Conclusion

Perhaps a chart would help explain how all this fits together —

To become saved Baptism To stay saved
Hear, believe, confess the gospel Faith Accept Jesus as Son of God Faith Accept Jesus as Son of God Faith Faith
Repent Penitence Accept Jesus as Lord Penitence Accept Jesus as Lord Love Love
Accept Jesus as Savior Accept Jesus as Savior Only Hope

The first column is the Plan of Salvation as we’ve traditionally taught it.

The second column follows the language that Todd and I used in our first several posts.

The third column expresses the same thoughts in Jesus-centered terms. “Faith” is accepting Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. “Repentance” is accepting Jesus as Lord. But there’s a third element that Gal 5:4 helps us focus on — accepting Jesus as Savior. You see, he’s not really our Savior if we try to be our own saviors. It’s not until we add “only” to faith and repentance that we stop trying to sharing the role of savior with Jesus.

The fourth column, labeled “Baptism,” marks the line between becoming saved and being saved.

The fifth and sixth columns repeat the second and third columns, because the standard for being saved is the same as becoming saved.

The seventh column borrows its language from Gal 5:6b —

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

“Love” fits in the slot for repentance and for accepting Jesus as Lord because love fulfills the law. “Only” fits into the slot in parallel with “Savior” because it’s the “only” that allows Jesus to save — rather us having to save ourselves.

The final column take the familiar triad — faith, hope, and love — and shows how it parallels our salvation. “Hope” is both the new heaven and earth that await us at the End of time and the confidence we have that we’ll actually be there. And that confidence is found in the “only” — in our trust in Jesus to save us.

Notice that, as shown in the first column, we mention nothing in the “plan of salvation” about looking to Jesus as our Savior, and this is a mistake. Now, it’s implicit in our pre-baptismal teaching. We really do teach salvation by faith and not works before baptism! We just don’t list it in our 5 steps.

The problem is that after we’re baptized, we no longer consider faith, hope, and love good enough. Rather, we find our hope not only in Jesus but also in our ability to discern implications from the scripture that are — to say the least — less than obvious! And while we don’t add circumcision to the plan of salvation, we often add lots and lots of other things.

We skip the “only” part of Galatians 5:6 and so we skip the “hope” and “Savior” parts as well. We say the words but we contradict them in countless ways. It’s the “only” that makes the gospel good news!

And our refusal to see this is tearing the Churches of Christ to shreds — and costing the souls of many.

Therefore, it’s imperative for all who understand to teach everyone who will listen. The times do not permit silence. We cannot run from controversy. We cannot fear loss of reputation or friends. I mean, would you rather lose your friend for your few remaining years on this planet — or for eternity?

Neither can we put the institutions we work for ahead of sound theology. There is no wisdom, courage, or love in remaining silent just so the contributions will keep flowing in. Indeed, this would be to worship Mammon rather than God. No, to follow in the steps of Jesus, we must be willing to pay the price of telling the truth.

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5 Comments on “Conclusion”

  1. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Gentlemen: The gospel can be reduced to three elements: 1)Jesus lived a perfect life, 2)Jesus died on the cross – for our sins, 3) Jesus was resurrected on the third day. Praise God! Remove any one and there can be no salvation. We are saved by grace through faith, it is a gift from God, not of yourselves lest any man boast.”

    How you can draw your silly diagrams and put “baptism” as the “key” is beyond me. This, I believe, is when one truly “falls from grace.” Not saying your are lost in the salvation sense – but have fallen back to man’s “formula for getting saved and staying saved. And further, you seem to have no grasp of Ephesians 4:30 “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” The sad reality is that you, well-meaning Church of Christ conservatives, are much closer to Mormonism than to Evangelical Christianity. May God have mercy…


  2. Glenn, reductionism is reductionism, whether it is a list of three elements or a chart of seven columns.

    Instead of a drive-by strafing, why not engage people who do not have your understanding in a conversation that will draw them in and explain your point of view? Explain why Ephesians 4:30 is crucial to your way of thinking?

    Isn’t that what a loving brother in Christ would do?

    Otherwise, why not just reduce your number of keystrokes to “- Oh, never mind”?

    It’d be just as illuminating to the rest of us.

  3. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Keith, Forgive me, my intent was not to offend but “gently” rebuke. The subject is far too important to let this go unchallenged. Further, an “Oh,never mind” …would be the perfect “out” for someone who did not care or feigned their true feelings.

    How much explaining does “…whereby we are sealed by the Holy Spirit” need? Sealed means sealed. We are not getting out…because it is christ that ensures our salvation…not “ourselves lest any man boast.

    This is consistent with Christ’s comments in John 6:39. “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

    Then from 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you MAY KNOW that you have eternal life.”

    God’s word gives us assurance of our salvation, whereas there seems to be no “security of the believer” in CofC teaching. Eternal life sounds more like “provisional” life…akin to someone on a skateboard on ice. Where is the peace in that?

  4. Randall Says:

    Glenn,
    From early on in this “conversation” there has been a small handful that indicated the difference between the “conservatives” and the “progressives” was that the progressives allowed for more latitude in what man had to do to get and remain saved. It may not be quite fair to describe the differences as merely quantitative rather than qualitative; but even the progressive perspective is still very much a CofC perspective and it still lacks a real grasp of the grace of God.

    I wish all my sisters and brothers in the CofC the best. I trust the gospel is clear enough and scripture plain enough that in their hearts they do receive the gospel despite being caught up “in the smoke of their own chimneys” and the teaching of those they consider to be their “spiritual betters.”
    Peace,
    Randall

  5. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Randall, You said it well, brother! When one clearly sees the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice…the ONLY response is doxology -“Praise God from whom all blessings flow..”
    It is certainly not a checklist of “damnable sins” like instrumetal music. 🙂

    Paul claims he is the “chief sinner.” I will debate that issue – I believe I am. The more I grow, the more I am aware of my sins, the less I am impressed by my own “righteousnes” …which Isaiah 64:6 says is “like filty rags.” I know I will be saved because Christ will never let go. That’s why grace is so amazing!


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