Only a few times in your life do you come across a book that changes everything and causes the most essential puzzle pieces of Scripture to finally click right into place. Salvation by Allegiance Alone by Matthew W. Bates did just that for me, and for that reason it has earned its place in my top five books of all time.
After preaching straight through all four gospels over the last decade, I was faced over and over again with the stark realization that what I had always been taught about salvation and judgment didn’t seem to quite match the things that Jesus actually said. It seemed I could either have salvation the hard Jesus way and let it effect every last ounce of me, or the easy Paul way and just “think” my way into salvation. I’ve longed for a teaching that could marry what both Jesus and Paul said, but almost all of the teaching I came across seemed to act as though Paul’s words trumped Jesus’s and that I should just stick with what Paul had to say, especially in his letter to the Romans.
But then I found this book. Matthew Bates is bold enough to dive head first into the riddles of the Scriptures and point out passages that many pastors (and even theologians) are quite unwilling to acknowledge. Not only is Bates’s understanding grounded in all the key themes of the New Testament that sometimes get ignored (Jesus as King, resurrection bodies, new heaven and new earth, the image of God, etc.), but it’s guided both by scholarly studies and a desire to follow the Holy Spirit.
I expected a scholarly book that in the end might say very little. Instead, I got an unexpectedly beautiful book that I will always look back on as one of those rarities that clarified my thinking forever and altered the direction of my preaching.