A Biblical Understanding of Salvation.
(Man’s need for salvation)
Man’s need for salvation begins with an understanding of what the Bible has to say about man’s sin. The Bible teaches that every single person is a sinner (Romans 3:23; 1 Kings 8:46). Man’s sin has caused him to have both a relational and a judicial problem with God.
Man’s relational problem with God is that his sin has caused a separation between him and God (Isaiah 59:1–2). Man’s relational problem with God can also be seen by the fact that man considers God to be his enemy (Romans 5:10). Man lives a life of hostility with God and he cannot please God (Romans 8:6–8). Man’s judicial problem with God is that his sin has placed him under the just sentence of death (Romans 6:23). The just wrath of God is upon man because of man’s sin (Romans 1:18) and he is considered to be a child of wrath because of his sinful nature (Ephesians 2:3). Thus, man’s greatest problem is that his sin has separated him from God and because man is a sinner he must die. If man’s greatest problem is his sin, then man’s greatest need is to be saved from his sin.
There is nothing that man can do to save himself from his sin. Man is considered to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). Thus, he cannot perform any act that would be spiritually good; God considers all of man’s good deeds to be filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Man can never gain a right standing before God by performing good deeds (Romans 3:19–20; Galatians 3:16). An understanding of man’s inability to save himself heightens an understanding of man’s need for salvation. Only God can save man from man’s sin and He does this through the gospel.
A Biblical Understanding of the Gospel
(Man’s means of salvation)
The word gospel means good news. The Bible speaks of a gospel that is the gospel of God (Romans 1:2; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:8). Thus, the gospel of God is God’s good news about salvation. The Apostle Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes … (Romans 1:16). The Bible teaches that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that who so ever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). The Bible teaches that God demonstrated His own love towards sinners in that while man was yet a sinner Christ died for man (Romans 5:8). In Galatians 1:4, the Bible teaches that it was God’s will for Jesus to give Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age.
The Apostle Paul clearly summarizes the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4. He defines the gospel as Jesus Christ dying for our sins according to Scriptures and being buried and raised again on the third day according to Scriptures. It was stated above that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 provides the content of what one must believe in order to be saved. If you want to be saved from your sin, you must believe that Jesus died for your sins on the cross and that Jesus was buried and raised again from the grave. For by grace you have been saved through faith … (Ephesians 2:8).
Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). Acts 4:12 states that there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 16:31 teaches that those who believe in the Lord Jesus will be saved. The Apostle Paul stated “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” He also said, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed,” and that “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9,11,13).
The gospel is based upon the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Some may ask why it was necessary for God to allow His Son to be crucified on a cross before He would forgive man’s sin. God is a God of love and He does want to forgive the sins of man. But, God is also a holy God and He must uphold His righteousness which demands a just payment for sin. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross satisfied the righteousness of God in a manner that allowed God to lovingly forgive sins while at the same time maintaining His justice (Romans 3:25–26). Through the cross, God was able to demonstrate His love towards man, while at the same time upholding His law.
The Bible states that Jesus Christ is the lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The Bible teaches that Jesus was bearing the sin of man while He was being crucified on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). Above it was stated that man’s sin has caused man to have judicial problem with God. Clearly, Jesus’ death on the cross has dealt with man’s judicial problem with God. There is no condemnation for those who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1). It was also stated above that man’s sin has caused man to have a relational problem with God. Just as God put man’s sin on His Son, so God will put the righteousness of His Son on every one who believes in His Son. The moment a person confesses faith in Jesus Christ, God places the righteousness of Christ on that person. The enmity that was caused by sin is gone and that person is reconciled with God. From that moment God will see that person as He sees His Son: righteous and without sin (2 Corinthians 5:20–21). Faith alone in Christ alone is the only means of dealing with the sinner’s relational and judicial problems with God.
A Biblical Understanding of Obedience
(Man’s response to salvation)
The only act of obedience that saves is the obedience to the command to believe in Jesus (John 6:28). Obedience will never be the means of salvation, but obedience is always the result of salvation. Those who put genuine faith in Jesus will obey Jesus. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” (John 10:27). The Apostle John clearly associates the practice of righteousness with the child of God and the practice of sin with the child of the devil (1 John 3:7–10). The Apostle Paul strongly condemns the idea that one who is saved by grace through faith would live in unrepentant sin (Romans 6:1-2). In Romans 6:15–18, the Apostle Paul clearly teaches that those who are saved by grace are not going to desire to live a life of unrepentant sin. This is because the believer is no longer a slave of sin, but is now a slave of righteousness.
A biblical understanding of obedience should never be equated with sinless perfection. The Bible clearly teaches that no man is without sin (1 John 1:8). The Bible does not teach that one can obtain sinless perfection during one’s earthly life. The only time the believer will ever become sinless, is when the believer is ushered into the presence of Jesus. This is the great hope of the true believer in Jesus Christ, and because of this hope, the true believer will spend time in this life purifying himself (1 John 3:1-3).