Salvation in Christ Conundrum
With my work with One Eight Catalyst, I get to do a lot of really great things. I’ve just finished a new Step By Step Guide book on how to make disciples, and we just finished the trailer for our first documentary film. As I’ve been working on the documentary and as I go in the directions God has directed us, I’m running into this theological ‘conundrum.’ It’s a conundrum because there seem to be two different theological principles that are at play simultaneously as it relates to our salvation in Christ.
On one hand, we teach that salvation in Christ is a free gift, as
illustrated in Ephesians 2, “For by grace you have been saved through
faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of
God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We also know,
by Jesus’ own teaching in John 5, that we can be assured of our salvation as we
“hear my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does
not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” We know that
there’s nothing we can do to be good enough to earn our salvation. In fact, the
Bible is clear about the depravity of our flesh, and the pervasiveness of our
sin in ourselves.
On the other hand, the gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must
repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority. The gospel that Jesus
proclaimed was a call to follow him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to
make a decision or pray a prayer. Our Lord’s words about eternal life were
invariably accompanied by warnings (read John 15:4-6 and 1 Corinthians
3:10-15 for more) to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly.
He taught that the cost of following him is high, that the way is narrow and
few find it. He said many who call him Lord will be forbidden from entering the
kingdom of heaven.
We then get to Romans 10, and Paul’s teaching about receiving salvation. In
all the other passages that I know, salvation in Christ is found as we believe
in God and His Son, we receive God and we hear the words of Jesus and believe then
in Christ. In Romans 10, the Apostle Paul adds an additional piece to this
puzzle. In Romans 10, he writes, “because, if you confess with your mouth
that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from
the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is
justified, (an act of God whereby He pronounces a sinner to be righteous
because of that sinner’s faith in Christ) and with the mouth one confesses and
is saved.” A more proper translation of verse 9 would be ‘profess with your
mouth Jesus as Lord,’ and that has some additional implications. An
acknowledgment of Jesus’ lordship is logically accompanied by a submission to
Jesus’ authority. If Jesus is Lord, then He owns us; He has the right to tell
us what to do. When we confess Jesus is Lord, we confess not only that He is
Lord over all, but that He is your Lord. You’re saying, “Jesus can call the
shots for my life. Jesus can tell me how I should think about myself and about
marriage and about the world. Jesus is the one who has all authority in heaven
and on earth. Not me. I am not an autonomous creature. I live to serve this
Can you see the conundrum? Salvation is a free gift, but it seems to come
with a lot of sacrifice. It’s given to us without us having to work for it, but
Jesus requires all of us as He becomes the Lord of our lives. This is important
for us at One Eight Catalyst because we exist to create resources and training
that is enabling believers to grow deeper in Christ, so they will reach their
world for Christ, and there seems to be quite a bit of confusion in this area.
Pray for us as we seek Biblical truth!