Elements of Salvation
This study was co-authored by Brian Burnett, David Corvelli, Luke Kodanko, and Aaron Schedlin.
This dissertation will attempt to establish the fundamental truths concerning salvation, serving both as a guide to the unbeliever and as a witnessing tool for the believer. There are three major sections leading the reader first to what they must realize, the necessity of repentance; followed by the importance of receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.
Throughout the Bible strong emphasis is placed on understanding, this is seen in Proverbs 2:2, where we are told “apply thine heart to understanding.” In this section we hope to clearly present some of the more important sub-topics that one should comprehend. John 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
God the Creator of Man
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It is important for man to know his origin, as God created not only heaven and earth, but also everything in it. As Nehemiah 9:6 states “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”
As depicted here, we see God as an all-powerful being. The descriptors refer to God’s omnipotence, which is described further in Deuteronomy 4:35 stating “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.”
It is important for a person to comprehend that this all-powerful God is a God of love. Jesus Christ is the manifestation of God’s love toward man. John 3:16 "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." Man however must understand that God, though all loving, is also righteous and just. Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
Conviction by the Law
"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7) We find God’s perfect law, or the Ten Commandments, explicitly outlined in Exodus 20 though they are reinforced throughout the entire text of the Bible. The bible also outlines the purpose of the God’s law in Hebrews 7:19, which states, "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God," and though we find that the law cannot make us perfect, it does bring the conviction that leads us to salvation. In Galatians 3:24 we are told "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." This conviction proves our guilt before God as shown in Romans 3:19, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
Holy God / Sinful Man
Once we receive an understanding of the old covenant or law, man becomes aware of his sinful state, for “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (I John 3:4) We know, that all are under this sin nature from Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, and that none of us by nature look to please and follow God, in the book of Romans.
"But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." (Galatians 3:22)
"What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."(Romans 3:9-12)
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23)
These verses not only remind us we are sinful, but that there is One much greater than we introduced in a most Holy God. Keeping the verses listed above in mind, Joshua 24:19 shows us that “…Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.” Your sins must be paid for.
We have an innate need for the salvation offered through the person of Christ, as we are told in Revelation 15:3-4 that all nations will worship him “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” Through Christ’s righteousness alone will we be able to have fellowship with Him “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15)
"There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." (I Samuel 2:2)
Son of Man / Son of God
In scripture God explains things to us in many different ways.
Mysteries - The resurrection in I Corinthians 15:51
Alluded Statements - The description of the cross in Isaiah 53
Explicit Statements - The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20
One explicit statement is that Jesus Christ was and is the only begotten Son of God. In John 3:16 we read "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." Another clear example can be found in Mark 1:1 "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." In total, there are 46 references to the "Son of God" in the King James Bible and all of them refer to Jesus Christ.
It would be foolish however to continue on without recognizing that Jesus Christ wanted us to also realize that He was also the Son of man, though not the only one. Throughout scripture we see this term refer to different people, but Christ makes a point of using that term on Himself so that we would know that just as He was the Son of God, he was also the Son of man. Matthew 9:6 says "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." Here Christ wanted the Pharisees to understand that He had come in the fashion of a man but still carried with Him the power of God. The reason that Christ's status as a man was so important is because "...we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Christ wanted us to realize that He understands our sufferings, which is why we can apply the principle, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
Grace Through Faith
Salvation is only possible because of the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 “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.” God knows that we are wicked sinners deserving hell for all eternity. Psalm 14:1-3 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
He knows the there is no possible way we can save ourselves as stated previously in Ephesians. However, due to the unmerited love God has for us, He sent His only begotten Son, that we might have a chance of salvation. Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” All that we have to do is place our trust completely in Him, having faith that He can and will save us. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Once a person realizes they are under the law of a Holy God, and that this Holy God sent his only begotten Son to pay for their transgressions, that person must repent. Repentance is necessary, simply from a logical standpoint a person is not going to receive forgiveness if they don't seek it. However in this study the logical conclusion is not enough, we seek to prove every claim Biblically. With that in mind, we see that the Bible tells us, “...The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15) Jesus Himself said "...Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus tell us twice "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Another important aspect of repentance, is the urgency of it as shown in II Corinthians 6:2 “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:8) Is merely believing, enough to get you into heaven? It is not, as God desires us to humble ourselves in his presence, and ask for that gift of life. Throughout scripture we see that through asking, God has promised to cleanse us from unrighteousness, grant us his salvation, and forgive us of our sins. The one thing all people have in common is the need to ask for it.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:15)
Now we have established that a person must ask God for forgiveness, we must examine how they should inquire of a Holy God to gain his mercy. First there is a heart condition that must be felt, like unto Psalm 51. This section of scripture shows the writhing of king David, as Nathan the prophet came to him. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, whose husband he commanded be put to death in 2 Samuel chapters 11-12. Once a person’s heart is truly penitent for the sins they have committed, then as Christ stated, “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)
Forgiveness of sins
The very purpose for Christ taking on flesh, was to save the world of their sins through the shedding of His blood on the cross as stated in Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” And in Revelation 1:5 “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Jesus Christ was the only One capable of paying the debt required of mankind. I Peter 1:19 shows that Christ’s was without spot or blemish, perfect in all respects, an acceptable sacrifice. His blood is the only thing capable of washing away the sins of mankind; past, present, and future. In Colossians 1:14 we read “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Also in Hebrews 9:22 we learn “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
Just as important as Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sin of mankind, is His resurrection, showing Jesus’ and our victory over death. In John 11:25 Jesus says "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." And in I Corinthians 15:14 we see that "if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." There is an old hymn that states, "I serve a risen Saviour”, but Christ cannot promise, "I will raise him up at the last day," (John 6:40) if He isn't risen Himself.
It is for this reason that without the resurrection we have no hope. That is why in I Corinthians 15:3-6 Paul tell us "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once…" The purpose of showing himself to these people was to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that He had conquered death, and truly has the power to offer us eternal life, if only we will accept Him.
To receive is one of the easiest things a person can do, and therefore is often overlooked. Salvation is a gift from God; one that He has given to you and promises in His Word that he will never take back (Rom 8:38-39 1Jn 2:25). However, for the gift to be yours, you must take it and possess it. A common analogy is the wedding present.
Imagine that some friends of yours are getting married and you have been invited to that wedding. You go out and spend a considerable amount of money, time and energy on their gift, and wrap it in special wrapping paper. You give them the gift and they take it home, but never open it up. You are later invited to their home and find your gift to them sitting on the table, still wrapped and untouched. In a sense, they have refused your gift; because they never opened it when you offered it to them.
That is essentially what you are doing when you only admit that Jesus died for your sins. The person has then acknowledged Christ’s death, but never allowed Him to come into their life. Psalms 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." You cannot fully repent from your sins and believe in Jesus Christ if you do not accept Him into your heart, receiving the gift He has offered to you. When you receive Christ into your heart, you are asking Him to make some changes in your life, changes that will aide in your ability to serve Him.
These changes are detailed in John 4:23-24, which states what the purpose of the gift is. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” It says in Romans 8:29 that we are to be “…conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” When we receive His gift, we are to become true worshippers, worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. As we become true worshippers, we begin to conform into the image of that Gift, Jesus Christ his Son. This change can only take place after the individual accepts the gift.
Matthew 21:22 “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
We hope that through this dissertation we have been able to help you to better understand God’s gracious plan to bring salvation to mankind. If you have not already accepted this wonderful gift “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2) “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14) “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.” (Hebrews2:3)
1 John 5:13 “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Helps for a New Christian
- Deity of Christ - Jn 1:1,14 1 Jn 5:7,20 Heb 1:1-3,8
- Resurrection - 1Cor 15:3-8 Acts 1:11 Lk 24:5-7
- Judgment (Heaven and Hell) - Heb 9:27 2Pet 3:7 Jude 14-15
- Eternal Salvation - 1Jn 5:11-13 Jn 10:27-31 Jn 3:14-16 Rom 8:38-39
- Follow/Serve - Mt 4:10 Deu 6:13 1Cor 11:1
- Baptism - Col 2:10-12 Mt 28:19-20 Gal 3:27Acts 10:46-48 Acts 8:36-38
- Word of God - 2Tim 3:16-17 2Pet 1:19-21 Ps 12:6-7 Prov 30:5-6