Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation and Discipleship
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" No question is more important or more debated than this one presented by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30. The answer to this important question is found in the basic aspects of the faith. This is why the doctrine of salvation is so important. No doctrine of the faith is more fundamental than this doctrine. The essence of the gospel message is that God has achieved eternal salvation for all who will receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing that He died on the cross of Calvary as the sin bearer of the world. Salvation was accomplished for men by the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. This is what we call “Soteriology”, or “The Study of our Salvation”. The word “Soteriology” comes from the Greek word “Soteria”, which is rendered as “Savior” in the English language. There is a direct connection between Soteriology and discipleship. Like a specialized surgeon, Christian leaders and workers must focus in communicating the need of a savior to deliver us from eternal condemnation. This important job must be done with precision because misconceptions regarding this doctrine could potentially result in eternal destruction. In order to explain more profoundly how Soteriology is related to the process of discipleship, it is necessary to point out the most important features of this important doctrine and the full spectrum of its implications. The following paragraphs will provide an extensive explanation of this doctrine. The Bible teaches that mankind is in need of salvation. Genesis 1 narrates how God made us in His image, with the capacity to have a relationship with Him. Man was created and equipped to be a servant in fellowship with the Creator himself and to exercise dominion over the world. Adam openly rebelled against God in disobedience, falling from his state of perfection. His fall brought many consequences over him and everything created (Gen.3, Rom. 5 and 1st Cor. 15). The immediate consequences of Adam’s fall over himself were separation (Gen 3:9 "Where are you?"), guilt (Gen. 3:10-11 “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”), condemnation (Gen. 3:14-19 “Cursed is the ground because of you”), death (Gen. 3:3 “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die”) and ultimately, depravity. Because of Adam’s fall, the present man is in a state of sin. The implication over this reality is a guilty legal state before God (Eph. 2:1-3) and a condition of total depravity (Rom. 3:10-18). The present man is guilty before God because of his personal acts of sin (Psalm 51:4, Rom. 3:19; 1 John 3:4; Gal. 3:19) and his progenitor’s act of sin (Adam’s sin - Rom. 5:12). Man's essential condition since the fall is characterized by corruption. The image of God in man is terribly disfigured. The result of man’s evil and perverted nature are spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1-3), incapability to please God (Romans 8:7-8, Galatians 2:16; 5:17, Romans 3:20) and bond slavery of the sinful nature (Romans 6:17). The eternal consequence is man’s inability of saving himself (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). God was prompted to provide salvation for those in such a helpless and despicable state previously described by His mercy, His love and His grace (Ephesians 2:4-9). All Three Persons of the Godhead were involved in the eternal scheme of salvation. The Father’s planning is evidenced in Ephesians 1:3-6. The Father “chose us in Him before the creation of the world” (v.4), “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (v.5) and gave us freely His glorious grace (v.6). The Son’s act of redemption is summarized in Ephesians 1:7-12. In Jesus Christ “we have redemption through his blood” and “the forgiveness of sins” (v.7) and “we were also chosen” (v.11). Last, but not least, the Holy Spirit’s act of resurrection...
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