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Is salvation by faith or by atonement?

Updated on December 8, 2012

There has been a ranging controversy on the path to salvation. The two major groups are:

1) Those that belief in salvation by faith.

2) Those that belief in salvation by atonement of sins.

Salvation by faith is the most commonly preached and accepted by many Christians. This is because, to a greater extent, it makes their work easier in that all we need to be saved is only to believe, and have faith, that Jesus died for our sins and, by that means, paid the price of our sins. Consequently, old things have passed away and all things became new. Therefore, once we repent and accept Jesus as our lord and savior then we are saved.

Salvation by atonement of sin which is mainly taught by some religious mystic movement is of the opinion that we have to compensate for all the bad things we have done in that there are consequences for every action we take whether good or bad. That is actions and reactions are equal and opposite. These seem to agree more with the law of balance and equilibrium. To these mystics, mere believing in Jesus as lord and personal savior is not enough to save us because we must work out our salvation.

It can be argued that only the brave would want to pay for their sins. That is it takes courage for one to accept responsibilities and punishment for one’s sins. On the other hand those that belief in salvation by faith would argue that the death of Jesus Christ would be useless if we are to atone for our sins. Their argument can go further to the Old Testament atonement of sins using animals and other gift items which was said to have been overruled by the blood of the lamb which was paid once on the cross and therefore no need for further reparation. It is because of such ideas that it was argued that the known world terrorists and other evil men that have killed thousands of innocent people would still make it to heaven if they can only accept Jesus on their dying day just as the thief did on the cross while their victims who are unbelievers would spend eternity in hell.

As the writer journeyed with an unborn child in his unpublished work and in the midst of chaos, it was questioned if that is justice? However, just as the journey seemed to suggest, there is no real difference between salvation by faith, and salvation by atonement. This is because once one repents of his or her sins then the next step is to stop doing the wrong things and start doing the rights things and being good and kind to people. This is exactly what atonement of sins is all about in that one must do good things to the extent that one can re-pay all his or her debts under the law and then the law would then owe one.

It is also interesting to note that salvation by faith does not mean instant blessings or that there will be no more sorrows. This is because we normally face challenges in life and if salvation by faith is the solution, even though it is preached to be so by faith, then people will have no reason to seek other religious movements. We know it is not so and that is why people kept looking for answers thereby looking for other ways. However, salvation by faith can help one to be patient in time of trouble. This is same thing with atonement of sin because they believe that such pain they pass through is because of their past mistakes so they welcome it in that they are paying back for their sins.

Most mystics claim that it is because of the knowledge of atonement of sins and their ability to quickly and happily pay back to the extent that the law will owe them, that makes it possible for them not only to live in harmony with/under the law but also gives them the ability to receive whatever they want from the law that governs wisely. This is a mystery only the mystics can explain because it may not be an easy task. On the other hand those that belief in salvation by faith and have lived a higher spiritual life which can only be seem by their Christ-like life is said to also have the ability to do the extra-ordinary. It simply confirms that one does not start doing the extra-ordinary immediately one accepts Jesus as lord and savior but needs time to grow just as Paul claimed that some people are spiritual babies still feeding on milk.

Whatever maybe the case, it is said; faith without work is dead which means faith alone is not enough as we have to put our faith to work. It is also said; work out your salvation. Then those that believe in atonement and the need to balance the scale will always remember Daniel 5: 27 “TEKEL; thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting.” That is the reason they must always try to balance the scale so that they won’t be found wanting.


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