What Do We Know About Salvation?
The central message of the Bible is salvation through Jesus. The only way to go to heaven is to be in Jesus Christ. Do you feel lost? Are you dealing with guilt and discouragement because of past sins? In the book of Job man's condition was described with the words, "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue." (Job 14:1-2) There is only one answer to man's lost spiritual state. Jesus is that answer. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)
The Bible is very specific in teaching that there is one body or one church, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God. (Ephesians 4:1-6) Many believe that all gods and all religions are acceptable as long as a person sincerely follows what he believes to be right. However, the Bible reveals that the one true God is honored only by loving obedience. Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:23) Peter said, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (Acts 5:30-31) To Zacchaeus the Lord said, "This day is salvation come to this house." (Luke 19:9)
What do we know about salvation?
We know that salvation is necessary because of man's "sin problem." What is sin? Man does not set the standard of right and wrong. The result of man doing right in his own eyes is always confusion. "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6) God has revealed what is right and what is wrong. This revelation of right and wrong is the Bible. We sin when we do not follow what is written in God's word. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4) Sin is a matter of choice. Infants do not inherit sin from parents. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." (Ezekiel 18:20) Satan makes sin so enticing that all have been overcome by its power. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Sin brings pleasure. But, the pleasure of sin lasts only for a short time. Moses chose, "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin." (Hebrews 11:25)
We know that salvation is necessary because of the result of sin. Sin breaks fellowship with God. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) Sin is often taken too lightly by the world, and also by the church. Sin causes God to turn His face from us. The Bible reveals the seriousness of sin by showing its consequences. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Sin causes spiritual death or separation from God. This separation exists in this life, but it will exist in an even greater way in the life to come. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelations 21:8) God is perfect in His Holiness and therefore cannot tolerate sin. "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness..." (Habakkuk 1:13) God must and will punish every sin committed by man. Because the problem of sin is universal, and because man cannot save himself, man should be interested in God's solution to the problem of sin.
We know that salvation is possible because Jesus suffered as our sin sacrifice. Jesus lived a perfect life and gave Himself for the sins of the world. He took my place and by dying on the cross satisfied God's wrath. "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8) God punished Jesus in our place. "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24) Jesus suffered for sins once, the just for the unjust so that He might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18) If it were not for the death of Jesus God would have no choice but to punish man for his own sins. God "demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:26) The gospel is the good news that Christ suffered sin's penalty in man's place. Jesus is our only hope. If we reject Him we will be lost.
We know that salvation is available only through Jesus Christ. Peter said, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) A person must be in Christ in order to receive eternal salvation from God. John wrote, "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36) (ASV) Jesus Christ is the only way to the salvation offered by God the Father. Those that go to heaven will be those that are faithful in Christ. You either love and obey Jesus and go to heaven or refuse Him and die without hope. The choices that we make in this life concerning Jesus will determine where we will be in eternity. John wrote forcefully, "And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life." (1 John 5:11-12) Through Jesus and His precious blood you can be saved from your past sins. Those that die without Christ will die lost, forever.
We know that God desires salvation for every person. God does not want any person to be lost. He has given each of us the freedom to choose where we will spend eternity. God desires the salvation of all. He "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4) However, He will not force even one person to be saved against his will. How many of us does the Lord want to perish? The answer is, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) Anyone willing to come to God can be saved. Among the last words in the Bible we read, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17) If you are lost you cannot blame God!
We know how to obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. Faith is the beginning point of an acceptable relationship with God. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) All that are saved from sin must hear the gospel of Christ. Hearing and learning is necessary in order for salvation to be brought about. (John 6:44-45) Those that are saved must come to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24) None can have salvation without hearing and believing the salvation message. (Mark 16:15-16)
Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change in action or a change in life. Repentance is produced by an appreciation of God's goodness. "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4) Repentance is also produced by a fear of punishment. "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3)
A simple confession of faith in Jesus made by one's mouth is a necessary step in conversion. "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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10)
Those that put on Christ must be baptized into Christ. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27) At baptism sins are washed away. "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) At baptism one stops being out of Christ.
Salvation is a wonderful gift from God. Treasure it! Always walk hand in hand with Jesus so nothing will stand between you and heaven.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA