The concept of Venn diagrams was introduced in the 1880’s as a way of showing the logical relationships between groups or sets of elements. They can offer a visual way of defining salvation and ongoing sanctification for the Biblical Christian.
Salvation – Depicted in Red
Scripture offers clarity on how to have Jesus Christ in our lives, for eternity. It is represented by the intersection of three circles in the Venn diagram above and is succinctly expressed by God in the two verses below.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 10:9 – if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
Each of the Circles represents a part of Salvation
Grace Alone – We are saved by God’s grace as He provided a way to release us from the repercussions of the bad things we have done in our lives. Being a good person or doing good things to balance the bad things we have done will not work, according to Scripture.
Romans 11:6 – But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
Faith Alone – One can see God if they are willing to look for Him. We can look at fulfilled prophesies in the Bible and see a Creator’s hand in the world around us and come to the intellectual conclusion that there must be a “higher power”. However, that head knowledge is not sufficient in God’s economy. The Lord is looking for those who trust Him by faith, not by logic or sight.
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Christ Alone – There are so many religions, so many gods, so many sacred texts. However, from a Biblical Christian perspective, there is only – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity has made it clear in the Bible that the narrow path to Salvation requires an acceptance that Jesus Christ is the only door into God’s eternal kingdom.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Salvation, the Center of the Venn Diagram
To be saved, to have eternal life with God one must accept His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. To believe in any two of the three doctrinal statements presented in the Venn diagram above is sadly not sufficient by an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God. We may not understand all the details and we may disagree with His views on certain matters. However, He is God and we are not. So, He calls us to…
- Believe in God’s grace (rather than our works) and acknowledge that Christ is the singular path to a relationship with Him.
- Believe that God, has the power and authority to remove our sins by His gift of grace (Christ’s death on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave).
- Believe by faith, regardless of our own views or the opinions and challenges of others. Further, we should not limit our acceptance of God and Christ based on purely intellectual consent. Our personal relationship with Him should come from a deep, heartfelt faith, fully trusting in Him and His calling in our lives.
Christ, therefore, calls each believer to acknowledge to all who will listen that, just as He rose from the dead, He will raise us from the dead if we accept Him as both Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9). For many who seek the safety and blessings of God, it may seem easy to acknowledge Christ as our Savior. But to repent and humble ourselves and turn to Him as our Lord, is much more of a challenge as man is so independent.
When we accept God as both Savior and Lord of our lives, through grace alone and faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, our salvation is secure in the center of the Venn diagram above.
Finally, Salvation is an event in the life of a believer. There is a point in time when each of us can look back and see the moment when our selfish spirit has been broken and we believe in our hearts… accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior. That moment, what leads up to it, and the discernable change it makes in our lives, represents our personal “testimony”. Something which no one can take away from us.
Sanctification – Depicted in Black
Unlike salvation, which is an event in the life of the Christian, sanctification is a process that follows throughout the rest of our lives. Simply put, it is a time of discovery of who God is and what He calls each of us uniquely to do with our lives. Three broad and universal components of that lifelong process are:
Love God – The Lord provided a solution to absolve us of paying the eternal penalty for the bad things we have done, and will do. No matter the seriousness of those sins, we have been forgiven as they were paid for by the death of His Son on the cross. Further, we are assured of a resurrection to life eternal in Heaven. Finally, we are given a Counselor that will help us through our remaining days on this earth to discern God’s truth from man’s. God’s grace in these areas, His gift to us, creates a desire to both worship and follow Him. In a single word, this can be described as Love.
Matthew 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Love Your Neighbor – Not only are we to love God through worship and following His commands, but that vertical relationship needs to also be demonstrated horizontally toward our fellow man.
John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Inerrant Bible – Finally, all Christians need a foundation from which to learn who God is and what He expects from His children. If one does not accept a written record of His teachings, how can we have a true relationship with Him while on this earth? In a marriage, if the husband and wife never talk or write to each other, how can they ever know each other? God provided a way for man to know He exists by looking at the miraculous nature of the world around us. He seeks us out in prayer and fellowship through the Holy Spirit. However, our sin nature and our adversary, the devil, can get us twisted up, similar to the experiences of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. We need to study God’s love letter to us, which is His perfect Word. If we believe the Bible can’t be trusted and, therefore, we pick and choose what is true, what good is there in having a sacred text? This is why, when we disagree with God’s Word, our personal views need to be subordinated to our faith. We need to remember, He is the Potter and we are the clay in His hands (Isaiah 29:16).