Daniel R. Shannon
In any discourse on the subject of salvation, one must first start with the fact that Scripture, the Word of God, is inerrant and true. Inerrant means that it is free from error. It cannot contradict itself. If one part of it is not true, then none of it can be trusted; and one must discard all of it.
In Psalm 12:6, David tells us, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” If God, in all His wisdom thought about every word seven times, how many times should we think about each word? Isaiah 28:10 tells us, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” For any study in the scriptures, one must study the text carefully and build line upon line. Any text out of context is nothing but a pretext.
Salvation and salvational security is probably one of the most divisive subjects in Christianity today. However, when examined closely, it is spelled out clearly in Scriptures. Turn to Acts 16:30-31: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” This is the only place in the Bible in which saved is both in the question and in the answer. Let’s look at this passage a little closer.
“Believe”, in Acts 16:31, is the Greek word, “pisteuo” and is aorist, active, indicative. What does this mean? It means that it is a punctiliar action that is commanded, not requested, to be performed by the person to whom it is addressed and the act cannot be reversed. The word “believe” in this passage is very interesting in that its grammar makes a very pointed fact about how to be saved. “Shall be saved” is in the future, passive, indicative, which indicates it is simply a statement of fact. Salvation is an event. When you trust Jesus the Christ, you are born into the family, and you become his child.
This action cannot be reversed. Anyone born into a family, regardless of what he does, is still part of that family.
The question and the answer are both in the same passage, simply stated and laid out for all to see. However, let’s go further.
1 Timothy 2:4 states, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Notice the word, “all”. All can believe and all can be saved. God wants everyone to be born into His family. Not only does He want you in His family, but also he wants you to grow into the “knowledge of the truth”. Knowledge here is “epignosis”, which is “knowledge upon knowledge”. He wants you to dig for truth. The definite article “the” is not present in the Greek.
What does this mean? Everyone who believes (aorist) will (not may) be saved. God made provision in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for every (not some) person who believes to be saved. Hebrews 2:9 states, “he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” “Should taste” is in the aorist, middle deponent, subjunctive. This means that He died (aorist; once) that every man may be saved. How? By believing (aorist). Notice in John 1:9, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
Why do we need this? Matthew 8:22 tells us, “But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” The word “dead” is used two ways in this passage. Let the dead spiritually bury their dead physically. If we are spiritually dead, how can we be given life? Colossians 2:13 tells us, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses”. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. We need salvation because we are all, each and every one of us, born dead spiritually. When man sinned in the Garden of Eden, he died (Genesis 2:17). The word “died” is death of the spirit or separation from God. A person who is living and is unsaved is referred to in Ephesians 2:1 as being dead in trespasses and sin. When he is saved, he is spoken of as “having been quickened” or “passing from death unto life” (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14).
This salvation, which some refer to as “fire insurance”, is eternal, irrevocable, indestructible, and it cannot be altered under any circumstances or conditions. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).
Why then is there confusion over salvation and whether it is permanent? It is the failure of our teachers and preachers to teach that man is a trichotomous being and not dichotomous. Teaching that man is a dichotomous being is the teaching of evolution and not the teaching of God! The theory of evolution holds that man, being merely an animal, has only a body and a soul.
The Hebrew word for “soul is “nephesh” and in the King James Version as well as most other versions is translated indiscriminately (or interpreted) as “life” or “living”. The Greek word for “soul” is “psuche” and is translated variously as “soul, life, mind or heart”. In Genesis 1:20, 21, 30 and Revelation 8:9 and 16:3, we see that animals have souls.
Are we like the animals or are we created in God’s image? The Word of God teaches that we are created in His image. Since Elohim is a trinity and Theos is a trinity, does it not make sense that we also are a trinity?
Let’s look at some passages of scripture. I Thessalonians 5:23, tells us, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice that it says “wholly” then refers to “spirit and soul and body”. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. Notice that in both instances, “soul” is psuche and “spirit” is pneuma; they are distinct and different. Scripture teaches that Jesus was born in the image of His creation, and when he died on the cross, His spirit went up into heaven, his soul went to Sheol and his body went into the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea.
At the time of our Lord’s death, His soul went down into Paradise. This is identified as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek), this is the restful part or the place of the redeemed which was in the lower part of the earth where our Lord and the thief on the cross went. This is also where Lazarus and the rich man went, the rich man being in the part of the lost, whereas Lazarus was in the part housing the saved. There are many words that are translated or inferred to as “Hell”, but Hell is the lake of fire. It is currently empty, but the Beast and the false prophet will be thrown in at the beginning of the millennium (Revelation 19:20). After the 1000 years, Satan is next (Revelation 20:10) followed by the lost at the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). At the time of the resurrection and, a little later, it would seem that Paradise and its inhabitants were transferred from the lower regions of the earth into the third heaven.
What does this mean? It means there is more than one salvation.
There are several words translated as “saved”. In Luke 1:71, it is salvation from our enemies. In Matthew 8:25 and 14:30, it is physical salvation. In Acts 16:30-31; it is salvation of the spirit. What then do we refer to when we talk about “salvation” and “eternal life”?
Let’s look at John 3:3-5: “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.” Nicodemus saith unto him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?” 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.” Notice in verse three, it says “see the Kingdom of God” and in verse five, it says “enter the Kingdom of God”. There are different qualifications for seeing and entering.
To see the Kingdom, you have to be born (aorist, subjunctive) again, or saved. To enter into the Kingdom, you have to be born of water and of the Spirit. But, it says, “he cannot enter”, which is present, indicative. It may or may not happen. Just being baptized doesn’t guarantee an entrance into the Kingdom. Seeing it, you are saved, entering it, you are ruling and reigning (qualified, based on works), which is salvation of the soul (psuche).
One of the things that cause so much confusion is the mistranslation of “eternal”. Koine Greek has no word for “eternal”, with the possible exception of “aidios”, which is used only in Romans 1:20 and Jude 6. The Greek for eternity can be found in Galatians 1:5, “εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων”, which is literally, “unto the ages of the ages”. Galatians 1:5 says, “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” “Ever and ever” is eternal.
In Romans 2:6-7, we have, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” The word translated here is “aionios”, which is “agelasting life”, not eternal life. This is obviously not salvation, because it says that your deeds will be rewarded. Galatians 6:7-9 is another good example of “aionios”: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Why would someone, a man of God, have to lay hold on something he already has? Do not make the fatal mistake of confusing The Kingdom (millennial reign) for eternal life. Many err grievously in thinking that all Christians will rule and reign in the Kingdom of Heaven. If there are rulers, there must be those who are subjects. As the Cherokee say, “We can’t all be chiefs”.
When Scriptures refer to life for the age (aionios), it is usually translated “eternal”, which is interpretation based on Latin theology. Interpretation is not translation. Every passage that refers to life for the age is referring to salvation of the soul. 1 Peter 1:9 tells us, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (psuche)”. Hebrews 10:38-39 says, “Now the just (one; singular) shall live (future, middle, indicative) by faith: but if any man (literally, “he” referred to previously) draw back (aorist, middle, subjunctive), My soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition (perish); but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For 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” (faith plus nothing), but 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”. Philippians 2:12 says, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” 2 Peter 1:10 and Philippians 2:12 cannot refer to salvation of the spirit (being saved) but must refer to rewards or salvation of the soul. There is no work required to be saved; therefore salvation of the soul is something that is dependent upon man as he labors under the power of the Spirit of God.
Who are those who will make their election sure? This concept has nothing to do with being saved. 2 Corinthians 5 clearly says that all were dead and Christ died for all, not many (elect). 1 Timothy 2:4 says, “Who will have (present, active, indicative) all men to be saved (aorist), and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”. Salvation is open to all; the many are those who are called out of the saved. Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” All are called unto spirit salvation, but this has to do with election. Election has to do with rewards and the salvation of the soul.
What is required to receive salvation of the soul? Look again at Hebrews 10:38-39: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” The words “any man” has been introduced by the King James translators as the subject of “draw back”, but the “just man” is the subject. An unbeliever cannot draw back from living for the Lord, but a saved man can. An unbeliever cannot live for self and lose his rewards, but a saved man can. An unbeliever cannot appear at the judgment seat of Christ without any good works (works of gold, silver or precious stones), suffer loss and be saved as though by fire, but a saved person can. Drawing back to destruction is not eternal damnation, but is the loss of the soul, which is so plainly revealed in Matthew 16:24-27.
What are works of gold, silver and precious stones? James 1:22 says, “But be ye (present, active) doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” This is a command to do what the Holy Spirit, through the Scriptures, tells you. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 says, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air”. We are to compete or strive to obtain the incorruptible crown (ruling and reigning) that is to be our reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ if we are diligent and obey.
How does one obey? Living by faith.
What is faith? Faith gives substance to things not seen. Look at James 2:14, where the Scripture says, “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?” The works in this passage are the works of love that make faith profitable. 1 John 3:17-18: “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 4:20 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
Our works that demonstrate our faith justifies us. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Faith allows us to please God. Hebrews 11:6: “But 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.” Only the just and obedient can live by faith. Faith gives substance to grace. He rewards those who are obedient.
How does one live by faith? The soul, which is of the natural man, pulls us toward the things of the world. The born again spirit pulls us toward God and things of God. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Acts 5:32 says, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given (aorist, active, indicative) to them that obey (present, active, participle; those who are presently obeying) Him.” If one spends time in the Word of God, one is faithful. If one is faithful, one is obeying. If one is obeying, one is filled with the Holy Spirit. If one is filled with the Holy Spirit, one is drawn toward things of God. Anyone who remains faithful, one has rewards.
Salvation of the spirit is being saved eternally by the simple act of believing. One is “saved”. This phase of salvation is eternal, irrevocable, and indestructible and it cannot be altered under any circumstances or conditions. Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The salvation of the body occurs with the return of our Lord (1 Corinthians 15:51-57). The body has been purchased and the price was the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Although the price has been paid, the body awaits its redemption. While the body is in this purchased but unredeemed condition, there is the conflict between flesh and spirit (Galatians 5:17-21). This conflict is possible only in Christians. The one who is not in the family of God cannot do anything to please God. The unredeemed bodies of Christians who have died are in their graves corrupting. They must be raised and made incorruptible or imperishable. Incorruptibility is immortality. This is definitive and irrevocable.
The salvation of the soul is something future and is conditioned upon the behavior of the individual. Soul salvation is to be earned by faithfulness, diligence and obedience to God’s commands. Only the Christian can strive for soul salvation, for only a Christian can be obedient and faithful. It is a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ and only Christians appear there. Only the Christian can rule and reign in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Scriptural definition of “soul” is the English word “life” with all the implications. If one receives soul salvation (future tense; subjunctive), it is permanent and irrevocable.