Salvation, as far as we are concerned is the most important issue that we must grapple with in scripture. There are as varied teachings on salvation as there are denominations in the world. While some teachings are very similar and often intersect, yet it is undeniable that most are in complete contradiction.
At one extreme there are the ‘Hyper-grace’ exponents that asserts the salvation of God is by grace alone to the exclusion of other vital Biblical teachings such as; repentance, confession, baptism, etc. These are considered secondary works and are not necessary but considered good. This teaching gives rise to what Jude warned about in Jude 1:4, “I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” (NLT) This teaching also makes the Old Testament moral law irrelevant and does not encourage the doctrine of sanctification.
At the other end are the pure legalists who insist that salvation is completely and wholly dependant on man’s works. This results in the idea that we can work our way to heaven, giving rise to Phariseeism and judgementalism. As with most things, truth is often found in the middle of the two extremes or with a balanced approach. And it is always found in the Holy Scriptures.
Paul tells us to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) or have a proper systematic approach to studying the Scriptures and establishing Biblical doctrine. Here’s what the scriptures teach: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9 (KJV)
The text clearly tells us that we are saved by the grace of God and not of the works of the flesh. However, grace is not automatically imparted to every single human being, else everyone is saved regardless of religious beliefs and lifestyles. We would no longer be required to propagate the Gospel. This is of course false.
God’s Grace gifts his redemptive power over sin and death in our lives by virtue of Jesus’ death on the cross. However, there is still the issue of ‘Man’s free will’ that God will not override. We are still required to respond to Grace, either to accept it or reject it. It is ‘through faith’ which is our responsibility that Grace is accessed, therefore we are not unwilling and unconscious participants in God’s salvation. ‘Through faith’ requires our response to His Grace and faith must be lived out, it is not just a mental ascent. We are required to Repent of our sins (Luke 3:3), Confess (Romans 10:10), be Baptised in Jesus name (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 19:5, 22:16), receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5, Acts 2:38, Rom 8:9) and to live holy enduring (Matt 10:22, 2 Thess 2:13, 2 Pet 3:11).
This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.