A Simple Message for a Simple Salvation

First Things, First The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). The Bible is a marvelous book which answers many of the questions that people have asked for centuries. But every other question and every other concern pales in comparison to “What must I do to be saved?” In the passage of scripture we just read Paul said of “first importance” was that Christ died for our sins. The Bible makes clear that God holds all people accountable for the lives they live and the choices they make (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:5-11). When we do the things which displease God we sin, literally “miss the mark”. Everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23). If we are going to be right with God we have to be first saved from our sins. That’s why Jesus died on the cross, to save you and me from our sins. God, since He is holy and just, demands that the ultimate price be paid for our sins. But it is also true that God, since He is loving and merciful, has provided the payment for our sins. Both of these truths are found in one verse. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When Jesus was crucified He paid the price for my sin and yours. Please take a few minutes now and read the Bible’s account of Jesus’ death in Matthew 27:33-54. On that cross and in His death He bore all the sins of all people for all time. He paid the price so that we could be right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). After Jesus died His body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb belonging to a man named Joseph (Matthew 27:59,60). If the story stopped there it would be another sad ending like so many others. But what happened next was God’s crowning achievement. At the point when Jesus’ followers felt their deepest despair, when they thought they had seen all of their Lord’s work and words slammed shut behind a slab of stone, when Satan surely must have thought he’d won–God did something amazing. He raised Jesus from the dead. Not “spiritually” or “symbolically” or “in a sense”. He raised Him. His silent heart started beating. His blood that had stopped cold started running warm. His lungs filled with air, His eyes opened and He rose! He rose to show us that death is not the end. His resurrection is a promise to you and to me that what God did for His Son, He will do for you and me. He rose to show us the power of God. If God can raise the dead (He can, He has and He will again) what problem or crisis do you and I have that He cannot handle? More than anything else, God wants you to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He gave His Son, Jesus, so that would be possible. There is no other way (John 14:6). Your Part, And You Do Have A Part God has taken the initiative to save us from our sins. The message of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, otherwise know in the New Testament as the gospel, is the “power of God for salvation,” (Romans 1:16). But is there anything that we have to do in order to receive the gift of salvation? First of all let’s look at two passages in the Bible. One gives us Jesus’ words just before he left this earth to be with His Father. There He answers the simple, yet all-important question, “What must I do to be saved.” And He gives it a simple, yet all-important answer. In Mark 16:15 Jesus commands His apostles to go and preach the good news to the entire world. Then in verse 16 He tells His apostles what our response must be to that gospel. He states simply “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but He who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” When we do what He tells us to (believe and be baptized) He does what He said He would (save us from our sins). It is no more complicated than that. To believe in Jesus and the facts of His gospel is to trust Him completely. It is to leave behind the days when you thought you could get to heaven by being “good enough”. You can’t. Salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10). It’s not something you earn or deserve by compiling a certain number of points. But believing in Jesus is also leaving behind living your life your way. When we come to God through faith in Christ we surrender our will to God’s will. That, too, is a matter of grace. Because we’ve all made a mess of our lives doing things our way or the world’s way. One thing God saves us from is ourselves. Then in Acts 2 we have the record of Jesus’ gospel first being preached. The apostle Peter is preaching the message given to him from God when those who heard him were convicted of their sin and anxiously ask, “What shall we do?” Peter’s answer is simply this “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). To repent is to turn away from our old life of sin and turn to serving God. This new life is what God wants for you. And He has made it free to you if you will trust Him and obey Him. What About Baptism? What is the truth about baptism? Is it, as some say, unnecessary for salvation? Is baptism a work of merit that earns us anything before God? Is it merely a symbol that points to what has already taken place? To find the answer, the correct answer, we need to go to the Bible. Let’s see what Jesus and His apostles taught and what the first century church believed. Jesus said that before one can enter the kingdom of God he must be “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). Then, in a passage we’ve already looked at He said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Much of the religious teaching today changes up the order of Jesus’ words. Some believe “He who believes shall be saved and then he is baptized.” Who shall we take for our authority, man or God? The rest of the New Testament, where it addresses the purpose of baptism, makes clear its significance. Please take your Bible and read these passages for yourself: Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-7; Galatians 3:26,27; Colossians 2:11,12. In the book of Acts when someone believed the gospel they were baptized then (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 8:36-38; 16:14,15; 16:33) not at a baptismal ceremony a few weeks later. Let’s look at some of the things that are said by sincere people about baptism and see if Scripture supports them. 1. Some say that baptism is “an outward sign of an inward grace”, that it merely symbolizes what has already taken place. Wouldn’t you think that if that were true, that such a description could be found somewhere in the New Testament? But it cannot. Baptism does not symbolize what has already happened, it portrays what is happening. When we are baptized we are dying to our old self, contacting Jesus’ death, and being united with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:1-7). The Bible tells us that when we are baptized we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). The Bible tells us that “Baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience– through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21). We earn nothing when we are baptized. It is God’s work that saves us at the point of baptism, not our own. Most people who teach that baptism is not necessary for salvation teach that to be saved you need to “pray the sinners prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart.” Again, if such were the case, don’t you think we would be able to find a Bible passage that teaches that? Yet none exists. The verse that is usually used is Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” But when you read the context of verses 14-22 you see that Jesus isn’t talking to people who have never been saved but to a sinful church that has shut Him out. 2. Some say that having water sprinkled or poured on an infant is baptism. While the desire of parents to dedicate their child to the Lord is admirable, this act is of men and not of God. Biblical baptism is for people who are aware that they are sinners, who believe in the gospel of Jesus and who can make a decision of their own to serve God (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). It is also important to note here that the English word “baptize” is derived from the Greek word “baptizo” which means “to dip, plunge or immerse”. Sprinkling or pouring simply isn’t biblical baptism. Only immersion of those who believe the gospel is biblical baptism. God Wants You To Be Saved God’s message about salvation is really simple. It is the teachings of men through the ages that have made it complicated. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins and that He was buried and raised to give you an eternal hope? Are you ready now to make Him the Lord of your life and be clothed with Him in baptism? May God bless you as you think about the most important decision of your life. Brad Fry

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Published in: on October 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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