Separating means/quality of salvation whenever UR in danger


One of the recurring themes that has popped up in our discussions. I’m copying the Google+ discussion so far (with Luke’s permission), hopefully we’ll just continue it here…

Luke wrote:
It’s acceptable to dissect a topic into it’s parts and think/discuss each separately but it’s another thing to argue that they are legitimately and consistently separate. The means; Jesus obedience and atonement can’t be separated from the recipients, the elect are one with Christ in salvation


I’m somewhat perplexed by what you mean here. I do think that recipients need to be united with Christ in order to obtain salvation. However, that’s actualised/realised at a different time for each individual (Do you agree that’s how it happens on earth with non-believers becoming believers?).

For example, I’d be wrong to point to the Prodigal Son when he was in the pig pen and say, “He’s not reconciled to his father, therefore he will never be!” However, it’s still true that he must return & repent before he can be reconciled. So the Bible has to continually remind us of the means “return & repent” (although in our case this is done with the Holy Spirit’s help), before it can state the “quality/result” which is reconciliation, sanctification, never ending life with God, etc.

I don’t think Universal Salvation is in danger, it’s just traditional theology assumes that it’s only believers in this life, whereas, I’d say it’s only believers full stop.

Do you find these to analogies helpful?

Just because there’s only one ferry across the river, doesn’t mean everyone won’t cross in it eventually.

Just because it says, “only those who go in the ferry will get to the other side”, doesn’t imply everyone won’t cross.

I’ve changed it from bridge to ferry, as the ferry does the action, and makes people more passive in the event, which I suspect is closer to the truth.

I’ve had an idea, try this thought experiment: Imagine the implications of God electing everyone. Ask yourself, “Is He allowed to?”, “Does increasing the number of the elect normally change your theodicy (it shouldn’t do, e.g. if there was only 10 elect vs 100 elect, that shouldn’t effect it at all)?”

Did that help?


Luke wrote:
However, that’s actualised/realised at a different time for each individual (Do you agree that’s how it happens on earth with non-believers becoming believers?). No all the elect were saved in 30 AD (or thereabouts whenever the crucifixion took place).

An important reason you can’t separate the means from the quality is that particular people were saved from particular sins on the cross 2,000 years ago, Jesus didn’t deposit salvation in an account that people access when they become saved. This is why Barth flirted with universalism, “everyone is elect in Christ” was one of his expressions because of this very aspect of salvation and the fact you can’t separate the means from the quality. You could take that path but then you can’t use it to explain certain passages.


So you don’t think it’s a “now & not yet”??

Hmm… think we are going to get tangled in the relationship between being inside time & outside time. Anyway, yes all the elect were saved in 30 AD. However, within time who are varies, and so that might be the solution. Alternatively, just because God saved the elect, doesn’t mean He hasn’t saved the non-elect. e.g. just because Abram was elected and the only one relying on God’s promise for salvation, does that imply everyone else on the planet elected for ECT/P??

Many Christians, even some Calvinists, think Christ’s sacrifice was at least sufficient to save all, however, it’s just not efficient (actualised) for some people.


'Now and not yet" is an eschatological (end times) term not a soteriological (salvation) term.

You need to recap why it’s necessary from Scripture to separate the means and the quality of salvation. At the moment I can’t go past the fact that Christ died for particular people who’d committed particular sins on the cross and didn’t make a big salvation deposit in the bank.

Yes this a complex area because sometimes Scriptures talks about salvation in general but even then there isn’t’ the allowance to make a frequent distinction between the means and the quality.


On reflection, is this actually a question about separating the means (how/when) from the quantity?

Are you saved now? Yes, but you’re still suffering on earth.
Are you saved from your sins now? Yes but no, you keep on sinning till Christ returns.
Are you saved from death now? Yes but no, as you’ll still need to face physical death, unless Christ returns.
Are you saved from judgment now? Yes but no, as you’ll still need to face God on Judgement Day, however, Christ will be your advocate.
Are all the elect saved? Yes but no, some are not even believers yet.

I thought soteriology used terms like justification, sanctification, glorification, etc. to help flesh out the “now & not yet”-ness of salvation.

Maybe a bank isn’t a helpful analogy? How about Christ has defeated the devil and broken down the gates of Hell? How about Christ has made a public declaration of His love for humanity by suffering on the Cross so with the Spirit’s help we can turn to him in repentance? Don’t even the elect have to realise/actualise what they already have been given? e.g. An elect who’s still a non-believer, still needs to repent, with the Spirit’s help, before they can take hold of Christ’s gift of salvation.

How about this, John 3:16b, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Does this mean that God doesn’t love the elect who aren’t yet believing in Him? According to this verse, are the elect, who aren’t believing yet, perishing? I would say this half of the verse is primarily describing the means. i.e. it’s when people believe that benefit, i.e. life, is realised/actualised. Obviously you can rightly say the quantity is believers, however, the quantity of believers isn’t specified.