We have been working our way through the SEND International Statement of Faith asking how these statements hold our thoughts, affections, and actions. The fifth statement deals with sin and salvation:
We believe that all people are sinful and can be saved only by grace through faith in the shed blood of Christ.
This statement is further expanded in two sections of the Doctrinal Perspectives section of SEND’s Manual.
The full version of the Doctrinal Perspective on “Lostness of the Unevangelized” is a full page but we will only quote the two paragraph summary:
The overwhelming evidence of Scripture indicates all people are sinners by nature, choice, and practice, and therefore stand condemned before God. Their only hope is found in trusting Christ for salvation. Those who do not hear the gospel are lost as surely as those who hear the Gospel and reject it (John 3:18-21; 5:24; 1 John 5:12).
In light of the lostness of those who have not placed their faith in Christ, we acknowledge the divine command to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. The fact that millions have yet to hear of Christ lays a divine imperative on the Church to go and preach the gospel to every person because only as they hear can they believe and be saved (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:9-17). – SEND International Manual, p. 12.
The Doctrinal Perspective on “Justification by Faith” says:
Justification by faith rests on the biblical truth of imputed righteousness. Therefore, we believe that salvation is only by grace through faith, meaning that sinners who believe are declared righteous by God (Romans 4:22-24) because of their union with Christ. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to them (Romans 5:15-19) apart from human effort and religious observances (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Romans 5:15-18). Although human works do not contribute to a believer’s justification, all who have been justified by faith because of Christ’s righteousness are called and enabled by God’s grace to turn away from sin and to live holy and righteous lives (Romans 6:1-22). – SEND International Manual, p.12.
1. How does this statement hold our thinking?
We need to think of sin seriously. We too are sinners and stand condemned before God apart from Christ. We are rebels against our creator. Though we were created in the image of God, we have inherited from Adam a corrupt nature. This is universally true as Romans 3:9b-11 makes clear,
For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are all under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.’ (ESV).
Some raise the question about a sincere seeker who hasn’t heard the gospel. If we take Romans chapters 1-3 seriously, there are no sincere seekers.
This doctrine also means that human sin is the fundamental problem in this world. Human rebellion against God breeds all the social evil that we experience in this fallen world. Mankind’s sin also affects the environment. Engaging in social, medical, educational programs without addressing the problem of sin will not bring lasting change.
We are not only sinners by our fallen nature inherited from Adam, but we are sinners by choice and practice as well. Yet while mankind is helpless to redeem himself, God’s grace in Christ redeems us through his blood.
God’s grace comes to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ and applied to us by the Holy Spirit (see previous posts). We must always think of ourselves as sinners saved by grace and extend that grace to others. Our message is always about the person and work of Christ. He is the only hope in this fallen world.
Titus 3:4-8 expresses our salvation:
But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to do good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (ESV).
2. How does this statement hold our emotions and will?
Roland Muller in his book, The Messenger, The Message, The Community, points out that sin produces guilt, shame, and fear. All three of these are evident in Genesis chapter three. While different cultures put different emphases on these three emotions, all are present to some degree in all cultures. We acknowledge that our sin has produced guilt, shame, and fear in us.
The gospel overcomes all of these emotions. In the refrain from the old hymn “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” we sing about “all-sufficient grace … broader than the scope of my transgressions, greater far than all my sin and shame. Oh, magnify the precious Name of Jesus, Praise his Name!” The second stanza of “Amazing Grace” begins: “it was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved”. The gospel overcomes our guilt, shame, and fear because of sin and replaces those emotions with love and praise because of God’s amazing grace in Christ.
This statement also moves us to commit ourselves to the proclamation of the gospel which is the only hope for people from every culture and background.
3. How does this statement hold our actions?
These wonderful truths also make it a priority to speak of Jesus. We are committed to engage the unreached with the message of salvation by grace through faith in the shed blood of Christ. This is what we are all about as we mobilize God’s people to engage the unreached in order to establish reproducing churches.
Any other good we may do in this world is secondary to the proclamation of the gospel. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9: 22, 23:
…I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (ESV).
Can we say that we do all things for the sake of the gospel? Are we speaking of Jesus?