Soteriology 5.14.23
Jerry Beebe


I’ve been immersed in college level study, drafting a syllabus, and preparing for my upcoming teaching assignment at Addis Bible College in Ethopia.  I wouldn’t want to live in the world of academia and much prefer being just an ordinary rural pastor.  But, these opportunities cause me to stretch, grow, and wrestle with theology on a deeper level than normal.  Recently I’ve been reviewing some concepts of “soteriology” which is simply the study of salvation.  Why do we need to be saved?”  What does it mean to be saved?  What is necessary for our salvation and how does one bring into proper balance the connection between faith and works that are both taught in Scripture?

It’s important to realize that we have all sinned against God which has two effects.  The first is the destruction of our righteousness and the second is we have been enslaved by sin and darkness.   Jesus has reconciled man with God through His death and resurrection and made salvation a gift offered to us by the Father Himself.  (Romans 5: 15-18)  It is evident,  however, that we must cooperate with God in order to be saved.  It’s a process and that’s what I want you to understand today.   Too often we have relegated “salvation” to a single event or prayer where we made a “decision” to follow Christ.  Those decisions are often based on emotions at the time.  They are important and a step but does not encompass the totality of what it means to embrace salvation.

A better understanding of salvation is not a single “event” but rather a three stage process.   Let’s call the first step “justification.”   It occurs as a result of God freely giving His grace to us. (Romans 5:20)   This happens at the time we become aware of our need of a Savior, repent and decide to follow Him.  It could be at the time of conversion or perhaps at the time of baptism.    The second stage is “sanctification” or the process of growin in righteousness and living according to the Spirit and not our flesh.  (Gal 6:7)  This stage requires our efforts and works.  The final stage is to “persevere” in God’s grace.  St. Paul puts it this way; “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 3:14)

So when it comes to soteriology I think it’s important we adjust our thinking a bit and realize that salvation is not a one-time fixed event.   We are already saved (Romans 8:24) we are being saved (1 Cor 1:18, 2 Cor 2:15) and we have the hope that we will be saved.  (Romans 5:9-10; 1 Cor 3:12-15)