Is Jesus the Savior of the world or does he merely create the potential for salvation?

A lot of theologies say “if you believe in Jesus then you will belong to him and then you will become a child of the Father.” In these theologies it is not Jesus that makes us children of the Father – it is our own belief.

Belief then becomes the work by which we get ourselves adopted and save ourselves.

In such theologies Jesus is not our Adoption and he is not our Savior.  Jesus is the one who creates the potential for adoption and the potential for salvation, but it is human decision that causes adoption and salvation to take place. In such theologies salvation is not by grace. Rather, it is the potential of salvation that is by grace, while the actual accomplishment of salvation is by the human work of belief.

Yet neither the Bible or the Creeds of the Church ever call Jesus the “Potential Savior.”

He is simply called The Savior and The One through whom humanity is adopted as children of the Father. Any theology of Jesus that is going to be rooted in the Bible and the historic teaching of the Church has to first and foremost proclaim Jesus as “The Savior of all humanity” and then secondly say that he is “especially The Savior of all who believe.” (1 Tim. 4:10.)

First the Son of God adopted humanity into the life of the Trinity as children of the Father, and saved us from sin and death, and then we began to believe as the Spirit shared with us the faith of Jesus.

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. Boyd Merriman on

    OHhh…so many ways I try to explain this to others! Yet, you say it better! Thanks!

    And it also occurred to me that Jesus saved us from sin and death, but not from sinning.

    If any thing is “potential”, though we are saved from our sins, we have a potential to overcome sin, but unfortunately, we still sin.


  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks Boyd! I appreciate your reading and thinking!

  3. Jerome on

    Isn’t salvation refreshing? Talk about “Blessed Assurance!” It is truly GOOD news! Thanks, Pastor Jonathan. So different than the fear motive behind “potential salvation” ministry. I’ve visited a ministry that reaches out to India mostly – their founder, in his book, shares his utter fear and misery over the thousands being lost to eternal punishment every day. THIS is what drives him. I have a good friend at work who spends hours and hours every year at this time helping with his church’s “Hell House” presentation – youngsters are exposed to the “good news(?)” that they are going to Hell unless they repent and believe in Jesus RIGHT NOW – tomorrow may be too late – the demons will drag them away to eternal torment, should they die in a car wreck or some other tragic, dramatic ending before “accepting” Christ. Many, weeping, do “accept” Jesus. It’s a wonder we have a church at all, given this way of presenting the Gospel. Good thing that Jesus is the Head of the church! Lord,Your will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven!

  4. Margaret on

    Great post! I read something recently and I can’t quite remember how it was said but it was something like… and correct me if I’m wrong… Faith is not a belief in something that you make come true but it is a belief in something that is already true.

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