Salvation Inception

Optimism Out of Control, Salvation InceptionAgain, my simple thesis is that Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind.  A related thesis is that salvation is without condition and a free act of God’s grace, given by him to chosen mankind.  This salvation is not conditioned on any work, action, thought, or choice of man.  God has given grace to all mankind without our invitation or pre-condition.  This salvation cannot be missed, ruined, or lost, since God himself secures the beginning, middle, and end.  The inception and finale of salvation is God.  The result is guaranteed.

This is incredibly optimistic.  Christ's salvation is the only source of confidence and peace.  He is the foundation to build your life upon.  Unfortunately, the message is often clouded by hasty conclusions, poor interpretations, divided opinions, incomplete understandings, and inaccurate Bible translations.  Sin itself obscures the message of salvation at times, though God's Word is not obscure.  God has spoken truth and love to reach both our minds and our hearts.

Perhaps that is one reason for the apparent obscurity.  God could have given the Bible in the form of an encyclopedia or a step-by-step guide to salvation.  That may have been clearer to our minds.  We could easily memorize the outline and the steps.  The knowledge would be locked in our minds, but the heart of salvation would be missed.  God does want to explain the gospel to our minds, but he also is determined to share his love with our hearts.  He is more than a teacher to us.  He is our lover.  If we read the Bible as notes from our teacher, we will miss God's heart.  The Bible is not just a textbook for salvation, but also history, prose, poetry, and song.  The Bible is God's love letters to our hearts.

Love is a common desire worldwide.  Why would anyone ever refuse God's love?  Why is there even one non-Christian in the world? If Jesus is so good, why isn't everyone cheering for the Son of God?  Why argue with the idea that God has chosen to love you, me, and all mankind, in Jesus Christ?  Can we name one valid objection to Jesus Christ?  Did Jesus ever wrong one person?  Can we see one imperfection in his words or actions?

Consider this dialogue between Peter and Jesus in Luke 5:1-11 (WEB).

1) Now while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. 2) He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3) He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4) When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.'

5) Simon answered him, 'Master, we worked all night, and took nothing; but at your word I will let down the net.' 6) When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking. 7) They beckoned to their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. They came, and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8) But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.' 9) For he was amazed, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had caught; 10) and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.

Jesus said to Simon, 'Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive.' 11) When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.

This story shows that we really do not want God to get close to our hearts.  We are afraid, and hide our sin from his eyes.  Peter asked Jesus to leave because Jesus' holiness convicted him and made him uncomfortable.  I suggest that atheism and false religion share a similar motivation to Peter's.  We build defenses that keep us at a "safe" distance from God.  Atheists choose the lie that God does not exist to keep him away.  The religious choose a veneer of self-righteousness to shield themselves from God's gaze, while clinging to their fire insurance policies.  If we dare to take a step closer to him, we dress ourselves up, hoping to hide our sin.  We know we have done bad things and so we are uncomfortable around Jesus because he is good.  We are just like our fallen parents, Adam and Eve, who tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden.

Since we hide from God, special tactics beyond education are needed to defeat unbelief and reach the heart of sinners hiding from God's love.

However, there is no hiding from God, even if we pretend that he does not exist.  One day we each will stand before him.  I pray that God will use this book to conquer our opposition to Jesus, our fear of exposure, and our doubt about his love and forgiveness.  The climax of God's love for mankind is seen in perfect measure at the cross.  The cross fully exposed our hatred of God when we crucified Christ.  However, the cross also displayed God's flood of forgiveness through Jesus' willing death for our sins.  Jesus prayed from the cross in Luke 23:34b (WEB): "Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing."  That is the proclamation of forgiveness and salvation for you, me, and all mankind.

The initial pages of this book lay the groundwork for a thorough explanation of my thesis by introducing important concepts, reviewing my previous articles, and beginning at the end with the grand conclusion of Christian salvation found in Romans 11:32.

Flying Impossible!

My thesis is simple.  Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind.  However, most of mankind does not believe this good news, even many of those who call themselves Christians.  Can any special strategies be used to overcome this disbelief?  Consider a history lesson from Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Suppose someone does not believe flight is possible.  He tells you that flight is imaginary and we have been fooled.  We would call this unbeliever insane!  Airplanes are everywhere and we all know about them.  However, not too long ago the opposite was true.  The Wright brothers were considered insane, or at least foolhardy, to claim that they could fly an airplane.

According to The Wright Brothers by Fred Kelly, Wilbur and Orville proved to themselves and their neighbors that they could fly quite well.  Good conscience demanded that they tell the United States government of their breakthrough.  This discovery was larger than the Wright family and needed to be shared with their countrymen.  So the Wright brothers wrote to the United States War Department, hoping to show off their airplane.  They received only replies that no money would be granted for flight research until it was proved that fixed-wing horizontal flight was possible.  It was possible!  They wanted to demonstrate it!  They wrote again and again, but only received the same response, unbelief every time.

Magazines likewise banished the idea to the realm of science fiction.  How could the Wright brothers persuade the unbelieving?  They hatched a plan to 'fly by' the 300th anniversary celebration of the colonization of Jamestown in Virginia.  Many military officers would be present, and the prank would leave mouths gaping.  Unfortunately, a mishap during take-off foiled their plans, but they would not give up.  After further rejections the Wright brothers moved to their last plan - they turned East, in hopes of discovering a buyer in Europe.  Their conscience was clear about serving their own nation first, so they turned elsewhere.  This was the winning tactic.  Just before a deal was closed with France, the United States came to its senses.  The United States War Department learned about the deal the Wright brothers were signing and unbelief quickly dissolved.  They invited the brothers to demonstrate and were shocked with the opportunity of the century.

Perhaps we should not be so hard on the disbelieving.  Before the Wright brothers, flying was a crazy idea reserved for the eccentric.  History is filled with stories of the adventurous trying to fly with all sorts of contraptions.  Many lost their lives.  Who among us would easily believe that flight was reality at the moment when the impossible became possible?  Very few.

Thankfully unbelief was not the inspiration for the Wright brothers or others like them.  These visionaries have shown amazing persistence in working hard, questioning tradition, seeing things as they are, humbly learning, changing, applying knowledge, and never giving up.  Furthermore, the Wright brothers have taught us an important lesson about strategies for persuading the unbelieving.  The invention of flight was so important that they were compelled to use creative means to persuade their audience to believe when reason alone was not enough.  In their case, they planned a 'fly by' to show off the truth, and they also found a constructive use for envy.

The Wright brothers' story is the perfect introduction to this book.  We face a similar problem to what Wilbur and Orville solved.  Most people did not believe flight was possible, even after the Wrights had proved it. Likewise, most people do not believe that Jesus is their savior, and also the savior of all mankind, even after God has proved it.  Apparently reason alone is not enough persuasion here, either.  There are certainly limits to the comparison of the Wright brothers' experience and Christian faith.  But there is one question that is certainly worth asking.

Are special tactics for responding to stubborn disbelief in Christ integral to the gospel message?

Most explanations of the gospel have limited themselves to merely educating their audience with facts about Christ and salvation.  But listing facts only teaches the teachable.  The gospel is also true for the unteachable!  So does Jesus employ special tactics to reach the unteachable?

As we re-examine the gospel, we will also consider the possibility of special Biblical tactics, and the implications of Proverbs 26:4-5 (WEB), which says: "Don't answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes."

We will also consider the implications of Romans 11:13-14 (WEB): "For I speak to you who are Gentiles. Since then as I am an apostle to Gentiles, I glorify my ministry; if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh, and may save some of them."

Why Read?

I have introduced my thesis.

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind.

I have stated that reason alone is insufficient to persuade people to believe.

Since we hide from God, special tactics beyond education are needed to defeat unbelief and reach the heart of sinners hiding from God's love.

I have asked if God uses special persuasive tactics.

Are special tactics for responding to stubborn disbelief in Christ integral to the gospel message?

Now I ask, why are you reading this book?  I assume you are here because someone recommended it, or you stumbled upon it.  However, you are now at least several pages into it, and so I ask, why you are reading?  What are you searching for?

I am not asking because I need to know your reasons.  You do not need my permission to read.  However, it would be good for you to know your own reasons for reading.  Some possible reasons might include:

  • You are curious.
  • You are objectively researching Christian belief.
  • You seek safe haven from God's wrath.
  • You seek help with doubts.
  • You want to compare our thoughts.
  • You want to contrast our thoughts.
  • You hope to help my understanding.
  • You hope to help your own understanding.
  • You are looking for controversy.
  • You wish to refute my ideas.
  • You do not know why.

Take a moment to reflect.

It would be good for you to know your own reasons for reading this book.

Here is an encouragement to eagerly seek God, from Jeremiah 29:11-13 (WEB),

'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,' says Yahweh, 'thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.'

Whatever your reasons for reading this book, I invite you now to seek God first with your whole heart.  The verse above suggests that God can be found, but only if we seek him with our whole heart.

Previously Stated

Hopefully, you have reflected about your purpose for reading this book and have a good reason to continue.  So I invite you to continue to explore my thoughts and I hope you find encouragement there.  Books are a trip into the mind of another, as much as that is possible.

The ideas in this book developed their shape while I hammered them out in my previous writings.  So my earlier articles may be the best introduction.  Please note, however, that my understanding has grown through the decades, so I am currently revising my earlier works to be consistent with the latter.

My Optimism Out of Control DGJC.ORG/ZINGERS article titles include:

My other salvation-related article titles include:

My complete article list is found at DGJC.ORG/ARTICLES.

God's Word is perfect.  The Holy Spirit is the master communicator of meaning with unmatched style.  Even so, we often question God's wisdom.  We would only ever be wrong to do so.  However, you would certainly not be wrong to accuse me of error.  Again, please do contact me with comments and corrections at DGJC.ORG/CONTACT.

So at this early stage of my book, I'll warn myself from Proverbs 10:19 (WEB): "In the multitude of words there is no lack of disobedience, but he who restrains his lips does wisely."

Job's Counselors

I have asked you to consider why you are reading this book.  You should ask me why I am writing this book!  What is my answer?

I am writing this book to clarify the gospel of Jesus Christ from current confusion.

The Old Testament man, Job, had big questions for God.  Three people, speaking volumes, tried to counsel him.  After all their words, his questions remained.  Likewise, we have a great need to understand Christian salvation, yet divisions and disturbing questions remain commonplace.

Job's fourth counselor, however, was used by God to reach Job's heart.  He spoke briefly and with clarity.  Now, it would be too bold to suggest that I can stand in his shoes.  I certainly have not written briefly.  Yet I hope to add clarity and remove confusion at one particular point in the gospel, choosing Elihu as my example. Consider Job Chapter 32 (WEB).

1) So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2) Then the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel, the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was kindled against Job. His wrath was kindled because he justified himself rather than God. 3) Also his wrath was kindled against his three friends, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. 4) Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job, because they were elder than he. 5) When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was kindled.

6) Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered, 'I am young, and you are very old; Therefore I held back, and didn’t dare show you my opinion. 7) I said, "Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom." 8) But there is a spirit in man, and the Spirit of the Almighty gives them understanding. 9) It is not the great who are wise, nor the aged who understand justice. 10) Therefore I said, "Listen to me; I also will show my opinion."

11) Behold, I waited for your words, and I listened for your reasoning, while you searched out what to say. 12) Yes, I gave you my full attention, but there was no one who convinced Job, or who answered his words, among you. 13) Beware lest you say, "We have found wisdom, God may refute him, not man;" 14) for he has not directed his words against me; neither will I answer him with your speeches. 15) They are amazed. They answer no more. They don’t have a word to say.

16) Shall I wait, because they don’t speak, because they stand still, and answer no more? 17) I also will answer my part, and I also will show my opinion. 18) For I am full of words. The spirit within me constrains me. 19) Behold, my breast is as wine which has no vent; like new wineskins it is ready to burst. 20) I will speak, that I may be refreshed. I will open my lips and answer. 21) Please don’t let me respect any man’s person, neither will I give flattering titles to any man. 22) For I don’t know how to give flattering titles; or else my Maker would soon take me away.'

Elihu was bold, humble, and understanding.  He spoke the truth in love and hated flattery.  That is a good goal for all of us -- and it is my specific goal in writing to you.


You certainly do not need to agree with me or any particular guru to be a follower of Christ.  However, to be a follower of Christ, you do need to actually follow Christ.  Since Christ is one, then we should expect to become one in our thinking as we each grow closer to him.  But today we still remain far from the perfection of Christ, and at times sadly far from each other.  The Body of Christ suffers from painful dismemberment.  What I am trying to say is, since I can be very wrong at times, I should include a disclaimer.

My propositions might be wrong, but I assert them because I think I am right.

Okay, there is my disclaimer.  Each of us will stand before the Lord to give an account.  If I or others have led you astray, we will have to give account to God for misleading the misled.  Yet, each one of us will also have to give account for our own wayward decisions, and for allowing ourselves to be misled.  The one who tempts others off the path is guilty, but one who steps off the path is likewise guilty.

Of course, the one who helps others onto the path is instead blessed and rewarded.  That is the blessing and reward I seek through my clarification of the gospel.  I ask you to compare my teaching with the words of the Bible for the proof of any statement that I make.  We should be like the Beroean people whom Paul talked to about Jesus.  They did not believe Paul because he sounded good or even because he was an Apostle.  Instead they compared his words to the Bible.  We read in Acts 17:10-12 (WEB),

10) The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue.  11) Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12) Many of them therefore believed; also of the prominent Greek women, and not a few men.

Check God's Word to test for truth!

Start at the End

Anyone making a point needs to consider how to begin, continue, and conclude.  We could just dive in and figure it out as we go, but planning can be useful; so my plan is to tell you how I was introduced to grace theology, reveal the fiery question that burned my house down, and share with you my discovery of the Bible's grand conclusion about salvation.

While leading the Allied forces in World War II, Winston Churchill said, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."  Likewise, this is not the end of my book, but it is the end of the introduction.  It is also an excellent time to show you the grand conclusion of the Bible.


I first looked to the cross of Jesus Christ for forgiveness the summer before I entered college.  I was raised in a churchgoing family, but my sinful behavior through high school drove me to begin a relationship with Christ, based on his forgiveness at the cross.   I knew I was a sinner and that Jesus died for sinners, but I still knew very little.


The Lord quickly introduced me to grace theology and discipleship.  I learned that salvation is completely unmerited and that Jesus had chosen me for salvation even before my decision to trust him.  Frankly, I did not want to be saved that way, and a burning question grew in my mind.

The Bible says Christ died for all mankind, but very few are born again, and apparently most are sentenced to eternal Hell.  How could he choose me and not others?  Am I certain he did choose me?

I did not understand.  Most of my friends and the books I read seemed to slide off one side of the issue or the other.  Some suggested that God’s grace only predestined a small subset of mankind to eternal life.  Others suggested that Christ died for all mankind, but only those choosing Christ with their free will were finally saved.  However, free will proponents appeared to compromise God's grace by saying Jesus did not complete all of our salvation; we need to do the part of choosing.  And the Limited Atonement proponents appeared to compromise Jesus' atonement by saying it was for part of mankind and not all.  I tried at different times to find rest in one or the other of those answers, but my questions grew, and they darkened my relationship with Christ.

Furthermore, God's grace exposed a much bigger problem.  My initial understanding of my sinfulness was incomplete.  Biblical grace exposed that my self-righteousness hated God and I certainly hated my unanswered questions.  Yet Christ was my only hope!

I searched for an answer.  I read the Bible.  I read commentaries.  I read books.  I listened to other Christians.  I argued with God.  I avoided the question.  I focused on serving.  Worst of all, I ignored my questions and just went to church.


Eventually the Lord led me to discover and embrace Romans 11:32-36 as the grand conclusion of redemption, grace theology, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  God has helped me to understand this passage and receive it with joy, and through it he has helped me to be honest about my sin and eager to share the good news.  My questions about salvation are fully answered, my confusion is erased, and my love for Christ is restored.  It may be that you have a similar question to mine.  I hope to help you as I have been helped.  So I will begin at the end, at the grand conclusion of salvation in Romans 11:32, and explain this important passage of Scripture to you.  I do not claim special revelation or insight, but simply open eyes, through Christ's love, to see and accept what is plainly said.

Grand Conclusion

Are you embarrassed about your spiritual questions?  Are you scared of looking foolish?  Are you scared of being wrong?  We often try to hide our ignorance, but we should resist this.  There is too much to be lost if we are wrong.  There is even more to be gained when we are right with God.  Ignoring the hole in our roof directly harms us and our estate.  I am often secretive about my questions, but to no positive end.  We should boldly ask questions of God and Christian friends.  We might think our questions are humbling, but we can take heart in knowing that God thinks every one of our questions are important and provides every answer we need in his Word.  For me, Romans 11:32-36 has become the million-pound anchor for my soul and the answer to my fiery question.  It is the grand conclusion of Paul's treatise on Christian salvation.

Romans 11:32 answers the three biggest questions that mankind has ever had or will ever have for God our creator.  How did sin enter the world?  What is God's purpose in sin and salvation?  Who is ultimately saved from God's wrath against sin?

One warning before we continue.  These questions are answered clearly and simply, but most people refuse to accept the answers.  The reasons that most reject the truth include the fear of man, the loss of investment in other answers, their imaginary god meeting the true God, or rejection of grace in favor of free will.  Man's natural condition is to hate salvation by grace and instead to love salvation by self.  We should instead be thankful that we are not saved by our free will choice, but by God's free will choice to love us unconditionally.  The happy news of the gospel is that Jesus has forgiven us apart from all our choices; in fact he forgave us while we were yet his enemies.  As we already discussed, when the obvious is rejected, special tactics may be needed to help unbelievers see what they do not want to see.  The truth is still good and true, even for those who reject it.

Our key Scripture, Romans 11:32-36 (WEB), says,

32) For God has bound all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.

33) Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!  34) 'For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?' 35) 'Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again?' 36) For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

There you have it.

So what do you think?  Do you see the answers to our three questions?

The remainder of this book will expand on these concepts at length.