Report of the
Study Committee: Articles Pertaining to Salvation
In response to our mandate from Annual Conference, the committee initiated a study of the Biblical teaching on the process and purpose of God’s calling people to salvation.
The purpose of God’s saving individuals is ultimately to bring honor and glory to Himself. The process by which God saves individuals is by choosing them according to His sovereign prerogative, granting faith and life to those who are dead in their trespasses and sins. The Bible teaches that all that He chooses, He saves, and none of those who are saved will be lost. Since salvation is totally the work of God from its commencement to its completion, God is honored and glorified, and man is humbled and kept from boasting in the salvation he receives.
The committee met six times since last Annual Conference. In keeping with the resolution from Annual Conference, the committee studied Articles 10 through 17 of our Articles of Faith, focusing its efforts on Articles 9 through 13 for the purpose of removing any perceived ambiguities within the Articles of Faith concerning “the process and purpose of God’s calling people to salvation.”
In order to best accomplish our assignment, the committee decided to amend existing articles as opposed to adding additional articles to the Faith and Order. We have intentionally avoided taking any position on the extent of the atonement, although the extent of the atonement is certainly relevant to the purpose and process by which God saves individuals. Our goal has been to confine ourselves to more fully representing our present position on the doctrines of salvation as opposed to seeking to establish a more detailed position on the atonement since we believe that no clear consensus exists within the BFC.
We propose the following amendments to the Articles of Faith to the 123rd Annual Conference. Each amendment was unanimously approved by the members of our committee.
All proposed changes are underlined and boldfaced.
Article 9 – Sin
Current article in Faith & Order
9-1. Sin is any lack of conformity to the will of God1 or any transgression of the law of God.2 Sin separates man from God, incurring His wrath and judgment, and it is manifest in the selfishness, rebellion, and total depravity of man's conduct and behavior before God and man. Sin is the cause of the curse on and defilement of the created universe.3
9-1. “Sin is any lack of conformity to the will of God1 or any transgression of the law of God. 2 Sin separates man from God, incurring His wrath and judgment, and is manifest in the selfishness, rebellion, unbelief and total depravity of man’s being.3 Sin is the cause of the curse on and defilement of the created universe.” 4
1 All wrongdoing is sin (1Jo. 5:17a). Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins (James 4:17).
2 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness (1Jo. 3:4). For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).
3 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, (2) in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air. (3) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Eph. 2:1-3). “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, (19) since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (20) For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (21) For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom. 1:18-21). Also Rom. 3:10-12, Rom. 8:7-8.
4 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Rom.8:22). (See also Gen.3:17,18).
Article 10 – Human Ability and Responsibility
Current article in Faith & Order
10-1. In his original creation man was endowed with the ability to will and do good or evil and was accountable for his willing and doing.1 But by the fall of Adam man lost his ability, apart from God's grace,2 to will and to do those things necessary for a right relationship with God;3 however, he is still accountable to God for obedience to all of His commands.4 Man has not lost his ability to make decisions,5 but left to himself, he acts only in accordance with his fallen, sinful nature.6
10-2. Only by God's infinite grace can man will or do anything necessary to his salvation.7 By that grace, God saves men8 whom He causes to will and to do good; however, He does this without nullifying man's ability to act responsibly.9
10-1. In his original creation man was endowed with the ability to will and do good or evil and was accountable for his willing and doing.1 But through the fall of Adam man lost his ability, apart from God's grace,2 to will and to do those things necessary for a right relationship with God;3 however, he is still accountable to God for obedience to all of His commands.4 Man has not lost his ability to make decisions,5 but unless regenerated6, he acts only in accordance with his fallen, sinful nature.7
10-2 “Only by God’s infinite grace can man will or do anything necessary to his salvation.8 By that grace, God saves those men whom He causes to will and to do good;9 however, He does this without nullifying man’s ability to act responsibly.10
1 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen.2:16,17).
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath (Eph.2:1-3).
3 There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God (Rom.3:11). Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Rom.8:8).
4 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Rom.2:6-10). In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
5 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (Deu.30:11,19).
6“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5) “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…(5) made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” (Eph. 2:1, 5)
7 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Rom.3:10,12). Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil (Jer.13:23). (See also footnote 2).
8 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy (Rom.9:16).
9Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – (13) children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
10 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Phil.2:12,13).
Article 11 – Election
Current article in Faith & Order
11-1. Election is a free act of the sovereign God in which from eternity,1 for reasons known only to Himself,2 and apart from any goodness in man3 He graciously chose from among the fallen mankind a people unto salvation,4 that they might be conformed to Christ's image.4 Those so chosen He redeemed5 by His Son and seals by His Spirit.6
11-1 Election is a free act of the sovereign God in which from eternity, 1 for reasons known only to Himself, 2 and apart from any foreseen faith and/or goodness found in man, 3 He graciously chose from among the fallen mankind a people unto salvation, 4 that they might be conformed to Christ’s image. 4 Those so chosen He redeemed by His Son5 and seals by His Spirit. 6
1 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (Eph.1:4,11).
2 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Mat.11:27).
3 Who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim.1:9). Rom. 8:29-30 – “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.”
4 Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph.4:13).
5 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth (2 Thes.2:13).
6 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Eph.1:13).
Article 12 – Salvation
Current article in Faith & Order
12-1. Salvation is offered in the gospel to all men1 and is received by grace through faith and the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit,2 apart from works or human merit.3 Salvation centers in a person, Jesus Christ, and receiving Him4 includes the remission of sins on the grounds of His shed blood,5 the imputation of His perfect righteousness,6 the reception of the Holy Spirit,7 and the impartation of eternal life.8
12-1. Salvation is the work of God1 in which He reconciles fallen men to Himself,2ultimately removes the consequences of the curse, 3 and bestows upon His redeemed creation4 the riches of His grace, all to His glory. 5
12-2. Salvation is offered in the gospel to all men6 and is accomplished in all the elect. 7 It is received by grace through faith and the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit,8 apart from works or human merit.9 Salvation centers in a person, Jesus Christ, and receiving Him10 includes the remission of sins on the grounds of His shed blood, 11 the imputation of His perfect righteousness,12 the reception of the Holy Spirit, 13 and the impartation of eternal life. 14
1 Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Heb. 7:25) Also Eph. 2:4-5, 8-9.
2 “Through Him to reconcile all things to Himself…” (Col. 1:20) For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! (Rom. 5:10)
3No longer will there by any curse. (Rev. 22:3)
4 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Rom. 8:18-25)
5 I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own Sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25)
6 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
7 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44) For you granted him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (John 17:2) When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all those who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph.2:8,9).
10 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
11 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace (Eph.1:7).
12 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Cor.1:30).
13 And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Rom.8:9b).
14 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11, 12).
Article 13 – Repentance
Current article in Faith & Order
13-1. Repentance unto life is a voluntary act of man,1 accomplished by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Repentance consists in a knowledge of sin,2 a sense of guilt and corruption that results in the confession and forsaking of sin, and a turning to God.3
13-1 Repentance unto life is a gift of God1 and a voluntary act of man,2 accomplished by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Repentance consists in a knowledge of sin,3 a sense of guilt and corruption that results in the confession and forsaking of sin and a turning to God4 that results in loving, obedient service.5
1 Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Rom. 2:4) When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”(Acts 11:18)
2 And repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
3 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
4 For they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1Thes.1:9).
5 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10) We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Thes. 1:3)
Committee to Study Articles Pertaining to Salvation: Calvin T. Reed, Chairman; Ronald L. Kohl, Secretary; David T. Allen, Clifford B. Boone, Andrew T. Crossgrove, William G. Schlonecker, Arthur J. Simpson.