The Scripture Way of Salvation
John Wesley wrote that the religion of Jesus Christ is plain and simple--as long as we stick with how it is described in the Bible. The great purpose is salvation and the means to accomplish that purpose is faith. Ephesians 2:8 says it, “By grace we have been saved through faith.”
Salvation is not to be understood as “pie in the sky when you die.” It is a present thing, known and lived today. It has two parts: justification and sanctification.
Justification is pardon, the forgiveness of all our sins through the blood of Christ shed upon the cross. Sanctification begins at our justification. It is the new birth and the new life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the moral transformation of the human soul.
Believers are aware that sin remains in their lives. They are keenly aware of the struggle within them between the desires of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). They know that by the power of the Holy Spirit they can put to death the misdeeds of the body. (Romans 8:13). They wait for and long for what Mr. Wesley calls “entire sanctification.” This is a perfection in love “wherein love excludes sin, love filling the heart and taking up the whole capacity of the soul.”
Faith is assurance and conviction (Hebrews 11:1). It begins with a moment of insight into the truth of the Gospel message, “having the eyes of our hearts enlightened.” (Ephesians 1:18). It is specific and personal, “Christ loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). It is finished in confidence and blessed assurance, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16)
How does faith work to save us? It is the sole condition of justification. We do need to repent of our sins but it’s understood that repentance springs out of faith in the Gospel offered to us. Faith is the sole condition of sanctification. We do need to engage in a life of obedience, mercy and justice but it is understood that such a life springs out of faith. The pursuit of such a life only serves to strengthen and increase our faith.
Christians believe that God has promised to perfect us in love. It’s a promise God made as far back as Deuteronomy 30:6, “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart...so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,that you may live.” Christians believe that what God has promised he is able to perform in us. He can do it gradually or instantaneously. Millions of Christians have experienced freedom from addictions, bitterness, lust, rage and bad habits. “Expect it by faith, expect it as you are and expect it now.” wrote Wesley.
This is the salvation we proclaim as Methodists: The Gospel of Jesus Christ saves us by taking away both the guilt and the power of sin so that we can live a new life of love. (You can read Mr. Wesley’s sermon online here- https://ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons/sermons.v.xliii.html?queryID=5573796&resultID=187135) Do you know this salvation? If you’re not sure, contact me, let’s have a conversation soon!