Ephesians 2:8 states that one is saved by grace through faith. Now, this is a relatively well known verse. And the concept of salvation by means of faith in Christ and His saving work alone is also relatively well known, at least among evangelicalism.
Maybe your familiar with this truth. I hope you are. But have you ever thought to yourself, “why faith? Why is it that faith saves as opposed to something else like good deeds, joy, sorrow, gladness, or a sense of surreal peace?” Obviously it was God who determined faith to be the means of man’s salvation; it’s not as if this was some external law or obligation that was imposed on Him. So, why faith? Why is God’s plan of saving people by His grace through faith. Why does He count those with faith as righteous (Rom 4:3; cf. Gen 15:6)?
What I would like to do with this article is present to you some popular Gospel clichés, as I like to call them, and provide some rather brief thoughts on each—-nothing exhaustive or too in depth, but just some thoughts to make you think about them, their use, what they seem to be saying, their accuracies and inaccuracies, etc.
“I asked Jesus into my heart” / “Ask Jesus into your heart”
First of all, the Bible does indicate that Christ may dwell in our hearts (Eph 3:17). Yet we must understand that this of course is figurative and not literal and that this specific statement occurs in the context of Paul’s prayer for believers (Eph 3:17), not as an analogy of sorts of someone being saved. With that said, I have some problems with this phrase.
In The Cross and Salvation Bruce Bruce Demarest takes the reader step by step through the doctrines of salvation in order of their logical and temporal occurrence. He groups the book into six sections: 1) the plan of salvation which includes an introduction, grace, and election/predestination, 2) the provision of salvation, being the atonement, 3) the application of salvation, including the subjective aspects such as divine calling, conversion, and regeneration, and 4) the objective aspects such as union with Christ and justification, 5) the progress of salvation which is sanctification as well as preservation and perseverance, and finally, 6) the perfecting of salvation, which is glorification.
Within each section Demarest starts off by presenting the doctrine at hand’s history and significant theological views of the doctrine such as the Pelagian/Liberal view, the Semi-Pelagian (Catholic) view, Lutheran view, Weslyian/Arminian view, Neo-Orthodox (Karl Barth) view, Liberation view, Pentecostal view, Nazarene view, Keswick view, High Calvinist view, Moderately Reformed (or Calvinistic or Reformed Evangelicals) view, as well as other views. (However, which systems he talks about differs from one doctrine to the next, because some systems apply to certain doctrines and not others). This section is remarkable for many reason. For one, it lays a historical context for the reader. And secondly, it gives the reader a broad perspective on the doctrine and the various viewpoints concerning it, making the reader aware of false interpretations that might go unnoticed otherwise and possibly introducing the reader to various beliefs besides his own, which has several obvious benefits.