Salvation By Grace Through Faith -- By: Elmer L. Towns

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 07:20 (Mar 2003)
Article: Salvation By Grace Through Faith
Author: Elmer L. Towns

Salvation By Grace Through Faith

Elmer L. Towns

Dean of the School of Religion
Liberty University

In this day, Christians are not sure if a sinner must accept “Christ as Lord” or Christ as Savior.” Many are not sure which is right: “Lordship salvation” or “Easy believe-ism.” However, let’s not make the answer either/or. The answer will be found by returning to the foundations of soteriology and reexamining pre-suppositions of salvation, i.e., “What is salvation?,” “What is grace?,” and “What is faith?” An understanding of these terms will help us approach the above stated issues, and surely point to the fact of sola fide.


The term “salvation” is the most common biblical expression to identify the change wrought in the life of one who by faith obtains the benefits of the atonement of Christ. The term appears in both Old and New Testaments, implying the ideas of deliverance, safety, preservation, healing and soundness. American Evangelist Billy Sunday, in a sermon on Acts 16:31, said,

Salvation means “to be brought from a state or condition not favorable to our welfare or happiness into a condition which is favorable.” The salvation of the sick would mean their health, but the salvation mentioned here is from sin.1

Although the evangelist was not known as a systematic theologian, his simple definition of the term communicates the

contemporary usage of the biblical expression. In a more technical definition of the biblical term, Walters observes,

The English term used in AV is derived from Latin salvare, “to save” and salus, “health”, “help”, and translates Hebrew yesúa and cognates (breath, ease, safety) and GK. soteria and cognates (cure, recovery, redemption, remedy, rescue, welfare). It means the action or result of deliverance or preservation from danger or disease, implying safety, health, and prosperity.2

As with many other theological expressions, salvation has a more specialized meaning when brought from the exegetical to the contemporary theological arena. It “denotes the whole process by which man is delivered from all that would prevent his attaining to the highest good that God has prepared for him.”3 Chafer observes,

According to its largest meaning as used in the Scriptures, the word salvation represents the...

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