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7. Soteriology: Salvation

IA. Introduction

The term “soteriology” comes from two Greek terms, namely, soter meaning “savior” or “deliverer” and logos meaning “word,” “matter,” or “thing.” In Christian systematic theology it is used to refer to the study of the biblical doctrine of salvation. It often includes such topics as the nature and extent of the atonement as well as the entire process of salvation, conceived as an eternal, divine plan designed to rescue lost and erring sinners and bring them back into eternal fellowship with God. Many regard it as the primary theme in Scripture with the glory of God as its goal.

IIA. The Nature of the Atonement

1B. The Recapitulation View

1C. Explanation
2C. Proponents
3C. Evaluation

2B. The Example of Moral Influence View

1C. Explanation
2C. Proponents
3C. Evaluation

3B. The Ransom to Satan View

1C. Explanation
2C. Proponents
3C. Evaluation

4B. The Divine Triumph or Dramatic View

1C. Explanation
2C. Proponents
3C. Evaluation

5B. The Satisfaction or Commercial View

1C. Explanation
2C. Proponents
3C. Evaluation

6B. The Governmental View

1C. Explanation
2C. Proponents
3C. Evaluation

7B. The Penal Substitution View

1C. Explanation
2C. Proponents
3C. Evaluation

IIIA. The Extent of the Atonement

1B. The Question

2B. The Importance of the Question

3B. Two Answers to the Question

1C. Unlimited or General Redemption
1D. Statement of Position
2D. Scriptural Support
2C. Limited or Particular Redemption
1D. Statement of Position
2D. Scriptural Support
3C. Synthesis of the Texts25

4B. Application of Theology

IVA. The Process of Salvation

1B. Conditional and Unconditional Election

1C. Definition of Unconditional Election
2C. Definition of Conditional Election
3C. The Nature of Man
1D. Romans 3:9-11
2D. Ephesians 2:1-3, 8-10
3D. John 6:65
4D. Acts 13:48
5D. Romans 9:15-16, 20-22

2B. Effectual Calling26

1C. A General Call
1D. Matthew 11:28-30
2D. Isaiah 45:22
2C. A Special or Effectual Call
1D. Romans 1:7
2D. Romans 8:30
3D. Romans 11:29
4D. 1 Corinthians 1:9
5D. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27
6D. 2 Timothy 1:9

3B. Regeneration

1C. Definition
2C. Key Texts
1D. John 1:12-13
2D. John 3:3
3D. Titus 3:527
4D. James 1:18
5D. 1 Peter 1:3
3C. Relationship to Faith

4B. Conversion

1C. Its Place in the Ordo Salutis
2C. Two Elements of True Conversion
3C. Three Aspects of Faith
4C. Three Aspects of Repentance
5C. Key Texts
1D. Acts 20:21
2D. Hebrews 6:1
3D. 2 Corinthians 7:10
6C. Interpreting Passages Mentioning Just One Element
1C. Believing—John 3:16; 5:24; Rom 3:22
2C. Repentance—Luke 24:46-47; Acts 3:19; 17:30; Rom 2:4

5B. Union with Christ

1C. The Meaning of “In Christ”
1D. Ephesians 1:4
2D. Romans 8:28-30; 38-39
3D. 1 Corinthians 1:30
4D. 1 John 2:5-6
2C. “In Christ and Christ in Us”
1D. John 14:23
2D. John 15:1-11
3C. “In Christ” and the “Body of Christ”
1D. Romans 12:5
2D. 1 Corinthians 10:17
3D. Ephesians 4:4

6B. Justification

1C. An Ad Hoc Doctrine?
2C. Elements of a Definition
1D. The State of Those Requiring Justification—Romans 1:18-3:20
2D. A Legal Declaration—Romans 3:24, 28
3D. A “Once-for-All” Declaration
4D. A Pronouncement of Forgiveness and the Issue of Guilt
5D. The Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness
6D. The Basis of Justification: Christ’s Death and Resurrection
7D. The Place of Faith in Being Justified by God
8D. The Relationship of Justification and Sanctification
9D. The Eschatology of Justification

7B. Adoption

1C. Definition and Relationship to Justification
2C. The Blessings of Adoption
1D. God Becomes Our Special Father—Galatians 3:26
2D. Our Father Cares for Us and Understands Us—Matthew 6:25-34
3D. Our Father Raises His Children Wisely—Hebrews 12:1-10; Rom 8:14
4D. Sonship Means Being an Heir—Gal 4:7; Rom 8:17
3C. Sonship Implies Responsibility to Imitate the Father—Eph 5:1; 1 Pet 1:15-16

8B. Sanctification

1C. Definition
1D. The “Past” of Sanctification—1 Corinthians 6:11
2D. The “Future” of Sanctification—Romans 8:29
3D. The “Present” of Sanctification—2 Corinthians 7:1
2C. The Nature and Goal of Sanctification—2 Corinthians 3:18
3C. The Context of Sanctification—Romans 5:1ff
4C. The Root of Sanctification—Romans 6:3-4
5C. The Agent of Sanctification—2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:12-13
6C. Our “Co-operation” in Sanctification
1D. Romans 8:13
2D. Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:22-24
7C. The Experience of Sanctification: Conflict
1D. With the Flesh—Romans 8:6-7; Galatians 5:17
2D. With the World—1 John 2:15-16
3D. With the Devil and Demons—Ephesians 6:12
8C. Standard in Sanctification—Romans 13:8-10; 1 Peter 1:15-16
9C. The Ongoing Nature of Sanctification—Philippians 3:12-14
10C. The Chief Means of Sanctification Used by the Spirit
1D. The Word of God/Prayer—2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 15:7-8
2D. The People of God—Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 3:14-21
3D. The Circumstances God Ordains—Romans 8:28
4D. The Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper—Matt 28:19-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26
11C. The Ultimate End of Sanctification—Philippians 3:20

9B. Perseverance

1C. Definition and Key Texts
1D. Ephesians 2:8-9
2D. Philippians 1:6
3D. Romans 8:30
4D. Romans 11:32
5D. John 10:28-30
2C. Relationship to Justification, Eternal Security, and Sanctification
3C. Misunderstandings of the Doctrine
1D. It Encourages Antinomianism
2D. It Trivializes Present Sufferings and Trials
4C. The Warning Passages in Hebrews
1D. Various Approaches
1E. The Passages Speak about Loss of Salvation
2E. The Passages Speak about Condemnation of Unbelievers
3E. The Passages Speak about a Hypothetical Warning
4E. The Passages Speak about Loss of Reward for Believers
6E. The Issue of False Professions—Matthew 7:21-23
2D. The Warning Passages
1E. Hebrews 2:1-4
2E. Hebrews 3:6-4:13
3E. Hebrews 5:11-6:12
4E. Hebrews 10:26-39
5E. Hebrews 12:12-29
3D. Salvation in Hebrews
1E. Hebrews 3:14—A Paradigm
2E. Hebrews 7:25
3E. Hebrews 8:12
4E. Hebrews 9:14-15
5E. Hebrews 10:14
5C. The Issue of Rewards and Motivation to Godly Living

10B. Glorification

1C. Definition
2C. Christ Rose from the Dead First—Acts 26:23
3C. Christ’s Resurrection Body Is the Model for Believers’ Resurrection Body
1D. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
2D. Philippians 3:20-21
4C. Relationship of Glorified Body to Present Body
1D. John 21:4-14
2D. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
5C. The Relationship of Glorification to Sanctification
6C. The Results of Glorification
1D. Perfect Communion with God—1 Corinthians 13:12
2D. Perfect Integration of Heart, Mind, Will, and Body
3D. Perfect Worship and Service to God
4D. Perfect and Endless Growth

25 See Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 594-603. For a more modified Calvinistic view, see Erickson, Christian Theology, 825-35. Also, the language of “bought” (agorazo) in 2 Peter 2:1 might come from the OT, as we pointed out, but it might be the specific language of Peter’s opponents, that is, it might be their estimation of themselves. Peter thus uses it in a sarcastic way. Also, when John says that Christ died not only for our sins, but also for (peri + gen) the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2), he may simply be responding to an incipient form of Gnosticism which confined initiation to a select few. John says, “no, this gospel is equally for all men.”

26 We are not concerned here with the “call” to a particular vocation.

27 Regeneration seems to be associated in the early church with baptism, but it must be said up front that Scripture nowhere sanctions the belief that regeneration is materially related to anything other than Spirit sponsored, saving faith. The rite of baptism is the Christian symbol for salvation, and is often associated with faith, but of itself it contributes nothing.

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation), Teaching the Bible

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