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SALVATION: GOD’S FREE GIFT
WHAT IS SALVATION?
Salvation is being saved from spending an eternity in hell, God’s punishment for our sins, including the sin of unbelief; and once saved, we receive eternal life as children of God.
What must we do to be saved? In simple terms, all we need to do is believe on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That said, it’s important to know and understand the gospel so we can be sure of our own salvation, and also so we may carry it in our hearts, always ready to share it with others without hesitation.
Before looking at the specifics, let’s start with John 3:16 which shows the centrality of Jesus to salvation, through whose sacrifice we are washed clean of our sins, and that by believing on him we’re granted the gift of everlasting life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Note: All red words on this page are the words of Jesus.
What You Need to Know to Be Saved
As Paul refers to it throughout his epistles to the churches and the saints (the saved), here is the gospel of Christ, the everlasting gospel (with the words of Jesus in red):
The gospel is also known as the good news.
- We are all sinners
- The penalty for sin is eternal torment in hell
- Jesus was crucified, buried and raised again for our salvation
- Jesus is the only way to God the Father
- We are saved by grace through faith, not our “good” works
- Repentance is not a work, but faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin
- Once saved, we have eternal life and our salvation is secure, as long as we continue to abide in Christ and do not turn away from God
- We must put all of our faith in Jesus Christ and call upon his name to be saved
We Are All Sinners and the Penalty for Sin Is Death
There is no way of getting around this as it’s clear in the Bible that sin includes not only lying (something we’ve all done) but unbelief itself. The Bible reads:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
The sins in this verse that most of us will relate to are those of fear, unbelief and lying. While they might seem to be minor transgressions to us, they are counted worthy of eternal damnation by God. And it only takes just one of these sins to be cast into the lake of fire.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
This is the “bad news” that we all need to understand. We might think we’re living a good, moral life but that’s not the same as living a sinless life. Only Jesus lived a sinless life. If we convince ourselves that we are living a sinless life, the Bible tells us we’re deceiving ourselves:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
Romans 6:23 concisely shows both the bad and the good news: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In addition to showing us the clear choice between death and eternal life, the above verse also tells us that we receive eternal life as a gift. This means that it’s freely given and will not be taken away; otherwise it would not be a gift but a conditional loan.
Jesus Was Crucified, Buried & Raised Again for Our Salvation
Jesus came into this world to lay down his life for our salvation:
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:15)
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:18)
Jesus, the last sacrificial Passover lamb, shed his blood on the cross for the salvation of all mankind. When we put all of our faith in Jesus as our Savior we are cleansed by his blood and our sins are forgiven. As saved Christians, we are born again as children of God and, thereby, are spared from his wrath.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:8-9)
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
When Jesus died he went to hell for three days and three nights, a continuation of suffering to pay for our sins.
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. (Acts 2:31)
Jesus Is THE Way
Jesus is the only way to be saved, the only way to God. It is only through our faith and trust in Jesus Christ that we are saved, and it is only through him that we come to God the Father. We cannot say we have faith in God and not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. (John 5:23)
At this point it’s good to remind ourselves of John 3:16, this time reading it in context with verses 17 and 18:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
The consequence of believing, or not, on Jesus Christ as the Son of God is also abundantly clear in this verse, also from John 3:
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)
Saved by Grace through Faith
A crucially important part of the gospel is understanding that we are saved by grace through faith, that salvation has nothing to do with us being a “good” person or living a “good” life. Or even doing great works for God. Once we know and truly understand that we all come short of the glory of God, we must also realize that there’s nothing we can do in this world that will cause us to be worthy to be saved.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The following passage from Matthew 7 shows that our works count for nought, and that what’s important is doing the will of the Father.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)
Some might assume that “the will of my Father” is referring to keeping the law, which is works, but read again John 3:16-18 which shows God’s will is that the world, through Jesus, might be saved. And further into the Book of John, Jesus states:
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
When we are saved we are born again spiritually, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus the Pharisee.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:3-6)
Repentance Toward God & Faith in Jesus Christ
It’s important to have a clear understanding of repentance. As we can see from the below verse, it’s inextricably connected to our faith in Jesus Christ. They are two sides of the same coin.
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
Some insist, falsely, that we must cease from all sin in order to be saved; not only is this a false teaching, accomplishing this is likely to be difficult when relying solely on our own strength. However, when we come to Christ and abide in Him, the Holy Spirit will empower us and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). In other words, the Holy Spirit will continue to sanctify us as we continue our walk in Christ.
We are justified — that is, made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ through faith in Him — the moment that we believe and are, thereby, saved. In other words, justification and salvation are one and the same thing, and occur the moment we believe on Jesus. Sanctification, on the other hand, is a process of growing in the Lord and bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit. This process of being sanctified will continue throughout the remainder of our lifetime in this world.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)
Since sanctification is a process, being saved doesn’t mean we will live in “sinless perfection”, but when we sin we have an advocate in Jesus (1 John 2:1) and God is faithful and just to forgive us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Eternal Security & Everlasting Life
Not only is salvation as simple as wholehearted faith in Jesus but we can also rest in the knowledge that our salvation is secure. The moment we are saved we are sealed by God until the day of resurrection, and are given the Holy Spirit as the assurance of our future resurrection.
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
Our salvation is also eternal. This means God will not forsake us once we’re saved as we have become children of God, the Good Shepherd’s sheep. When we are given eternal life it’s exactly that — eternal, everlasting.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
The above verses clearly show we are given eternal life when we’re saved. In John 10:28-29 Jesus says two crucial things: that he gives his sheep eternal life and that no man is able to pluck his sheep out of his Father’s hand. Given that Jesus is both the Word (John 1:1) and the truth (John 14:6), we know that his words are true.
Knowing that we have eternal life — now, not at some point in the future — we must also understand that this is not a license to sin as God will punish us here on earth.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:6-8)
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
However, as God has given us free will — not only to come to him through Christ but also to turn away from him and return to the world — our salvation is only secure if we continue to abide in Christ, otherwise we will be cast into the fire.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:4-6)
Call Upon Jesus Christ to Be Saved
The Bible is very clear about what we need to do to be saved. Once we understand and believe the gospel all we need to do is call upon Jesus’ name to be saved.
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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
When Peter speaks of Jesus to the rulers and elders of Israel, he states unequivocally:
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)
And in Jesus’ own words, when speaking to Lazarus’ sister Martha:
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26)
If we truly believe the gospel in our heart and are willing to put all of our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can confess with our mouths by praying a simple prayer of salvation, such as the one below.
PRAYER OF SALVATION
Jesus, today I choose to follow you.
Forgive me for my sins and rebellion against you.
I know I deserve punishment in hell for every sin I have committed, but I believe your death by crucifixion, burial and resurrection paid the penalty for my sins.
Please save me and give me the gift of eternal life.
Help me to walk in your ways, and to abide, daily, in your Word.
Help me to love God with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind, and all of my strength.
Help me to love my neighbor as myself and to not hold grudges, but to always forgive others.
Give me a clean heart and renew within me a right spirit.
Jesus, I confess you as Lord and am trusting only in you.
Thank you, Jesus.