© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2014
In these expanded studies on Salvation and the Work of Christ we will be looking at the meaning of the most important words and concepts used in the Bible and in the church in reference to salvation. Understanding these concepts helps us to understand the richness and completeness of what God the Father has done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ. Our salvation is so rich and so complete that no single word or concept can contain it. Just as it takes the many faces of a diamond to display its beauty, so it takes many words and concepts to describe our salvation.
Leon Morris, in his conclusion in The Cross in the New Testament, comments:
‘Our survey of the doctrine [of the atonement] throughout the New Testament has uncovered a bewildering variety of ways of looking at Christ’s work. Redemption, for example, is a figure derived from the slave market or the freeing of prisoners of war. It has to do with setting the captive free on the payment of a price. Justification is a legal metaphor. It interprets salvation through the law court and sees it as a verdict of acquittal. Reconciliation refers to the making up after a quarrel, the doing away of a state of hostilities. Propitiation has to do with anger. It reminds us of the wrath of God exercised towards every evil think and also of the fact that Christ has removed that wrath.’ p399.
‘ The chief impression that a study of the atonement leaves with us is that of the many-sidedness of Christ’s work for men. When He died for us on the cross, He did something so infinitely wonderful that it is impossible to comprehend it in its fullness. However man’s need be understood, that need is fully and abundantly met in Christ. The New Testament writers are like men who ransack their vocabulary to find words which will bring out some small fraction of the mighty thing that God has done for us. And yet, though it is so complex and so difficult, it may be put very simply: ‘the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ [Gal 2.20]’. p419.
The salvation purchased for us by Jesus Christ is a very costly and extremely precious gift. Sadly, many Christians live out their lives with a concept of salvation that is quite minimal and precarious because they have never really understood what God has done for them through the death of his Son. They do not live at peace with God; they do not live in freedom from guilt; they do not live reconciled to God; they do not live in a state of forgiveness; they do not live with the knowledge that there is no condemnation. So weak is their understanding of their salvation that it seems to have no present benefits for them, and is, to use the proverbial saying, merely a pie in the sky when they die. For some it is not even that, for they see salvation as something that can be lost or forfeited because of some personal failure. Effectively, for them, the death of Christ has no saving power. And that is very sad: that here are people who believe in Jesus Christ, yet are not enjoying the benefits of his death that they already have in him.
The author has on a number of occasions seen Christians weep with tears of joy and relief when they have finally understood that salvation actually is by sheer grace, that there actually is no condemnation ever again for those who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, that their sin can never again separate them from God. Peace floods their souls. Joy overwhelms them. Their burden of guilt disappears.
Because of this terrible erosion of the work of Christ these studies are at times very forthright in exposing defective views of salvation. They may, to some, be offensive. But surely it is preferable to offend human beings than to disempower the cross and to treat the death of Christ with contempt.
Unlike most of the studies on this site these studies contain links to other web resources and multiple quotes from a range of Christian writers. Some of the studies deliberately set forth contrasting perspectives on certain aspects of salvation to enable the reader to understand what is involved and what it at stake. The reader needs to be aware that the inclusion of a quote or web link does not indicate the author’s agreement with that perspective. The text of the study clearly indicates where the author stands.
The following resources were used in the preparation of these studies. Be aware that some of the resources listed contain views considered unbiblical by the author of these studies.
Baillie, DM: God was in Christ, Faber, London, 1973
Barth, Karl: Dogmatics in Outline, SCM, London, 1966.
Berkouwer: Man, the Image of God, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1972
Divine Election, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1960
Faith and Jusitfication, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1972
Bettenson: Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 1963
Calvin, John: Institutes of the Christian Religion
Capps, Charles God's Creative Power for Healing, Harrison House, Tulsa, 1991
Chantry, Walter: Today’s Gospel Authentic or Synthetic, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 1980
Christiansen, E: What happens when women pray?
Gordon, S Quiet Talks on Prayer, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1980
Flannery, Austin [Ed]:Vatican Council II – Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1975
Graham, Billy: The Holy Spirit, Collins, London, 1979
Hagin, Kenneth: Seven Things you should know about Divine Healing, Faith Library, Tulsa, 1993
Hammond, TC: In Understanding Be Men, IVF, London, 1963
Hanegraaff, H: Christianity in Crisis, Word, England, 1995
Hoekema, AA: Saved By Grace, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1989
Hughes, P: But for the Grace of God, Hodder, London, 1964
Largasse, P [Ed]: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Columbia University Press, 2001
Lloyd-Jones, M: God's Way of Reconciliation, Evangelical Press, London, 1972
Romans: Exposition of Chapter 5, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 1974
Morris, Leon: The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, Tyndale, London, 1965
The Cross in the New Testament, Paternoster,
Galatians: Paul’s Charter of Christian Freedom, IVP, Leicester, 1996
Packer, JI: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, IVF, London, 1967.
Piper, John: Future Grace, Multnomah, Sisters, 1995
Stevenson: A New Eusebuis, SPCK, London, 1968
Stibbs/Packer: The Spirit Within You, Hodder, London, 1967.
Strobel, Lee: The Case for Christ, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1998
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