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The plan of salvation is that Jesus would die for our sins and His payment would bring us into fellowship with God. Then we will boldly be able to come to the throne, to obtain mercy and grace. This is the part that Jesus plays. Because of the blood that makes us free from sin, He is able to bring us into fellowship with God.
That is HIS part. What is our part? This is where things get tricky for some people. There is a lot of people saying, “Salvation is by belief only, there is no repentance needed.”
There are also plenty of people saying salvation comes by doing good works out there. There are many other beliefs about salvation that people teach as well.
So, let’s lay down what we have been taught for just a moment. We are going to look at the Bible objectively to see what (if anything) our part is in obtaining salvation. What is the way that the Bible tells us how to be saved?
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Have you ever had someone give you a free gift? Maybe for your birthday, or just because? You didn’t have to do anything for it, … right?
Well, let me give you an illustration. Let’s say I am giving you 1 million dollars. You can pick it up at, … oh, wait. No, I guess you can’t go to pick it up if you don’t have a part to play.
I’ll tell you what, how about I just wire the money right into your account? Oh, … sorry, I guess you would have to give me your bank information.
Hmmm, … well here, I’ll just put it in your hand. Well, … don’t just stand there! What are you going to do with it?! Oh, … well, I guess it’s sort of worthless to you, isn’t it? You can’t actually DO anything with it.
Salvation is the same way. God is offering this whole world the free gift of salvation. But, that doesn’t mean nothing is required from us to accept it.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
We have already shared information in unit 2 about the wrath and judgment of God against the wicked. This wrath comes upon all that are unforgiven. So we see in the Bible a clear image that some will be saved, and some will not.
2 Thessalonians 2:12
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
It is painfully obvious that this free gift isn’t just thrust upon us. God does not force anyone to be saved. He gives us the choice. Therefore, even though salvation is a free gift (as it was paid for by Jesus) we have a part to play in receiving that gift.
Many people know that the Bible says you must, “believe on Jesus and you shall be saved.” But, this is actually an incomplete teaching. This is only from one scripture. The Bible says there are more things than just believing that a person must do in order to accept this gift.
I’m going to give you a list of the requirements and the verses that go along with them. Later in this unit, we will examine what each of these requirements means.
Remember, these are verses in the Bible. If you disagree with the requirements listed then you are at odds with God, not me. The requirements of salvation are as follows:
1. Believe the gospel.
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
We will talk about repentance in a future unit. It doesn’t just mean turning from unbelief to belief. It also means turning from sin to holiness. I would also like to tell you that this does not mean a Christian who falls into sin is lost or has not truly repented. We will cover all of that soon.
3. Confess that you believe.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Again, we will be talking more about this in detail soon.
4. Be baptized.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
I should tell you that there is more than one type of baptism. The baptism it speaks of here is not water baptism. This subject will be covered soon as well.
5. Continue in the faith.
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
1 Timothy 2:15
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Again, just because someone falls into sin it does not mean they have left the faith. We will talk about this in a future unit as well.
Many people do not know what faith actually is. They think it is just another word for belief. But, this is untrue. The Bible actually defines faith in Hebrews 11:1 as substance and evidence of belief. Meaning faith is a belief that produces something tangible and visible. It is proof that you believe.
It is because of this misunderstanding about faith that many people have errors in their theology. Many boldly proclaim salvation by grace, while forgetting it is also THROUGH faith. The error is the thought that, as many put it, there is no work in faith and thus nothing but belief is required.
But, since faith is a belief that produces works we have to understand the statement, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
By grace are you saved – We begin with grace. God has grace towards us. So in His mercy, He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins. We didn’t earn His grace or deserve it.
Through faith – We get the gift of salvation through having faith. Meaning, we believe and that belief produces works (repentance). Without the two, together, a person can not rightly claim to have faith. They may have a belief, but that is different.
Not of ourselves – Even with belief AND works (which equals faith), we could not change the fact that we have committed sin and are on the way to hell. No amount of good works is enough to cover even one sin.
It is the gift of God – Because of what Jesus did we can be free from the guilt of sin. This gift was not earned. Because we can not make it with our belief and works alone. But, we do accept it through faith.
To sum this up, it is not by our own ability to do works that we are saved. It is by grace which we accept through faith (a belief which produces works).
Many become confused about this. They think that if works are involved at all then salvation is “owed to us.” It is no longer a free gift since we are “purchasing it.” But, this is not true. Even with works, we must be saved by the grace of God, because our own works are not enough to purchase salvation.
As the Bible says, our righteousness is as filthy rags. So no amount of belief with good works is going to pay the debt of death we owe. One single sin would be enough to send us to hell (and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God).
Even with works being added to our belief it does not mean we have a works based salvation. Because our salvation must still be by grace. We only accept it by faith. Our works do not earn anything. Our belief earns nothing. But if our belief is true then it will bring works, naturally. That’s REAL faith.
In other words, if you have no works then you have no faith. If you have faith then it will produce works. God saves you for the sake of that which produces the works, not the works themselves.
As you can see, the Bible lists these 5 things to tell us how to be saved. These are things that WE must do to be saved. But, if you really want to break it down into its most basic form, the message is that we must repent of our sins and continue in the faith. The reason it can be broken down into these two is because the other 3 come naturally.
For example, you can’t repent unless you hear the gospel and believe it. So you have the first 2 requirements rolled up into one. You also can’t continue in the faith without baptism and confession. So if you repent and continue, it goes without saying that you have also believed, been baptized, and confessed.
Now, there is also an order to the steps you need to take. Just like receiving a free gift, you can’t unwrap it until you first put your hands on it.
I listed the 5 requirements in the order that I did because that is the order in which they are carried out.
First, we believe the gospel, then we repent of our sins, then we make our confession/baptism (we will explain why these 2 can be one and the same in another unit), then we continue in the faith.
In the next units, we are going to talk about each one of these requirements in more detail.
February 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm | | 4 comments