Soteriology - Introduction (Galatians 1:6-9)
Soteriology 001, Galatians 1:6-9
January 6, 2016
Good evening everybody. We’re going to start a class; I think this will probably run about 12 weeks, something like that, on the doctrine of salvation. And one of the reasons we decided to do this and have it in the sanctuary is a lot of times some of our missionaries have questions about the church’s stand on a particular point and we really had no specific teaching to send them to other than the scattered sermons. So we might have dealt with that in this sermon over here somewhere. So what we wanted to do actually is put the main teachings… so if they had a question on salvation rather than sending them to a scattered sermon we could send them to an actual course that we taught. So that’s why we’re filming this.
Sort of the vision is I’m basically going to lecture, if you will, for about an hour, a lot of times I won’t go the full hour. I’m going to try to get us out of here right at 8:00 o’clock, we’re going to start right at 7:00, we’re going to get out of here right at 8:00 o’clock because I know a lot of you have to pick up your kids and all that kind of stuff. And then if you have a question, please write it down and we’re going to open it up for Q & A about 8:00 o’clock, and we’ll probably run Q & A for about 15 minutes. And the reason we’re following that format is just because we’re trying to film these for the benefit of others. So that’s sort of what is going on.
You should have a packet of material; now that packet of material, all that is is the slides I’m going to use and there’s some little lines to the side where you can take notes if you wanted to do that. Now sometimes my slides will change a little bit because I tweak them at the last minute so if you say wait a minute, you’re showing something that is not showing up on my packet, don’t panic, all of the tweaked slides are on our sermon archives, so every teaching we do Wednesday night is on the sermon archives and all the slides that I use are there. That packet will give you the basic slides I’m going to use, the general slides.
So anyway, welcome to soteriology. When I use the word “soteriology” some of you probably think I’m speaking in tongues—what does that mean? Soteriology? Those names come from Greek words and these are the ten or eleven major areas of systematic theology. So systematic theology is thinking a little bit differently than what you’re used to. When we teach Sunday mornings we go verse by verse through books, so you might be used to learning biblically line by line, precept upon precept. Theology is different because there is no one book of the Bible that discloses everything about salvation, or angels, or Christ.
So to develop God’s viewpoint on, let’s say angels, you have to, in essence, go through all the sixty-six books and kind of put them together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle because there’s no single angel book. Right! The doctrine of angels is all over the Bible, so you go through the whole Bible, you kind of assemble the pieces like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, you put the pieces together and you can look back and you can see a beautiful mosaic of what the Bible teaches on angels.
And that, what I just described, is what systematic theologians do; they don’t confine themselves to one book of the Bible. They are trying to discover the mind of God as He has revealed Himself in all sixty-six books of the Bible. And systematic theologians do this in about ten or eleven areas. So let me kind of go through those, just so you have a handle on those. The first area we study in systematic theology is Prolegomena, “Pro” means introduction, “legomena” means word, so Prolegomena means introductory words or first words. So Prolegomena is what you study to do systematic theology. What are your assumptions? What are your sources? That kind of thing.
And then the next area of systematic theology is called Theology, Theos means God, ology means what? The study of. So theology is trying to figure out what does the whole Bible reveal about God. There’s no one book that tells you everything about God so you’ve got to go through all 66 books and put it together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and then you walk away with a beautiful mosaic of the doctrine of God.
Christology is another area of systematic theology called the study of Christ; what does the whole Bible reveal about Christ, the Second Member of the Trinity?
Pneumatology, now the Greek word pneuma is spirit, so Pneumatology is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. There’s no one book of the Bible that tells you everything you need to know about the Holy Spirit. In fact, Genesis 1:2 you’ll see the Spirit brooding on the waters.
[Genesis 1:2, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” [NIV] “The earth was formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters.” [AMP].
And then you move into the book of Exodus and the Spirit comes upon the tabernacle workers, and you just kind of go right on through the Bible and every book of the Bible adds something about the Spirit and you put it all together and you have a beautiful portrait, when all is said and done, of what God has revealed about the Spirit. That’s what you call pneumatology.
Another area of systematic theology is Anthropology, anthropos is the Greek word for man, so anthropology is what does the Bible reveal about man in Genesis to Revelation. And then we have another area of systematic theology called hamartiology, hamartia is the Greek word for sin. So what does the whole Bible reveal about sin, hamartiology.
And then what we’re focused on is soteriology, coming from the Greek word soterios, meaning salvation, so what does the whole Bible reveal about the doctrine of salvation. Angelology, what does the whole Bible reveal about angels. That would be the good angels, Lucifer, a fallen angel, and demons. It’s a great area of study. Ecclesiology, the Greek word for church is ecclesia, so ecclesiology is what does the whole Bible reveal about the doctrine of the church.
And then probably my favorite is eschatology, eschatos is the Greek word for last or end. So what does the whole Bible reveal about the end. People think well, that’s just the book of Revelation. Well, the book of Revelation has a lot to say but what you’ll discover is the first eschatological statement made in the Bible is as early as Genesis 3:15, where God says that one of these days there’s coming one who is going to crush the serpent’s head. That’s an eschatological statement, so that’s your first piece of eschatological data. All the other books give other pieces of it so your job as a systematic theologian is to put these pieces together, just like you would put together a jigsaw puzzle. [Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”] So that’s basically what systematic theology is; it’s learning to think the way God thinks in these major areas where God had disclosed Himself. So this is a very different discipline than a verse by verse study of the book of the Bible. So normally when I teach this class at school the class is called Man, Sin. Sometimes I say it fast and people think I’m saying man-sin; no, it’s man, comma, sin, comma, salvation. So that would be anthropology, hamartiology and soteriology. And we teach them in that particular order because that’s the order of events as you discover them in the Bible. Genesis 1 and 2 is anthropology, God creates man and woman. Hamartiology is Genesis 3, what went wrong. And then soteriology is the whole rest of the Bible, really, what is God going to do to restore man to his original state.
I think it was Dwight Moody that said you’ve to get a man lost before you can get him saved. A lot of people out there don’t realize they’re lost and the reason they don’t realize they’re lost is they don’t understand hamartiology. But you can’t reach out for the life preserver if you realize you’re drowning, right, so that’s why we teach hamartiology before we teach soteriology, which I’m not going to be able to do given some of the time limits I’m under; I’m just going to have to focus on soteriology. But normally, if you take the full course with me at school we cover hamartiology first, before we cover soteriology, and then we cover anthropology before that.
And by the way, that’s exactly how Paul structures the book of Romans. Have you read Romans 1:18 through chapter 3 verse 21 lately? There’s absolutely nothing in that section about Jesus; there’s absolutely nothing in that section about the love of God. He doesn’t even mention the gospel in that section, it’s all sin, sin, sin, sin. As a matter of fact, I’ve taught Romans at this church and I noticed that our attendance went down when I was in Romans 1-3. There was not a lot of warm fuzzy thoughts for the day.
And the reason Paul does that is he wants to get people lost before he can get them saved. And finally after revealing the Gentiles are guilty, the Jews are guilty, the religious world is guilty, and the world is guilty, Paul finally can get around to chapter 3, I think it’s around verse 21 and following, he starts to disclose the gospel. So Paul never really taught soteriology before he taught hamartiology; just look at the structure of the book of Romans and you’ll see that.
So that’s why we teach anthropology first, hamartiology second, soteriology third. You don’t even see you need for soteriology until you understand who we are in Adam as condemned sinners and only the study of hamartiology reveals that. Unfortunately I have to skip anthropology and hamartiology and so we’re just focused in our class on soteriology, or the doctrine of salvation.
So here is an outline of what we’re going to cover in the course, we’re only going to cover, Roman numeral 1 this evening. We’re going to deal with definition and introduction of soteriology. Now if you’ve ever struggled with election versus free will, does God choose us or do we choose Him, we’re going to try to hit that subject next week. And then we get into the subject of the atonement, which is the substitutionary death of Christ. Then we’ll get into a subject called salvation words. And you’ll discover that God has disclosed our salvation through different words in Greek and each word brings out a nuance that the others do not. And if you understand those salvation words you’ll have a beautiful picture of what God has done for us in salvation.
And then we’re going to spend a lot of time, it’ll probably take us a few lessons to get through it, Roman numeral V, God’s one condition of salvation. And you’ll see that that’s a huge area of confusion today in the body of Christ. In other words, what does a person have to do to become a Christian? And that’s what we deal with in “God’s one condition of salvation.”
And then, number VI, once you become a Christian, what are the results of salvation? After a person has trusted in Christ what transpires in their life. That’s what we call the results of salvation. And then Roman numeral VII, once you have salvation can you lose it? And here’s where we get into the whole subject of eternal security. And you’ll discover that the way I teach is I don’t just give you my view on things, I’ll give you the passages that people who have a different point of view will use and we’ll learn how to think through those.
And then finally we’re going to end in Roman numeral VIII at the very end of the course on what we call the faulty views of salvation. There’s a lot of wrong views of salvation going around. So that’s sort of the outline that we’re following
Let’s go ahead and start off with a definition of soteriology, and an introduction. You might want to take your Bible and go over to the book of Galatians, chapter 1, verses 8-9. By the way, you need to bring your Bible with you every week to class. You’ll find that we’re going to be using it quite a bit. I personally don’t believe we should hold theological views unless they are anchored in the text of the Bible, so every point that I make you’ll find that it’s going to be well backed up with multiple Scriptures.
So introduction to soteriology, let’s kind of start off with the importance of soteriology. In other words, is this topic a big deal. I mean, should we invest Wednesday nights from 7:00-8:00, in the rain, studying this stuff. There’s a lot of other things we could be doing. Right? So is this a big deal. Well, I believe this, that of all the subjects, of all of the areas of systematic theology that I just walked through, I believe soteriology is the most important for us because what you believe about this topic determines whether you’ll spend eternity with Christ in heaven or not.
Notice what Paul says in Galatians 1:8-9. He says, “But even if we,” that would be himself, right? “even if we or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is the be accursed!”
Now the word “accursed” there you’ll see it’s used two times, it’s the translation of a Greek word anathema, and anathema is a condemnation to hell. Paul is saying if we preach to you a different gospel let us be condemned to hell; let me be condemned to hell Paul is saying. He is saying if an angel from heaven, now isn’t it interesting that some of the major religions of the world claim to have gotten their truth from an angel? Mormonism, for example, claims to have come to Joseph Smith through an angel named Moroni. Islam has come to the world through Gabriel’s manifestations to Mohammed. Now I don’t think it’s the same Gabriel of the Bible, I think it’s a demon masquerading as the Gabriel of the Bible.
But it’s interesting that Paul says an angel could show up at your bedside tonight and give you some kind of manifestation, but if it’s different than the gospel that you know, that angel is to be condemned to hell, anathematized, and even if we, as apostles give you a different gospel, let us be condemned to hell. And you look at these words and those are very strong words, are they not. So what this is teaching us is of all the areas of doctrine to understand correctly the area of soteriology is primary.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, one of my theological heroes, the founder of Dallas Seminary, says this in his book, Salvation, page 118. He says: “The privilege of preaching the gospel to one soul is priceless. So, in like manner, any blunder in its presentation may contribute to an eternal disaster and woe. Carelessness in preaching is criminal and ignorance is inexcusable. The gospel is plain. Earnestness is important, but no amount of earnestness can be substituted for the exact statement of God’s message to lost men.”
And I love to take Chafer’s words and compare those to what Paul said and you see how both men, Paul an apostle, Chafer just a human teacher, but both men took this issue of the gospel very, very seriously. They wanted their language to be precise because they knew if they fumbled the message it could contribute to an eternal disaster in someone else’s life We don’t give them the gospel that they need many times; many times we’re so clumsy in our language that we teach a gospel of works, as I’ll show you, without really knowing that we’re doing that.
All of that to say this subject of soteriology is a BIG deal; this is important stuff. We can disagree on the rapture; we can disagree on the millennial kingdom and still go to the same heaven. But you can’t disagree on what the gospel is and end up in the same place eternally. So soteriology is quite significant. What is the meaning, looking at definitions here for a little bit, what does it mean to be saved? Let’s take a look at what I like to call the salvation word group. These are four words that all come from the same root, just so we know what it is that we’re talking about.
The verb to save in the New Testament is the Greek word sōzō. Now words can be used in the noun form, or in a verbal form. Right? We do this all the time with the word Google; when someone says Google, they’re about a search engine, a noun, but when we say google such and such we’ve just converted it to a verb. So the verb run, a run in my stocking, I went for a run, you can convert that to a verb, you need to go run a lap. So that’s how language function, there’s a common root and you can use it in a verbal form, you can use it in a noun form. So the verbal form to save is the Greek verb sōzō. The noun, salvation, coming from that same root is the Greek word sōtēria, sometimes it’s sōtērion, both those are nouns meaning salvation. And then the Greek noun for Savior is sōtēr. So those are the words that we’re using here as we try to define a little bit this evening the doctrine of salvation.
And what you will discover when you actually sit down and begin to study through the Bible and try to figure out what these words mean is the word “saved” has a very broad meaning. It does not always mean the same thing everywhere it’s employed. Typically, in twenty-first century evangelicalism, when I use the word “saved” typically what I mean by it, typically what you mean by it is some¬body trusted in Christ and is not going to hell. I mean, that’s typically how we think of the word “saved.” But what you’ll discover is the Bible has, strictly the New Testament, has a much broader range of meanings.
So let me give you what I would consider some non-theological uses of the word “saved.” You might want to look at Matthew 9:21-22, here is sōzō and it’s really not talking about salvation in terms of going to heaven, by trusting in Christ. Matthew 9:21-22 says: “for she was saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well.’  But Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage, your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well.” Now this word, “made well” is sōzō. That’s not talking about going to heaven, that’s talking about being saved from a sickness. So that would be what I would call a non-theological use of the word.
Notice Luke 8:36, “those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well.” There’s sōzō again, “made well” is the translation from the Greek verb sōzō. Well, that’s not talking about trusting in Christ and going to heaven, that’s talking about being protected from demons.
Notice the book of Philippians, chapter 1, verse 19, just for a moment. I told you we were going to be using our Bible a lot. Philippians 1:19, it says, “for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” The word translated “deliverance” there is sōtēria and Paul uses salvation, or sōtēria, basically to describe him getting out of prison.
So you could say I got in the car and drove to the Bible study before the rain storm hit, before a traffic jam it, so I was saved from the rain, I was saved from the traffic jam. So you’re using the word “saved” in a certain way, but it really has nothing to do in that non-theological sense of trusting in Christ and going to heaven. I’m just trying to show you the broad range of this word.
Notice John 12:27, this is Jesus speaking, He says, “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour.’” So if you think “save” always means trusting in Christ and going to heaven, then you have to conclude that Jesus had to trust in Himself to go to heaven, because even Jesus had to get saved. Well, “save” here is not talking about a theological concept, He’s praying to be kept out of the ordeal of the cross, because then He said “Not My will be done, but Thy will be done.” That’s sōzō once again.
Hebrews 11:7, here is another non-theological use of the word “save.” Hebrews 11:7 is talking about Noah, it says, “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” So when it says there Noah “prepared an ark for the salvation of his household,” what it’s talking about is him being protected from water, protected from the flood, in the ark. Another non-theological use of the word “saved.”
And you have to start thinking this way because if you think “save” always means trusting in Christ and going to heaven in the theological sense you’ll vet very confused. One verse that will really confuse you is Matthew 24:13, I can’t tell you how many Christians are in bondage because they misunderstand what Matthew 24:13 is talking about. Matthew 24:13 says, “But he who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Now your Calvinist or your Arminians will come up to you and say hey man, are you producing fruit? You’d better not have any doubt in your life, you’d better be enduring to the end because if you’re not enduring to the end you’re not saved, because the Bible says “he who endures to the end will be saved.”
You have to watch theologians very carefully because they do this constantly; they cherry-pick verses to support their preexisting belief system. And so they’re understanding, “saved” here in a theological sense, but what is the context of Matthew 24;13? It is the tribulation period. In fact, when you study Matthew 24, the Olivet Discourse, it’s the Jews in the tribulation period. What’s happening to the Jews in the tribulation period? They’re being pursued by the beast, the antichrist. In fact, Satan, when you factor in Revelation 12, is about ready to be kicked out of heaven and he’s going to be pursuing these Jews with full force during the final three and a half years of the tribulation period. So Jesus says this: “He who endures to the end will be saved.” The end of what? The end of the tribulation period, because once the end of the tribulation period transpires Jesus will return to the earth, His feet will touch the Mount of Olives, and He will physically protect the Jews from the wrath of Satan and the beast. And Matthew 24:31 is basically that’s what it’s talking about, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET AND THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one of the sky to the other.”
So this isn’t talking about making it to the end of your life in good works so you’ll go to heaven; that’s not what it’s talking about at all. It’s talking about the protection that Jesus is going to give to the Jews who make it to the end of the seven year tribulation period. That’s just an example of why you need to understand that sōzō and sōtēria, these words, have a broad range of meaning.
However, having said all that, most of the time when these words, are used, whether it be sōzō, sōtēria, they typically have a theological meaning; they’re typically being used the way we understand it, trusting in Christ for salvation so I won’t go to hell. For example, notice Matthew 1:21, here is the word being used in a theological sense. Matthew 1:21, it says, “She,” that’s Mary, “will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So that’s the normal use of the Word, I’m being protected from the consequences of my sin which would be hell.
Here is sōzō also in a theological sense, notice Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” So there’s sōzō in a theological sense. We all know Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was” what? “lost.” There’s “saved” in a theological sense. And you might want to jot down 2 Corinthians 2:15, it uses “saved” in a theological sense as well. It says, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” So there “saved” is used in the way we normally use the word, which is being saved from the consequences of our sin, which would be hell.
So hopefully what I’ve tried to communicate is this word “saved” really has a very broad semantic range. “Saved” does not mean the same thing every time it’s used in the Bible. So how do you determine which meaning to plug in when you see the word “saved” in the Bible? What are the three rules of real estate? Location, location, location. What are the three rules of Bible study? Context, context, context. The better you understand context the better you’ll understand what a given word means. And that’s why I’m more of a verse by verse teacher because it forces me to keep everything in its context in my teaching. But what you’ll discover out there is people aren’t doing this, they’re just grabbing verses here and there, throwing them around kind of like ping pong balls, making them sound any way they want. And that’s not really a proper Bible study method.
One other major concept that I want to cover tonight is the three tenses of salvation. I find there’s a lot of confusion out there because people really do not understand salvation in what I like to call three time zones. And if you understand is used in three different senses, past tense, present tense, future tense, it will save you from a ton of confusion. So here is the chart that I like to use, I’ve used this from the pulpit so some of you have probably seen this before. But it deals with the three tenses of salvation. The first tense of salvation is justification; justification is something that happened in my past as a Christian. I have been saved, in other words, something has happened in my life where I’ve been saved from something. And in justification, the past tense of salvation, I have already been saved from sin’s penalty.
Sin brings a horrific penalty which is eternal separation from God, eternal death, the wrath of God, and the moment I place my faith in Christ I have been justified before God; it’s already happened, it’s not something I have to get. I mean, it’s already transpired, it’s salvation in the past. And this is true of every child of God. So you’ll notice Ephesians 2:8-9, very famous verses, basically place our salvation in the past. Some of you know these verses by heart. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” so my salvation has already transpired. Titus 3:5 is another very good verse on the past tense of salvation, “He saved,” see, it’s already happened, “us, not on the basis of works which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration…” and so forth. So you notice once again “saved,” something that’s already happened. [Ephesians 2:8-9, For grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that on one may boast. Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”]
Then you have the middle tense of salvation, sometimes called progressive sanctification and that’s where I am being saved. Unlike justification, progressive sanctification is more of a process. Now when you’re talking to your Roman Catholic friends essentially they’re going to try to convince you that justification is a process and that’s not the Protestant belief, that’s not the biblical belief. We believe justification is a onetime event, it’s not a process. It’s something that happens in a nanosecond, the minute you trust Christ. It’s already been accomplished. The process though is not justification, but it is progressive sanctification where I am being saved, saved from what? Not sin’s penalty but sin’s power.
And so what is happening is I’m growing as a Christian, I’m learning about my divine resources in Christ, I’m in a Bible teaching, Bible preaching environment, I’m around God’s people and I’m learning about the resources God has given me to live my life as a Christian. And as I begin to tap into those resources moment by moment, hopefully what is happening is not that I become sinless but I begin to sin less. And gradually what is happening is my life is being conformed and transformed into the moral image of Jesus Christ. And that’s a process that we’re all in until we die, and everything God brings into your life is basically designed to contribute to that process to get us to grow, to make us more Christ-like in daily life, not in position. It’s a one-time act that already happened. But in daily life hopefully we’ll be becoming more Christ-like.
Having said all of that, look at Philippians 2:12, here you’ll notice the word “salvation” not used in the past tense but used in the present tense. Look what it says here, “ So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Now if you’re debating a Roman Catholic they’ll throw this verse at you because what they basically believe is we contribute to our… not progressive sanctification but our justification. God did 95% and I’ve got to kick in my 5%. What do I have to do? I have to pray, pay, and obey. So I’ve got to sort of supplement what God has done. And this is one of their favorite verses, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” if you’re not sensitive to the three tenses of salvation you’ll be easily fooled by their argument. But you, as a member of Sugar Land Bible Church, if you’ve gone through the soteriology class, knows, wait a minute, didn’t the pastor say something about the three tenses of salvation, and what determines which tense I’m working in? What’s our three rules of Bible study? Context, context, context.
Now look down at verse 14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” He’s not talking about justification that already happened; he’s talking about their daily lives in Christ, he’s moved into the middle tense of salvation. And in fact, if you go over to Philippians 4:2-3, he says, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.  Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Here you’ve got two women fighting with each other in the church. Can that happen to Christians? Can Christians get carnal? Sure, because these women clearly are believers because they once contended with Paul in the cause of the gospel and then the dead giveaway is in verse 3, their “names are in the book of life.” You can’t get more saved than these two women were. They weren’t stumbling in justification, they were stumbling in what? The middle tense of salvation, progressive sanctification.
The third tense of our salvation is the future tense and this is where I will be saved. See, justification, I have been saved; sanctification, I am being saved; glorification, I will be saved, saved from sin’s what? Sin’s very presence. See, in justification I’m saved from sin’s penalty in the past; in sanctification I am being saved gradually from sin’s power, but in glorification the day will come where I will be saved from sin’s presence. In other words, I will be out of this body, I will be in the presence of the Lord, and I won’t even have a desire to sin any more. Won’t that be nice.
As long as you are in this body you are in the process of progressive sanctification, but the moment you die or the rapture comes (I’m praying the rapture comes before we die, I can’t guarantee that), but the moment we’re out of this body, either through rapture or death we are into glorification and that’s the third tense of our salvation where we are delivered from the very presence of sin. The temptation to sin won’t even be an issue. That’s why Paul said “to be absent from the body is to be” what? “present with the Lord.” He said in Philippians 1:21-23, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [22, “But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.  But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.”]
I’d rather depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Paul couldn’t wait to die; I’m not saying he was suicidal, but he really had no fear of death because he knew that after he died he would be in tense three of his salvation, glorification, and the temptation to sin wouldn’t even be a reality any more in his life as it is in sanctification. So here is saved in the future tense; notice Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” See how he puts “saved” there in the future? So saved, past tense—justification; saved—present tense, sanctification; saved, future tense—glorification. And if you can just sort of master those three tenses you’ll spare yourself from a ton of confusion and every time you hear the word “saved” in the Bible you’ll be asking yourself, is this past tense, present tense or future tense. And what’s the determining factor? Context, context, context!
So if someone asks you, are you saved, the correct is I have been saved and I am being saved and I will be saved. And they’ll probably say that’s a little bit more information than I was looking for. But that’s to think biblically about this great subject of salvation.
Look at Romans 8:29-30, and as I’m reading this somebody tell me, or what seems fishy about this verse? But let’s read this verse, Romans 8:29-30, now we just talked about the three tenses of salvation. Look at this verse here. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brethren.  And these whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.”
See how he says justification at the end? And he leaps right over into what? Glorification. What phase did he skip? Sanctification. So really the $20 question becomes why in the world did he skip sanctification? Now think about these three tenses of salvation for a minute; think about what’s different about sanctification as compared to justification and glorification. You see, just for the sake of time I’ll give you the answer. Justification, the only thing you have to do to be justified, as I’ll be showing you in this course, is to trust in Christ, period. If you have trusted in Christ you’re justified. Glorification, the only thing you have to do is die, eat too many hamburgers and French fries and clog your arteries and die or be raptured. But sanctification is quite different, isn’t it. To really grow as a Christian you have to, number 1, start becoming aware of what this book teaches. You have to be in an environment that’s teaching the book correctly. You have to start looking at the multiple, multiple, multiple commands in the Bible and you have to start appropriating those commands through God’s resources that are within you, by faith, moment by moment.
So the only command that’s given to an unbeliever is to believe the gospel. The only thing you have to do be glorified is to die or to be raptured. But what do you have to do to grow? You have to be aware of these commands, you have to start obeying these commands, and you have to tap into the power God has given you to obey these commands.
Think about how many commands are in the Bible to the Christian. Hebrews 10:25, “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some,” how many Christians blow that command off. “Pray without ceasing.” “Put on the full armor of God.” “Study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that need not be ashamed,” but accurately handling “the word of truth.” “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
[Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV, “Study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that needeth not
to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Ephesians 4:26, “…do not let the sun go down on your anger.”]
I mean, I’m just giving you a handful here; command after command after command after command is given, and a lot of Christians try to fulfill those commands through human power and that’s where they get frustrated and burned out. The Christian life is… someone has said it’s a difficult life; it’s not a difficult life, it’s an impossible life. The Christian life was meant to be lived under divine power every single moment.
So we have to know what the commands are, we have to have to have it taught to us accurately, we have to develop proper Bible study habits, we have to develop a prayer life to God. And quite frankly some Christians make great, great strides in this area, and others don’t. That’s why justification is automatic if you believe; glorification is automatic, you just have to die or be raptured. Sanctification is non-automatic in your life, it’s a possibility. And that’s why, I believe, Paul leapfrogs from justification to glorification, because both of those are automatic; sanctification is not, it is not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination.
Now let me show you what I mean. Look at 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Ray Stedman used to call used to call 1 Corinthians 1 Californians. Here’s how most Christians think about people: saved/unsaved; heaven/hell; you’re a child of God or you’re a child of the devil. That’s about the depth of thinking that you have amongst most Christians.
Paul is a lot more sophisticated and nuanced than that. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.” “…infants in Christ!” notice that. Verse 2, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,” you’re still not able,  “for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men.”
If you want to really think the way Paul thinks you can’t just say saved/unsaved, because within the ranks of the saved there are three kinds of people. The unbelievers are unbelievers, we just call them the natural man. But within the ranks of the saved there are three kinds of saved people because Paul uses three kinds of words, different words. “I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual,” that’s category one, “but as to men of flesh,” that’s category number two, that’s what we call carnal, that’s a translation of the Greek word sarkinos, flesh, carnal. Then he uses a third word, “infants in Christ.”
Unbelievers vs Categories of Believers
Unbelievers – ψυχικός psuchikós; Natural, pertaining to the natural as distinguished from the spiritual
Spiritual Believers – πνευματικός pneumatikós; of persons who are spiritual, enlightened by the Holy Spirit
Infant Believers – σάρκινος sárkinos; with propensities of the flesh unto sin; νήπιος nḗpios; an infant, child, baby without any definite limitation of age. (This relates to immaturity and lack of instruction)
Carnal Believers – σαρκικός sarkikós; tendency to satisfy the flesh, implying sinfulness, sinful propensity, carnal (This relates to disobedience and open rebellion)
So who are these three kinds of people? Well, let’s start with the infants in Christ; those are very young Christians, those are Christians that really haven’t had their minds transformed yet and they’re acting like little kids. And then you have a different group called the carnal Christian, you recognize the word “carnal,” from the word meat or flesh, carnivorous is derived from that Greek word, you have some chili con carne, chili with meat. So carnal would be a Christian that is still living for the sin nature. You see, a child sucking their thumb is appropriate at age one or two, right? When the child is sixteen years old and it’s still in a crib sucking its thumb it’s not cute any more. Right?
It’s appropriate to be a little child when you’re brand new in the Lord, but see, some Christians, because they are devoted to the sin nature and not living above the sin, and keep regressing back to the sin nature, they should have matured a long time ago and yet they’re stuck in a place of immaturity. And then the top of the screen is the spiritual Christian, that’s the Christian that is basically not sinless but is sinning less; he’s maturing and growing in Christ.
The spiritual Christians will bless your socks off. The infants in Christ are kind of cute to look at because it’s appropriate for their spiritual age. The carnal Christians will put gray hairs on your head. They’ll make your life miserable as a spiritual leader and as a pastor. And unless you’re called to be an evangelist, which is basically transferring unbelievers to believers, unless you have that specific calling, most of us have ministries based on the different gifts that God gives to the body of Christ where were transitioning people from carnality or infancy into spirituality.
How do you recognize a carnal Christian? [1 Corinthians 3] Verse 2, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able.” So when we brought Sarah home from the hospital we didn’t plop her in the middle of the room and say, when she was born, help yourself to a ham sandwich or whatever, because she doesn’t have the ability to digest meat. And that’s how you recognize a carnal Christian, they can handle preaching as long as the pastor lets everybody out by noon, because we’ve got to beat the Baptists to the cafeteria. And they can handle sort of very minimal messages. You cannot take them to a deeper place. They would be very uncomfortable in a study like this because we’re going deeper places. So they thrive on milk but reject the meat.
A carnal Christian is a lot like looking at a child in the natural world. Have you notice that children, the whole world revolves around them? The sun rises or sets with them; they have to be the center of attention. That’s how you recognize a carnal Christian; everything is focused on them, they’re sort of, if I could use a psychological term, narcissistic. They haven’t grown beyond that. I’m not saying they’re going to hell, I’m saying this is what their life is like because they haven’t progressed in the middle tense of their salvation. And then Paul goes on and he talks about jealousy and strife. You see, that’s how you recognize carnality, there’s jealousy, there’s strife, there’s bickering, there’s fighting. And Paul says “are you not acting like mere men.” What’s the mere man? It’s the natural man. Paul says when I look at your life I see no difference between you and the unsaved person. An out of fellowship carnal Christian can out sin an unbeliever anytime. And this is the teaching that Paul is giving. He’s not threatening them with hell, what he’s saying is you’re missing out on maturity, you’re missing out on growth, and if you read verse 15 this week, we don’t have time to take a look at it tonight, he warns them that they are going to have an unfavorable ruling at the Bema Seat Judgment of rewards. That’s the whole point that he’s making here in chapter 3.
Hebrews 5:11-14 is also dealing with infants in Christ and carnal Christians. A parallel passage, the author of Hebrews says, “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
People look at that verse and they say that’s unbelievers there. It can’t be unbelievers because he says “by this time some of you ought to be teachers.” Would you ever want an unbeliever to teach? Of course not. He’s talking here about people not progressing in the middle tense of their salvation. He’s not dealing with justification here, folks; he’s dealing with middle tense progressive sanctification. You might want to jot down 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 because Paul talks there about, “lest I have preached to others I might be disqualified for the prize,” the prize is heaven? No, if the prize is heaven then Paul contradicted everything he said; heaven you gain through faith alone. The prize is reward, he’s worried that he’s going to drift back into carnality and be disqualified for a prize or a reward.
See, what I’m trying to communicate is simply this: justification, automatic; glorification, automatic; middle tense of salvation, progressive sanctification, not automatic. That’s my point. A very clear verse which teaches this very clearly, as Paul says in Galatians 4:19, “My children,” they’re obviously Christians, right? “with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” Well, how could he be in labor with them a second time, because he says I’m like your mother who gave spiritual birth to you, I shared the gospel with you, I birthed you into justification, now I’m pregnant with you all over again. I mean, how could he be pregnant with them, using this spiritual metaphor, all over again? Because Paul is not dealing with here justification, that’s been accomplished.
What does he want them to move into? Progressive sanctification, the middle tense of their salvation. That’s why, when you study Paul’s missionary journeys in the book of Acts what you’ll see is Paul always retraced his steps because he wasn’t just interested in winning people to Christ, checking off a box, saying okay, these folks are going to heaven. He goes back into the same areas that he was in earlier to make sure that these folks that have experienced justification are now developing properly in progressive sanctification.
You see, in the world of medicine you have obstetricians and pediatricians. Right? Obstetricians help the birthing process; pediatricians help the child grow and mature correctly. And I’ve noticed… I’ve never seen an obstetrician who’s also a pediatrician, or a pediatrician who’s also an obstetrician. Those are two totally different disciplines.
So the gift of evangelism is more focused on birthing; the gift of pastor-teacher, along with other spiritual gift’s that God gives is more focused on helping people to grow correctly. And those gifts have to be in operation because progressive sanctification is not automatic in the life of every child of God. That’s my point.
And when I start talking this way I have a lot of students that are very strongly Calvinist or Arminian; they think I’m teaching heresy and I say you guys need to read your own doctrinal statement. Look at what our own doctrinal statement says at the College of Biblical Studies:
“Every true believer is promised positional and ultimate sanctification” those are synonyms for justification and glorification, “with the” what? “possibility of progressive development in life spiritually,” i.e. “(progressive sanctification.).” In other words the doctrinal statement of our school very clearly says that progressive sanctification is not automatic. Forget the doctrinal statement, the Bible says that our progressive sanctification is not automatic. So that’s why, when we study these three tenses of salvation we have to distinguish the middle tense from the others.
Next week we’re going to talk about election, not Ted Cruz or Donald Trump but does God choose us or do we choose Him? Anyway, hopefully you learned a little something that you may not have known before, we talked about the importance of this subject, what the word “saved” means and we’ve spent a little time on the three tenses of salvation. So at this time we will conclude the class. Anybody that would like to ask questions we’ll do that for about 10-15 minutes.