Soteriology is the study of salvation, coming from the Greek word ÏƒÏ‰Ï„Î·ÏÎ¯Î± (sÅtÄ“ria). As such the very word implies the name of our Lord himself, inasmuch as Jesus 1 (á¼¸Î·ÏƒÎ¿á¿¦Ï‚) comes from the Hebrew word for salvation, (yÄ•shuw`ah). The name Joshua, or Jesus, is a form of the very word itself. In fact, if you meet someone named Salvatore, his name means the same thing. In short, this matters because human salvation is only through Jesus Christ, and without him there is no hope. Salvation is not available through a process, and cannot be manufactured from below. It had to come from above. 2 Although some religious teachers may say that life on this earth is a test, the fact is that life on this earth is not a test. If this life were a test, we would all receive an F, and go to Hell. This life is a shipwreck, and we are all in need of the Rescuer, without whom we would be lost to sin and death.
A while back, I heard an Episcopal priest who is better known for talk radio in Maryland (where I used to live) than for ministry, staunchly defending his disbelief in the Virgin Birth (and using the Bible with all the deft precision of a bull- a raving bull at that- in a china shop). And yet this same man openly professes his faith in the resurrection of Christ, having no problem with miracles. Yet, on two very important doctrines concerning our salvation in Christ he is completely without understanding. He does not believe that Christ died for our sins, and he does not believe in the Virgin Birth. What these two doctrines have in common is that they require our humility as well as our faith. Man could not create or even beget his own salvation, but needed God to intervene by sending his Son through the miracle of the Incarnation, as the Seed of the woman, 3 having no earthly father, coming as God of God the only and eternally begotten Son, and also being sent into the world (two very different facts). This forever teaches our impotence in this matter; we cannot keep ourselves alive. We had no strength from within ourselves to produce our own salvation. The fact that we needed to have our sins taken away by this same Savior, himself free from the defects of sin and death in every way, by giving his life, giving up his spirit in order to die, is equally humbling to an honest mind. Both doctrines, the Virgin Birth and the Atonement, put us in our place. It is only by the gift from the Father, and not by our own power.
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