By Eusebio Tanicala
There are several persons, acts, mental states, provisions through whom and by which forgiveness of sin and salvation from damnation is effected. Please analyze the following passages:
a. Saved by God (1Tim.1:1;4:10; Jude 25; Titus 1:3-4; 2:10)
b. Saved by grace (Eph.2:5; 2Tim.1:9; Acts 15:11; Titus 3:4-5)
c. Saved by Jesus Christ (Mtt.1:21; Jn3:17; 1Tim.1:15; Heb.7:25)
d. Saved by mercy thro the washing of regeneration and renewal of the H.S. (Titus 3:5)
e. Saved by the gospel if we hold fast to it (1Cor.15:2)
f. Justified by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9)
g. Saved by faith (Eph.2:8; Luke 7:50; 8:12; 18:42; Jn 3:16,18)
h. Saved by the life of Christ (Romans 5:10)
i. Saved by hope (Romans 8:24)
j. Saved by calling on the Lord (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; 9:14)
k. Saved by the implanted word (Jas 1:21; Acts 11:14)
l. Saved by the teachings of Christ and the apostles (1Tim.4:16)
m. Saved by hearing the words of Christ and believing in the Father (Jn 5:24)
n. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mk 16:16)
o. Repent and be baptized and receive remission of sins (Ps 32:5; Acts 2:38)
p. Be born again and see the kingdom of heaven (Jn 3:3)
q. Be born of water and the Spirit to see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5)
r. Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins (Acts 22:16;Gal. 3:27)
s. Confess with mouth JC and believe that God raised JC, there is salvation (Rom 10:9,10)
t. Abiding in the teachings and living righteously and godly until the appearing of Christ (Jn 6:27; 8:31; 12:48-50; 1Jn 2:15; 3:24; 5:2; 2Jn 8-9; Titus 2:11-14; Jas 1:27)
When we study salvation and the means/instruments used by God in effecting it, we should avoid the temptation to pick up one item and set it up against all others or eliminate all others that are brought out from the scriptures. As any big person or theme, that person or that theme could have many facets and phases. So do not pick up one item and range it against another. It is not an “either or” situation. Don’t say, “this one and only this one” for it could be many persons and things working together.
We don’t say, “Is the rainbow black or white?” “Is the rainbow green or yellow?” We don’t say, “Is Christ God or man?” No one asks, “Is Christ the truth or the way?” Nor ask, “Is Christ the Savior or the Judge?” We don’t ask, “Is God light or love?” We repeat: It is not an “either or” situation. God and Christ are many faceted persons with multiple attributes. The rainbow has many colors.
One should not ask, “Saved by grace or by God?” Don’t ask, “saved by the death or by the life of Christ?” Never ask, “saved by faith or by hope?” Don’t ask, “Are we saved by calling on the Lord or by being born again?” Don’t say, “by holding fast the gospel or by being baptized?” Never ask, “Are we saved by the implanted word or by abiding in the teachings and living righteously?” Never ask, “Are you saved by grace OR by baptism?”
Rather, we should ask, “Who are the persons we must believe in, what are the facts to accept and believe, what are the emotions to possess in the heart, what changes should happen in life, and what acts of obedience does one undergo in order to appropriate the grace of God according to the scriptures?”
Every Bible reading person accepts the importance of believing in God, Christ, the gospel, the word, the doctrines. Every Bible believer accepts the importance of the blood, suffering and the death of Christ. Every Bible reading person assumes that grace is God’s gift to mankind. Acts like faith, repentance, and calling upon the Lord are necessary responses of a man who wants to enjoy God’s forgiveness.
Power and not time
A most beautiful word that embodies all the beautiful things God feels toward mankind and beautiful things God has done for us to accomplish salvation is the word GRACE. Grace is a very broad term that includes the following: Love, mercy, kindness, Christ’s deity, Christ’s incarnation, Christ’s sufferings, Christ’s death, Christ’s burial, Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God, the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the teachings of Christ, Promises of God, Heaven, rain, sunshine, air, angels, friends, relatives, water, the Bible, the church, sickness, accidents, etc, etc. All these are available. Potentially available from God. The power is there. But are all sinners saved at the moment all the above powers/ instruments come into existence? NO, there is no actual salvation yet.
The mere existence of God doesn’t automatically save humanity. Neither would the mere existence of Grace automatically wash away all the sins of mankind. Are we saved by God? Yes. Are we saved by grace? Yes. But we are talking here about the power and availability of God and His grace. Not the time when grace actually becomes operational. Not the time when sin is actually forgiven and forgotten by God. So we should ask the question, “When does God’s grace be-come operationally effective in actually removing sin?”
When is it operational?
God’s grace existed and was offered to mankind in Acts 2 in the year 33 A.D. Were all sinners saved in the year 33 A.D? No. Today, God’s grace exists and is offered to all mankind. Are all sinners saved today? No!
When a proponent of “Salvation by grace only” pronounces his belief that “we are saved by grace” we should ask him, “At the moment your statement comes out of your mouth, do you believe that sinners are actually forgiven of their sins?” __ Yes? __ No?
The crucial question to ask and which we should direct to the pro-ponent of “Salvation by grace only” is “At what point in the world’s history, or at what point in a person’s history does grace actually accomplish once and for all the salvation of an individual person?” Sa Tagalog, “Sa anong tuldok ng kasaysayan ng mundo, o sa anong tuldok sa kasaysayan ng isang tao na ang kaloob/grace of God ay huhugas ng kasalanan ng isang tao?” Iti Iloco, “Iti ania a punto iti tiempo ti lubong, wenno kaano a kanito iti biag ti maysa nga in-dividual a ti parabur/grace of God ket punasenna amin a basbasol dayta nga individual?”
The grace of God is a necessary item in the salvation of sinners. But since no one believes and no one teaches that at the moment the grace of God came into existence that all of humanity was saved from sins, there is no point in arguing about God’s grace. The issue is not what is grace and what it can do about sin. Grace is an accepted, necessary factor in salvation. The question is “When is grace operational or when is grace appropriated by an individual for the forgiveness of his sins?”
Place the following persons, items, and acts along a linear representation of history and identify the precise moment or step when the sins of the world or the sins of an individual are forgiven or washed away: love of God for the world started, mercy of God started, kindness of God started, God created the universe, God promised the coming of the woman’s seed, God gave the law at Mt Sinai, God gave his promises to Abraham, David became king of Israel, Jerusalem was built, Christ was born, Christ was nailed at the cross, Christ died at the cross, Christ was buried, Christ resurrected, Christ ascended to heaven, Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, a person reads his Bible, a person understands that Christ died and was buried and Christ resurrected, a person believes in the mission of Christ as savior, a person repents of his sins, a person goes to church, a person prays for the forgiveness of his sins, a person prays and desires that Christ comes into his life, a person confesses that Jesus is the Christ, a person has faith in Christ and submits to water baptism, a person partakes of the Lord Supper, a person attends church Bible study hour.
When this linear history is laid down and we place the above items on the line, we simplify the question about who, what, the date and time a person is saved from his sins. Until one sits down and does this, the issue remains vague. Until one places the items on a linear representation of history, we will all go on arguing in a circle.
Note: In the next issues, we hope to do this linear representation of a disciple’s history so that we could determine the precise moment that God’s grace becomes operationally effective.