Sunday, December 11, 2011


In the first Century, Christians came up with a symbol to show if they were a Christian.  They did this because of the persecution of Christians that was prevalent in the first few hundred years after Christ.  The symbol was a fish.  Christians today still slap a bumper sticker of the “Jesus fish” to their cars and call themselves Christians.  The reason those first Century Christians chose a fish was because of its letters.  They made the acronym utilizing the letters that made up the Greek word for fish, ichthus (ἰχθύς).  Each letter stands for Jesus, Christ, God’s Son, Savior.  That last word is where the title of this article is derived.  Soteriology is the study of salvation (from σωτήρ (sōtēr) meaning “savior”).  You have to start from why salvation is needed.

When God created the world, he was fully present with his creation.  When men sinned, that made a separation between humans and God, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1–2, ESV).  God cannot look upon evil, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,” (Habakkuk 1:13a).  There is a need for a savior because sin and evil are prevalent in the world and God wants to be fully present again.

Stanley Grenz noted, “In his response to Arius, Athanasius showed that the deity of the Spirit is necessitated by soteriology.  If the Spirit who enters our hearts as believes is not the actual Spirit of God, then we have no true community with God.”  In other words, you are not saved if you do not have God’s Spirit.  Paul lays this out beautifully concerning the Ephesians’ salvation in 1:3-14, but look specifically at verses 13-14, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”  It is impossible to have salvation (sōtēria) without “the promised Holy Spirit.”

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