There is one God (Jn. 17:3, Rom. 3:30, 1 Tim. 2:5), and this is the monotheistic, personal, transcendent God of the Old and New Testament: (2 Sam. 7:22, 1 Kgs. 8:60 1 Chr. 17:20, Isa. 44:6 Isa. 45:14 Isa. 45:22, Rom. 15:6, 2 Cor. 1:3, Eph. 1:3, 1 Peter 1:3). This is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Luk. 13:28, 20:37, Jn. 8:54). This God, the only true God (Jn. 5:44, Jn. 17:3, 1 Thes. 1:9), dwells in Heaven (Mat 6:9, Mat. 10:33, Mat 12:50, Mat. 18:14) and is therefore distinct from His creation (Gen. 1:1, Rom. 1:19-23).
2. The Trinity
God is a trinity. This means that God is a tri-personal God who exists as three distinct persons, all of whom share the same substance, nature, and essence. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three different centers of consciousness (subsistences, hypostasis) that are co-equal, co-powerful, and co-eternal, existing one monotheistic God. Jesus is not the Father (Jn. 6:38, Jn. 8:16-18, Jn. 10:36), the Father is not the Holy Spirit (Mat. 28:19, Jn. 14:16-17, Jn. 15:26), but all three exist as one God (Jesus: Jn. 1:1-18, 8:54, Heb. 1:8, Father: Jn. 20:10, Rom. 15:6, 1 Cor. 8:6, Holy Spirit: Act. 5:1-4, 2 Cor. 3:17, Heb. 10:15-17).
While they all differ in role and economy, they are all equal in nature and ontology. Yahweh, the proper name of God in the Old Testament, refers to the Trinity which consists of three co-equal divine persons. While there is no one single verse that alone establishes all three persons are God, but this is what the Bible teaches and expresses in the complete revelation of Scripture.
3. The deity of Jesus
Jesus is God (Jn. 8:56, Jn. 10:30, Rom. 9:5, Col. 1:15, Tit. 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1). When we say Jesus is “God”, we mean that God is actually a triune Godhead that Jesus is a member/person of. Jesus existed eternally into the past alongside the Father as God from the very beginning (John 1:1-3, Phil. 2:5-7) and retained full deity and the full divine nature equal to that of the Father while in the flesh (Col 1:19, Col 2:9).
As God in the flesh (Jn. 1:1-14), Jesus also had and has a human nature (Heb. 2:9, 1 Timothy 2:5) and therefore is truly man and truly God. True deity and humanity are both expressing in their complete natures in the person of Jesus, which is why the death of Jesus (as man-God) was able to atone for our sins as the Bible says man alone cannot die for another man’s sins (Eze. 18:10, Psa. 49:7).
4. Jesus’ death and resurrection for human sin
Jesus died to save sinners (Lk. 19:10, Jn. 3:17, Rom. 5:6, 8, 1 Tim. 1:15, 1 Jn. 3:5). He saved sinners from the penalty of sin and judgment of God (Jn. 3:36, Rom. 5:9. Eph. 2:3) by acting as atoning sacrifice for human sin (1 Cor. 15:3, Gal. 1:4, Eph. 5:2, Heb. 7:27, Heb. 9:6, Heb. 10:12, Rev. 9:5), thereby satisfying the righteous judgment and indignation of God (Isaiah 53:4-5,11, Rom. 3:25, Heb. 2:17, 1 Jn. 2:2, 1 Jn. 4:10).
In addition to being forgiven of our sins through his atoning death, through the resurrection of Jesus we have been reconciled back to relationship with God (Rom. 5:10-11, 2 Cor. 18:19, Eph. 2:16, Col 1:20, 22) and have been declared righteous in his sight through the imputed righteousness of Jesus that has now been accredited to our account (Rom 1:17, Rom. 3:22, Rom. 4:6, 9, 4:25, 2 Cor. 5:21, Gal. 3:6, Phil 3:9, Jas 2:23).
Those who reject Jesus will die in their sins and are not forgiven of God (Mrk. 16:16, Jn. 3:18, 36, Jn. 5:4, Rom. 2:8, 2 Thes. 1:8, Heb. 2:3, Heb. 3:12, Heb. 12:25, 1 Pet. 4:17, 1 Jn. 5:10, Rev. 21:8).
5. Salvation in Christ alone (Solus Christus)
The work of Jesus on the cross is the only offer by God to mankind by which we might be saved. Apart from the salvific death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross, salvation, relationship with God, and entrance into Heaven are not possible. There is no other way to be made right with God apart from Jesus (Jn. 14:6, Act. 4:12, 1 Cor. 3:11, Gal. 1:7, 1 Tim 2:5).
6. Salvation by grace through faith alone (Sola Fide)
The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith, by believing on Jesus as our saviour (Jn. 3:16, 18, Jn. 6:29, 40, 47, Act. 10:43, Acts 16:31, Act. 26:18, Rom. 1:17, Rom. 3:33, Rom. 5:1, Rom. 10:9, Gal. 3:8, 2 Timothy 3:15, Heb. 11:7). In addition to being saved by faith, we are saved by faith APART from works obedience and and righteousness (Rom. 3:21-28, Rom. 4:3-5, Rom. 9:30-32, Rom 11:6, Gal. 2:16, Gal. 2:21, Gal. 3:1-3, Gal 3:8, 9-14, 21-25, Eph 2:8-10, Phil. 3:9, Tit. 3:5).
This is the overwhelming testimony of Scripture. We are not saved by a pledge of service, successfully overcoming all of our willful sin, or a ceremony, but by faith. We are not saved by works and faith like Muslims, Mormons, Roman Catholics, and other religious groups teach. There is nothing you can do to receive the atoning benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection apart from faith.
Faith alone is the medium by which we are imputed the work of Christ to our lives. This is why salvation is called a free “gift” (Rom. 3:24, Rom. 5:15, 16, 17, Rom 6:23, Eph. 2:8, Heb. 6:4). In other words, faith is a sufficient condition for being saved, as the work of Christ is fully complete and does not need to be added to with human merit. Only received through faith.
This being said, the Bible distinguishes between a faith that saves (such as mentioned in the verses above), and a faith without works which is a dead faith (Jas. 2:17, 1 Jn. 1:6) that is equal to that of devils (Jas. 2:19) and cannot save (Jas. 2:14). It is therefore useless for salvation (Jas. 2:20).
This is the faith of ‘lukewarm Christians’ whom Jesus will not receive (Rev. 3:14-22), and the false converts who claim to know Jesus though never had relationship with Him or displayed the fruits of obedience (Mat. 7:18-23, Luk. 13:25-27). Salvific faith is a heartfelt trust on Jesus for our salvation (Rom. 10:10), not merely an intellectual grasping or assent of the Gospel, and if we have truly been saved by faith alone, our faith will never be alone.
It will never exist apart from works of repentance. Expressed in the Bible, we see a false faith historically classified as being only ‘ascentia’ or mere intellectual assent (also called easy believism), and saving faith historically classified as ‘feducia’ which couples intellectual commitment with a heartfelt trust in Jesus alone. Such faith will always be carried and accompanied with good works (Mat. 3:10, Mat. 7:16-18, Luk. 6:43-45, Jn. 15:6, Gal. 5:6, Tit. 1:1, Tit. 1:16, 1 Tim. 1:4, 6:3, Jas. 2:18-22, 1 Jn. 2:3-6, 29, 1 Jn. 3:6-8, 10). This does not mean we need faith PLUS works (since salvation is by grace through faith), but faith THAT works.
7. Repentance is the response, byproduct, and consequence of salvation that is supernaturally worked in the Christian through the regenerative power the Holy Spirit. It is not the cause or precondition of salvation.
The Bible teaches that faith apart from works is what saves us, but that a real saving faith is inseparable from works of repentance and righteousness. Like a sun cannot exist without producing its rays, the saving faith described in Scripture does not and can not exist without producing fruit.
It’s the nature of a salvific faith to be accompanied by works because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit whom believers receive when they are saved (Jn. 3:5-16, Rom. 8:9, Gal. 3:2, Eph. 1:13-14) who then begins to do a supernatural work of regeneration in the Christian refining them, sanctifying them, and leading them through repentance (Jn. 7:38, Rom. 6:4, Rom. 8:10-11, 1 Cor. 6:11, 2 Cor. 3:18, 2 Cor. 4:16, 2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 5:22-25, Gal 6:15, Eph. 2:5, 10, Tit. 3:5, 2 Pet. 1:3).
Repentance is a work of the God in the believer (Jn. 1:13, Act. 5:31, Act. 11:18, 1 Cor. 15:10, Eph. 1:19, 2 Tim. 2:25, Phil 2:13, Heb 13:21) who empowers the believer to follow his commandments (Eze. 36:27, Rom 6:1-6, Tit. 2:11-14, 1 Jn. 3:9, 1 Jn 5:1-5, 2 Jn. 1:9). We are saved by faith, and then receive the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us and conforms us into the image of Christ.
In addition to this, we are commanded to obey, put aside all willful sin, be baptized, preach the Gospel, forsake our life, surrender our will to Jesus, but these works do not cause us to be justified before God. Faith alone does this. So while baptism, for example, may be an important sacramental step in one’s sanctification, and while someone who is saved should be baptized and those who don’t are missing out on the fullness of the work of the Holy Spirit in them, the justification happens before baptism upon the possession of salvific faith. Faith alone does the saving, but a faith that saves will never be alone. It will result in works of righteousness and obedience.
What does repentance mean?
The Greek word for “repentance” is “metanoia” which means a change of heart, mind, and direction. When Christians say that a sinner has to “repent”, what they sometimes imply is that a sinner must successful stop lusting, masturbating, being sexually immoral, drinking, smoking, swearing, lying, cursing, stealing, using drugs, blaspheming, dishonouring parents, and watching evil movies BEFORE they are able to be saved by faith in Christ. It is sometimes suggested that we need to present a list of successfully completed works of repentance to the cross before Jesus will save us. This is not a correct definition of repentance.
Repentance is a change of heart and mind pertaining to one’s own sin and the cross, and a change of direction away from sin and to the cross. We are no longer facing our sin running after it, we are now facing Jesus sorry over the life we lived. This is what the word means. Repentance is required for salvation in the context that a sorry heart that has turned from the direction of sin to Jesus is a necessary condition of the heart inseparable from saving faith worked in the person by God.
This change of heart and direction will, through the regeneration and sanctification of the Spirit, eventually result in works of righteousness. But these works of righteousness after salvation, or “fruits worthy of repentance”, are not pre-conditions for salvation. A heroine addict, for example, doesn’t have to successfully have quit heroine on their own before being able to approach the cross and receive forgiveness. A slave to sin does not have to conquer their own sin apart from Jesus and then present it to Him hoping they are eligible. They have to be sorry, turned away from it in heart and mind toward the cross, and then believe on the Lord who will then begin to sanctify them and pull them out of that.
We do not have to overcome all of our strongholds on our own before we can be saved by faith in Jesus. We have to be sincerely sorrowful over our sin, sincerely turned from the direction our sin in mind and heart to Jesus, sincerely ask Jesus for forgiveness, and sincerely believe on him.
Repentance (a sincere change of heart, mind, and direction from sin) should not be confused with works of repentance (good deeds and successfully overcoming specific sins). The former is a necessary pre-condition for salvation inseparable from saving faith itself, the latter is a necessary consequence of salvation and response to salvation worked out through sanctification of the believer after salvation.
Relating this back to salvation, we would be able to say that a saving faith is a repentant faith with the faith alone being the transmitter/medium by which the sinner is justified and the ‘repentance’ being defined as a change of heart, mind, and direction pertaining to Christ and one’s own sin built into saving faith itself (as opposed to being a list of successfully complete works of righteousness that we must add to our faith). Such repentance is a product of the Holy Spirit convicting them and granting them this change of heart, heart, and direction (as mentioned previously).
Thus, saving faith is inseparable from a new understanding and direction in heart and mind pertaining Christ, the Father, and one’s own sin. For what is it to believe that Jesus has died and rose for your sin except that sin is worthy of judgment? What is it to believe that your sin is worthy of Hell and cost Jesus His own body and blood without being sorry over such sin? And what is it to believe that Jesus alone is the source of salvation and eternal life without a change in direction toward the cross?
This repentance does not act as vehicle of our salvation (since that is faith alone), and is not defined as being “a successful turning from all willful sins” since this is not listed Biblically as a pre-condition for salvation, but is a necessarily present attitude and change of direction as a) A new orientation regarding sin and the cross that the Holy Spirit grants to us, b) a quality of saving faith itself, and c) a quickening of God in/on the individual at/preceding the moment of salvation granting them sorriness over sin and a change of heart, mind, and direction away from sin.
This will result in d) sanctification through the Spirit after salvation resulting in good works and repentance of specific sins, and e) the person’s own response to honour and love God out off their born-again nature resulting in good works and repentance of specific sins.
Repentant faith (that is sorry over sin and turned toward Jesus) = Salvation + regeneration + sanctification + works of repentance.
8. Inerrancy of Scripture
Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 2:16) and was produced as men were moved on by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20). The Bible is therefore error-free, complete in it’s revelation, and cannot be added to (Jud. 1:3, Rom. 2:16, 1 Cor. 4:6). It is the final authority on doctrine, theology, and all things pertaining to the Christian faith. It is perfectly clear in the descriptions it gives of who Jesus is, who God is what the plan of salvation is, and awaits both saved and sinner in eternity.
This means that any version of Christ that deviates from the Jesus in the Bible is not the Jesus who exists in actuality (Gal 1:6-9, 2 Cor. 11:4, 2 Pet. 2:1, 1 Jn. 4:2-3). Any version of God that deviates from the God of the Bible is an idol and does not exist in actuality (Exo. 20:3-4, Psl. 96:5, Jn. 5:44, Jn. 17:3, 1 Thes. 1:9, 1 Jn. 5:10). Any view that contradicts that of Scripture is false (Isa. 28:13, Jn. 17:17, 2 Tim. 4:3-4, 2 Pet. 3:16).