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Soteriology is the category of theological discussion that deals with salvation. From the Greek soter which translates as savior.

Are You Saved?
We should certainly be able to answer this with certainty when it comes to our confidence in Christ’s ability to save us. God’s promises and commitment are reliable.
However, this question of being saved can involve at least four different things:

  1. We are saved by God
  2. We are saved from something
  3. We are saved for something
  4. We are saved through something

These four components of salvation will serve as the structure for our all too brief discussion of salvation

  1. Saved BY God
    1. Scripture is clear that it is God who save us: Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7
    2. Atonement is a subset of soteriology. Atonement is an attempt to describe exactly how God saves us. It is a model or theory of the “mechanics” of salvation. What God does to save us involves Jesus Christ and the gospel event (death, burial, and resurrection). However, the Bible uses various metaphors to describe why this event saves us. Throughout Christian history no single metaphor has been recognized as the only true description. All of them are useful. There are four “models” of atonement that are widely accepted and prominent in Scripture. They are:
      • Substitution
      • Moral Influence
      • Christus Victor
      • Theosis


    1. Christ suffers for us. Christ takes up our suffering. He substitutes himself.
    2. Christ suffers instead of us. Here there is a slight change in emphasis. In this case, Christ suffers the penalty that we should suffer. This is sometimes called penal substitutionary atonement.
    3. Christ’s life is a ransom for many. This is yet another slight change in emphasis. Christ’s life serves as a ransom for ours.
    4. Key texts: Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18

    Moral Influence

    1. Christ in his life and sacrificial death are an example to us. Atonement takes place because we are moved to change as we are inspired by Christ’s example.
    2. We take up our cross and follow Christ.
    3. Matthew 16:24; John 13:15

    Christus Victor

    1. Christ liberates humanity from the bondage of sin, death, and evil.
    2. Christ overcomes the powers. He exposes them and conquers their power.
    3. The ransom is not a transaction but a rescue.
    4. Colossians 2:15; Romans 8:37-39


    1. Related to sanctification. We are called to be like God. We are to be holy as he is holy. Theosis is sometimes characterized by this phrase: “God became human, so that we might become divine.”
    2. Through Christ, fallen humanity is able to become holy as God is holy. Paul’s description of Christ as the new Adam or new humanity is foundational to the concept of theosis.
    3. Romans 5:12-21; 1 Peter 1:15-16

    Which Theory of Atonement?

  2. We Are Saved From Something
    1. We are saved from sin, death, and evil
    2. We are saved by the one who is priest, prophet, and king.

  3. We Are Saved For Something
    1. Sanctification – Made Holy. God did not save us only to put us on the side line. He wants us to be saved for good works.
    2. 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

  4. We Are Saved Through Something
    1. Salvation as on-going process
    2. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Cor 1:18

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 8 April 2007
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