There is no one word adequate to fully explain the plan of salvation. The Scriptures mention so many different things on both God’s part and man’s part that together are involved in our salvation. Certainly, we cannot be saved without God’s grace and our faith (Ephesians 2:8). Nor could there be salvation without the sacrifice of Christ. He died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Since men have to be knowledgeable of that fact in order to be saved, it is said that we are saved by the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-2) and that the implanted word is able to save (James 1:21).
It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached (that is, foolish in the minds of unbelievers) to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21). We cannot save ourselves. We must call upon the Lord (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13). Faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead (James 2:17). We must be obedient and keep the commandments of the Lord (Revelation 22:14). We are saved by baptism (1 Peter 3:21). We are saved by hope (Romans 8:24). We are saved by faithfully enduring to the end (Matthew 24:13, Revelation 2:10). Permit me to list five Cs in this great plan of salvation.
CONVICTED — Unless men repent, they will perish (Luke 13:3, 5) and before anyone repents of their sins, they have to be brought to a sense of guilt and shame. It is necessary for them to be made aware that they are sinners. An interesting event in the life of Christ is recorded in John 8:3-11 when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery, and testing Him they asked Him what He had to say about punishment for her. Rather than an abrupt oral response, He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they continued asking, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first,” and again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. We are not told what He wrote, but whatever He wrote perhaps made them aware that He knew of their sins, or at least it gave them a sense of their own guilt and “being convicted by their own conscience,” they walked away leaving Him there with the woman. People need to be convicted. It will cause some to repent.
CONVINCED — In the Scriptures the same Greek word “elegcho” can be translated as “convicted” or “convinced.” For example, in the 1769 King James Version in Titus 1:9, “elegcho” is translated as “convince.” In the New King James Version in the same passage the word is translated as “convict.” In our English vocabulary, we may tend to think of somewhat different shades of meaning in the two words. We may think of “convict” as indicating guilt and “convince” more in the thought of persuading or bringing to full belief. In reality, not only do men need to be convicted of their sins, they need to be convinced of the truthfulness of the Bible and of their need for salvation.
CONVERTED– “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Both the word “repentance” and the word “conversion” indicate turning around, a change in behavior, changing from old habits and conduct to a new and better manner of life. “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
CONFORMED — Not to this world (Romans 12:2) but conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Living a Christian life involves patterning our lives after Christ and striving to grow “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). Our goal should be that which is stated in an old spiritual song, “More like the Master I would ever be.” We cannot expect Him to be our Savior unless we let Him be the Lord of our lives.
CONFIRMED — I use this word as it is used in the Scriptures, meaning “made firm” or “strengthened” and “made strong.” Christ can strengthen or confirm us to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8). Paul and his companions in their travels strengthened the disciples (Acts 14:22, 15:32, 15:41 — In all three of these passages in Acts the 1769 King James Version uses “confirmed” or “confirming.”). Likewise, today brethren need to encourage, edify, exhort, and strengthen one another. That is one of the very purposes of our assembling. We need nourishment and instruction from the word of God and the fellowship of brethren of like precious faith.
Thomas D. Dennis
~ 207 W. Hunter Dr., Nixa, MO 65714-8432