Salvation Answers

Four Cardinal Points

What is the Fall?

Dictionary definition: In Judaism and Christianity, the lapse of humankind into a sinful state as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in disobeying God.

When the Lord made a covenant with Adam in the Garden of Eden, he forewarned him of the consequences of disobedience: Adam and all his descendants would experience both spiritual death (separation from God) as well as physical death (separation from our bodies). Although Adam was the first to sin against God, we are all sinners. The Good News is that Jesus died to redeem everyone who believes in him from the consequences of the Fall. Having been forgiven and justified through the sacrifice of his life, we have the abiding presence of God’s Spirit as a guarantee of eternal life, as well as the sure hope of being a part of the Resurrection, when we will be reunited with our transfigured bodies. “Therefore… sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” (Rom. 5:12)

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What is salvation?

Dictionary definition: Deliverance from sin or the consequences of sin through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

Salvation has both a broad and a narrow definition. From God’s point of view, salvation is his long-term plan to redeem mankind and the earth from bondage to sin, decay, and death. The ultimate goal of salvation is to re-establish the conditions that prevailed before sin entered the world, especially the close relationship that existed between Adam and the Father. God’s salvation plan was put into action at the Fall of man, and it will be fully accomplished at the end of Jesus’ millennial reign, when he delivers a righteous earth back to his Father. “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1Cor 15:24-26)

From man’s point of view, salvation is God’s personal invitation for us to repent, or turn away, from our old life, and trust in Christ so we can be part of his long-term plan of salvation. We are saved from sin and death through forgiveness of sins and spiritual rebirth, becoming citizens of the kingdom of God and members of the household of faith. As disciples of Christ, we grow in the relational knowledge of God and the character of Jesus, overcoming the draw of the world. Through the trial of our faith, we develop Jesus’ compassion for others, resulting in disciples who bring honor and glory to God. “Salvation is found in no one else (than Jesus Christ), for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but how much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12—13)

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What is the kingdom of God?

Dictionary definition: The spiritual reign or authority of God; the rule of God or Christ in a future age.

The Lord promised Adam that he would send a Redeemer to save mankind from the consequences of the Fall. The promise of God’s coming Messiah (Gr: Christ) was kept alive through the line of Abraham and the prophets. These prophecies were interpreted as foretelling that when the Messiah came, he would redeem mankind from sin and establish the kingdom of God, with himself as king. In Jesus time, this meant that the arrival of the Messiah would result in the defeat and expulsion of the hated Roman army from Israel. Several religious leaders had already tried to accomplish this through their own efforts, but this had only resulted in mass crucifixions. Jesus’ approach to redemption and the kingdom of God turned out to be somewhat different than what the Jews expected.

Jesus would in fact redeem mankind from sin. However, instead of establishing a physical kingdom at that time, he opened the gates to the spiritual kingdom of God. Entrance to this kingdom would be based on faith rather than because of birth or good works. Only after a long period of time, at the end of the times of the Gentiles, will Christ return to vanquish the kingdoms of the world and establish the kingdom of God over all the earth. When he does return, it will be with the redeemed: his called, chosen, and faithful followers, because every kingdom is comprised not just of its geographic area, but its citizens. Since Jesus’ reign will be a righteous one, his disciples are trained in righteousness in this life so we can represent him in the next. “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21) “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev 5: 9-10)

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What is the resurrection?

Dictionary definition: 1. Christ’s rising from the dead. 2. The rising of the dead at the Last Judgment.

When we are reborn through the power of the Holy Spirit, we pass from death to life. Because our spirit is alive in Christ, even though we die physically, we are still alive in him, so we will go to be with him in heaven. We remain there in spiritual form until the resurrection. Then we will return to earth with Jesus to be reunited with our bodies, which will be raised from the dead and changed to be like his. The resurrection is often referred to in Scripture as “our inheritance,” because we will receive a reward for the works we have done for the kingdom according to God’s will. The Resurrection is also called “the hope of our salvation,” because the promised riches of life in the kingdom of God help motivate us to give up the rewards of this life and persevere through the trial of our faith. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.’” (Jn. 11:25) “So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1Cor. 15:42-44) “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1Cor. 2:9)

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Some Basics

What is being “born again”?

Dictionary definition: Somebody with a new and passionately felt and expressed Christian faith.

Being “born again” is the hallmark of salvation. The term describes those who, by grace and through faith, have received spiritual rebirth through the power of the Holy Spirit. Since a person cannot live two lives at once, we must die to our old life to be born into the new one. We are required therefore to repent from our old way of life. When we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we die with Christ to the power of sin and are reborn into the family and kingdom of God. Baptism provides a picture of this spiritual reality. Being immersed in water is symbolic of being buried with Christ. We rise out of the water to a new life, just as Jesus rose to new life on Easter morning. “Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3)

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What is repentance?

Dictionary definition: A feeling of regret or contrition for having dome something wrong.

To repent from a course of action is to turn away from it and go in a new direction. Repentance is always based on remorse for our actions and a sincere desire to please God. Repentance involves not only turning away from sin, but turning to Christ. Repentance is required at conversion, because we cannot enter the kingdom of God unless we have renounced the kingdom of darkness and all its works. After we are saved, we continue to repent from our sins as they are revealed to us by the Spirit, seeking God’s forgiveness with a desire to not repeat the same mistakes. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…” (2Cor. 7:10) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn. 1:9)

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What is grace?

Dictionary definition: The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Grace is that aspect of God’s nature by which the Holy Spirit draws us to the Father through Christ. Grace is freely given according to God’s will in order to restore mankind to himself through the forgiveness of sins. Because it is a gift, grace cannot be gained through our own efforts. Therefore, no one can ‘earn’ salvation. Being a good person or doing good works cannot get one into the kingdom of God. Only faith in Jesus and his atoning work of redemption can do this. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:4-5)

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What is faith?

Dictionary definition: Belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.

Faith is defined in Hebrews 11 as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is a complex way of saying that we believe the Bible’s claims that that the kingdom of God is real, and that we enter it through trust in Christ, by making him Lord of our life. Because the spiritual kingdom of God is invisible, and his coming kingdom is still in the future, we live (by faith) in the certain hope of our promised reward of a place in Christ’s kingdom when he returns. Jesus’ past sacrifice for us, the present indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in us, and the future hope of our reward in the kingdom of God all work together to motivate us to love the Lord and obey his commands. Through our continuing faith, we follow the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit as our guide for daily living. Faith has the ability to make the word of God a reality in our own life and in the lives of those to whom we minister. “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20) “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt. 17:20)

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What is justification?

Dictionary definition: Declare or make righteous in the sight of God.

Justification is the act of placing someone in right standing with God, declaring a person to be righteous because of his or her faith in Jesus. This gift is ours when we are redeemed, because God’s salvation plan provided more than just forgiveness. It included restoration to the righteous standing man had with the Father before the Fall. Jesus took our sins on himself in what might be termed ‘God’s exchange program.’ Just as a police officer might offer himself to a hostage taker in exchange for his captives, Jesus took the sins of mankind on himself so we could be set free from them.

To summarize, when we are saved we are forgiven, consecrated to God, and justified, or made righteous in the sight of God. We are justified because Jesus took our sins and gave us his righteousness in return, reconciling us to the Father. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Cor. 5:21) “(We) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:24) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1)

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What is ‘being in Christ’?

Dictionary definition: 1. in: Expressing a state or condition. 2. Christ: The title, also treated as a name given to Jesus of Nazareth; (origin) noun use of an adjective, meaning anointed, translating Hebrew “Messiah.”

Our relationship with Jesus and the Father is a spiritual one, based on Christ’s righteousness and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Because the Spirit of Christ is in us, we are also in Christ. This term expresses the spiritual reality of the oneness, or unity, of all believers with each other and Christ. “We who are in Christ form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Rom. 12:5) “I consider (all things of the world) rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Phil. 3:8-9)

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What is conversion?

Dictionary definition: 1. Repentance and change to a Godly life. 2. An adoption of new opinions or beliefs, especially in religion.

To convert something is to change its form, character, or function. When we convert to Christianity, we may look the same on the outside, but we are different on the inside. Although conversion is a one-time event, it can also be viewed as the beginning stage of our salvation walk. As new converts, we learn the basics of the blessings of salvation, as well as our responsibilities as citizens of the kingdom of God. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19KJV) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2Cor. 5:17)

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What is consecration?

Dictionary definition: Make or declare sacred; dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose.

Consecration is the act of dedicating someone or something to God, often through a first fruits offering. That person or object is then considered sacred, or holy, and treated with appropriate respect, no longer used for common purposes. We are consecrated, set apart as servants of God through the blood of Jesus, and because we are therefore spiritually “in Christ.” Since he is holy, we are also holy. “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.” (Heb. 13:12) “If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.” (Rom. 11:16)

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What is sanctification?

Dictionary definition: To make holy; a means of achieving holiness.

Having been initially consecrated to God, our consecration needs to be fulfilled in our walk. Since we are set apart as holy, are called to be holy. This occurs through the process of sanctification, as we are transformed over time by the power of the Spirit, increasingly growing in obedience and the character of Christ. “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (1Cor. 6:17-18; 7:1) “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2Tim. 2:20-21)

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What is transformation?

Dictionary definition:  A thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.

Transformation is the means through which we are changed into the image of Christ. The Greek word is metamorphosis, which describes the process a caterpillar undergoes in its cocoon as it is changed into a butterfly. It is true change in the inner man as the character of Christ is worked into us. Because a person’s thoughts determine who they are, this process is based on renewing the mind through the word of God. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom. 12:2)

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What is the armor of God?

Dictionary definition (armor): Protective clothing of metal or leather worn in battle by soldiers in former times.

As we go through the process of sanctification, we need the power of the Spirit in order to overcome the world and walk in righteousness. This power is manifested primarily in two ways: the armor of God and the gifts of the Spirit. The armor of God enables us to stand against the deceptions and temptations of the enemy so we can turn away from the enticements of the world and resist temptation. The armor basically describes a believer who is no longer a “babe” in Christ, who has developed the strength of character to stand in the battle against evil, able to protect themselves and others. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to stand your ground... Stand firm then, with the belt of truth... the breastplate of righteousness... the gospel of peace... the shield of faith... the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God... and pray in the Spirit... (Eph 6: 13-18)

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What are spiritual gifts?

Dictionary definition gift: 1. A thing willingly given to somebody without payment. 2. A talent or skill that somebody appears to have been born with. 

Spiritual gifts are special qualities or blessings given to each individual as the Spirit wills, in order to build up and encourage the church. Some gifts are an enhancement of ‘natural abilities’ (although these are really given by God) such as administration or teaching or giving. Some gifts are of a more ad hoc supernatural nature, such as having a word of knowledge for an individual or a prophetic message for the church that comes through the revelation of the Spirit. “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” (1Cor. 12:1, 4-6)

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Biblical Background

What is atonement?

Dictionary definition: 1. To make amends for a wrong or injury. 2. The reconciliation of God and mankind through Jesus Christ.

Under the Old Covenant God gave through Moses, the sin offering reconciled Israel to God because it worked forgiveness through atonement. The Hebrew word for atonement defines a covering, like the pitch that was used to cover the hull of a boat to make it waterproof. The forgiveness that came through blood sacrifices in effect ‘covered’ sin, reconciling God’s people to himself. However, animal sacrifices could not change the inner man or even cleanse the conscience from guilt. However, in the New Covenant, Jesus’ atoning blood not only covers us with forgiveness, it also covers us with his righteousness and removes the guilt of sin from our conscience. Because Jesus is the Son of God, this reconciles us to the Father and eliminates the need for further sacrifice. Scripture: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also (rejoice) in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Rom. 5:10-11) “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14)

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What is redemption?

Dictionary definition: 1. The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. 2. The action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.

In ancient times, and even in some places today, a man might have to become the servant of another if he was unable to pay off his debts. Hebrew culture addressed this type of situation, allowing someone to pay the price of another’s debt, in effect purchasing them from their new master in order to redeem them from bondage. To redeem something or someone is to pay the required price to set them free. In the New Covenant, our redemption by Christ means that he paid the price to free us from our debt of sin. Since he bought us with his own blood, we now belong to him. The full measure of our redemption will be realized when Jesus returns to establish his kingdom on earth.  Scripture: “You are not your own... For you were bought at a price...” (1Cor. 6:19-20 NKJV) “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace… (we are) marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” (Eph. 1:7,14)

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What is the price of redemption?

Dictionary definition: 1. price: An unwelcome experience, event, or action involved as a condition of achieving a desired end. 2. to redeem: (archaic) To buy the freedom of.

Because the penalty for sin is death, in order for sins to be forgiven, a “substitutionary sacrifice” had to be made. In other words, someone else had to take our place and be slain for us under God’s legal principle of  “a life for a life.” Only a life that was innocent of sin could be a substitute: one slave cannot free another slave, since they are both under the same bondage. From earliest Biblical times, an animal served as the substitute for man, since animals are morally incapable of sin and therefore ‘innocent.’ This was only a stopgap measure, since the blood of an animal cannot actually remove sin from the soul or cleanse the conscience. To accomplish these things, a human rather than an animal life would be required. Scripture: But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Heb. 10:4) “For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Lev. 17:11) “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22)

Since Jesus was without sin, he was able to take our place, giving his own lifeblood in payment for our debt. His heart pierced by the soldier’s spear, Jesus fulfilled the blood requirement of a life for a life. Because of his sacrifice, we are freed from the curse of sin and death, and our conscience is cleansed from the guilt that impels us to continue in sin. Although believers can still be tempted and choose to sin, we are no longer under its power. Although death has not yet been completely overcome, it is now the gateway to new life for all those who believe.  Scriptures: “So just as sin reigned through death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 5:21) “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.” (Heb. 10:22)

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What is a kinsman-redeemer?

Dictionary definition: 1. kinsman: A man or boy who is somebody’s relative. 2. redeemer: A person who redeems someone or something.

Even before the Old Covenant of Law, God established the formal procedure by which someone who was sold into servitude for a debt could be set free. There were two requirements for this to occur. The one who redeemed a person who had lost his freedom or inheritance had to be part of his extended family, i.e., his kinsman. The second requirement was that he had to pay the debt in full, buying back, or redeeming the person or land that had been lost. He was therefore known as the kinsman-redeemer. Ruth’s marriage to Boaz was an example of her redemption by a kinsman. The kinsman redeemer is a type of Jesus, the promised Messiah who would deliver mankind from the sorry state it had gotten itself into due to the Fall of Adam. Jesus was kinsman to Adam though the line of Judah and David, and as the Lamb of God slain for the sins of mankind, he paid the blood price so our debt could be forgiven.  Scripture: “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has triumphed. Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain...” (Rev. 5:5-6)

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What is a covenant?

Dictionary definition: An agreement that brings about a relationship of commitment between God and his people. The Jewish faith is based on biblical covenants.

Covenants provide a way of approach to God, re-establishing to some degree the broken relationship between God and man. The Lord established seven salvation covenants, from Adam to Jesus, to put his plan of redeeming mankind into effect. A covenant is like a treaty, or a legal contract that establishes the respective rights and duties of the parties included in the agreement. In ancient times, covenants of reconciliation and friendship were ‘sealed,’ or confirmed, with salt. The strong taste and preservative effect of salt was a reminder of the strength and lasting nature of the bond between the people involved.

Salvation covenants were sealed, or confirmed, with the shedding of blood rather than with salt, because the shed blood atoned for man’s sin. Those ‘coming under the blood’ of the covenant by accepting its terms were reconciled to God. Jesus’ blood established the last of these salvation covenants, called the New Covenant. Through this final covenant, we receive forgiveness of sins now, and eternal life when Jesus returns. Scriptures: “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13)) “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” (Luke 22:20) “For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died to set them free from sin…” (Heb. 9:15)

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