Sunday, October 29, 2017

Salvation 101 (Part 8) - What Are the Prerequisites for Salvation?

Me: What must I do before I can be saved?

God: Hear me out.

Me: That's it?

God: Yes. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Salvation is a gift from Me for you to believe and accept by faith. Whoever believes in My Son, Jesus Christ, will have eternal life. But, how are you to believe in Him of whom you have never heard?

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Me: But, I've done some bad things in my life. Plus, I know I'm not perfect and will likely offend You in the future as well. Don't I have to somehow make up for that first?

God: No. Christ died for your sins, all of them: past, present, and future. Your personal sins are not an issue in salvation, nor can your future sins undo the salvation I give by My grace. I am completely satisfied in the work of Christ on your behalf to make you utterly righteous and justified in My eyes.

He [Jesus Christ the righteous] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us [Paul and fellow believers, even today] to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses [sins] against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Me: {Later that day...} Awesome! Now I get when and why I was lost and condemned. I could do nothing about my condition, and nothing is what I did.

The "Bad News" is awful. I saw my need for a Savior only You could provide, and provide Him You did. I heard how He did everything You would ever require so I could be reconciled to You. I could rest my weary soul in Him, forever. Amen!

What happened before I was saved? I heard the word of Christ.

I learned enough about salvation from God's perspective in His word to know there was nothing I could do. I did not need to do my best, or anything for that matter, to become salvation-worthy. I believed in Him whom He sent, and salvation was gifted to me.

Even if I behaved perfectly, I could do nothing about my sin nature. Salvation had to be on God's terms because anything done from my sin nature was unacceptable. His terms were simple: turn from thinking I could do things my way and instead trust and rely solely on Christ for my soul salvation.

 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Previously, I had followed plenty of theories about what God required, spoken confidently by religious men in religious buildings, or written by sophisticated theologians. These same stated in so many words of tradition and of their own imaginations that if I was to be saved, it was going to be by the skin of my teeth.

Or, I'd seek an easier message of grace and love for anyone who said they believed, backed with contemporary music and stylish stages to maximize an emotional response. Yet, these messages lacked knowledge and authority from God, and were simply based on acceptance, tolerance, and acts of compassion.

Eventually, I finally understood salvation from God's perspective when I was taught exclusively from His word. Only then could I see the contrast in His thoughts and ways versus man's. Only then could I understand just how much love He expressed and power He exerted for our salvation. It was all Him. I had nothing to offer. Nothing.

as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)

~ ~ ~

I so desire to share with you some of the things I learned about God's perspective of salvation from His word in this blog series, Salvation 101:

1. Saved? Saved From What?
2. Why Do I Need to Be Saved?
3. How Can I Be Saved?
4. What Does It Mean to Be Saved?
5. What Does It Mean to "Work Out Your Own Salvation?"
6. Who Can Be Saved?
7. What About Personal Sins?

In summary, hearing the word of Christ is about listening to God's perspective on:

1. Realizing our lost state and seeing our need for a Savior (the Bad News).

2. Hearing the Gospel, the provision of a Savior, the Good News of the message of reconciliation.

3. Accepting the gift of salvation through faith, trusting Christ for the salvation of your soul.

More to come...

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Salvation 101 (Part 7): What About Personal Sins?

What about our personal sins in regard to salvation? Nothing. Nothing at all.

He [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

There is no regard for our personal sins in regard to salvation.
Personal sins do not count against us.
Personal sins are not counted against anyone.
None of our personal sins are counted against us.

No, not one!

To be saved, don't we have to stop sinning? No!
Don't we need to at least promise to stop sinning? No!

Why not?

Because personal sins are not an issue in salvation. Not at all!

How is this possible?

We know God's perfect righteousness demanded complete justice, and someone had to pay the price of sins. Well, Jesus Christ fulfilled that requirement perfectly, once and for all. It was paid once, and it was paid for all.

All personal sins that were ever committed or would ever be committed were counted to Christ when He suffered and died on the cross. Christ paid the entire price in full for the sins of the whole world, even for sins that haven't even been committed yet.

Therefore, anyone can be truthfully told, "Christ died for your sins," because He did, whether they believe it or not. That is, even if sinners do not believe Christ died for their sins, it's still a fact that He did die for their sins.

However, ...

"I knew it! There's a catch." No, not exactly. There's no catch, just a point of clarity. Christ dying for the sins of the world does not automatically result in individual reconciliation with the Father. The sacrifice Christ made completely satisfied the Father's justice and righteous requirements. But, sinners remain lost if they resist the Holy Spirit's testimony that Jesus is the Christ. Individual reconciliation with the Father is a result of belief (trust and reliance) in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Scripture references:

How do we know from Scripture (not opinion) that the Father was completely satisfied with the sacrifice Christ made for the payment of the sins of the whole world?

He [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

What further evidence do we have that this means our personal sins are not being counted against us?

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:18-19)

When or how are we saved and reconciled to the Father? Salvation is as simple as John 3:16. (See other posts in this blog series, Salvation 101.)

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

How do we know that those who resist the Holy Spirit's testimony about Jesus Christ remain lost?

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)

Final Comments...

The Gospel is not just Good News, but really Great News because of this, because personal sins are not an issue. Christ destroyed that barrier for reconciliation with the Father.

Salvation, as a result, is simple; simple, but not always easy. It's our sin nature that begs to have a part in being justified. Surely, we must do something to please God whom we've offended. But, righteousness does not come from us or anything we do, it comes from God as a gift. It's what He has accomplished through Christ. We only need accept the work He has done. Believe and be saved.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe
(Romans 3:20-22a)

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 
(Romans 3:22b-26)

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
(Romans 4:4-5)

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. 
(Ephesians 2:8-9)