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The Bible teaches us that God has evoked and made calls to human race, calling it to a relationship and that relationship is only made possible by ‘Salvation’. We can however infer from the scripture that to attain the state salvation, there are conditions.  Having in mind the legal principles regarding contractual relationships, this paper juxtaposes the two relationships: Salvation and Contract. The paper also proceeds to examine the possibilities of Salvation being a contractual relationship.


Our social interactions as humans birth agreements every day, ranging from the exchange of a bottle of water for a monetary consideration of a hundred and fifty naira, to the flimsy promise made by a child to his sibling to receive the tv remote in exchange for some minutes with his toy. These are indications that as humans engage with one another the need arises to give promises, some of which would need to be backed up by fresh ones from the party to which promises were made initially.

Treitel’s Law of contract defines it as ‘as a promise or set of promises that the law will enforce. This definition views contract as a promise that is made enforceable by law, meaning that legal principles now protect the rights and obligations embedded in it and deems it enforceable. In the case of Kabo Air V. Tarfa,[1] Galadinma, J.C.A, as he then was, described a contract as ‘an agreement which is legally binding on the parties an which, if broken, may be enforced by action in court against the defaulting party’.  This paper therefore views contract as an agreement between two parties, which involves a promise in exchange for a promise, resulting in rights and obligations which the law recognizes and protects.

Contracts have a binding effect. Parties are bound to the terms of contracts they have entered into, This position is the bane of the legal maxim “pacta sunt servanda” which means ‘Agreements of Contracting Parties are to be Observed.  It posits that where parties have agreed and are concordant on the terms of the contract, it would amount to a great evil for one party to turn around, for whatever reason and decide not to perform his obligation as promised. As a general principle, parties must honour their obligations in a contract.


For an agreement in law to be regarded as a valid contract and enjoy the accompanying privileges, certain elements must be present. The three primary elements include; Offer, Acceptance, and Consideration.


A contract cannot exist without the animus contrahendi[2] (intention to contract) and such intention is communicated by an offer. Sagay defines an offer as a definite undertaking or promise, made by one party with the intention that it shall become binding on the party making it, as soon as it is accepted by the party to whom it is addressed.[3]An offer is an expression of a willingness to contract, it involves the clear communication of intention to enter into a legally binding agreement by one party to another.

It is important to note that an offer can be given to numerous people, and even the whole world. This was expressed in Carlill V. Carbolic Smoke ball[4], in this case the defendants had argued that there was no contract between them and the plaintiff because their advertisement could not have amounted to an offer to the whole world, the court stated that an offer to the world was in fact possible hence creating a legal relationship between the parties.


Niki Tobi JSC in Orient Bank (Nig) Plc v. Bilante International Ltd[5] describes “Acceptance” as an act of compliance on the part of the offeree with the terms of the offer. It occurs when the party to whom the terms of contract were offered to (offeree) agrees to be bound by those terms in a contractual agreement. The element of acceptance emphasizes the presence of a consensus ad idem in a contract. The acceptance signifies that the offeree is in tandem with the offeror on the subject and is completely satisfied with the terms of the contract, any deviation from terms presented would not amount to a valid offer. Hence an acceptance agrees to the terms of a contract wholly and immediately an acceptance is communicated the parties are bound by the contractual agreement.

Requirements for a valid acceptance were listed in the case of Major- General George Innih (RTD) & Ors v. Ferado Agro and Consortrum Ltd[6]. A valid acceptance must be plain, unequivocal, unconditional, without variance of any sort between it and the offer.


A consideration is a benefit or detriment suffered or enjoyed by both parties to the contract. What each party gives up to the other party for the contract is known as a consideration. For example, Chibueze has accepted Winnie’s offer for a bag in exchange for twenty thousand naira, here Winnie’s consideration is the bag which she is selling because she is giving it up, it is her detriment and Chibueze’s consideration is the twenty thousand naira. So, each party loses something to gain something. The general rule for a binding contract is that consideration must move from the promisee and consideration gives the contract a right of action, if a person has not furnished a consideration to a contract, there is no right of action as the agreement would be seen as just a promise and not a contract. In the case of LA Cardoso v. The Executors of the late JA Doherty, this position was experienced judicially. In this case, the court held that the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant for breach of contract must fail because no Consideration was furnished by the plaintiff, hence there agreement was a mere gift and not a contract.


Salvation is the complete and total transformation of Man’s heart and exclusion from the consequences of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23) and the conferring upon the privilege of a relationship with God, which is eternal life (John 17:3). Death here doesn’t refer to physical death, it refers to damnation and a separation from God, and eternal life as already stated is a relationship with God, the privilege of knowing God.  In order, to properly understand salvation you must know that man was initially free of sin, but fell and got corrupted, this essentially created a separation between God and Man.  The separation of man from God orchestrated by the sin of disobedience at the garden of Eden, meant that the relationship between God and man became severed to the extent that man could no longer interact with God as he did upon creation. However, God in his infinite mercy decided to restore man to his position, a position of holiness, free from blame and the ability to boldly approach God, just as it was before man was corrupted. In the Old Testament, blood was needed for the forgiveness of sin, consequently the people of God would offer burnt offerings periodically for the atonement of their sin, so God sent his son as an ultimate sacrifice, a sacrifice that wouldn’t need to be repeated and would secure the forgiveness of sin forever, the single sacrifice of God’s son is the crux of salvation. The blood shed was requisite for an eternal cleansing, hence by virtue of Christ’s death we are saved from death, and while taking Man’s damnation he gives eternal life.

How can a Man be saved?

Romans 10:9 states that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Hence the elements of salvation are

  • Confess the Lord Jesus
  • Believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.


It is now trite to juxtapose the elements of a valid contract and understand intricacies of salvation as a contractual arrangement.


God has made an offer calling all human race to redemption and salvation, this is found in the book of John chapter 3 verse 16, it states that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son and whosoever believes in him will not perish but have an everlasting life. This verse is indicative of God’s offer and his terms are “believe in me, and you will have everlasting life” and this offer is made to the whole world, and as explained earlier, the law is settled concerning offers made to the whole world, the court in Carlill V. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co has confirmed that offers can be made to the whole world. We are also sure that salvation is offered to the whole world because the bible states God desires all men to be saved. Moreso, the express use of the word “whosoever” in John 3 verse 16 clearly means that this offer is made to the world.


Bowen LJ stated in Carlill V. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co that a person becomes ‘liable to anyone who, before it is retracted, performs the condition’ this is indicative of the acceptance and shows at what point the acceptance becomes operative, it is where the conditions proposed by offeror are completed by the offeree that the contract becomes binding because that is where acceptance takes place.

Human race is the offeree in salvation, and a person accepts the terms of the contract by believing (whosoever believes in him will not perish but have an everlasting life) God’s condition for giving everlasting life was believing, hence upon belief a contract is formed.


It is important to note here that man could not earn salvation, so there was nothing man could do in an ordinary sense to “buy salvation” so by stating that man had offered a consideration in this paper it should not be understood as meaning man had bought salvation, for the bible has said in Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

God offered eternal life if you believe in him, so it is safe to say that God’s consideration is eternal life through His son Jesus Christ while man’s consideration is his faith and his belief. It is also important to state here that this divine contract is sui generis. This is so because, in this arrangement, God gives the ultimate consideration and grants us grace to perform our part of the contract.

It is important also to state that salvation is a covenant, the new covenant that God has with his people. This is distinguished from the old covenant which mandated the God’s people to keep the law and perform periodic sacrifices to be saved but the new covenant posits that God’s people are saved by grace through faith. The new covenant was expressed in Jeremiah 31:31-34

The day will come,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah… But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,’ says the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people’

This shows that God intended for contractual relationship as it relates to the plan of salvation.


The terms of this contract of salvation as can be seen in the scriptures include;

  1. John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  1. Jeremiah 31:31

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” … “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

  1. Ezekiel 36:26–27

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; … And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

The list is not exhaustive but for want of time, we will work with these. The terms of the contract are:

Upon believing that Jesus Is lord and is raised from the dead, GOD will

  • Offer us eternal life
  • Put his law in our minds and write it on our hearts
  • Be our God and us his people
  • Give us the ability to know him
  • Forgive our wickedness and remember our sins no more
  • Give us a new heart
  • Give us his spirit/ a new spirit
  • Remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh
  • Move us to keep his laws

These and more are part of God’s contractual obligations, if only we keep our part by accepting his ultimate consideration.


This new covenant was sealed with the blood of His son Jesus Christ. As such, God has permanently carried out his own part of the contract. He has given the ultimate consideration.

We humbly deduce that salvation is a form of contract. Better known as a “divine contract”. Divine because, it is an arrangement between God (Divinity) and man. This suggests therefore, that although it has the requisite elements of a contractual agreement it is not subject to the jurisdiction of the earthly courts.

Our recommendation remains that you accept this ultimate consideration and enjoy the benefits of this contract.

[1] [2004] 6 WRN 135

[2] G.H.L. Fridman ‘The Law of Contract in Canada’ 4th Edition, Carswell Thompson Professional Publishing, 1928

[3] I.E. Sagay  ‘Nigerian Law of Contract’ 3rd edition, Spectrum books Limited, 2018

[4] [1893] 1 Q. B. 256.

[5] [1997] 8 NWLR (Pt. 515)

[6] [1990] 5 NWLR (Pt. 152) 604

This article authored by Kenechukwu Agwu, Esq. & Precious Agala
was first published in the 17th Volume of Sound Counsel, A publication of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) August 2023.


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