by Dr. Ken Matto

The very name dictates to its reader that salvation is a process. The word "Soteriology" comes from the root Greek word "soter" which means "Savior, redeemer, deliverer, or preserver." Other words which are derived from this word are:

• Soteria - which mean salvation, deliverance or preservation

• Soterios - delivering, saving or salvation

The word "soteriology" carries with it the meaning of "The study of [ology] Salvation [soter]. Normally this type of course is taught in seminary under either Systematic Theology or Theology. This subject is also taught heavily in studies of Comparative Religion. Every religion on earth has its teachings on salvation. The problem that arises is which one is right? This short study is not designed for us to delve deeply into comparative religion but rather to expose the myth of process soteriology or process salvation which is taught so subtly and widely in the modern church.

Process salvation is a prevalent teaching among the New Age crowd. The life that you lead here will determine which plane of existence you will be promoted to. New Age Gurus like Shirley MacLaine claims she is God. How much higher can one progress on the spiritual step ladder than to become God. Someone else had that desire too:

(Isa 14:14 KJV) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Satan said the same thing in that he wanted to be like God. Sounds like Shirley and Satan have the same belief system. Hinduism is a religion of process in that it instructs its adherents to do good so when they incarnate again, they will be promoted to a better life. Thus salvation is a process, the antecedent of being born to a better life the next time is to do good the previous time. ONE PROBLEM:

(Rom 3:12 KJV) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Process salvation is also taught in the Roman Catholic Church. You must keep their sacraments and follow their teachings and by being obedient to the rules and regulations set up by Rome, the process is in motion and you go to Heaven. In fact, any church that teaches works are a necessary part of a salvation plan is teaching "process salvation."

The easiest way to identify a "process salvation" church is if any type of work is required for salvation. We will end up this study with an exposition of James 2 which "works & grace" churches use as a basis for process salvation. Now let's get close to home for a minute. Does your church teach "process salvation?" You are probably saying, "no they don't!" Have you ever heard Billy Graham make an appeal at the end of his sermons in one of his crusades? How does he do it? He says you must repent of your sins and then accept Christ! Did you see the process? REPENT (a work) and then ACCEPT (a work) Christ. If I have to repent of my sins before I come to Christ, then in essence, I am doing a work before I can come to Christ.

The word "repent" comes from the Greek word "metanoeo" which means to "change one's mind, be converted." It is used 35 times in the New Testament with 17 different inflections. It is a verb. The word "repentance" comes from the Greek word "metanoia" which means "turning about, change of the mind." It is a noun and used 24 times in the New Testament in 2 cases.

(Mark 1:15 KJV) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

(Acts 3:19 KJV) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

(Mat 3:8 KJV) Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

(Mark 2:17 KJV) When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

If we were to take these representative verses dealing with repentance without looking at the rest of the Bible, I too would agree that we have to do something before we receive salvation. However, what is the biblical rule for interpreting the Bible? Compare Scripture with Scripture. (1 Cor 2:13 KJV) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

If we are to come to a proper conclusion, we must see what other verses teach us in the Bible concerning who is able to repent.

(Rom 2:4 KJV) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

This still sounds like it is up to man to do the repenting until we come to:

(Acts 11:18 KJV) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

(2 Tim 2:25 KJV) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

The word "granted" and "give them" come from the same word in Greek. It is "didomi" which means to "give, give out, hand over." These verses give us the insight that it is God who grants and gives repentance, it is not of ourselves. Therefore, someone in their sins cannot repent or change until God calls them and saves them. Once they receive the Holy Spirit, then they have the ability to repent or change their mind about sin.

(Rom 12:1-2 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

(Titus 3:5 KJV) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

The word "renewing" in both instances is a Greek Word used only within Christian writings. It is the word "anakainosis" and means "renewal or change." It is used in the qualitative sense. We can see this amplified in Titus 3:5 where renewing comes only after salvation and not prior to it. One can only renew their minds after salvation because the renewing of the mind is a process of sanctification. The reason sanctification is a process because it is a linear action while salvation is a punctiliar action. In the Greek a punctiliar action is a single event while a linear action is a continuous action. This describes both salvation and sanctification. Salvation is a one time event while sanctification is a continual event, actually it is a lifestyle based on James 4:8:

(James 4:8 KJV) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

The closer we draw to God the farther away from the world system we go and that is a lifetime struggle. The Lord's mercies are new every morning and Satan's snares are there every morning too. What snagged us on Tuesday will be waiting for us on Wednesday. This is why sanctification is a process but not salvation. Sanctification is growth, salvation is birth.

Let us look at some Biblical examples of people who were saved and see if they repented first and then were saved or if it was the other way around.


(Mat 27:44 KJV) The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

(Luke 23:39-42 KJV) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. {40} But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? {41} And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. {42} And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.



(Acts 16:14 KJV) And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.



(Acts 9:3-5 KJV) And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: {4} And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? {5} And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.


(Mat 11:27 KJV) All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.


(Rom 8:28-30 KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. {29} For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. {30} Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.


Works Worker: But what about James 2?

Grace Worker: What about It?

Works Worker: Doesn't James 2 tell us we must include works as a part of God's salvation plan?

Grace Worker: Nope - Let's go there and see what we find!

(James 2:14-26 KJV)

{14}What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

As we study this verse, 2 parts of this verse must be brought to light:

1.) "say he hath faith" = The verse is not saying he has it but that he says he has it. It is very important to know the difference between the two.

2.) The second part which must be examined is "can faith save him?" In the Greek the word "the" is present which allows this part of the verse to be translated "Can that faith save him?" This is a definite article resulting in asking the question, "Can a faith without substance (not producing works) save a person? In other words, if there is no evidence of your faith, you don't have any, which means you are still unsaved.

{15} If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, {16} And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Let us examine the last phrase, "what doth it profit?" The principle of verse 14 is being reiterated here. If a person comes to you for anything, food and clothing represent the principle, and you refuse them, what does it profit you? It profits nothing because their faith is non-existent. Faith is the foundation we build our works on. Out of a true faith comes true works, this is how faith is demonstrated.

{17} Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Here is the pivotal verse in this section. Faith is dead without works because works is the proof of your faith. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. God has already ordained our good works and if there are no good works, then we are unsaved. What is the only good work a Christian can do? It is putting themselves on the line sending forth the gospel which is the primary calling of all true believers.

Notice the verse speaks that faith is dead without works. The word "dead" is the word "nekros" the same word that God uses to describe the pre-salvific Christian. The word carries with it the meaning of "useless, lifeless, and dead." Then God adds the word "alone," which carries the meaning of being alone or isolated." God is then declaring that if your faith has no action, you have no faith, thus you have no salvation. True good works are an evidence of your salvation.

{18} Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

Some may have separated works and faith and made them two distinctives of the Christian Faith. However, the two cannot be separated as works spring out of faith, not faith out of works. Works is never a foundation. Faith is a gift from God while works is our required "reasonable service" (Romans 12:1-2). Your works bring forth the evidence you are saved. Evidence of salvation is not speaking in tongues rather it is the working out (not for) of your own salvation as stated in (Phil 2:12 KJV) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Notice the challenge in this verse to show the faith without works. Is faith visible by itself? The answer of course is no! Is faith visible when it is being exercised by works? The answer is yes! This is why the Scripture declares that we can show our faith by works. Works is faith in action!!!!!

{19} Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Here is an indictment against the trite person who proclaims "Oh Yes, I believe in God." There are many who say they believe in God and the Bible puts that on par with "Big deal the demons believe too." These people have no works, in the realm of Christianity, belief is dead if it is alone. At least the demons have some sense in that they tremble, people shake their fist at God. I guess because the demons who rebelled with Satan already saw God in His majesty and know what's coming. Many people say there is no God, even the devils aren't that stupid!

{20} But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

The word vain here is "Empty or Worthless." Dead is "nekros" remember "lifeless and useless." Do any of these words describe the gospel? The answer is no. Throughout this study we are seeing some common words describe faith without works, "useless. lifeless, empty, worthless."

{21} Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Here is one of those verses that the "work for salvation" crowd uses as their crowning verse. They pull out "justified by works" and leave it there. It is a pity that they ignore the second half of this verse. This entire verse shows us that the faith of Abraham was extremely alive and active. His trust in God was so mighty that he went as far as a willingness to sacrifice his own son on God's orders. This verse does not contradict Romans 3:28 & 4:3, rather it combines the principles of both verses in showing us what a living faith is.

{22} Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

The perfect or mature Christian life is a life of works in conformity to our faith and a life of faith in conformity to works. In other words, they complement each other. If I may make an illustration: It is like one who puts on a glove, the hand is the faith and the glove is the works. The glove is lifeless and limp unless there is a hand in it. On the other hand (no pun intended) the hand is works and the glove is faith. In other words, they are a perfect match. Next time you listen to a missionary, think of these verses and you will have a live demonstration of how works and faith go hand in hand.

{23} And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

This part of Scripture goes back to Genesis 15:5 where God promised Abraham his seed would be as the stars in number and he believed God. Notice how the word friend shows up, remember what the Lord Jesus called all His true believers in John 15:14-15? "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. {15} Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." Not only does the believer inherit the faith of Abraham, they inherit the right to call the Lord Jesus "Friend." Therefore, since we have inherited those things, we have also inherited the ability to do great works for God in concert with our faith.

{24} Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Back in verse 14, James asks the question "can a dead faith save anyone?" The answer is found in this verse because no one is saved by any type of intellectual belief which lacks appropriate actions. Saving faith is more than giving mental assent to a doctrine.

{25} Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

Rahab was justified because she heard about the God of the spies and believed the story. She had faith to hide the spies and then send them off in a different direction. It is necessary to note that both Abraham and Rahab were justified in the same manner. Their works were in concert with their faith. "Likewise" may also be translated 'In like manner."

{26} For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Here is the summary of the whole study - WORKS WITHOUT FAITH OR FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. This is the great balance in the Christian walk. Faith and works must be in concert as one without the other is dead. If you have ever gone to a funeral, when you saw the body in the casket, what you saw was faith without works. That is the essence of James 2:14-26 - WORKS MUST COMPLEMENT OUR FAITH not justification by works.

To sum up this entire study on Process Salvation, I would offer this. Your works are a result of your salvation and in no way represent a step or requirement for salvation. Salvation is through Christ alone. The minute you add anything to God's Salvation Plan, you have adulterated it and are still unsaved. God's method of salvation is predestination and election, not your works.