The doctrine of salvation is awash on a sea of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. Marked by the curse of sin, the image-bearers of God have a need to “earn” their salvation. “Surely, there must be something I can do to merit favor before a holy God,” says the modern man. This false “gospel” is propagated in churches around the world and creates chaos and confusion. A works-based “gospel” is not only found in Roman Catholic dogma; it is also found in many so-called evangelical churches.
Allen Nelson’s book, From Death to Life is a much-needed corrective and is a positive step in the right direction. The subtitle expresses the essence of the book – How Salvation Works. In this short but powerful treatise, the author sums up the message of the gospel: “God saves sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This gospel is summarized by five points which make up the basic argument in the book:
- The gospel must be proclaimed.
- God must move.
- The sinner must respond in faith and repentance.
- God justifies the sinner.
- The sinner grows in the Lord over a lifetime.
Nelson articulates each of the above points and argues strenuously from the Word of God. One striking thing about this book is the author’s ability to both confront error and commend truth. For instance, he is quick to confront (and condemn) pragmatism, seeker-sensitivity, antinomianism, cheap grace, and altar calls. But he also commends bold proclamation, faithful ministry, and authentic faith which is driven by the biblical gospel.
Nelson explains each aspect of salvation with precision and biblical faithfulness. He weaves in the biblical doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints in a careful and winsome fashion. Indeed, this is an ordo of salutis for the common man.
I commend From Death to Life for students, pastors, and Christ-followers who are eager to digest a solid, gospel-centered book that is committed to historical orthodoxy, robust theology, and a soteriological framework which is faithful to Scripture!