good example for all of us. We must develop this humble and contrite attitude. “The sacrifices that are pleasing to God are a broken spirit: O God! You do not disdain a broken and contrite heart “(Psalm 51: 19).
3 – The Right to Sin?
After deeply repenting, as David did, we ask for baptism according to the instructions of Christ. We are then forgiven of all our past sins and ready to walk in the newness of life. How should we then respond to the undeserved forgiveness and grace that God gives us? “What shall we say then? Would we remain in sin, so that grace abounds? Far from there! We who are dead to sin, how shall we still live in sin? (Romans 6: 1-2) Is a begotten Christian, who has just been forgiven by God and received His grace (His undeserved forgiveness), continue to transgress His law and disobey Him? The Apostle Paul is categorical: “Far from it! This is indisputable. This is not what is the doctrine of salvation. We cannot continue to deliberately disobey God and receive the gift of salvation! Paul had to face false Christians who taught – like many today – that by grace one can continue to live in sin!
Jude also condemned this non-biblical approach to grace. “For there have crept in among you certain men, whose condemnation has long been written, ungodly men, who change [pervert] the grace of our God into disrepair [by allowing immorality], and who deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ “(Jude 4). André Chouraqui translates the end of this passage as follows: “Sans-ferveur, who change in debauchery the cherishing of Elohîm and deny our only teacher and Adôn Iéshoua”. ”
How many so-called Christians are still doing this today?
The conduct of those who pervert the grace of God means: “We are free to transgress the Ten Commandments; we do not need to obey God or keep His commandments! ” It’s wrong! This form of rebellion is carnal, it is not conversion! Converted Christians acknowledge obedience to the commandments as an act of love. The first four commandments tell us how to love God and the last six how to love our neighbor. John wrote, “For the love of God is to keep His commandments. And his commandments are not painful “(1 John 5: 3).
As Paul the Apostle declares emphatically, we cannot be under grace and continue to live in sin. No true repentant Christian wishes to remain in sin and claim to be under grace. Paul explains that the true Christian “buries his ego” at baptism: “Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized in his death? So we were buried with him by baptism in his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too would walk in newness of life “(Romans 6: 3-4). This “burial” is symbolized by the total immersion in the water of the sinner who repents.
4 – The Holy Spirit
We cannot grow spiritually without the Spirit of God. God gives His Holy Spirit to the repentant sinner after his baptism.
He wants us to develop an active faith, to trust him completely, and to obey all that He asks us to do. Jesus warned his disciples, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord! and do not you do what I say? (Luke 6:46) We must do what He tells us! Jesus Christ gave us an example by being baptized according to God’s instructions!
The gift of the Divine Spirit is granted by the laying on of the hands of the true servants of God. In Acts 8:17 we read that the apostles “laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the spiritual power of God who begets us as His children and allows us to grow spiritually.
We need it to overcome our human nature. The Apostle Paul described his struggle against his carnal nature: “Thanks be to God by Jesus Christ our Lord! … So, therefore, I am by the understanding slave of the law of God, and I am by the slave flesh of the law of sin “(Romans 7:25).
Note the attitude of obedience of the Apostle Peter. Will God give the Holy Spirit to rebellious people? No, He will not do it! “We are witnesses of these things, as well as the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32).
The apostles continually showed obedience to God.
Note their courage before the Jews of the Sanhedrin who had just forbidden them to preach in the name of Jesus: “Peter and the apostles answered: We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
One of the main themes of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is that obedience to God brings blessings, but disobedience breeds curses. Yes, you can receive the grace of God – His wonderful blessings and His gift of eternal life – through Jesus Christ our Lord. But remember, He will grant salvation only to those who repent, believe, and obey. This is what is the doctrine of salvation. “For this is the time when judgment will begin with the house of God. But if it is through us that it begins, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God? And if the righteous flee with difficulty, what will become of the wicked and the sinner? (1 Peter 4: 17-18)
The Bible reveals the majestic plan of salvation of God.
It’s a free gift that we do not deserve. Those who study the Bible are familiar with this fundamental scripture passage: “For by grace you are saved through faith. And that does not come from you, it’s the gift of God. It is not by works, that no one may boast “(Ephesians 2: 8-9). The grace of God is a gift, but notice that the faith of being saved is too! Those who consider that grace allows them to continue to live in sin, often forget verse 10: “For we are his work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance, so that that we were doing them “(Ephesians 2:10). We respond to divine grace by producing good works and practicing them; that is, by continually producing them. We must bear the fruits of true Christianity in our lives.
Jesus Christ is our Savior, He is alive. And we will be saved by His life (Romans 5:10)! I wish you to receive the grace of God and obey Him by doing His will, so that you may participate in His wonderful plan of salvation! I hope that now you better understand what the doctrine of salvation is.