Salvation—Great News!

Being a Christian means having a relationship—a relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth, a relationship with the One who loves us so much that He died for us though we did not deserve it nor even desire it. The most important decision any individual will ever make is the decision to receive God’s grace gift of eternal life through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ or to reject this precious gift. Those who accept this gift will become new people. Those who reject it will continue to be “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Salvation is necessary due to our sin, it is possible through Christ’s death and resurrection, it is attainable through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ and it is infinitely beneficial to all who receive it.

I.    Salvation Is Necessary Due to Sin

Sin can be defined as anything contrary to the character of God. God is holy, righteous, just and separate from any evil or wickedness. Conversely, all humans are sinners by their very nature at birth as well as by the deeds they commit. In the eyes of God, all men are created equally guilty, for all men are descendents of Adam, the first sinner. Romans 5:12 says, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” No one is exempt, for God’s Word declares that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Both physical and spiritual death are the results of sin, for God’s Word declares that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Because every individual is born as the offspring of a sinner, Adam, we are all tainted with the evil and wickedness that are an offense to the very nature of God. All who die in this sinful state will suffer eternal damnation in the lake of fire, for “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). God’s Word says, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

The Bible describes unregenerate sinners as “enemies” of God who live under His wrath. In Ephesians 2:3, Paul writes that we “were by nature the children of wrath.” To the church at Rome, he described the unsaved as “ungodly,” “sinners” and “enemies” of God (Rom. 5:6-10). It is evident from Scripture that sin is not only a lack of righteousness or conformity to God’s character and will, but it is actual opposition to the divine will of God (Rom. 5:10; 8:7).

Every aspect of our being is tainted by sin—our mind or intellect, our emotions, our will and our physical bodies. Every individual is born into this world as a sinner and, therefore, is totally incapable on his own of reaching God or obtaining any favor with his Creator (Rom. 6:16-23; 8:7-8; Jn. 3:19). God’s Word plainly tells us that it is impossible for a sinner to approach God by himself or according to his own terms.

II.  Salvation Is Possible Through Christ’s Death and Resurrection

God loved the world (mankind) so much that He did not want man to die in his sin or to spend his life alienated from fellowship with his Creator. But as a sinner, man could do nothing of himself to bring himself into fellowship with a holy God. Sinful man only faced death, the penalty of sin (Gen. 2:17). Man needed a perfect, sinless substitute to pay the penalty for his sin in order to be reconciled to God and enjoy eternal life. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Because God so loved the world, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin as our substitute. God’s Word says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). The apostle Paul continues, “For if through the offence of one (Adam) many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many … For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus Christ) shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:15b, 19). God knew we were utterly helpless as Hell-bound sinners, and in accordance with His grace, He intervened on our behalf. He sent Jesus Christ into the world to shed His blood as the full payment for sin. In so doing, Jesus Christ died the death the sinner deserves.

As Jesus Christ hung on Calvary’s cross, He was not dying for His own sins, for He was the perfect, sinless Son of God. He was qualified to die as our substitute because, unlike any of us, He was without sin, that is, He was sinless and incapable of sin (Heb. 4:15; 7:26). Jesus Christ was both God and man. Because He was God, He lived a sinless life, for God cannot sin. But because He was also man, He could die a physical death. He shed His blood on our behalf and bore the punishment each of us deserves. He was the propitiation, the “wrath-removing sacrifice,” for our sins (Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10).

Jesus Christ not only died for our sin, but He also rose from the dead three days later. The Bible says He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). By His resurrection, Jesus demonstrated victory over sin and death and revealed that His work on Calvary’s cross on our behalf was acceptable and sufficient in the eyes of God the Father.

III. Salvation Is Attained Through Faith Alone in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ

God’s gift, eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is a free gift of grace (Rom. 5:16-21). We certainly do not deserve to receive eternal life and a personal relationship with the all-holy God, but our Lord has made it possible for us to obtain this gift. How do we attain it?

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “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.”
  • Acts 10:43 says: “To Him (Jesus Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission (forgiveness) of sins.”
  • In John 5:24, Jesus Himself declares, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
  • John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
  • John 3:16-17 states, “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.”

Clearly, then, we receive this gift by believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Upon realizing that we are sinners in need of salvation, we receive this free gift only through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8-11) whereby a genuine change of mind (repentance) takes place concerning who Christ is and what He has done for us and by believing that He died and rose again on our behalf (faith). Through faith in the person and in the finished work of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4), we place our trust in Christ alone as our Savior from sin. We rely completely and solely upon Him, refusing to trust in anything or anyone else for our salvation. Paul says we are justified, or declared righteous in the sight of God, by faith (Rom. 5:1). At the very moment we truly believe, we are assured of eternal life and a personal relationship with God! The perfect righteousness of Christ is credited to our account!

We must understand that grace and works are mutually exclusive (Rom. 11:6). We cannot place our faith in anything or anyone other than the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for our salvation and still be saved by grace. If we trust in anything, whether baptism, church membership, participation in the Lord’s Supper (communion), good works, etc., in addition to the person and work of Christ, then we are not receiving God’s gift of grace because we are hoping we can earn God’s gift by doing something of ourselves. Grace is unmerited favor. As believers, we must understand and proclaim to others that salvation is only obtained by grace (God’s grace) through faith. As the apostle Paul says, “If [salvation is] by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6).

IV. Salvation Brings Many Benefits to the Believer

Fellowship With God—Believers are no longer alienated from God but are now “sons of God” and “joint-heirs with Christ” (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:17). We can communicate with God through prayer, and we know that He will now hear us, for we have an Intercessor, Jesus Christ, who serves as our mediator before God the Father (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25;1 Jn. 2:1).

Sanctification—Everyone who believes becomes a “new creature in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). All our sins are washed away (1 Cor. 6:11), and God no longer holds our sins against us. Ephesians 1:7 reminds us that Jesus Christ has paid the price for all our sins. Those who believe in Him possess “redemption through His blood” and the “forgiveness of sins” as a result of His great grace.

Peace With God—Believers no longer need to fear the wrath of God that abides on all who do not believe (Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6). On the contrary, all who are justified by faith “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

The Promise of Eternal Life With Christ—Although every person possesses eternal life, only those who place their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for salvation will spend a glorious eternity with God. All who reject the Savior will spend an eternity in the Lake of Fire. At the time of death, believers immediately unite with their Savior (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23).

Justification—All who trust in Christ alone for salvation are declared righteous by God. The verdict is sure and eternal. The righteousness of Jesus Christ is forever credited to the account of the believer (Rom. 5:1; 8:30).

Empowerment to Live a Godly Life—One of the most blessed benefits of salvation is the promise that God the Holy Spirit resides in the life of every believer (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to have victory over sin (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16), who gives us boldness to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 1:8) and who leads us into the will of God through the study of the Word of God (Rom. 8:26-27).

Future Glorification—All who believe will receive perfect, glorified bodies at the return of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:18-23; 1 Cor. 15:50-54). The Holy Spirit who indwells every believer has sealed us until the day of this glorious redemption (Eph. 4:30).

— By Matt Costella. Adapted from the first chapter of Biblical Basics for Believers, available through the Fundamental Evangelistic Association.