Salvation a mystery to most people! Probably less than one in a hundred understands what salvation is - Why you need it? How to get it? When you receive it? Do you?
If someone asked you to open your Bible and show him where the Bible says salvation means going to heaven - could you do it? Is salvation a place, a destination, a condition, a reward - or what? Do you know where to find the answers in your Bible?
Can you earn salvation by your works? Is it a free gift if you just believe in Jesus Christ? Or are their other conditions for receiving it?
When do you receive salvation? Do you actually get it now? When you die? When Christ returns? Or at some other time?
Where can you find the answers to these and other questions? Did you know that the Gospel is the good news about your salvation? The Bible has the answers! You can understand what salvation is, how to receive it and what you are to inherit. This study guide will help you find the answers from your Bible.
Religious people talk about "getting saved." Yet most can't explain what the Bible teaches about salvation or the biblical meaning of "salvation".
For example, a young man who "gave his heart to the Lord" at a revival meeting was asked, "Just what do you mean - you gave your heart to the Lord? Just how did you do that?" He admitted, somewhat confused, that he didn't know.
That's the way it is with a lot of people who say "I got saved." They don't really know what they mean by "getting saved."
Why did Jesus say, "Many are called, but few chosen"? (Matthew 20:16; 22:14) What does the Bible teach about salvation? Millions of sincere people have been caught up by emotions thinking they are "saved" - yet Christ says few will be chosen. Why? Have they been deceived into accepting a false salvation?
You need to know what the Bible really says about this vital subject. Don't let the most important thing in life be a vague, mysterious, superstitious, ethereal, meaningless thing. Read the answers from your Bible and let it make the truth about salvation clear - then believe the Bible!
Webster's dictionary defines "salvation" as: "1. The saving of man from the spiritual consequences of sin; especially deliverance from sin and eternal damnation.... 2. Preservation from destruction, failure, or other evil."
But what does this have to do with you?
Does this concern only religious people? Maybe you don't go to church or don't pretend to be religious. Why should you be concerned with all these religious sounding words like 'sin' and 'salvation' and 'eternal damnation'?"
If you believe like most religious people, that you have an immortal soul, why do you need preservation from destruction or need to be saved from the spiritual consequences of sin?
What is the Bible definition of sin, and what does the Bible reveal the spiritual consequences of sin to be. Whatever the consequences, Webster says salvation is to save you from it - and in this the Bible shows Webster was right. Salvation is translated from the New Testament Greek word "soteria" meaning to save, deliverance, preservation.
God Almighty, who inspired the original writers of the Bible (1 Tim. 3:16), the One who created and sustains the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) and designed, created, and gave humans life - including yours, says this:
"ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory (honor) of God" (Romans 3:23).
And He says, the CONSEQUENCES, "The wages of sin is death; But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Whatever sin is, you have sinned. ALL humans have except Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:15). The wages you are going to be paid for having sinned is death! You may have heard - and possibly believed - just the opposite? But read it in your own Bible (Romans 6:23)! Why then do so many religions teach exactly the opposite of the Bible - why do they teach that the wages of sin is eternal life in hell?
Look at that again, in your Bible! On the one hand, the penalty for sin is death - on the other hand, the gift of God is eternal life. The two are contrasted - it is one or the other - death, or eternal life - not eternal life in heaven or hell.
Another controversial issue is, can you earn "salvation by works" - that is, can our "works" earn salvation. The Bible is clear that your "works" of sin - do earn something - but it is not salvation - what they earn - the wages they earn - is death, and not salvation!
Further, it is also clear that eternal life is not something you can earn, it is God's gift through Jesus Christ! That is the plain teaching of your Bible! All Scriptures in the Bible bearing on the subject agree that what you receive by God's grace, as His gift, is eternal life. Eternal life is something you have to obtain as a gift from GOD! Therefore salvation actually is "eternal life" - a gift!
Religious people speak about "your immortal soul," about "going to heaven," about dead loved ones being now "in heaven with the Lord," and many other such things supposed to be the basic beliefs of Christianity - and yet can't show you any such teaching in the Bible! Many have been lead to believe these teachings and to suppose they came from the Bible.
Many actually deny that eternal life comes only as God's gift by grace and through Christ. Why do they believe we already have eternal life. Why do they say we have an "immortal soul"!
This is important! This is the crux of the whole question of salvation! If you have an immortal soul - if you already have eternal life - then the Bible is not true when it plainly says eternal life is a gift from God. According to the Bible, what the "saved" receive as God's gift through Jesus Christ is eternal life. Salvation, then, actually is the receiving of something you don't now have - eternal life. And if that Bible statement is true, then what many believe is false!
Where did this false belief in an immortal soul come from? Look in Genesis chapter 3 verse 4. It began when Satan deceived mother Eve, saying, "you will not surely die" - or in other words, you are - or have - an immortal soul!
Isn't this amazing that many today still believe the same lie? It's time to quit believing and following men and look into your own Bible and believe what God says!
What does the Bible teach about the soul? Read it in your own Bible! Don't take someone else's word for it - believe God!
Read it, in Ezekiel 18:4: "The soul that sins, it shall die." Yes, again the wages of sin is DEATH - that soul that sins shall DIE!
That truth about the soul is so important God caused it to be written twice. Turn now to Ezekiel 18:20: "The soul that sins, it shall die." Souls are not immortal. Your Bible says they can die!
But the deceiver may say: "That's in the Old Testament." Read in the NEW Testament that ALL Scripture - all that Timothy had known from youth, which was the Old Testament - is given by inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:15-16).
Again, in the New Testament: Jesus Christ Himself said you should "fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in gehenna" - a fire that will burn them up - cause them to die - destroy what is burned! Oh, yes, the Bible does teach that kind of hell fire - but not the kind where one burns forever and yet never burns up (Matthew 10:28). Let's believe Jesus Christ when He says souls can be destroyed! They are not immortal!
This may come as a surprise: not only is it true that there is no such expression anywhere in the Bible as immortal soul," but the word "immortal" occurs only once in all the Bible - in I Timothy 1:17, where it refers to GOD as being immortal.
Further, the word "immortality" can be found only five times in all the Bible. You can read in Romans 2:7 that it is something for us to seek for. Of course! It is the gift of God, who only has it to give! You don't need to seek for something you already have! In I Corinthians 15:53, and again in verse 54, immortality is something the "saved" shall put on. WHEN? At the time of the resurrection. In I Timothy 6:16 it speaks of the resurrected and glorified Christ, who, only, of all who have been born human, has immortality. And finally, in II Timothy 1:10, immortality is something Jesus Christ brought to light - made possible for us to receive - through the Gospel.
So the Bible teaches that the soul is not immortal, but is mortal, subject to death as the penalty of sin!
Now where does this leave you? All have sinned. That includes you. The penalty is death! You do not possess eternal life from natural birth. Christ said: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). So you are only mortal, material FLESH. You are "of the earth - earthy" (I Cor. 15:47). The life you were born with is merely temporary chemical existence! You live by breathing air in and out of your lungs - the breath of life.
You are only one breath away from death - the cessation of the existence we call "life." If you don't draw that next breath, you can't keep alive or conscious ten more minutes. There is no immortal soul that will keep you alive and conscious. You ARE a soul, formed "of the dust of the ground" (Gen. 2:7), that has sinned, and so shall die "and to dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19), unless saved from it by Christ's grace.
If your heart does not make that next beat, there is nothing in you to keep you alive ten minutes. You exist by breathing of air and circulation of blood - fed by food and water. You have only temporary chemical existence. You are like a clock wound up, and running down. You don't know at what second it will stop!
You can't give yourself any life beyond this running-down chemical existence. There is no eternal life inherent in you. Nothing you can do will produce it, supply it, or earn it. You can't get it by your own works!
What your own works have done for you is earn for you the penalty of death. And it is eternal death - eternal punishment! You see, everyone has "works" - either good, bad or both.
GOD - and God only - has immortality! Instead of assuming carelessly the devil's teaching (2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9) of "immortality of the soul," turn again to I Timothy 6:16 and read it with your own eyes in your own Bible! The risen Christ, and He only, of all who were born human, has immortality. God has immortality - life inherent, in Himself (John 5:26). He has given to His Son, Jesus Christ, also to have life in Himself. And only GOD can impart eternal life to you! It comes through Christ.
But how are you going to go to God? Your past sins not only have condemned you under penalty of death - they also have put a total BARRIER between you and God. They have cut you off from all access to God!
Read it! See it in your own Bible:
"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).
So how, when this barrier stands between you, are you going to go to God to obtain eternal life?
"Seek you the Eternal while He may be found, call you upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.... For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Eternal" (Isa. 55:6-8).
So you seek God, to obtain eternal life from Him. You repent! You forsake your way of life, and turn to God's way. But you find something is still lacking! You find you still are cut off! Do you know why?
At this point we need to find out what Isaiah meant by "iniquities" and "sin."
Religious people talk about "sin," "getting saved," "under law or under grace," "justification," "sanctified," "heaven," "hell," "predestination," and dozens of other terms, but what do they mean? Sadly, most religious people who use all these religious words usually don't know any more than you do what they really mean.
What is sin? You have probably heard that Christ died for our sins, but have you been told what sin is?
What is this thing, 'sin,' that Christ died for? What is the Bible definition of the word 'sin'? Where in the Bible does it give a plain definition - where it says 'sin is...?
Turn to 1 John 3:4: It says,
" Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for SIN IS the transgression of the law."
The New King James Version of the Bible says, "...sin is lawlessness."
But don't most churches teach that Christ came and "did away with the law"? Didn't Jesus "nail the law to the cross," so that we are no longer "under the law"?
Let's see what the Bible says. What did Jesus Christ say? Look in the book of Matthew, chapter 5 verses 17-20:
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle [Note: the smallest marks of the Greek and Hebrew alphabets in the original languages of the Old and New Testaments] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Does that sound like Christ came to do away with the law? NO! He said He came to fulfill the law (Vs. 17)! He came to magnify the law and make it honorable (Isa. 42:21). Read Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7. And He came to blot out our transgressions (Isa 43:25), not blot out the law!
What law was He talking about? Romans 7 explains,
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law" - or, in the plainer English of the Moffatt translation: "Why, had it not been for the Law, I would never have known what sin meant!"
In other words, the Law defines sin. Sin is breaking the Law. But what Law? Continuing, same verse: "for I had not known lust, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Rom. 7:7).
There we are told plainly what Law it is sin to transgress. It is the Law that says: "Thou shalt not covet." That Law is one of the Ten Commandments. It is sin to break the Ten Commandments.
In verses 12 and 14 of this same 7th chapter of Romans you will read that "the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good," and that "the law is spiritual" - a Law of spiritual principles of living!
Yes, Jesus magnified the law. And then later when a lawyer (a Pharisee) asked Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" - He summed up the whole spiritual Law in the word LOVE (Greek "agape" meaning unselfish benevolent love, outward concern for others - see "The Greatest Gift...LOVE"). This He divided into the two Great Commandments, love toward GOD, and love toward neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).
The Ten Commandments tell us how to love God and how to love our neighbor as ourself. In actuality, they reveal what we are doing against God and neighbor that is not love and they primarily command what "you shall not" do.
Why would God do away with such a holy, just and good law? In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 4:1), God told Israel:
"Hearken...unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do, that you may live...
(Vs. 2) "You shall not add unto the word which I command you, nor take anything from it...
(Vs. 6) "Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
(Vs. 7) "For what nation is there so great, who has God so near unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?
(Vs. 8) "And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?"
The whole Bible elaborates God's law of love, showing the principles involved revealing the entire right way of life!
But notice Romans 3:20.
"...by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Keeping the Law cannot justify our sins. We have all sinned. We cannot justify this guilt we have incurred. We cannot avoid or erase the wages we have already earned - which is death - by obedience, goodness, works, or anything we can do, because our sins have cut us off from God.
Let's make that real plain! Most women carry a mirror in their purses. A woman takes out her mirror, steals a glance at her face, and discovers dirt on it. Is looking into the mirror what caused the dirt to be there? No! By the mirror comes the knowledge that the dirt is there! Now God's Law is His spiritual mirror. Your Bible says so - plainly (James 1:22-25). You look into God's Law. It shows you the spiritual dirt on your heart. To hear God's Word, which corrects, reproves and rebukes (II Tim. 3:16) and then do nothing about the spiritual dirt it reveals is like a man beholding his face in a mirror, seeing the dirt - gaining knowledge of it - then forgetting how dirty he is - doing nothing about it.
God's Law is His spiritual mirror. But keeping yourself from becoming more dirty today does not wash off the dirt already there. So, "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight" - why? Because "...by the law is the knowledge of sin." Of course!
Sin is "the transgression of the law." Paul would not have known it was sin to lust, except the law had said "You shalt not covet." The function of the Law is to tell us what sin is! Not to cleanse us of yesterday's sin or erase the penalty of last year's sin.
There can never be a law, unless there is a penalty for its violation. For, where "no law is, there is no transgression" (Rom. 4:15) and could be no penalty - no punishment. If the wages - the punishment - of sin is death, and death is the penalty, then there is a law. And if there is no law being broken, there is no transgression and no penalty - and then we need no Saviour - no salvation from the punishment.
Now where did the Law come from? Again the Bible says "There is one lawgiver" (James 4:12). That is God. God set in motion many laws - laws of physics and chemistry among them. The great Law of LOVE is a spiritual Law. It is the way of peace, of happiness - of right relationships with God and with fellow humans. It is inexorable - a living Law as much fixed and in motion as laws of gravity and inertia. To break it is to turn in the opposite direction from peace, happiness, security, abundance, and toward strife, war, fear, worry, unhappiness, suffering, death (James 4:1-4). The final wages you earn by going that way is death!
Yes, the wages of sin is death! But we have hope! The gift of God is eternal life.
So now, where are we? Eternal life can be had only from God. So, as stated above, you seek God. But you find a tremendous, impenetrable barrier - the sins you have committed. Until they are justified you have no access to God. Isaiah 55:6-8, already quoted, says that if you would seek God the sinner must forsake his way, and turn to God's way. God's Law is God's way - and sin, the transgression of His Law - rebellion and disobedience - is your way - the way of death. Wise king Solomon wrote,
"There is a way that seems right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12).
So now you forsake your way - you forsake sin - breaking God's Law. You begin keeping it - obeying it. At least you try - you do it the very best you can.
But what do you find? You are still cut off from God!
Actually, as we shall see in a moment, you can't keep a spiritual law with a carnal mind,
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not [submissive] to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7).But, even if you could, your obedience is only what is required of you now! It does not make up for PAST sins - law-breaking. That penalty still hangs over you. As we have seen, by being law-abiding now, no flesh shall be justified of past law-breaking! A man convicted of committing murder last month does not erase his sentence by being law-abiding this month.
That is what your Bible teaches! Read it!
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom 3:20). "...for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal 3:16).All the good works in the world - all the law-keeping - cannot justify you of your past guilt.
Now where do you find yourself? You now become submissive - obedient to God's Law. Is this necessary? Most assuredly it is! Does it JUSTIFY you? NO!!! Where are you now? You have forsaken your way - sin; you have turned to God's way - His Law.
And you are still cut off from God! Your works - your Law-keeping, while certainly required, still has not justified past guilt - has not reconciled you to God. You still have no access whatever to God.
And you have to gain access to Him in order to obtain His gift of eternal life! You need to understand this, that after all this - forsaking sin - turning to God's way, as He commands - keeping His Law - that the DEATH penalty for past sins still hangs over you. The punishment is still death - and it is ETERNAL punishment - death for all ETERNITY! So your Bible teaches! The Bible teaches eternal punishment. That punishment, your Bible says, is not eternal LIFE in a hell fire of endless torture - not eternal punishING - but eternal punishMENT - it is death for eternity - and God's gift is life for eternity!
The Bible says the punishment for eternity is the second death (Rev 20:6,14; 21:8). But it also says that
"it is appointed to men once to die, but after that, the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
Why and how could men be judged after they die? The answer is, "as in Adam all die (sinners and saints alike because all have sinned), even so in Christ shall all be made alive" - the same all, sinners and saints both - all who die the first death - shall live again (I Cor. 15:22-23).
How then shall they be made alive? By a resurrection from the dead (John 5:25,28-29) - there is to be a resurrection of the just and a resurrection of the unjust - they that have done good, and they that have done evil. Read what Jesus Christ said:
"...the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of [judgment]."
The saints, those who were called, repented and are chosen and faithful (Revelation 17:14) will be in the first resurrection - made immortal, for "over such the second death has no power" (Rev. 20:6).
The unjust, the "rest of the dead" (Vs. 5), shall be in the resurrection of judgment, to physical mortal life (see Ezekiel 37).
All who are not in the first resurrection will be given the opportunity in the resurrection of judgment to learn, understand and repent and will be judged according to their works from those writings in the books (the Bible) (Rev 20:12-13). For God
"is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9).But If they will not repent of their evil they will end up in the lake of fire that shall burn them up - the second death (2 Pet. 3:9-10; Rev. 20:14-15; Malachi 4:1,3) - and they become ashes under the feet of the saved! All evil will be destroyed (Isa 13:11; Rev 21:8). Read it. Believe what you read in your Bible!
So, where are you? Even with your Commandment keeping, which God requires of you, still you are pretty helpless. You can't give yourself eternal life. You are doomed to die - and you are still cut off by sins of the past from GOD, who, only, has eternal life to give.
Well you have made a right start, even if you are still helpless.
And now that you have made this right start, there IS a way you may gain contact with God who has eternal life to impart. God so loved this world of sinners, cut off from Him,
"that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish (in the second death), but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)!Remember, God gives eternal life through Christ!
Notice Romans 5:6,
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
Jesus Christ never transgressed God's Law. He said, "I have kept my Father's Commandments" (John 15:10). He also said He set us an example that we should do as He did. He alone never incurred the death penalty. He never cut Himself off from God. When He voluntarily paid the death penalty, He did not pay it for any sins of His own - for there were none. He gave His life instead of yours! He paid your penalty - fulfilled the penalty of breaking the law - for you! (See "Passover...The Beginning of Salvation")
The life He gave was that of the MAKER of us all! God created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9). All things - including all humans - were made by Him (John 1:1-3). Therefore the life He gave on the cross was greater than the sum-total of all other human lives! That is the life that died for you - that paid your penalty for you!
Now, continue in Romans 5:8-10:
"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..."
NOTICE! "Being now justified." How? By your works? - your required obedience to God's Law? No! By the blood of CHRIST! If you have repented, and accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior you are already now justified!
But here is where so many go off into error, because they simply do not understand Biblical terms. "Justified" does not refer to the future - it has to do only with your guilty past! This term "justified" does not mean "saved" as we shall see. It does not mean the gift of life. It means the gift of acquittal, a pardon of past guilt! It means the penalty of past sins has been paid in full, by Christ, for you!
The law is in authority over you. It claimed your life - you were under its penalty (the curse) for sin (Galatians 3:10-11). It took Christ's life in payment instead of yours. The penalty stands paid! You are no longer under the penalty or curse of the Law -
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us..." (Vs. 13).It no longer has claim over your life! You are now under grace - undeserved pardon. You are pardoned from paying the penalty, since Jesus Christ paid it for you! This is not your works. It is Christ's sacrifice. You are now acquitted - justified - the slate is wiped clean of a guilty past!
In other words - the barrier (the veil), between you and God has now been removed - "the veil is taken away in Christ" (2 Cor. 3:14)! You are now, by Christ's sacrifice, given access to GOD through faith in Him (Eph. 2:18; 3:12) - and you are reconciled to Him!
"Therefore, having been justified by faith (believing in Christ's sacrifice for us), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. 5:1-2).
Now, Jesus says,
"Most assuredly...whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24).
John adds, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).
"Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom 5:9).
Notice it! You are already justified. Not by works, but by Christ's blood! The past is squared up - the penalty paid - the contact with God made. But are you already saved?
Look at it! It says "we SHALL BE saved." Not that we already are saved. It says "being now justified" but it does not say "being now saved." It says "we shall be" - yes, in the future - saved. That is still future! See it with your own eyes. Don't believe religious teachers who say you are already, now, saved! Just believe these plain words in your Bible!
Now here comes a surprise. Notice verse 10:
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son...."Here, again, we were reconciled - past tense. Not by your works - but by Christ's death. When you have truly repented, forsaken your way, sought God, accepted Christ as Saviour and His death in your stead (Rom. 6:3-8) as payment for your past sins, you have been, already, reconciled. So the wording here is we were reconciled - past tense - to God by the death of His Son.
What was accomplished by Jesus' death? It paid the penalty - it wiped out your guilty past - justified you of your guilt - reconciled you to GOD. But did it save you? See what your Bible says!
It says, continuing, same sentence:
"much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
Can you believe your own eyes? There it is, in your own Bible!
Already reconciled, by Christ's death; but - "we shall be saved" - that is future tense. Not yet saved - but we shall be - in the future - saved. Now are you going to be saved by Christ's death? Can death impart life?
There is no more proven law in science than the law of biogenesis which says life comes only from life. Death cannot impart life.
Now how shall we - in the future - be saved? By Christ's death? No! Notice! Read it! "We shall be saved by His life!"
After Christ died, God raised Him back to life. We are saved by His resurrection - by His life - by a living Savior! Read I Cor. 15:14-23.
You are now making progress. You now have real hope. You have repented - you have sought God, forsaken your way - turned to God's way, as defined in His Law and all through His Word. You have accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior, and His shed blood for remission of sins. You are now reconciled to God. You are justified of - forgiven - your guilty past. You are out from under the penalty of broken law.
Now, we read the question:
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" (Rom. 6:1).You are now under grace - undeserved pardon!
You deserved only death. You didn't earn forgiveness - pardon from the death penalty. You received it by grace through Jesus Christ.
Now, shall you continue in sin - that is, continue transgressing the Law? The answer is "God forbid" (Romans 6 verse 2).
You were under the law, when the law stood over you, claiming its penalty. When Christ paid the penalty, and satisfied the claims of the law, you were no longer under the law, but under grace. Now does that mean you are not under obligation to obey the law - that you have license to sin - to break the law? Remember sin is the transgression of the law.
Now read in Romans 6:15-16!
"What then? shall we sin" - that is, according to the Bible definition, shall we break the Law - "because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin" (breaking the law) "unto death" (the penalty for disobedience to God's Law) "or of obedience unto righteousness?"
There it is! We must not return to rebellion against God's perfect (Psa. 19:7) and immutable Law of LOVE - His right way of life. If we do, we are again under curse of the Law - again automatically sentenced to death! Jesus Christ did not die to give you license to continue in law-breaking. When you accept, by His grace, remission of sins, it is only for sins that are past! You cannot obtain in advance remission of all the lawlessness you might like to commit in the future.
Read that in your Bible:
"Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Romans 3:24-25).
We are justified only of sins that are past. We have remission only of sins that are past - not license to break the Law in the future.
Why do some professing "Christians" today teach that it is all right to go right on breaking the Law? Why do they say that grace means license to disobey God's Law? No wonder God found it necessary, through Jude, to exhort us to,
"earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints" (delivered by Jesus Christ).They are the ones who accuse faithful followers of Jesus Christ of teaching "salvation by works."
"For certain men have crept in unnoticed... ungodly men (deceiving the people), who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 3-4).
Would a governor pardon a man convicted of murder so he could continue murdering more and more people? God's merciful pardon - His grace - is bestowed on us because we have repented, with a sincere desire to turn from our wicked ways of lawlessness. If we are willing to live, from here on, righteously, happily as we should have from the beginning, the merciful and loving God has been willing to give His Son Jesus Christ, who, in turn, was willing to give His life, to square up our past law-breaking - to wipe the slate clean, and give us, by His merciful grace, a fresh, clean start.
So, from here on, we must obey - unto righteousness! (Rom. 6:16). Yet you cannot, of your own strength, keep the spiritual Law spiritually.
It's absolutely vital that you really understand that!
Many religious people - many ordained ministers - will tell you, "It is impossible to keep the Law." Are they telling the truth? What does your Bible say?
Notice! Of the parents of John the Baptist, you will read:
"And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless" (Luke 1:6).
Why, if it is impossible, did Christ command that if we would enter into life, "keep the commandments"? (Matt. 19:17.) Of those who claim to "know the Lord," often using such sentimental religious phrases as "Oh, how good it is to know the Lord," but who teach we should not keep the Commandments, your Bible says this:
"He that saith, 'I know Him,' and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4).
Yet you cannot, alone of yourself, keep the Law spiritually! That is not a contradiction. You can keep the literal letter of the law, but not the spirit. Let's make that plain.
At the same time, let's understand how you receive Eternal life - that is, how you receive salvation!
Now back to you! You have now gained contact with God. You are still mortal, possessing only a temporary chemical existence. God only has eternal life. Life can come only from life - not from death. Christ's death paid the penalty of your guilty past - it reconciled you to GOD - gave you access direct to God. But it did not give you eternal life - did not, yet, save you! Now what?
Jesus Christ said it was necessary for us mortal humans that He go to the Father's throne in heaven (John 16:7) in order to send the Holy Spirit of God for us. This required the resurrected living Christ. So after His resurrection, Jesus ascended to the throne of God that rules the entire universe (Rev. 3:21). Then, some ten days later, on the annual day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent to enter into the very minds of all who had sincerely repented of their rebellion against God and His way, and who had been reconciled to God by faith in Christ's shed blood for the remission of past sins (Acts 2:1-4,38).
These first disciples received God's Spirit through the work of the resurrected, glorified, living Christ. The Spirit of the Father is also the Spirit of Christ. Thus it actually was God the Father and the living Christ, Himself, communicating directly with them - not in Person - but through the power of the Holy Spirit entering into them (John 14:16-17,26; 16:12-15)!
Christ is a living Savior who does His saving work in us through the His Holy Spirit in us! To better understand, we could use the analogy of modern technology, radio, TV and wireless communications and remote control gadgets as a type of how the Spirit of God works to witness or communicate with our spirit (Rom. 1:20; 8:16). God's Spirit is "
a spirit...of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).
If the Holy Spirit of God actually resides within you, then
"He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (means energize - make eternally alive, immortal) your mortal bodies BY His Spirit that dwells in you" (Romans 8:11) at the resurrection.But, unless His Spirit is actually IN you, you are not a Christian (verse 9) - no matter how many churches you join!
God's Holy Spirit is His LIFE, "God is Spirit" (John 4:24). It imparts His life to you (2 Cor. 3:6)! It imparts more, as we shall now see!
The Holy Spirit is divine, spiritual love - the love of GOD flowing into you from God Almighty - through the living Christ (Rom. 5:5)! Jesus explained how we should come to him, and drink in of His Spirit, like drinking in living water - and how this same Holy Spirit would flow, like a river of living water, on out from us (John 7:37-39). Now let's make all that plain and clear.
God's Law is a law of love - love to God in reverence, worship and obedience - love to neighbor in service, kindness, sharing, compassion. It takes love ("agape") to fulfil - to perform - the Law. You will read that in Romans 13:10.
But, remember? - we saw, in Romans 7:14, that this Law is a spiritual Law. Science knows only about physical laws. Humans are mortals - physical. We were born with a capacity only for physical love ("philia"). The love of a parent for a child, a husband or wife for a mate, or even relatives, friends, neighbors. We also are born with capacity for envy, jealousy, hate.
But this spiritual Law can be fulfilled - performed - spiritually kept and obeyed - only by spiritual love! You were not born with that kind of love. You do not have, naturally, the kind of love required to truly keep this great Spiritual Law!
You must go to God and ask to obtain that kind of love. And it must be renewed day by day (2 Tim 1:6; Titus 3:5; 2 Cor, 4:16). That is a love, a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:31; 13:1-13), He gives you through the living Christ. That is His own love. It emanates directly from Him.
Now understand! True righteousness is keeping "all thy commandments" (Psalm 119:172). God gives us His Spirit,
"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom 8:4).It is performing God's Spiritual law with the spiritual love which only GOD can supply. (See "The Greatest Gift...LOVE" in the Keys for Successful Living Menu)
You drink it in from Him - once the contact is established. It pours on out from you like rivers of living water. Water in a river flows in a certain direction, guided by the river bed or channel. GOD'S LAW is that river bed which guides the flow - the expression - the direction in which the divine love flows! God's Law is the way of perfect spiritual character - the very character of God - "For God is love" (1 John 4:8).
So - the very spirit by which God imparts to you His life - His salvation - is also His own love which imparts to you His righteousness! It is no longer just you, in your own power and strength "keeping the commandments" - it is, spiritually speaking, the power of the living Christ IN you, guiding you, keeping His Father's Commandments - even as He kept them by this same divine love even while He was human here on earth!
Can you brag, or boast, then, about your - righteousness? No - it is not your righteousness - it is God's! The apostle Paul explains,
"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:20).If Christ, by His grace, erased your guilty past, gave you access to God, and now pours forth into and through you the spiritual love that keeps the Law, this is not your righteousness, but God's.
"For by His grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God;
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:8-10).
And this is not your "works"! It is nothing you earned!
Some religious teachers tell you Christ lived a righteous life FOR you almost 2000 years ago, and since you "can't keep the Law," as they claim, God "imputes" Christ's righteousness of 20 centuries ago to you - by sort of "kidding Himself' that you are righteous, while you are given license to still be a spiritual criminal breaking His Law! GOD does not impute to you something you do not have.
Far from this - the living Christ by His divine power makes us righteous! He imparts to us power to actually become righteous (John 1:12). It is His doing! But we must allow Him to do it, to put His laws in our hearts and minds (Heb. 10:14-17).
Abraham's faith was imputed to him as righteousness because he believed God and obeyed (Gen. 26:5; Rom. 4:9-22; Gal 3:6; Heb. 11:8-12; James 2:20-24).
Once again, where are we? There are, first, two things you must do.
On that very Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), many who were part of the mob that cryed out "crucify Him!" during Christ's trial before Pilate, were conscience stricken and afraid when they heard Peter's inspired sermon (Vs. 37). They cried out, "What shall we do?" They, too, were helpless.
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" was the inspired answer (Acts 2:38).
Note two things YOU must do:
1) REPENT - turn from your way, by turning to God's way - His Law! You repent of sin. Sin is the transgression of the spiritual Law.
2) BE BAPTIZED. The Ethiopian eunuch, coming to a lake of water, asked Philip what hindered him to be baptized. "IF you believe with all your heart" was Philip's answer (Acts 8:36-37). Repentance is toward God, for the Law comes from God, but faith is toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Faith in Christ's atonement for sin is commanded to be expressed by being baptized. Baptism is symbolic of the death and burial of our sinful past way of life.
"Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
"Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:3-4).
This, then, gains you contact with God if you are sincere. That is as far as you can go, on your own. You have reached your extremity! So now GOD does something!
3) You SHALL RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.
This is God's gift. It is the presence, conditionally, of Eternal Life (Eph 1:13-14).
And now if you faithfully follow God's way - the way the Holy Spirit leads - you have become a begotten son of God!
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14).
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He [Christ] shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see him as He is" (I John 3:2).
Get it straight! You are now converted - a changed person - for God's Spirit (Eph. 4:23) produces a renewing of your mind. Your whole concept and direction of life is changed! God's Spirit is His very life imparted to you! You are now a begotten son of God.
But it does not yet appear what you shall be. This scripture does not say "where you shall GO" - or "where you shall BE." It is talking about a condition, not a place: "what we shall be"! Salvation is a matter of what you become - not where you shall go! God's purpose is to change you - from your vile character to His holy righteous character - not to change the place where you are!
Now you are already a begotten son of God - you may now call Him Father (Gal. 4:6)! - as long as you are led by His Spirit (Rom 8:14)! - and no longer living in sin (Heb. 10:26-27).
But there are still some "IFs." You must grow spiritually (II Pet. 3:18). Conversion is a process. It is "To him that overcomes" that Christ will grant to sit with Him on His throne, when He returns to earth (Rev. 3:21). If you overcome - overcome your own carnal nature with its bad habits and attitudes, and the world and its lusts, and the temptations of the devil - and keep Christ's works (not your own works, but Christ's - by His spirit in you) then you shall reign and rule all nations with Him in the Kingdom of God (Rev. 20:6) - on this earth (Rev. 5:9-10; 20:6)!
The real Christian life is, truly, a life of overcoming, spiritual growing - but it is the only truly happy life - the abundant life - here and now! Yet we must endure the trials of this world and accept God's correction (Heb 12:1-11) and remain steadfast.
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.It is he who endures to the end that shall be saved! Read this in your BIBLE - Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 4:17; John 6:27; I Cor. 9:24-27; Heb. 10:26-27.
"For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds...
"If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is he whom the Father chastens not?
"But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you illegitimate and not sons...
"Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby."
So, finally, where are you now? You have been converted - changed in mind, concept, attitude, direction of way of life - you are begotten as a child of God - you have now eternal life abiding in you - as long as you are LED by God's Spirit in God's way - as long as you continue in contact and fellowship with God (I John 1:3) - all by God's grace as His gift, and not anything you have earned by your works; and now if you continue overcoming, growing spiritually - and all this actually through God's power - you shall inherit the Kingdom of God, and be made immortal to live forever in happiness and joy! This is the mystery of "the gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13)!
For an excellant source of other biblical literature on salvation and other topics, you may obtain a free subscription to the "Good News Magazine," published by the United Church of God, An International Association.
If you are one who would like to fellowship with others who are truly seeking to know and obey God and to receive salvation - then here is more GOOD NEWS! You may contact a local fellowship nearest you in all parts of the United States and many other parts of the world. Of course, none of them will ever call on you, unless you of your own free will request it. But if you of your own volition want to learn more about the Bible, salvation, and the Christian life - why not seek fellowship with those of a like mind and spirit (Heb 10:26)?
Copyright: April, 2001, 2006 - Serf Publishing. Inc.