We believe and confess that the beginning of all our righteousness and redemption proceeds from the mercy of God, for salvation is of the Lord: it has in no way to do with who we are or what we have done nor would anyone come to a saving knowledge of Christ apart from the prior revelatory work of the Lord. The sum of the gospel we hold dear is: God has acted in Christ to redeem His people from their sins on the basis of His grace working through faith. We believe the several aspects of this salvation to be: regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification.
Regeneration is a gracious act of the sovereign Holy Spirit of God whereby He causes us to be born again, removing from us our heart of stone and giving to us a heart of flesh with His law written on it, accompanied by a new desire to walk in faith after Christ. He thereby renews our will to reject that which is evil and contrary to His command and embrace the good and seek after it.
Justification is an act of the divine will in which the Lord imputes to us the righteousness of Christ and imputes to Christ our iniquity, thereby forgiving us of all our sins, declaring us to be righteous and just in His sight, and granting us acceptance in the beloved. The merit of justification does not reside in the creature, but in the Savior, who, through His perfect life and death, secured it for all time; thus, the hope of the justified is not in themselves but in Jesus, in whom and through whom God showed His justice in condemning and punishing sin as well as His grace in redeeming those who sinned against Him.
Faith and Repentance
Justification before God remains foreign to all people until the Holy Spirit applies it to the heart through faith, which is a pure gift of God by which a sinner comes to fully accept, receive, and rest on Christ for salvation, seeking nothing else whatsoever outside of Him, and believing all that He says in His word. This faith is the sole instrument of justification, for it alone provides the entrance into and continuance in the great treasures and goodness of God. Inseparable from faith is the grace of repentance, which is a whole-hearted turning from and confession of sin, resulting not simply from of a fear of punishment or embarrassment at getting caught, but from of a profound grief over and hatred of one’s offense to God. Repentance is as necessary for salvation as faith, for no one can continue loving one’s sin while clinging to Christ, for to sojourn with the Savior is to journey away from iniquity.
All those who have been justified by God’s free grace through faith in the Lord Jesus are given the Spirit of adoption, whereby they may call upon God as their loving heavenly Father and enjoy the privileges and liberties of the children of God. Having had God’s name put upon them, the adopted children of God have bold access to His throne of grace and indeed are called heirs of salvation and inheritors of the promises.
Sanctification and Glorification
Sanctification is the ongoing transformation by which God makes His children holy and fit for heaven. Through the life-long process of sanctification, sin is destroyed, grace is strengthened, and the faith we were given by God evidences itself to be a lively and active faith, working itself out in love and good deeds. These good deeds in no way merit salvation nor are they evidence of any good intrinsic to the individual, but they are the external outworkings of the work of grace wrought in the heart by God. In a profound sense, when God promises to reward His people for good works, He is, in fact, promising to graciously crown His own gracious gifts.
The goal of sanctification is conformation to the image of Christ, which conformation is always incomplete on this side of eternity, as we always carry with us remnants of our former corruption. In this life, a continual war between the flesh and the Spirit is waged, but, for the believer, the ultimate victory of the Spirit is certain and infallible, for God has promised that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Salvation is at no point dependent upon the creature, but always rests upon the unchangeableness of God’s promise and choice, the worthiness of the sacrifice of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, who will usher us finally into glory and give to us new, glorified bodies, which are not susceptible to the weakness, sin, and decay that mars our earthly bodies.