The Doctrine of Salvation 3


salvation-march

Hebrews 3:14-16 tells us,

 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,

Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? (NKJV)

          Who are these verses referring to, the Christian or the unbeliever? It seems like these verses are speaking to the believers. So then, we can harden our hearts as believers, but we don’t have that ability to so as unbelievers? The Calvinist doctrine tells us that no one can resist God; that He is in control and that He knows that his elected will come to the feet of Jesus as established by God before the foundation of the earth. So, are we really free? The Bible tells us in Acts 11:15-18,

 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (NKJV)

         We could get lost between Calvinism and Armianism, but it is important to establish that without repentance, salvation can’t take place. Therefor, the very act of salvation can’t possibly be a decision; salvation is a conversion. Repentance is a gift from God; that means that we do not have the ability to repent on our won; what we have is an unbelievable ability to justify our sin.

         You do not make up your mind in order to assist God in your salvation. You make up your mind to the realization that you are a disgusting and pitiful sinner. That is when the grace of God comes running to release in you, the God-giving ability for you to be able to repent of your sin. After you see the monstrosity of your sin, God’s Spirit releases faith in you so that you are able to trust Christ. 

         Salvation is brokenness; tears and the realization that even when we were yet sinners sinner, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). With salvation, our spirit comes alive and is activated and released from the legacy of spiritual deadness that the first Adam left us. We are now free to worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

         Here we start the process of loving God above all things, we instantly become holy or separated for God and the sanctification process is activated in our lives. Salvation does not give us perfection, but instantly causes tangible and visible changes in our walk.

         Salvation is so powerful that it instantly changes your personality. We become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your fruit should speak of your salvation (Matthew 7:16). Salvation is indeed a visible thing.

         It is not the sinner’s prayer that saved you or me. The sinner’s prayer becomes a reflection of your newfound faith. The sinner’s prayer is the prayer of a man or a woman who is now spirituality alive. That is why the Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10 that we must believe in our hearts.

 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (NKJV)

          The word “confess” it does not refer to just a simple prayer that we pray so that now we can call ourselves saved. This word means,

      “To concede, admit, confess to confess publicly, acknowledge openly, profess. To confess Christ personally, meaning to profess or acknowledge Him. To acknowledge in honor of someone, meaning to give thanks, to praise.”[1]

 To confess Christ, as Lord and Savior is to change the way we talk; our confession now acknowledge and honors Christ.

         The word believe here means, “To believe, to have faith in, to trust, to be firmly persuaded as to something.”[2] With this newfound faith our whole believe system is changed radically. Nothing can change a human heart as radically as the born again experience.      

         Faith comes by hearing this message (Romans 10:17); not by hanging around us, not by opening our church for little community programs, festivals or even our charity efforts. Faith comes by hearing the Word. That is one of our greatest responsibilities as Christians. In John 14:6 Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (NKJV) Jesus must be presented. The fact that you are a Christian is not going to save anybody; the fact that you are a nice person is not going to change anybody.

         Some people think they can present the Gospel without having to talk about Christ. So they develop a very low evangelistic standard. They are satisfied with people recognizing them as Christians, but they are fearful of presenting the Gospel. They use expressions such as I don’t have to beat nobody with the Word, or expressions such as, I am the Bible they will be able to read and such. But it is all a copout from our responsibility as Christians. We must give people an opportunity to receive this Gospel by presenting what the Word has to say about Christ. God is going to confirmed His Word, not anything that we have to say or do outside of His Word. Mark 16:20 says,

 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (KJV)

          Can you see? They went and they preach; that is our job. Then the Lord confirmed His Word with signs.

         I do not claim to have all the answers; beloved we all know in part; so is it ok to say that it is impossible for us to figure everything out. But do you know the basics. Also, God is available to take us deeper according to First Corinthians 2:10.

         I hope this series of articles brought some clarity to the doctrine of salvation. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me at angelcasiano@aol.com. God bless you!

 

 

        

          

 

 

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[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[2] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

The Doctrine of Salvation 2


salvation-march

Two theologies of salvation came at the hands of two theologians. John Calvin, born in France in 1509, who became the successor of Martin Luther and, Jacob Arminius, from Dutch born in 1560.

         Calvinism is the doctrine that brings us predestination. The Calvinist believed that some people are predestined to go to heaven and others predestined to go to hell.

         Armianism, on the other hand, is the doctrine that establishes that salvation is a personal decision, that God has something to do with it, that He initiates the process but ultimately, the phenomenon of salvation is in our own hands.

         Make no mistake about it, if you are saved, God chose you. John 15:16 tells us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (NKJV) God also told Moses, “…I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19 (NKJV)

         We don’t have to understand everything. Why God is choosing some and seems not to chose others? Or why some get saved and other don’t? I don’t know!

         The greater question for me is, if God is in charge of choosing, why not send us to those who are chosen exclusively? But He is sending us to preach this Gospel to the whole world. Can somebody chosen able to reject God? The Calvinist doctrine teaches that no one is able to resist God; that God is supreme and in control of everything. The Armianism, on the other hand, teaches us that people reject God all the time. The Apostle Paul told Timothy in First Timothy 2:1-4,

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NKJV)

         If it is God’s will for all to be saved and, in reality, not all get saved, then, can we conclude that obviously some are rejecting Him? If it is God’s will for all to be saved, then why some get saved and some don’t? If anybody can reject Him, then is it possible that they can accept Him also and therefor; do we have something to do with our own salvation? Can we, as evangelist contribute to somebody’s salvation? Can we pray them in?

         I do considered Armianism, on issues of salvation, to be bad theology. I don’t argue that we have a free will, but the Bible specifically tells us that salvation is the total work of God; it is all a gift from heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us,

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)

         If salvation is a matter of decision, then repentance is not necessary. I can arrogantly say; I am making a decision to follow Christ. For example, the rich young man wanted to make such decision to follow Christ, while holding on to everything he had. Many are convinced that they could be saved while approaching the Gospel just as the rich young man did. In Matthew 19:21-22 we read,

21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (NKJV)

 

         I think that many times we fail to understand that Jesus accepts us as we are, but not without us repenting for what we have done. To follow God we must surrender all to Him. If you let Him do that kind of work in you, He will. However, we also have the right to reject any gift, that is, including the gift of salvation. Jesus told this young rich man to follow him, but the rich man rejected him, as he did not want to let go of his possessions. This is a typology of many that want to come to Jesus as long as they are allowed to continue in their sin. That attitude alone is evidence that repentance have not taken place. The story of this young rich man continue,

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26 (NKJV)

         Noticed that in verse 26 we see a little of the Armianism and a little of the Calvinistic approach. The rich young man executed his will by not following Jesus, even after Jesus himself asked him to follow Him. This proves that God can’t be rejected. On the other hand, I see some Calvinism because Jesus made it clear that with God all things are possible. Can we say that if the rich man was truly a chosen one maybe the outcome would have been different? I only know in part!

To be continued…

Don’t Try to Change the World


The death of Robin Williams is another example of how extreme, cruel and bloody this fight is.

Here is a man who seemed so happy. One of the best actors of our time; perhaps the best comedian ever. However, it was all a mask. In his secret place he was struggling with a severe depression. How can that be? All the money and all the fame! But we fail to understand that our hearts will always be empty without Christ.

I felt the death of this man and it reminded me that we are in a war to win the souls of men. We are not on this earth to change the world; the world will never change for the good; it will indeed get worst.

We are here to announce God’s Kingdom and to bring people into the knowledge and the righteousness of God. We are here to communicate to the world that God’s ways are indescribably, better than ours.

Beloved, while we prepare for our Sunday shows, while we fight among each other, while we insist in our selfish agendas, while we insist in feeding un-forgiveness, the white thing, the black thing, the Latino thing and, while we pursue degrees and titles, people are not waiting for their natural death, they are rushing into death by taking their own lives.

Let’s focus on Jesus, let’s pursue His breaking joke anointing and, let’s stop trying to change the world, but work on our own world, until our world looks exactly like God’s kingdom.

Let’s love each other so that world be able to recognize us as sons and daughters of God. For God’s judgment start with us!