4 Man in need of redemption

237 What is the function of reason?


Reason can lead human beings to conduct themselves in a manner pleasing to God. Reason is demonstrated when human beings are able to account for their actions before God and their neighbour. Reason is also necessary in order to understand the gospel and profess one’s faith.

238 Are there limitations to human reason?


Yes. In its finiteness, human reason is incapable of grasping God in His endlessness. God’s nature and actions far surpass all human reason (cf. Philippians 4: 7). As a result, reason cannot be the measure of all things.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4: 7

239 What is faith?


Faith incorporates trust, obedience, and loyalty toward God. From it, human beings gain confidence in God’s mercy and help. In Hebrews 11: 1 it says the following concerning this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

240 How does a human being come to believe?


Faith always starts with God, who reveals Himself through His word and His works. Faith is a gift of God. True faith is based on God’s grace of election. At the same time, faith is an obligation for human beings. Whether and to what degree a human being comes to believe is also dependent on his own effort: a person must want to believe. For this reason it is necessary to pray for faith.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  Mark 9: 24

241 What is the task of the believer?


Human beings are called upon to accept God’s word, trust in it, and act in accordance with it. Jesus Christ demanded: “You believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14: 1). He promised that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16). He also emphasised the consequence of unbelief in all its implications: “For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8: 24).

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Romans 10: 17

242 What can faith help achieve?

Belief in Jesus Christ is a prerequisite for salvation. One must believe

  • that God reconciles sinners to Himself,
  • that human beings can become children of God (cf. John 1: 12),
  • that human beings can enter into eternal fellowship with God.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God].”  Hebrews 11: 6

243 What is meant by the term “salvation history”?


Holy Scripture uses the term “salvation” in the sense of “deliverance”, “protection”, and “redemption. The term “salvation history” is understood to mean the activity of God that allows human beings to receive salvation.

244 What is meant by the term “plan of salvation”?


The events between the fall into sin and the new creation are described as God’s “plan of salvation”. We human beings may not know the entire plan of God in all its fullness, but from the course of salvation history we can recognise that it is God’s intention to help mankind.

245 How will salvation history transpire?


The manner and measure of salvation varies throughout the different phases of salvation history, however, God’s will to save—which is valid for all people of all time periods—stands above everything.

246 What was the object of hope for salvation in the time of the Old Testament?


In Old Testament times, the hope of salvation was primarily focused on deliverance from earthly need and captivity. Israel’s hope for salvation eventually started to focus more and more clearly on the expected Messiah, however.

247 What is the foundation for salvation?


Jesus Christ is the author of eternal salvation: “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5: 9). He is the only Mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Timothy 2: 5). Acts 4: 12 attests: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus Christ is the Saviour sent by God. He is the Redeemer who has conquered sin. In Him human beings find salvation from the harm caused by sin: the sacrifice that Jesus brought on the cross makes liberation from sin—and the undoing of permanent separation from God—possible.

“Mediator”: On the one hand Jesus Christ is a “Mediator” in the sense that He mediates between God and mankind. This means that He represents mankind before God, and God before mankind. He is the Advocate of mankind before God, and acquaints human beings with the divine will. On the other hand, as “Mediator” He is also the way of salvation that leads back into fellowship with God.

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”  1 Timothy 2: 5, 6

248 Who is able to attain salvation?


Salvation through Jesus Christ is offered to all human beings, both living and dead.

249 In what phase of God’s plan of salvation do we live?


Today we are living in that phase of the divine plan of salvation in which the bridal congregation is being gathered and prepared for the return of Christ. To this end, the Apostles impart salvation through the proclamation of God’s word and the dispensation of the sacraments.


Bridal congregation: see Questions 455→557→561→ et seq.

250 How can salvation be attained today?


No one can attain salvation on his own. Human beings attain salvation by believing in Jesus Christ and availing themselves of the sacraments and the word of God, which Jesus Christ has made available for the salvation of the world.


Sacraments: see Questions 472→ et seq.

251 What form of salvation will the bridal congregation experience at the return of Christ?


The bridal congregation will already enter into eternal fellowship with God at the return of Christ in the marriage feast in heaven.

252 When will God’s plan of salvation be fulfilled?


According to Holy Scripture, the plan of salvation will be fulfilled in the new creation.

253 What is the basis for our election by God?


Election is always rooted in God’s will. No one can influence the decision of God.

254 Why does God elect people?


God calls individuals or groups of people out of humanity because He has a specific purpose in mind for them. He thereby makes them responsible to Him.

255 Are there examples of election in the Old Testament?


Yes. Already in the creation there is a reference to divine election: of all His creatures, God elected man and gave him the commission to make the earth subject to him.


Many other examples of election can be found in the Old Testament:

  • Noah was elected to build the ark.
  • Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were elected so that all families of the earth would be blessed through them.
  • Moses was elected to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and Joshua was elected to bring them to the Promised Land.
  • The people of Israel had also been elected: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you” (cf. Deuteronomy 7: 6-8).

“For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.”  Wisdom of Solomon 2: 23

256 Are there examples of election in the New Testament?


From among His disciples, Jesus elected the Apostles and sent them into all the world with the commission to teach and baptise. Thus the election of the people of God is no longer limited to Israel, but incorporates all those who believe in Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile. Thus the people of the new covenant has been chosen by God (cf. 1 Peter 2: 9).

Peter was elected to a special function in the church, namely the Petrine office.


Petrine office: see explanation of Question 457→

Since Old Testament times, all non-Israelite nations were designated as “Gentiles”. These were people who did not serve the God of Abraham, but rather served other gods. Even in New Testament times, non-Jews were designated as Gentiles, whether or not they had been baptised.

257 Can anyone lay claim to election by God?


No. No one has any right to God’s election because it is rooted in God’s free decision.  Election cannot be comprehended with human reason.

258 What does election signify from the perspective of the gospel?

From the perspective of the gospel, election is a gift of God’s love. Human beings have the freedom to decide whether to accept or reject this gift.

Election by God does not mean that the actions of human beings are predetermined.