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Methodology of Salvation

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 The Bible for the "Common Faith"

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah 8:8


For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Isaiah 28:10

When it comes to the doctrine of Salvation, as with most doctrines, there is much disagreement on its interpretation. What is the correct form or methodology of this most important doctrine. This study looks at the biblical precepts that guide and limit our understanding of how our salvation was accomplished in accordance with the Scriptures. As in all these studies it is left up to the reader to search the Scriptures and judge accordingly.

 Many are not aware of the amount of disputing and contention that there is concerning this doctrine. Does man have free will or not? Is he predestinated or not predestinated? Is he required to have faith or is he given faith? Do our works play any part in our salvation or not? Does one have to be a member of a particular church or any church? Is baptism absolutely necessary for salvation? The disputes are endless and to our shame.

To understand this doctrine we must first establish the precepts or general principles that govern it. We will begin with that which is probably the easiest to demonstrate, is salvation in whole or in part dependent upon our works? It is the easiest to comprehend in that we are given the answer in no uncertain terms. There is very little to interpret.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;...

Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

It is not know at the time of this writing if there is any sect or denomination claiming to be Christian that does not hold to salvation being wholly or in part God's grace. What the Bible explains and many fail to understand is that grace and works are mutually exclusive of each other. If eternal salvation is by the grace of God then there can be no part of it by works; “...if by grace, then is it no more of works....” The two, grace and works, are mutually exclusive.

If I say to my son, "Son, you have found grace in my sight. Therefore, I am going to let you use the car tonight, if you mow the lawn." With the inclusion of the works, grace went out the window. All that matters now is did my son do the works, or did he not do them. There is no grace involved; he either cut the grass or he didn't. This may be a simplistic example but it is an accurate one. My son is not coming to me thanking me for my mercy and grace, he is demanding what I owe him for the work he did.

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Many persist, nevertheless, in teaching as Bible truth that an element of works is required in obtaining or maintaining salvation. Both teachings were the subject of the great counsel and debate of Acts chapter 15, and both condemned. Many, also, continue to teach that eternal salvation by faith alone is only New Testament doctrine. Never mind that the subject and context of Romans chapter 11, "...if by grace, then is it no more of works...," is Israel under the law not realizing that salvation was not of works, but of grace.

A curse on details, details are the vermin that destroy great works."


The great tragedy of Science: the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."

Thomas Henry Huxley

This is the great eternal paradox that baffles the self- righteous. The vilest of sinners can be saved while the most observant of the law can be lost. Self-righteousness is the first casualty of the election of grace.

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

The conclusion to this is obvious: Any teaching that works is involved in obtaining or maintaining our salvation nullifies faith and grace. If the gaining of salvation is by God's grace and not by our works, the maintaining of it is also by grace and not works. To be given a free gift and then be told you have to pay to keep it disannuls any semblance of free. It is the same with grace and works, works to maintain salvation nullifies the free gift of grace.

Romans 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;...

Any doctrine that teaches that one can earn grace is in error.

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

This single precept, “not by works of righteousness that we have done,” if adhered to would dissipate many false teachings.

With this we form our first precept of the doctrine of salvation.



Our precept is not only a principle of New Testament salvation but a general universal precept of God's word. This means that salvation is by grace and not in part or in whole of works at any time, Old Testament, New Testament, Tribulation. Remember that the subject of Romans 11, "...if by grace, then is it no more of works:...", is Israel's failure to understand this precept, God's election of Grace.

Even if you had lived a perfect life, from the heart as well as physically, you would only have done what God created you for, your duty.

Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

This brings us to the next precept one has to understand to comprehend the doctrine of salvation. Having established that salvation is by grace and in no part based on works, while at the same time realizing that works is our duty to God and not subject to payment or reward or incurrence of debt, we can determine that God is not obligated in any fashion to man.

Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Our next precept then must state the position that God is not obligated to save anyone.


This precept, as difficult as it is for some to grasp, is also reflected in passages such as John 3:16 where it states God loved and Christ died to save the world while establishing the condition of "whosoever believeth." He died to save the world while that atonement was not an automatic salvation for the world or anyone, but given to those that met the condition to believe.

This concept of God's sovereignty might seem a trite and rather obvious truth of Scripture to some. However, there is a very large segment of the brethren that do not comprehend the issue of the sovereignty of God correctly. Many errors in teaching are based on the belief that since Christ died for sin someone must automatically have been saved. It is hoped from this study you will see that it is not biblically sound. This mistaken notion is the underpinning of the Reformed Theology, Calvinism, or the doctrine of individual predestination and Universal Theology, universal salvation. Both of these theologies are formed by obligating God upon Christ's atonement to automatically save someone. Many faithful saints over the centuries have been confounded by this mistake in reasoning. The truth is, God is not obligated by Christ's atonement to save anyone.

Our last precept in this discussion extends from this point and deals with whom did the Lord give himself for; although, he is not obligated to save anyone he certain died for someone.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

With these verses it would seem that we could easily stand on the principle that the atonement for sins was not limited. It is of course a point of contention to some of those, as above, who reject our second precept. However, we will not further suffer this point. Christ died for the sins of the entire world, all men. Therefore, our next precept states it as such.



My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.

Psalms 119:81

At this point in our study we have developed three biblical precepts which is enough to present us with a frame work that must be maintained in any description of salvation's methodology.







From these precepts we can compile a list of prerequisites that any interpretation of the doctrine of salvation must incorporate and meet.

  1.  Must be by grace to the exclusion of works
  2.  Must affirm the total inclusiveness of Christ's atonement while allowing for individual exclusion
  3.  Must preserve God's sovereignty in the selection while sustaining universal opportunity of salvation

When we examine this list we begin to see some of the contradictions that men have stumbled at in forming their theologies. These contradictions become the issues that must be dealt with in our study of salvation's scheme. Two of the main questions that must be contended with are:

  1. How is it that Christ could have died to pay for all sin yet not all be saved?
  2. How is it that all are eligible and have an equal opportunity to be saved if God in his sovereignty chooses whom he will?

It is these two questions that take us back to the foundation of salvation's plan.

At first glance, and taking into account much of what is being preached, this would seem to be an insurmountable task. We will, however, attempt to portray a design for God's scheme that satisfies these requirements. There can only be one correct biblical interpretation of any doctrine of God's word, “God is not the author of confusion.” With any doctrine, the interpretation must conform to the requirements of any and all Scriptures that have any bearing on it. We have now established the requirements that must be incorporated into the scheme of salvation. Every verse of Scripture must fit our theology for it to be correct. If a passage of Scripture does not fit we have something wrong; no forced interpretation of God’s word is correct. Our description, therefore, of this doctrine must be simple and unforced in its interpretation; it must easily fall into place meeting all the requirements of the Bible.

Many may have never considered these questions, it is evident though that many have and their answers are what we live with today in the many diverse theologies and divisions within the Church. As we discussed previously, there is the false assumtion made in resistance of our second precept that Christ's atonement was an automatic salvation for someone. These schemes based on this faulty reasoning do not satisfy all of the requirements of the Scriptures.

Reconciling the apparent contradictions is really quite simple. The difficult part is remaining focused and reaching a point where we have a clear understanding of the precepts and requirements that must be satisfied in any interpretation of this doctrine. Without which we are just stumbling in the dark. What follows is the only interpretation of the general scheme or plan of salvation that conforms to and accommodates the entire body of Scripture, meeting all the requisites as listed above.

Salvation is analogous to a simple business transaction. The same type of commerce that takes place hundreds of times in the course of a business day among men. Do not be deceived by the transactions simplicity, regardless of how great the amount being dealt with the exchange is not complex. This description does not trivialize God's salvation. Whether you purchase a $20,000.00 house or a $500,000,000.00 high rise complex the transaction is the same. However great the mercy, grace and price of our salvation the transaction was simple.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Mankind as a whole and each of us individually owed a sin debt to the law of God. Once Adam was corrupted all that came from him bore that corruption, and we have been doing a fair job of it on our own as well.

Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

Christ purchased the total debt of the world. It was no different than when you borrow from a bank. The bank does not keep your debt, it sells it. You now owe the new owners of your debt. The bank wanted payment and were paid, the new owners can do with your debt as they please. They can demand payment or they can forgive it according to their own will and whatever criteria they set. The bank; or in our case, the law, has no more say in the matter.

The law demanded payment for all sin, Christ made that payment. Ownership of our debt was exchanged. The transaction did not include instant or automatic forgiveness of that debt, only a transference of ownership. You can distinguish the transfer by whatever names you care to use, from the law to grace, etc. God's law being satisfied, God can now have mercy on whom he will according to whatever criteria he so desires, his holiness, righteousness and sovereignty remaining intact and uncompromised.

To confirm the accuracy of the division of payment and forgiveness is simple enough. Throughout the Old Testament God forgave sin; Christ forgave sin during his earthly ministry. Regardless of that forgiveness no one was saved, born again or obtained eternal life thereby. Eternal salvation was not accessible under the old covenant, the sin debt was still owed to the law.

John 7:39 ...(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

Without the atonement for sins, there was no salvation regardless of sins forgiven. Further, after the atonement for sins having been made men still die lost. Under the old covenant those dying having forgiveness for sins were held in escrow, Abraham's bosom. It could not be absent from the body present with the Lord. They were held until the law received payment for sin and the ownership of the debt was transferred. At present when we receive forgiveness it is immediately effectual,  "absent from the body,...present with the Lord," the payment having been made.

The atonement for sins, great as it was, can best be understood by realizing that it initiated an accounting entry. The sin debt of the world was marked paid in the law column and entered as being owed in the mercy or grace column (or whatever column headings you care to use.) The point is it was transferred from absolute damnation to a position of eligibility for salvation where forgiveness of sins was made possible.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Everyone's sin debt to the law was paid making all eligible for forgiveness. Without the atonement forgiveness would have been ineffectual. Christ died for all and is the means of salvation. Whether or not one finds grace in God's eyes and is granted that salvation, the forgiveness for their individual sin debt is determined by God's dealing with and judging the hearts of men. He has elected that it be by whether one will put their faith in him, in his word, in the testimony and preaching of his Son crucified and raised again. God's sovereignty is preserved in the setting of a condition that men have to meet— faith.

Romans 9:15  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

The Old Testament saints were granted forgiveness of sins based on their faith and trust in God, whether brought about through the preaching of the prophets, the law or the works that he himself showed. We now have a greater revelation if not a complete one. That revelation is of God's Son who gave himself that men might receive forgiveness of sin. God is "not willing that any should perish," paid the sin debt for all while not obligating himself to save any. He is free under this plan to establish and set his own criteria for his forgiveness of individual sins even after his atonement for all sin.

Once one understands the precepts and requirements of the doctrine of salvation it is easy to see how this scheme fits. Its interpretation can be reduced as long as the dual elements of atonement to the law and individual forgiveness is maintained. God paid the price owed to the law satisfying his holiness and righteousness. He now judges the hearts of men to determined whether he will apply that atonement  through individual forgiveness maintaining his sovereign will. This scheme of the methodology of salvation satisfies all the requirements of Scripture without any strained or forced interpretations. This methodology of God’s salvation must be the foundation that all else is built upon.

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