Soteriology – The Doctrine of Salvation
Bible Doctrines – Beliefs That Matter
by Mark G. Cambron, D.D.
OUTLINE FOR CHAPTER VI
Soteriology is the doctrine of salvation.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:1, 2). “Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4: 17). Paul testified “both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19). See also Mark 6:12; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 11:18; 26:20; II Peter 3:9.
To those who say that repentance is not to be preached today, and that it is not essential for salvation, we point out that repentance was preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul. Repentance was proclaimed before Pentecost, at Pentecost, and afterPentecost. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).
1. It Is Not Reformation. Repentance is wholly an inward act of the mind. To many people it means to turn away from their sins, but if that were so, this would be reformation. Repentance is not doing something, as an act, for no man is saved because he gives up something. A man can turn away from his sins and still not be a Christian.
2. It Is Not Contrition. By this we mean that repentance is not agony of the soul for sin. Many folk in jail are sorry. Are they sorry for their crime? No. They are sorry because they were caught. We believe, however, that in a genuine case of repentance, the sinner will be sorry for his sin. Just being sorry for sin is not repentance, but it can lead to repentance. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (II Cor. 7:10).
3. It Is Not Penance. Penance is an expression of sorrow (by some act) that is done to pay for sin; it is something like a punishment.
4. It Is a Change of Mind. The literal meaning of repentance is “after-thought” or “reconsideration.” By “change of mind” we do not mean a “change of opinion”; a “change of mind” is the substitution of a new mind for the old. It is new in character. True repentance is a change of mind which will lead to a change of action, but let us be warned that it is possible to have a change of action without a change of mind. A good example of repentance is found in Mathew 21:28, 29:
“But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.”
Before anyone can be saved there must be repentance. There must be a change of mind about many things: sin, self, God and Jesus Christ. “The servant of the Lord” must instruct “in meekness . . . those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (II Tim. 2:25).
Making it a little stronger, repentance means not only a change of mind; it is the taking of one’s stand against himself and the placing of himself on the side of God. Thus, repentance is self-judgment.
1. Change in the Intellect.
2. Change of Feeling.
3. Change of Will.
4. Change of Action.
1. Through the Goodness of God. “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). See also II Peter 3:9.
2. Through the Gospel of God. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for [because of] the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. . . . Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:37, 38, 41).
3. Through the Scriptural Teaching. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (II Tim. 2:24, 25).
4. Through the Chastisements of God. “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Rev. 2:16). See also Revelation 2:5; 3:3; Hebrews 12:6-11.
Repentance is the work of God which results in a change of mind in respect to man’s relationship to God. It is neither sorrow nor penance, though penitent sorrow may lead to a change of mind.Repentance is always an element of saving faith.
“The gospel of Christ … is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. . . . For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28). See also Matthew 9:22; Acts 26:18; Romans 4:5; II Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 11:6; James 5:15; I Peter 1:5.
A good definition of faith is: confidence in others; reliance upon testimony. True faith is composed of the following:
1. Knowledge. One must be informed before he can have faith. This is true in the things of man, as it is in Christ. It is impossible to have faith in Christ without the Word. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Sometimes we may ask for more faith, but this is out of order. To increase one’s faith, one has only to read more of the Word of God. Before a person can have faith, he must know it exists.
2. Belief. The second element of faith is belief. Everyone knows what belief means, that is, to accept it as the truth. People can know that there is a Saviour by the name of Jesus, and believe that He can save. Yet, this is not saving faith. To have faith in a chair, one must know that it exists, and believe that it can hold him up. Still this is not complete faith in the chair, until the third element is involved, and that is:
3. Trust. Trust is essential to faith in anything. It is most essential in saving faith. It is one thing to know that Christ died, and believe it; it is quite another thing to trust Him, the dying and resurrected Saviour, for salvation. Let us take the chair again for example: One can know that a chair exists, and believe that it can hold him up, but faith in that chair is not exercised until he sits in it. Are you completely trusting Christ for your salvation?
4. Recumbency. This means to wholly rely upon Christ. When one lies upon the bed, he fully relaxes upon it and rests. When we put our trust in Him, we should rely upon Him and rest.
1. By God the Father. “I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).
2. By God the Son. Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
3. By God the Holy Spirit. “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom . . . to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit” (I Cor. 12:8, 9).
The object of faith is Christ, and He alone.
The end of faith is salvation. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9).
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). We are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (I Peter 1:23). “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9). See also I John 2:29; 5:4, 18.
1. It Is Not Reformation. Some people think that by turning over a new leaf one becomes a child of God. Some men quit drinking because of a bad heart, not because they know it is sin against God. One could cease from all sin; yet this is not regeneration.
2. It Is Not Conversion. Many times we speak of regeneration as conversion, but, in reality, “conversion” means to turn around. Saved people can be converted (turned around) even after they are saved, as was Peter. He was saved long before the Lord Jesus had declared: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted [turned around], strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31, 32).
3. It Is Not Confirmation. Some churches, as they administer a certain ritual of the church, claim that the participants (usually children of twelve or thirteen years of age) receive the Holy Spirit with the anointing of oil. This is a false doctrine. One does not receive the Holy Spirit by any act of man, but upon receiving Christ as Saviour.
4. It Is Not Water Baptism. There is no saving faith in all the water of the world. Someone may ask, then, “Why are we commanded to be baptized?” It is the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Peter 3:21b). It is an ordinance depicting the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and nothing more.
5. It Is Not Church Membership. We are told in Hebrews10:25 not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is.” However, this does not bring about change in a sinner’s heart. Remember, the word “church” means “a called-out company,” or “assembly.” Joining a human assembly cannot bring about salvation. Some people believe that the Churchsaves. Now translate this statement correctly: “The assembly saves.” Is there an assembly on earth which can give salvation? Is there a called-out company which can make a person a child of God? No! There is no assembly that we would trust with the saving of our soul.
6. It Is Not the Taking of the Lord’s Supper. There is no saving efficacy, or cleansing of sin, in partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is taken only in remembrance of Christ and His work upon Calvary. We shall do this in remembrance of Him until He comes.
7. It Is the New Birth. “If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new” (II Cor. 5:17, R.V.). “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (I John 2:29).
Ye must be born again. It is a necessity declared by the Lord Himself.
1. As Seen in the Depravity of Man. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). The words, “Ye must be born again,” are better translated, “Ye must be born from above.” Man must have a birth from above if he is to live some day in the heavens above.
2. As Seen in the Universality of Man. There is not a man anywhere but who has to be born again. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
3. As Seen in the Holiness of God. If one is to be received and made a child of God by a righteous and holy God, a great change must take place to make him holy. “It is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16, R.V.).
1. The Divine Work. The process of becoming a child of God is not by natural generation. Man cannot regenerate himself. It is not a matter of the human will, but of God. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13). Practically speaking, we had nothing to do with our first birth, and we can have nothing to do with the second birth.
2. The Human Element. While it is God who regenerates the believing sinner, yet there is one part that man plays; he must believe! “By grace are ye saved”; yes, but “through faith.” “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Yes, Jesus is the way, but the sinner must come! The sinner must receive Christ by his own faith. This is the human part. God does the rest.
We are “justified by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). “The righteousness of Christ shall be imputed to us, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:24,25). “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). “Such [thieves, covetous, drunkards, and the like] were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11). See also Romans 3:26; 5:9; Galatians 2:16, 17; Titus 3:7.
To justify is “to reckon, to declare, or to show righteous.” To justify does not mean to make righteous. God declares the believer to be righteous; He does not make him righteous. Justification is a legal term: a good standing.
In the human law courts, the law is over the judge. If the judge is an honest and just judge, he can show no mercy. He must declare the defendant guilty, or not guilty, according to the law. In God’s law court, the believer, a guilty man, is brought before the judgment bar of God and is declared not guilty. God is over His law.
In a human law court, a guilty person may be pardoned, the crime forgiven but not paid. In God’s law court this is not so. All sins must be paid for, and the sinner punished. Three things are incorporated in God’s justification.
1. Forgiveness. “He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:37-39).
A Christian is not a pardoned criminal; he is a righteous man. God declares him so. He is one who has paid for his sins by another, his substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ. God never pardons apart from Christ.
2. Imputation. “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Ps. 32:2). “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8). “Until the law sin was in the world: but sin is no imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13).
Imputation means to “put something against.” Therefore, the righteousness of Christ is put to the sinner’s account. All of the believer’s sins were put to Christ’s account — He paid them in full. In turn, His righteousness was put to the believer’s account, and he stands there, declared to be righteous.
3. Fellowship. “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:6). This is the fellowship of God and the believer as Father and Son. Remember, God is Father only of His children, not of unbelievers.
a. Not By Works. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:4, 5). See also Romans 11:6.
b. Not By the Deeds of the Law. “That no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Gal. 3:11). See also Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16.
a. By God. God set forth Christ Jesus “to declare… his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). See also Romans 8:33.
b. By Grace. “Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). See also Romans 3:24.
c. By Blood. “Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Rom. 5:9). See also Romans 3:24, 25.
d. By Faith. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
e. By Resurrection. Faith shall be imputed to us for righteousness “if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:24, 25).
1. Abraham (Rom. 4:1-5).
2. David (Rom. 4:6-8).
3. Noah (Heb. 11:7).
1. In Works. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (Jas. 2:21-23). The evidence of salvation is gratitude, which is good works. Many times the good works are very, very weak, but God accepts the will that is behind them.
2. In Experience. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:1-5).
This is one phase of salvation which is very much confused today. The Bible student will be surprised at what God has to say about sanctification. Much is said about experience, and we believe in experience; but let us be cautious and let the Word of God interpret our experience, rather than our experience interpret the Word of God.
“This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. . . . For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess. 4:3, 7). “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you and peace” (I Cor. 1:2). “Both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). See also I Peter 1:2; John 17:17; Exodus 13:2; Jeremiah 2:3; Ephesians 1:1. The words “sanctification, holiness, and saints” all come from the same root.
1. It Is Not a Betterment of the Flesh. Never does it say in Scripture that the work of the Holy Spirit is to improve the old nature. The natural man cannot understand the Holy Spirit. How could the natural man be improved by the Spirit? This is hard to say, but nevertheless, it is true, that the flesh of the believer is no better than the flesh of the sinner. The Scriptures say, “Mortify the deeds of the flesh.”
2. It Is Not the Eradication of the Sinful Nature. There are those who contend that a believer may have a purifying experience that will burn out all carnality, thus rendering him sinless, incapable of committing sin. We do not deny such an experience, but we caution the believer to prove his experience by the Word, rather than trying to prove the Word by his experience. Even though the Old Testament is written in the Hebrew, and the New Testament is written in the Greek, the words “sanctification,” “holy,” and “saint” all have the same root meaning.
To those who hold that sanctification is an experience by which the sinful nature is eradicated, let us turn to the Word and see how sanctification is used: “Thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt-offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy” (Ex. 40:10). Where is the eradication here? Did the altar have a sinful nature? Here is another example: “Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it” (Ex. 19:23). Did Mount Sinai have a sinful nature? “Let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORDbreak forth upon them” (Ex. 19:22). How could priests eradicate their own sinful natures? “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent unto the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God” (John 10:36). Here Christ Himself is spoken of as being sanctified. There is no sinful nature here! “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19). Does this mean eradication of the sinful nature? Of course not. “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (I Cor. 7:14). Is it possible that believing wives can eradicate the sinful nature from their unbelieving husbands? If sanctification means eradication from the sinful nature, explain the following: “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15). Carnal Christians are sanctified; this does not speak of the eradication of the sinful nature (I Cor. 1:1, 2 with 3:1, 3).
3. It Is Not Sanctimoniousness. Sanctification is not an affected, or hypocritical devoutness; neither is it false saintliness. Sanctification is not marked by the wearing of a beard, or black stockings, and the like. You can tell whether saintliness is real or false.
4. It Is Not a Second Blessing. In II Corinthians 1:15 Paul speaks of wanting to give the Church a second benefit, not a second blessing. This epistle was written to people who were already sanctified (I Cor. 1:2 and 6:11).
5. It Is “To Be Set Apart.” The root idea always means “to be set apart,” or “separation.” To sanctify always means to set apart for a purpose, whether in respect to saint or sinner. Unsaved men can separate, or sanctify themselves unto sin. “They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind the tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD” (Is. 66:17). Jesus sanctified Himself; to say He made Himself sinless is blasphemous. The Sabbath was sanctified, and we know that the Sabbath had no sinful nature.
Again we emphasize that the words “holiness,” “sanctification,” and “saint” all come from the same word meaning “set apart,” “separation.” The word “sanctify” in Exodus 13:2, and the word “holiness” in Psalm 29:2, and the word “saints” of Psalm 34:9 are the same word. The word “sanctify” of John 17:17, and the word “saint” of Philippians 1:1, and the word “holiness” of Hebrews 12:10 are all from the same word.
Sanctification, being set apart, is spoken of in three ways:
a. Positional. “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11). We are sanctified the very moment we believe. The above Scripture declares that we are sanctified before we are justified, thus ruling out the second and third works of grace. “We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (II Thess. 2:13). Sanctification is first in order, absolutely. See also I Peter 1:2. God never allows us to work up to a position; He first places us in a position set apart to Him, and tells us to be true to that position. A saint truly is God’s man.
b. Practical. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Cor. 7:1). “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen” (II Peter 3:18).
This is our present state of sanctification. A saint never grows up to sanctification, but grows insanctification. Every believer is a saint; however, some believers do not act like saints. The living Christian still has the flesh in him and obeys it at times. Then God, by Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, metes out chastisement. See John 17:17; I Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 12:10; II Corinthians 3:18.
c. Final. Perfect sanctification will occur in the future at Christ’s second coming. “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (I Thess. 3:12, 13).
1. The Divine Side.
a. Through God the Father. “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine” (Ex. 13:2).
b. Through Jesus Christ the Son. “Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12).
c. Through the Holy Spirit. “We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (II Thess. 2:13).
2. The Human Side.
a. Faith in the Redemptive Work of Christ. “Of him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30).
b. Study of and Obedience to the Word of God. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
c. Through Yieldedness. “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19).
d. Through Chastening. “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth…Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:6, 11).
1. Sanctification is the work of Christ for the believer, which sets him apart for God.
2. Sanctification is that work of God in the believer, through the Spirit and the Word, which changes him into the image of Christ progressively.
3. Sanctification is the work of God which perfects the believer in the likeness of Christ by His appearing in glory.
“Not only they [the whole creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23). There are four other places in the New Testament where the word “adoption” is mentioned: Romans 8:15; 9:4; Galatians 4:4, 5; Ephesians 1:5.
The English word “adoption” has an entirely different meaning than the Greek word or the Oriental custom. The English word means to take a person from another family and make him legally one’s own son or daughter. The Greek word, however, means “placing as a son.”
In New Testament times, when the boy or girl was a minor, he or she differed little from a slave (Gal. 4:1). Upon the day appointed by the father, at the age from twelve to fourteen, a celebration was held declaring the child of age. Thus the boy or girl was made a son or daughter. A boy or girl was born into the family as a child; upon reaching majority, the boy or girl was declared a son or daughter. The same is true in the case of the believer. He is not adopted into the family of God; he is born into the family of God. By birth, he is a child of God; by adoption he shall be a son of God.
“He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:4, 5).
We are now only the children of God. “Ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26, R. V.). We will become sons of God at the day appointed by the Father. At that time He will openly present us as the sons of God. We do not look like sons of God now, but some day the world will be able to recognize us as the sons of God. This will take place at the second coming of Christ. “Not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).
1. Delivered From a Slavish Fear of God. “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).
2. Made Possessors of Sonship.
3. Made Subject to Both Privileges and Responsibility of Adult Sonship.
The Bible is full of redemption. It is God’s character to save. He can destroy, but He loves to save. The theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ. The message of the Word is redemption.
“If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold…And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family: after that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him” (Lev. 25:25, 47, 48). “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness” (Is. 1:27). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). See also Nehemiah 5:8; Colossians 1:4; Galatians 3:13; I Corinthians 1:30; Romans 8:23.
There are four Hebrew words in the Old Testament that pertain to redemption, and all mean “to set free.” The word “goel” is used two ways: first, the One who redeems; second, the act of redeeming. The “goel” was always a near kinsman. While the word “redemption” means “to set free,” it incorporates the meaning “to buy back, to purchase.”
The redemption of the child of God is by his Near Kinsman, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has the redemptive price — His own precious blood!
1. Redemption Declared.
a. Is Wholly of God (John 3:16).
b. Is Through a Person — Christ (I Peter 1:18, 19).
c. Is By Blood (Heb. 9:12).
d. Is By Power (I Cor. 1:30).
2. Redemption Perfected. The use of the word “redemption” is presented in the following three ways:
a. To Buy or Purchase in a Slave Market. The Lord Jesus Christ came down into this slave market of sin and bought us, who were upon the slave block.
b. To Purchase Out of the Market. After one purchased a slave, the master took him out of the market. We are looking for our Master to come and take us out of this slave market.
c. To Loose or Set Free. The Lord Jesus is not a slave trader; neither is He a slave holder. One day the Lord Jesus shall set us free from the bondage of corruption and sin, and we shall know the perfect liberty of being the sons of God.
In Israel a man could not be a slave forever against his will. After becoming a slave, he could be set free by redemption through a near kinsman, or by waiting for the Sabbatical year or the year of Jubilee, when all slaves were set free. Should he love his master, however, and not care to be set free under any circumstances, he could go to his master, who in turn would bore a hole in his ear and make him a bondslave for life (Ex. 21:6). Paul said that he was a bondslave of Jesus Christ – a bondslave for life. He was bought by blood, bound by love. The Christian should have his ear bored, figuratively speaking, yea, his hands, his all. He should recognize that he is crucified with Christ.
Prayer is the essential element of Christian character which is lacking in most believers today. One reason for this is that prayer is misunderstood. Prayer is mostly thought of as asking and receiving. It is that; however, it is much more. We fail to see the value of prayer as communion with our God (Is. 43:21, 22; 64:6,7 R.V.; Zeph. 1:4-6; Dan. 9:13,14 with Hos.7:13, 14; 8:13, 14).
1. It Is Sin to Neglect Prayer. “As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way” (I Sam. 12:23).
2. It Is Appointed by God. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:7-11).
3. It Is Commanded by God. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). “Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2, R.V. ).
4. It Is Necessary to Ask. “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (Jas. 4:2c).
1. Abraham Prays for Sodom (Gen. 18).
2. Jacob Prays the First Personal Prayer (Gen. 32:9-12). See other personal prayers (Deut. 26:1-16; Ex. 5:22).
3. Joshua and Judges Cry Unto the Lord (Josh. 7:6-9; Judg. 10:14).
4. Samuel Prays As an Intercessor (I Sam 7:5, 12).
5. David Prays With Thanksgiving (II Sam. 7).
6. Believers Pour Out Their Hearts to God (Ps. 42:4; 62:8).
1. Presbyterian Catechism. “Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God, for things agreeable to His will in the name of Christ with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of his mercy.”
2. Scriptural Definition.
a. As a Child Going to the Father. “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).
b. As a Child Crying to the Father. “Lord. what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
c. As a Child Desiring to Be With the Father. “Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested” (I Chron. 4:10).
d. As a Child Petitioning the Father. “When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they should pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: then hear thou in heaven” (I Kings 8:35, 36).
e. As a Child Asking Intercession of the Father. “When he had taken the book, the beast and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). See also Revelation 8:3-4.
f. As a Child Waiting in Silence Before God. “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear” (Ps. 10:17).
3. Human Experience. By this we mean that the saints of God have found these truths through prayer.
a. It Is a Fervent Mind Settled On God.
b. It Is Laborious in Its Task (Col. 4:12).
c. It Is a Business.
1. Abundant Testimony of Christians Proves That God Answers Prayer.
2. Universality of Phrases in Scripture: Whosoever, Whatsoever, Whensoever.
3. The Wealth of the Promises by God to Praying Believers.
4. The Confidence of Access Through Jesus Christ. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22, R.V.).
5. The Assurance of Help by the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26).
6. The Revelation of God by Christ. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).
7. The Limitless Supply of Grace in Christ. “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
8. The Unlimited Possibility of Faith. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
9. The Abundant Ability of God. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory” (Eph. 3:20).
1. Abraham Interceding for Sodom (Gen. 18:22, 23; 19:29).
2. Prayer of Abraham’s Servant (Gen. 24:12).
3. Personal Prayer of Jacob (Gen. 32:9-12).
4. Moses’ Intercession for Israel (Ex. 32:11-14, 30-34; Num. 14:11-21).
5. Samuel Interceding for King and People (I Sam. 12:6-25).
6. Elijah Praying for Fire and Water (I Kings 18:25-41; James 5:17, 18).
7. Nehemiah’s Prayer for Jerusalem (Neh. 2:4).
8. Joshua’s Prayer for Discernment (Josh. 7:7-9).
9. Samson’s Prayer for Renewed Strength (Judg. 16:28).
10. Hannah’s Prayer for a Child (I Sam. 1:10, 11).
11. David’s Prayer of Penitence (Ps. 51).
12. Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom (I Kings 3:5-9).
13. Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication (I Kings 8:25-53).
14, Jonah’s Prayer for Deliverance (Jonah 2).
15. Habakkuk’s Prayer of Praise (Hab. 3).
16. Paul’s Intercession for the Saints (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Col. 1:9-14).
17. The Malefactor’s Prayer for Forgiveness (Luke 23: 42, 43).
18. Stephen’s Prayer of Submission (Acts 7:59, 60).
19. The Lord Jesus’ Prayer for Strength (Matt. 26:27-46).
20. The Bible’s Last Prayer (Rev. 22:20).
1. As to the Posture of the Body. There is much supposition concerning the posture of the body while in prayer. Some contend that prayer is not prayer unless one is on his knees, believing it to be blasphemous to pray while walking, and the like. According to the following Scriptures there is no set rule as to the position of the body in prayer:
a. Christ on His Face. “He went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
b. Solomon on His Knees. “It was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven” (I Kings 8:54).
c. Peter on the Water. “Lord, save me” (Matt. 14:30c).
d. Thief on the Cross. “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42).
e. Elijah With Face Between His Knees. “So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees” (I Kings 18:42).
f. David on His Bed. “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; Iwater my couch with my tears” (Ps. 6:6).
2. As to Time. Many poems have been written suggesting the time to pray. We do know that the Christian should select a time when it is the most convenient for him to be alone with the Lord. Here again there is no regulation stipulated. Notice the following examples:
a. Daniel: Three Times a Day. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime” (Dan. 6:10).
b. Christ: Early in the Morning. “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).
c. Peter and John: Hour of Prayer (3 P.M.). “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1).
3. As to Place. Where is the place God meets man today? The Lord Jesus said, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:21, 23). Here, too, we see that no definite place is commanded:
a. Christ in the Garden: “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and said unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder” (Matt. 26:36).
b. Christ on the Grass. “He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude” (Matt. 14:19).
c. Christ on a Mountain. “It came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
d. Paul in a Storm on Board Ship (Acts 27). Where is the place the Christian should pray? Christ said, “Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6:6). Where is the closet, and how may one close the door? The closet is any place where the believer may closet himself from the outside world. It may be on a bus, walking on the street, or it may be in a closed room. It is a place where he and God are alone together.
What will it take to get our prayers answered? The Christian is one who asks to receive. The following truths guarantee answers to prayer.
1. Confidence. “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb.11:6).
2. Earnestness. “I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9). Ask: Matthew 7:7; seek: James 5:17; knock: Acts 12:5.
3. Definiteness. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good gifts to them that ask him” (Matt. 7:11).
4. Persistence. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). See also Luke 18:1-8.
5. Faith. “I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
6. Submission. “This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him” (I John 5:14, 15). When we ask according to His will, then two have agreed, thus assuring that prayer will be answered. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 18:19).
1. Through Spiritual Profanation. This is well illustrated in the life of Esau. Paul bids us to look diligently “lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance though he sought it carefully with tears” (Heb. 12:16, 17). Esau gave away the blessings that went with the birthright. That which he sold was gone forever. In the Christian life lost days and lost opportunities are gone. Yesterday is gone forever.
2. Through Judicial Penalties. “Speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the LordGOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols” (Ezek. 14:4). See also Deuteronomy 3:25-27; Jeremiah 15:1.
3. Through Lack of Action. “The LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward” (Ex. 14:15). To be sure there is a time to “stand still and see the salvation of the LORD,” but there is also the time to go forward.
4. Through Insincerity. “When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogue and in the corner of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matt. 6:5).
5. Through Carnal Motives. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lust” (Jas. 4:3).
6. Through Unbelief. “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord” (Jas. 1:6, 7).
7. Through Cherished Sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18).
8. Through Failure to Ask. “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (Jas. 4:2c). Some find a conflict with the above verse and Matthew 6:8: “Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” They reason that if the Father knows what we have need of, why then should they pray? This has hurt the prayer life of many Christians. It should not. It is true that our Father knows everything we have need of; if He didn’t He would not be God. His knowledge, however, is not a guarantee that we shall have the needed things: “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” Yes, the Father knows what we need, but we have to pray for it. We are warned, nevertheless, that we cannot fool God and ask for things we do not need.
“There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Eph. 3:12). See also John 16:24-26, “Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18). This is the Scriptural formula for the presentation of prayers: To the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.
Prayers should contain the following: