The Gift of Salvation

Blog February 18, 2020

Consider this passage, found in Romans 5:12-17 (ESV):

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Do you truly believe that you are saved by receiving the gift of salvation, given through Jesus? Do you believe that you have to do something to earn that salvation or do you seek to deserve it? Our blog today will examine global views and beliefs on several aspects of salvation.

As part of the 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS), church members were asked to respond to the statement, “Every person is born with tendencies toward evil.” Over two-thirds (67%) agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. Nearly one in ten (11.4%) shared that they are not sure. Concerningly, over one in every five respondents (21.6%) disagreed with this statement to one degree or another; this disagreement means that they do not believe that every person is born with a sinful nature/propensity to sin, negating their need for Christ and His gift of salvation.

Respondents were then asked to respond to the statement, “I will not get into heaven unless I obey God’s law perfectly.” About two-thirds (64.7 %) agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. This level of legalism is heart-breaking, as these church members have missed out on the essence of the Gospel: the undeserved gift of salvation by no means of our own—salvation is by grace only. Only about a quarter (26.1%) disagreed with this statement to any extent, indicating that they understand that nothing we can do will make us “good enough” for Heaven.

In spite of the answers to these questions, when respondents were asked if they believe that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone, a vast majority (95.4%) agreed or strongly agreed that they believe this is the case. The “strongly agree” responses were very impressive, they composed 81%. It would seem as if some members perhaps know the truth in the heads, but struggle to let that message meet their hearts or be practically applied to their spiritual life. Or some might be brought up in a legalistic environment and failed to grasp that nothing we do help us earn Heaven.  Notably, in the two first cases, about 10% were not sure. This means that these issues were not clearly presented to them, and they are confused and not able to take a definite stand on these questions.

Why does this matter? Because if we as church members around the world do not fully understand our sinful nature . . . if we do not fully grasp how hopeless and helpless we are to achieve salvation on our own . . . if we do not understand these things, we can never begin to comprehend the immensity of the gift Jesus gave when He died on the cross: salvation. Ellen G. White writes: “It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them… Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness” (Steps to Christ, 18).

To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s beliefs on the nature of humanity and the experience of salvation, click below:

More data regarding the GCMS 2018 can be found here in the Meta-Analysis Report