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We believe that, through the life, death,
and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God offers salvation from sin and a
new way of life to all people. We receive God's salvation when we repent
of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In Christ, we are reconciled
with God and brought into the reconciling community of God's people. We
place our faith in God that, by the same power that raised Christ from
the dead, we may be saved from sin to follow Christ in this life and to
know the fullness of salvation in the age to come.
From the beginning, God has acted with grace and mercy to bring about
salvation--through signs and wonders, by delivering God's people, and
by making a covenant with Israel.1
God so loved the world that, in the fullness of time, God sent his Son,
whose faithfulness unto death on the cross has provided the way of salvation
for all people.2
By his blood shed for us, Christ inaugurated the new covenant.3
He heals us, forgives our sins, and delivers us from the bondage of evil
and from those who do evil against us.4
By his death and resurrection, he breaks the powers of sin and death,5
cancels our debt of sin,6
and opens the way to new life.7
We are saved by God's grace, not by our own merits.8
When we hear the good news of the love of God, the Holy Spirit moves
us to accept the gift of salvation. God brings us into right relationship
without coercion. Our response includes yielding to God's grace, placing
full trust in God alone, repenting of sin, turning from evil, joining
the fellowship of the redeemed, and showing forth the obedience of faith
in word and deed.9
When we who once were God's enemies are reconciled with God through Christ,
we also experience reconciliation with others, especially within the church.10
In baptism we publicly testify to our salvation and pledge allegiance
to the one true God and to the people of God, the church. As we experience
grace and the new birth, we are adopted into the family of God and become
more and more transformed into the image of Christ.11
We thus respond in faith to Christ and seek to walk faithfully in the
way of Christ.
We believe that the salvation we already experience is but a foretaste
of the salvation yet to come, when Christ will vanquish sin and death,
and the redeemed will live in eternal communion with God.
In the history of Christian thought, there have been three major
views of the atonement. Each has a basis in Scripture and contributes
to our understanding of salvation. By breaking the power of sin and
death, Christ is conqueror over evil (the Christ-the-victor view).
By canceling our debt of sin, Christ is a sacrifice and pays the ransom
on our behalf (substitutionary atonement). By opening the way to new
life, Christ shows God's love, inspiring us to receive that love and
love God and others in return (the moral-influence view).
People undergo a variety of experiences in accepting salvation.
Some have crisis conversions, while others hear the proclamation of
salvation and are gradually nurtured by the community of faith before
they make a commitment. In either case, acceptance of salvation is
a personal, voluntary decision. Salvation is not acquired automatically
because we are born into a Christian family or grow up in the church.
This confession uses a variety of expressions for salvation. For
example, salvation is often expressed as "justification by faith."
The justification that is "reckoned" to us as salvation (Romans 4:1-12)
is experienced as a covenant relationship with God. A covenant is
a binding agreement between two parties. God offers the relationship.
The just, or righteous, person has received the offer, lives according
to the covenant, and trusts in God's faithfulness. Justification by
faith and faithful obedience to the covenant relationship are inseparable
(Hebrews 11). See "Discipleship and the Christian
Life" (Article 17).
"New birth" is another way to express salvation. Human beings were
created in the image of God. That is, they were children of God. When
they sinned, they became children of the devil and lost their place
in God's family (1 John 2:29-3:10). Through salvation, we are "born
again" or adopted into the family of God (Galatians 3:23-4:7).
The New Testament frequently connects our salvation with peace (John
16:33; Romans 5:1; 10:15). In doing so, it builds on the Old Testament
concept of shalom. Through Christ's death on the cross, we have both
peace with God and reconciliation within the church between groups
which had been enemies (Ephesians 2:14-17). Christ's suffering without
taking revenge gives us an example; we can follow in his steps and
live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:19-24; Luke 6:35-36; Mark 8:34).
See also "Peace, Justice, and Nonresistance"
God saves us as individuals in community. The Lord's saving activity
embraced an entire people in bondage (Exodus 15). Jesus called a company
of disciples. The church is the context of the message of salvation
(Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:1-10). There, covenants are made in
the presence of witnesses, and members are held accountable. God's
covenant with us also brings about right relationship within the people
of God, in which former hostilities are reconciled.
According to the Bible, salvation includes not only forgiveness
of sins which we have committed, but also rescue from powers of evil
in which we have become entrapped (1 Peter 2:24; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews
2:14-15), deliverance from enemies who have sinned against us (Luke
21:16-19; Acts 4), and healing. For a discussion of the relationship
of salvation and healing, see "The Church in
Mission" (Article 10), Commentary paragraph 3. Our ultimate salvation
lies in the power of the resurrection.
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The Church of Jesus Christ
- Psalms 74:12; Deuteronomy 6:20-25; Exodus 20:1-17.
- John 3:16; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:1-2.
- Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25.
- Romans 5:1-5; Mark 2:1-12.
- Romans 8:2; Hebrews 2:14-15.
- Romans 3:24-25; Colossians 2:13-14; Mark 10:45.
- Romans 6:4.
- Ephesians 2:8-9.
- Romans 1:5; Luke 19:8-10.
- Romans 5:6-10.
- Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18.