“I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying” is a quote from Nelson Mandela. According to Adeoye (2023), the doctrine of salvation is a central belief in Christianity that refers to the process by which individuals are saved from sin and granted eternal life in the presence of God. Salvation is considered a free gift of God’s grace, offered to all humanity through faith in Jesus Christ. According to Christian theology, humanity was created in the image of God, but through sin, humans have separated themselves from God and cannot reconcile with Him on their own. The doctrine of salvation holds that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth as a human being to save humanity from sin and death. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus offered a way for humans to be reconciled with God and granted eternal life (Adeoye, 2023). The doctrine of salvation is a complex and multifaceted concept that has been understood and interpreted in various ways throughout Christian history. Some Christian traditions emphasize the importance of individual faith and belief in Jesus Christ as the key to salvation, while others emphasize the importance of good works and moral living. According to Petre (2020), one of the most influential interpretations of the doctrine of salvation is known as the “soteriological model,” which emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ as a mediator between God and humanity. According to this model, Jesus’ death and resurrection provide a way for humans to be reconciled with God and granted eternal life; This reconciliation occurs through faith in Jesus Christ, who is seen as the sole mediator between God and humanity (Petre, 2020). There are three aspects of the doctrine of salvation dealing with the issue of human sinfulness: the atonement for sin, justification by faith, and the need for salvation.
One aspect which deals with human sinfulness is the need for salvation. Sin is a concept that has been present in human culture for millennia. According to Kelly (2019), sin refers to the idea that humans are inherently flawed and prone to doing wrong. The notion of sin is often linked to religious beliefs, but it can also be seen as a universal human experience. Regardless of the context, sin is seen as a negative force that separates individuals from their ultimate goal, whether enlightenment, happiness, or salvation. Kelly (2019) also stated that the need for salvation is the recognition that humans are sinful and require divine intervention to be saved from the consequences of their actions. In Christian theology, this intervention comes from Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself on the cross to atone for humanity’s sins. Through faith in Christ and his sacrifice, Christians believe they can be saved from eternal damnation and granted eternal life in heaven (Kelly, 2019). The need for salvation is rooted in a deep understanding of human nature. It acknowledges that humans are imperfect beings prone to making mistakes and doing wrong; This recognition is essential to the concept of salvation, as it is only when people understand the depth of their sinfulness that they can truly appreciate the need for divine intervention (Kelly, 2019). The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). In many ways, the need for salvation is a humbling concept. It forces individuals to confront their flaws and weaknesses and to acknowledge that they cannot save themselves; This recognition of one’s limitations is an essential step towards spiritual growth, as it opens the door to a deeper understanding of the divine and a greater appreciation for the role that faith can play in one’s life (Kelly, 2019). Thus, one aspect which deals with human sinfulness is the need for salvation, as the notion of sin is often linked to religious beliefs, but it can also be seen as a universal human experience.
Another aspect which deals with human sinfulness is the concept of atonement is central to Christianity. According to Eyo (2020), in the context of the doctrine of salvation, atonement refers to the idea that humans can be forgiven for their sins through some form of divine intervention; This aspect of the doctrine of salvation is closely linked to the recognition of human sinfulness, as it acknowledges that humans are prone to making mistakes and doing wrong. Eyo (2020) also stated that the concept of atonement for sin is rooted in the belief that God is a just and righteous judge who cannot tolerate sin. In the Old Testament, sin was seen as a serious offence against God that required some form of sacrifice or restitution to atone for. For example, Leviticus 4:27-31 states, “If anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, they are guilty (Eyo, 2020). When they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect. They are to lay their hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering (Eyo, 2020). Then the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the altar’s horns of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the altar’s base. They shall remove all the fat, just as it is removed from the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. In this way, the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven” (Eyo, 2020). Thus, atonement for sin is closely linked to recognizing human sinfulness as it acknowledges that humans are prone to making mistakes and doing wrong, but that forgiveness is possible through divine intervention.
Justification by faith is a central aspect of the doctrine of salvation which deals with human sinfulness in Christianity. According to Kujanpää (2018), justification by faith refers to the belief that humans are justified or made right with God not by their works or actions but through faith in Jesus Christ. This aspect of the doctrine of salvation deals with human sinfulness by recognizing that all humans are sinful and incapable of achieving salvation through their efforts. Kujanpää (2018) also stated that the idea of justification by faith is rooted in the belief that humans are incapable of achieving salvation through their actions or good works. Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”; This verse acknowledges that all humans are sinful and incapable of achieving salvation on their own Kujanpää (2018). However, the doctrine of justification by faith offers hope to believers by stating that salvation is possible through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:24-25 states, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, by shedding his blood—to be received by faith” Kujanpää (2018). Thus, the idea of justification by faith is an essential aspect of the doctrine of salvation, and it also has practical implications for how believers live their lives.
In conclusion, the doctrine of salvation offers a pathway for human beings to be reconciled with God in the face of their sinfulness. The three aspects of the doctrine of salvation discussed in this essay – atonement for sin, justification by faith, and the need for salvation – all deal with the issue of human sinfulness. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the recognition of human fallibility, and the role of faith in achieving salvation, Christianity offers a framework for individuals to overcome their sinful nature and attain eternal life. Acknowledging human sinfulness is essential for salvation, but it also fosters humility and encourages believers to live a life of service and compassion towards others. Overall, the doctrine of salvation offers hope and redemption to all who seek it, providing a framework for individuals to find meaning and purpose in their lives.
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Eyo, U. E. (2020). The Concept of Atonement in the Old Testament, Greco-Roman World and the New Testament. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(3), 75-81.
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Kelly, C. M. (2019). The Nature and Operation of Structural Sin: Additional Insights from Theology and Moral Psychology. Theological studies, 80(2), 293-327.
Kujanpää, K. (2018). Abraham’s Children, Justified by Faith (4: 1–25). In the Rhetorical Functions of Scriptural Quotations in Romans (pp. 62-85). Brill.
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