It is a biblical truth--as well as an experiential one-- that natural man is alienated from his Creator. Human beings have an imprint of sin upon their natures, and are prone and inclined to disobey God. This inclination is the stain on human nature introduced by Adam’s transgression ("as by one man sin entered into the world," Rom. 5:12a); the result of "Original Sin," so called. A corrupted and depraved nature is present in all human life from the point of conception ("Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me," Ps. 51:5). Moreover, this sin nature continually motivates sinful behavior, so that a person naturally performs the acts that earn the wrath of God (Eph. 2:3).
Given this depraved situation, the major concern for all humanity is how we are saved from a deserved condemnation. The preliminary step was the work of Jesus Christ on the cross: his sacrifice became propitiation for our sins (1 Jo. 2:2); the sins of everyone else were transmitted to him so that he could substitutionally pay the penalty (2 Cor. 5:21); and full atonement was made by his offering (Rom. 5:10,11).
The secondary steps constitute several ministries of the Holy Ghost. "This redemptive operation of the Holy Spirit upon sinners is brought about by repentance toward God which brings about Faith, Conversion, Justification, Regeneration, Sanctification, and Baptism of the Holy Spirit" (Church of God in Christ Official Manual, p. 56). The Holy Ghost first leads the sinner to repent, or turn away from sin and toward God. Repentance will help the sinner experience a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which in other words is a conviction in the inner man "of the truth of the gospel and the truth of the promises of God in Christ" (Official Manual, p. 57). Once having turned to God by repentance and faith, the sinner is said to have been converted, and at conversion the sinner is declared justified (he is deemed legally innocent of his record of sin on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ). Concurrently, the corrupted nature of the sinner is regenerated, and the governing disposition of his spirit is made holy and devoted to God. Now with the regenerate sinner inclined to the things of God, the way is open for the Holy Ghost to sanctify him, through a process reshaping his nature into the image of Christ. A necessary component for sanctification is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, at which time He indwells and manifests Himself within the new believer. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an event distinct from and subsequent to the conversion. These are the steps of salvation.
Salvation is therefore the work of God through what Jesus has already done, and what the Holy Ghost presently does in the lives of sinners. However, there is one integral part of the process of bringing souls to Christ that has been entrusted exclusively to human beings. As exemplified in the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10, sharing the plan of salvation with sinners is the sole responsibility of other, saved people. God has commissioned Christians to communicate the gospel message through the church ministries of preaching and teaching, and through personal testimony and witness. We are also to exhort sinners to repent and be converted (Acts 3:19), and to undergird the entire endeavor with fervent prayer (Col. 4:3,4).
Good study my friend and fgreeetins from myself Brother Paul from Wales Great Britain. I have a question what do you think about Jesus saying a man must be "born of water and Spirit" John 3:5 considering the fact also that all those saved were baptised and received the Holy Ghost in Jesus name Acts 2:38 Acts 10:44-46. To me salvation without this is not salvation at all.
Brother Joseph, I too appreciate your treatise on the "order of salvation". This kind of theological thinking is sparse in the African American Context. It appears that we are far more concerned with "Titles" than "Theology", "Privileges" than "Precepts". It's refreshing when someone desires to go "deep" versus merely skiing across the surface. With that being said, I read your post with closeness and my feedback follows:
1. I agree that "Natural/Fallen" man is alienated from God due to inherent sin (Gen 3:8; Eph 2:1).
2. I agree that because of inherent sin, mankind's inclination is evil continually (Gen 6:5)
3. I agree that, "...A corrupted and depraved nature is present in all human life from the point of conception...." (Ps 51)
4. I'm not sure exactly what you meant here when you said, "..... This inclination is the stain on human nature introduced by Adam’s transgression ("as by one man sin entered into the world," Rom. 5:12a); the result of "Original Sin," so called..."Are you saying that Adam's transgression resulted IN "Original sin" ? Or are you stating that Adam's transgression was the result OF"Original Sin"? Both are very different thoughts. I like the expression "inherited sin" rather than "original sin", it's clearer. Just like we inherit physical characteristics from our biological parents so we inherited a sinful nature from Adam our first parent (Rom 5:12).
5. I agree when you state, "...the major concern for all humanity is how we are saved from a deserved condemnation...." One of my absolute favorite Preachers, Dr. John MacArthur states that the supreme moral question is, "How can a sinner be forgiven fully, reconciled to Holy God so as to escape Eternal Hell and enter Eternal Heaven"?
6. You stated that the solution to mankind's horribly corrupt condition is preliminarily accomplished through Christ's substitutionary work on the cross, and secondarily through the ministries of the Holy Spirit. To be honest, I have a problem with the use of the word "preliminary" related to the work of Christ. The word "preliminary" means, "an action or event preceding or done in preparation for something fuller or more important". Based on what I'm reading in your post, It appears that the more important emphasis for one's salvation is on the Holy Spirit, please tell me this is NOT the case.
7. I don't agree with the use of the word, "Steps" in relation to salvation. Salvation is not a series of "steps". Salvation is a sovereign work of Grace (Eph 2:8-10). Salvation is not something we do, it's something He's done for fallen sinners incapable of achieving their own salvation. Sinners appropriate salvation not accomplish it. Man brings NOTHING to the salvation table other than that which has been given him namely, faith (Eph 2:8-9). Another reason I object to the use of the words "steps" is that it makes salvation a process versus a sovereign act of God. According to Romans 8:28-30, When God saves a sinner it starts with Election and ends with Gorification, one complete, finished act, not several succesive, human produced steps. As I stated earlier, the only thing sinners bring to the table is faith and that not of ourselves(Eph 2:8-9).
8. I don't agree with your understanding of the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". The BHS is not given for empowerment or Sanctification. According to 1 Cor 12, the BHS is the ministry of the HS for placement. It's the BHS that places the believer in the Body of Christ. So much "Bad" teaching centers around the HS.
9. I do agree that Evangelism is to be on the believer's priority list, for no one can appropriate salvation without the hearing of the Gospel (Rom 10).
In His Grip,
Thank you for the feedback, Brother Todd. Your explanation of the shade of meaning associated with "preliminary" now makes me wary of using that word. My intent is not say that the propitiatory death of Christ was an event that preceeded a "fuller or more important" act of the Holy Spirit. I wasn't trying to rank the ministry of the Holy Ghost above the work of Christ. From now on I think I will use the term "initiative stage," as that more accurately reflects the importance I place on that first stage of salvation.
As you can see from my response above, though, I am not in a hurry to abandon the view of salvation as being a process. I used the word "step" in the post, which I see can impart the unfortunate imagery of the believer "taking steps" toward salvation. However, as I described them, the "steps" in the process of salvation were performed by Jesus and by the Holy Ghost. I championed no "human-produced steps," but I did describe a process of separate actions by the Second and Third Persons of the Godhead.