This week’s word is a theological term, soteriology. It means the doctrine of salvation.

Previous posts on atonement, redemption, regeneration, election, and justification address various aspects of the doctrine of salvation. Future posts will unpack more specific aspects of the doctrine.

As a panoramic view of the mountains contains multifaceted views, colors, shadows, and wonder so the doctrine of soteriology is dynamic and beautiful. The aim of this post is to remind us of the wonder, grandeur, and multifaceted glory of the doctrine of soteriology.

We often think of the Bible as a book about salvation. And it is. But the Bible is about more than salvation for us, the Bible is a book about God and his glory. In God’s greatness and glory, he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ to earth. Jesus came to earth to reveal God (John 1:14), to show us God’s love (John 3:16), to set us free through the truth (John 8:32), and to offer us eternal life by knowing him (John 17:3). In truth, Jesus is the storyline of Scripture.

As regards humanity, Jesus came to earth to be our Savior and our Lord.

Why do we need this doctrine? Why do we need salvation?

The doctrine of soteriology connects with the doctrines of humanity (who we are), sin (why we need salvation), and Christ (the One who saves). We need salvation from Jesus Christ because we have been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:28). We need salvation from Jesus Christ because we are sinners who have broken God’s laws (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23). We need salvation because unless God saves, we are hopeless to save ourselves.

The various aspects of soteriology teach us glorious truths about our salvation.

  • In election we learn that God planned our salvation from eternity.
  • In regeneration we learn that God made us alive from our condition of being spiritually dead.
  • In atonement we learn that Jesus became our substitute so that our sin could be paid for.
  • In redemption we learn that God bought us out of our slavery to sin and freed us.
  • In justification we learn that God declares us righteous through Christ.
  • In sanctification we learn that God made us holy and is working in us to make us more like Christ.
  • In adoption we learn that God chose us to be in his family and has made us his heirs.
  • In union with Christ we learn that God has given us a unique personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • In glorification we learn that God will give us eternal, glorious bodies like that of the risen Christ.

And there are more aspects to salvation than just these.

We often ask, “Are you saved?” And that’s an appropriate question. But it is multifaceted and more glorious than we can possibly imagine.

The doctrine of soteriology puts us in our appropriate place in the universe. The glories, depths, and wonders of our salvation far exceed our own personal experiences in being saved. God’s work in salvation is eternal in its scope (from before creation until after consummation), universal in its extent (available for the entire world), costly in its accomplishment (Jesus gave his life), personal in its invitation (for you and for me), and glorious in its result (God’s redemption of us through Christ reveals his glory).

What do we do with this doctrine?

First, receive it. If you have not yet repented of your sin and trusted in Christ alone, then do so now. Admit you are a sinner. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Commit your life to Jesus as Lord.

Second, worship from it. If you have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, then worship the God who did so much to bring you salvation. He is worthy. Let your salvation drive your worship of the Lord who loves you.

Third, learn about it. Don’t just be content that you are saved. Read Scripture, learn about God, go to church, listen in a small group, read good theological books. Our salvation is deeper and more glorious than we can ever fathom, and yet God gives us the privilege to know him and know his saving work in our lives.

Fourth, share it with others. Be thankful that God loves you, and sent Jesus to save you. But God does not just want to save you only. He sent Jesus to save the world. Be a witness to God’s saving work for someone else.

Regeneration means “to be made alive.” It is spiritual birth.

The Old Testament contains imagery that depicts salvation as regeneration. God gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), writes his law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), and gives his people a heart for himself (Jeremiah 32:39). 

The New Testament describes regeneration as being born again (John 1:13; 3:3; 1 John 2:29; 4:7, 5:1), made new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and made alive when we were dead (Ephesians 2:5). 

To be regenerated is a work of God that brings spiritual life to those who were spiritually dead. 

The importance of regeneration as an aspect of salvation is that it emphasizes the glorious necessity of the work of God in our salvation. We are not saved by works, but by God’s grace through faith. Spiritually dead people cannot work, and therefore cannot earn God’s salvation. 

A number of years ago, Jeremy Bentham, British philosopher, willed his entire estate to the University Hospital of London. Bentham promoted Utilitarianism, an ideology teaching that anything that is painful is evil and anything that is pleasurable is good. Bentham longed for his life to mean something more, so his will included provision for the physical preservation of his body/skin. The condition for his estate going to the University Hospital was that his preserved body would be rolled by wheelchair to all board meetings. A sign was placed on his corpse, “Mr. Bentham, present but not voting.” Dead in every way, Bentham wanted to be present at the board meetings for the hospital in his will. 

We may sneer at such hubris. While Bentham’s wealth may have outlasted him, he longed for significance past death. All he accomplished was something creepy. He was and is still dead. 

Bentham’s act is an illustration for humanity. Without God’s work of regeneration, mankind is “dead in trespasses and sins.” We are in need of spiritual resurrection. That’s what happens when God regenerates us.

Regeneration is the hope that God offers us life. In the gospel and through Christ’s regenerating work, we can have new life, real life, and eternal life. 

If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been made alive. Through regeneration, you are no longer spiritually dead, but you can know Jesus and be known by Jesus. This is good news. 

  • Regeneration should result in us praising the One who gave us life. 
  • Regeneration should result in us living our lives for the One who raised us from the dead. 
  • Regeneration should result in us walking in the good works God created us for. 

Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash