Section 5: Concerning Salvation
We believe no one can enter the kingdom of God unless born again (John 3:3, 5); and that no degree of reformation however great, no attainments in morality however high, no culture however attractive, no baptism or other ordinance however administered, can help the sinner to take even one step toward heaven; but a new nature imparted from above, a new life implanted by the Holy Spirit through the Word, is absolutely essential to salvation, and only those thus saved are sons of God. We believe this salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of Jesus Christ’s finished work of redemption, the merit of His shed blood (John 1:12; 19:30; Acts 16:30,31; Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
A. Concerning Spiritual Regeneration
We believe regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24), when the repentant sinner, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, responds in faith to the divine provision of salvation. Genuine regeneration is manifested by fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct. Good works will be its proper evidence and fruit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:10), and will be experienced to the extent that the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit in his life through faithful obedience to the Word of God (Ephesians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:12; Colossians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:4-10). This Holy Spirit-grace-enabled-obedience causes the believer to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Such a conformity is climaxed in the believer’s glorification at Christ’s coming (Romans 8:17; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2, 3).
B. Concerning God’s Election and Man’s Faith
We believe election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1, 2). We do not believe sovereign election contradicts or negates man’s responsibility to bow in submission to God’s will and word; nor does it violate the reality of man’s moral choice exercised by faith in salvation (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:16-18, 19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 22:17). Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines. All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith and all who come in faith the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; Romans 10:13; James 4:8).
We believe salvation comes only through faith in Christ and that, while repentance is a vital part of believing, it is in no way, by itself, a separate and independent condition of salvation; nor are any other acts, such as confession, baptism, dedication, commitment, prayer, or faithful service, to be added to believing as a condition of salvation (John 1:12; 3:16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:29; Acts 13:39; 16:31; Romans 1:16–17; 3:22, 26; 4:5; 10:4; Galatians 3:22).
C. Concerning God’s Justification of the Believer
We believe justification before God is an act of God (Romans 8:33) by which He declares righteous those who place their trust (belief, dependence) for securing God’s promise of salvation totally and wholly on the sufficiency of the Redeemer’s shed blood (John 19:30; Romans 3:24; 4:5; 5:1, 9; Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Romans 3:20; 4:6) and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24) and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). By this means God is enabled to “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
D. Concerning the Believer’s Security
We believe all the redeemed once saved are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). We believe it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Romans 6:15-22; 13:13-14; Galatians 5:13, 25-26; Titus 2:11-14).