It is imperative that a person properly understands how the process of salvation works. The worst case scenario is that an improper view will keep the person outside of the fold and the best case scenario is one will remain a very immature Christian struggling with assurance their entire life. In salvation the whole personality of man is involved. There are three essential components that depict the nature of who man is - mind, heart and will. In order to gain a proper view of salvation we must know that the intellect, emotions, and will are all affected.
Many people falter at understanding the necessity of having the entire man impacted by the gospel of Christ. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out in his book Spiritual Depression, some men trust in their intellectualism:
"There are some people in whose case the head only seems to be in use - the intellect, the understanding. They tell us that they are tremendously interested in the gospel point of view, as a Christian philosophy. There were people when whose only interest in the gospel was their interest in theological problems; and they argued about them and discussed them. But the tragedy was that it stopped at that interest, and their hearts have never been touched. The mind must understand the gospel message in order to come to salvation, but reliance upon the intellectual understanding alone is not enough."
Another type of people are not concerned with doctrine (intellect) and are moved purely by emotion. This problem is much more prevalent today than the former. Although a different issue there doom is the same as the intellects. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also shared some insightful comments about these people as well:
"These are people who feel that they have had an emotional release. They wanted this particular release and have had it. Or it may be that they were naturally interested in mysticism and the mystical phenomena. There is great interest in this at the present time. Life has been hard and cruel to them and they have been embittered by circumstances. But they go to a particular service and somehow they find themselves comforted and soothed, and they feel happy and contended. Intellectualism alone will not save. Emotionalism alone will not save. Intellectualism and emotionalism combined will not save. Something more is still yet needed."
Finally, you have people who are alone trusting in their sheer act of determination. They say that they have made "a decision for Christ." Again Lloyd-Jones had something to say on this issue:
"These are the people who decide to take up Christianity instead of being taken up by Christianity. They have never known this feeling of constraint, this feeling of, 'I can do no other, so help me, God', that they must, that everything else has to be excluded, that the truth has come to them they they must accept it. The influence of Charles G. Finny has lead many Americans to trust only in their wills for salvation. If one travels down this road they will find it only leads to destruction."
The Christian position is not one part of the personality involved nor is it a combination of two parts. It must be the entire man. The whole man has become totally depraved by sin and the whole man must become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The good Dr. emphatically drives this point home:
"The Christian position is threefold; it is the three together, and the three at the same time, and the three always. A great gospel like this takes up the whole man, and if the whole man is not taken up think again where you stand."
Are you taken up by Christ? Do you contemplate the truths of the gospel often? Are you moved when you think about the glorious doctrine of free grace? Has your life changed as a result of the gospel's impact? If your whole man has been impacted by the gospel then understand that God alone deserves to be praised for this as salvation is "all of grace." If you stumble at any one of these points I would encourage you to listen to the words of the Apostle Paul, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5a).
Contributor / Eric Stewart
Eric Stewart is the Lead Pastor of ONElife Church in Flint, MI.