DEALING WITH SALVATION
ARE YOU SAVED AND KNOW IT? WHAT ARE YOU SAVED FROM?
One of the hardest things for some people to understand is that the forgiveness of our sins and the granting of salvation, in terms of being justified, are not things that we can earn or deserve through living a good life and trying to be good, or through our own effort or merit. It is a free gift by God’s grace (undeserved favor) in response to our faith. Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace (Luke 7:50).” Also, we read in Titus 3:5-7 that God saved us, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
What does salvation mean? Salvation simply means to be saved, or delivered, from the result of sin – eternal death. I think a concise definition of salvation can be summed up in one word: deliverance. Man needs to be saved, delivered from eternal death, and to be given the gift of God, which is eternal life. That is why salvation is necessary, and why Jesus came to earth as a human being, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19: 10).” We are all lost to the penalty of sin – eternal death, and the only way to be delivered from that penalty is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Let us now turn to the Bible and see what it has to say on this issue.
HOW CAN I BE SAVED?
This is the most important question of a person’s life. First, you must realize that you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Secondly, you must believe that Christ died for your sins. First Peter 2:24 says, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree….”
This means that Christ took our punishment, our guilt, our shame, our judgement – and everything that we deserve – and bore it all for us at Calvary’s Cross.
All you have to do, therefore, is to come directly and personally to Him and say, “Lord Jesus, I believe that I am a sinner and that you died for my sins. Now I receive you as my personal Lord and Savior and my very best friend.”
If you come to the Lord in this manner, God will save you right now, for the Scripture offers this assurance: “For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:13).”
Salvation is a free gift from God apart from any work we can do (Eph. 2:8-9). We cannot be saved by trusting in priests, our church, our giving’s, our baptism, ceremonies, traditions or any other works. Faith in Jesus Christ alone brings salvation.
HOW WERE PEOPLE SAVED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT TIMES?
In every age, salvation has always been by grace. Man in the flesh is powerless to do one single thing that would give him merit in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). So, it is foolish to talk about men doing something to merit salvation.
We can go back almost 2000 years before the birth of Christ for the example of Abraham. He “…. believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:3).” Paul uses this example to show that Abraham, as a Gentile and uncircumcised, was justified by faith apart from works. Adam, Able, Seth and all the rest of the Old Testament saints were saved by grace through faith, and there is no other way.
CAN SALVATION BE OBTAINED BY OBEYING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?
Not according to the apostle Paul who had this to say in Romans 3:20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His site by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”
Look, even if you were to attempt to obey all the Law of Moses, you still could not be saved that way, because you could never manage to obey it all or to keep it up all the time. Nobody ever has, except Jesus. What then was the main purpose of the law of Moses? Paul says it is to enable us to see our sin – to give knowledge of or about sin. In other words, God did not give the Jewish people the Law of Moses so that they could be saved by keeping it. Contrary to what many assume, that was never its purpose.
It was given so that they could see clearly, from their failure to keep it, that they were sinners. It proved that they needed God’s forgiveness. It was like a mirror in which they could see themselves for what they were – sinners, just like you and me. A mirror does not improve your appearance. It merely shows you what you look like.
IF WORKS HAVE NO PART IN SALVATION, WHY THEN DOES SCRIPTURE SAY IN JAMES 2:21 THAT ABRAHAM WAS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS?
James is speaking about justification in the sight of man. All that man can see are our good works. Man looks upon the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). We are justified by works before man, but Paul tells us in Romans 4:2-5 that we are justified by faith before God, holy apart from works. Abraham’s salvation was all of grace through faith.
As I have stated before, we are told in Romans 4:3 that “…. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” However, Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice as the evidence of his faith (Genesis 22:1-13). In this way, he was justified by works before man, but he had already been justified by faith before God (Genesis 15:5-6).
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF PHILIPPIANS 2:12: “…WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION…?”
Please note that this verse does not say, “Work for your salvation.” Rather, it says, “Work out your own salvation.” This means that we should demonstrate and put into practice the salvation God has already given us. In other words, if we own the name of Christ, we should act like we own the name of Christ.
IF A PERSON DIES WITHOUT CONFESSING HIS SINS, WILL THEY BE SAVED?
If salvation dependent upon confession, the answer would be yes, but we learn in Acts 16:31 and Romans 1:16 that salvation depends solely upon one’s faith in Jesus Christ. God’s word declares; “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…. (1 John 5:1).” Therefore, it is not our confession, but our faith in Christ that saves.
IS A PERSON SAVED WHO IS TRUSTING IN BAPTISM FOR SALVATION?
No. A person cannot be trusting in baptism and Christ at the same time. Christ does not help save. He is either Lord of all or Lord not at all. The Scripture is clear: “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise, grace is no longer grace…. (Romans 11:6). This tells us that works, and grace cannot be mixed together in the matter of salvation. Salvation is always by grace through faith plus nothing (Eph. 2:8-9).
WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT ACTIVE IN SALVATION PRIOR TO CHRIST?
The Holy Spirit was in the world and worked in salvation just as He works today. The baptismal work of the Holy Spirit however – which places believers in the Body of Christ – did not occur until Day of Pentecost. Old Testament believers were not permanently indwelt with the Holy Spirit as we are today.
In John 14:17, Jesus spoke of the new work of the Holy Spirit, when He said: “The Holy Spirit now dwells with you; but in the future He shall be in you.” Today, the Holy Spirit dwells in the body of every saved person from the moment of salvation (1 Cor. 6:19, Rom. 8:9, and John 7:37-39).
WHY DID GOD COVER ADAM AND EVE WITH ANIMAL SKINS?
Contrary to what some may think, God did not cover Adam and Eve with skins to hide their physical nakedness. The aprons of fig leaves did that already. God had made the first prophecy of Messiah (Christ) in Genesis 3:15; now He makes the first animal sacrifice to point to Christ’s blood atonement for sin.
BOTTOM LINE – The real evidence of salvation is knowing in your heart that you have really and truly trusted Christ as your all-sufficient Lord and Savior (Romans 5:5). We also need to realize that salvation is dependent upon our relationship with Christ through faith – not upon the things we do or things we don’t do.
A CLOSING PLEA … ARE YOU SAVED?
Many people who call themselves Christians don’t know they’re saved. They go around with there shoulders all bent over – drooping, wandering, and worrying. They remind me of question marks with their heads bent over, rather than an exclamation mark standing straight and tall and saying, “I know who I have believed!” Rather than being shouting Christians, they’re doubting Christians. Rather than having a “know-so” salvation, they have a “hope-so” salvation. Born- again believers ought to be able to say, “Praise God! Glory to God! I know that I’m saved!” Remember, heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.
Let me ask you this: “Have you given your life to the Lord?” Do you have the assurance that if you were to die right now, you would go straight to heaven? If not, please let me tell you how you can be saved.
First, you must understand that you are a sinner. The Bible says, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).”
Second, you must understand that you cannot save yourself by your own efforts or merit. The Bible is very clear that it’s “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us (Titus 3:5).”
Third, you must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for your sins. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” That means He died in your place. Your sin debt has been paid by the blood of Jesus, which “cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).”
Fourth, you must put your faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone for your salvation. The blood of Christ does you no good until you receive Him by faith. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).
Have you ever taken this all-important step of faith? If not, I urge you to do so right now. Why? Because Jesus is the only way to heaven! Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle Peter said in Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).” It couldn’t be any clearer than that!
Do you believe this? If you do and want to begin a relationship with God, you can do so right now by asking Him to come into your heart; to be the Lord of your life. Want to make this commitment but you are not sure how to put it in words, this following prayer may help:
“Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying for the forgiveness of my sins and for offering me your righteousness and your resurrected life. I now accept by faith your gift of salvation and I ask you to come into my heart and to be my Lord and Savior and my very best friend. Through your Holy Spirit, teach me about your love and grace and about the new life that you have given me. Please begin the work of making me into the person you want me to be. Amen.”
These words will not save you, there is nothing magical in them; anyone can repeat a sentence. It is when you believe with your heart and put your faith in Christ Jesus; that’s what saves you. There is no magic formula in what to say or how to say it but it’s your attitude and expression of your heart that really counts.
If you truly believe in your heart and you prayed this prayer, the Spirit of God has come to dwell within you forever and you have begun the great adventure for which you were created as a child of God. Now you and I are brothers or sisters in Christ. Welcome to God’s family. Welcome to Christ’s body of believers.