IS THE GIFT OF SALVATION
Due to the nature of the preceding question, as it pertains to the salvation of our souls, it is one of primary importance. This Bible question should be handled objectively, honestly and from a biblical perspective. What does God, through his inspired, written message have to say about receiving his gift of salvation?
First, we begin by citing one of the most familiar passages of Scripture which reads: "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). What prompted God to do such a remarkable thing? It is readily conceded that we did absolutely nothing of worth to so motivate him. But rather, God "gave his only begotten Son" by his personal volition which grew out of his transcending love for fallen man (Romans 5:8).
Yet, is there not a real element of condition expressed within the same passage? We look once more at the clause "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish..." While God sent his Son to die for every man (2 Corinthians 5:15), those in the state of unbelief remain under God's condemnation (John 3:18; Cf. John 1:11-13; 1 John 5:10-13).
Is salvation to be realized by all upon the basis of God's grace alone and apart from any condition? God says, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, and whormongers,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 21:7,8). Refer as well to Romans 1:20-32 and Galatians 5:19,21. This is what God says as a warning to each of us. What will become of the ungodly? God says that they will be rewarded according to their works. May we indulge in our fleshly desires and expect God to wink at us when we stand before him? (Romans 2:4-11; Acts 10:34,34; Romans 8:1-6ff). God calls upon all men to repent of their evil ways. When and where has God suggested the intent to save the impenitent along with the penitent? (Luke 13:3).
The message of the 66 books of the Bible is centered in Christ. The Old testament prophesied that Christ would come and rescue us from sin. The Apostle John writes: "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14).
Does the inspired Word of God teach man that he, on a universal basis, will be saved by virtue of the gift of Jesus' life alone? Although many will answer in the affirmative, with love and respect we must disagree.
The truth is of God. Spiritual truth is that which liberates; but error is the devil's snare. Quoted by John, Jesus declares, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31,32). We must obey Christ rather than men.
A ruler of the Jews once approached Jesus at night to question him and learn about his teaching. Jesus loved his soul to such an extent that he instructed him as to the way of entering God's kingdom. Jesus said, (and it yet applies today) "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Two verses later he goes on to explain, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (3:5). Nicodemus, the 3,000 on Pentecost, the eunuch, Saul of Tarsus and many other biblical characters knew Jesus did not have reference to amniotic fluid. Jesus is not saying a baby must first be born into the world to enter the kingdom - how ridiculous! This would be irrelevant to Nicodemus since he is already a man of some years. But rather he says, "Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (emp. TC) They are of equal importance.
One who holds the promise of salvation is one who is "in Christ." Those who reject the demands of the Gospel, those who are ignorant of God's provision of salvation through Jesus, and those who love unrighteousness remain under the power of darkness with no reasonable expectation of receiving God's gift of eternal life. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)
One must obey the commands of the Gospel to get "into Christ" where spiritual blessings and salvation are found (1 Corinthians 12:13). To obey the gospel is to obey the faith (Acts 6:7). To obey the gospel is to obey the truth (1 Pet 1:18-23). To obey the gospel is to obey Christ. Speaking of the Son, the Hebrew writer says, "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him..." (Hebrews 5:9). In conclusion we note: "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:17,18). Why not enter the Kingdom of Christ today by hearing his call and obeying his voice?
by Tim Childs
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