(Part #1 – Salvation)
THE most important question that anyone can ask is the question posed by the keeper of the prison in Acts 16:30… “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”.
The answer to this question is more valuable than gold, silver and all the wealth this world has to offer. This answer will reveal to us the path that leads to the forgiveness of our sins, the receipt of the indwelling Holy Spirit, fellowship with the Only True and Living Creator, and eternity in paradise with God Himself. Our very spiritual life and eternal destiny rely upon finding the answer to this question.
This question is of such importance we will be taking several blog entries to carefully answer this question…
Blog Entry #1 Salvation; Blog Entry #2 Repentance; Blog Entry #3 Faith / Belief; Blog Entry #4 What about good works?; Blog Entry #5 What about baptism?; Blog Entry #6 What about the Lord’s Supper? Blog Entry #7 What about church membership?
We now begin our study with blog entry #1…. Salvation….
The Biblical concept of “salvation” carries with it the ideas of deliverance, wholeness, safety and security. When we talk about a person’s “salvation” we are talking about that person being delivered from sin, being made whole and safe in Christ, all the while being made eternally secure…
We are all a part of fallen mankind…
Rom 3:23 (KJV) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
The Bible is filled with references that declare the fallen, sinful nature that is found in all men… (Gen 8:21, Eccl 7:20, Rom 3:9, Rom 5:12, etc etc etc)
As fallen mankind, we are found guilty by God for the sin in our lives…
Rom 3:19 (KJV) “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.”
Just as the sinfulness of man is clearly declared within the Scriptures, so too, the guilt and condemnation of man is made plain as well… (Roms 2:1-2, Gal 3:10, Gal 3:22, etc etc etc)
Because of our sin and guilt we are separated from God and facing eternal punishment for our sins…
Isa 59:1-3 (KJV) 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. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
Our sin has separated us from God in this world, and will separate us from God in the world to come. (Prov 15:29, Isa 1:15, John 3:19-21) Our sin has placed us under the judgment of our Almighty God. It is this judgment that we will face throughout eternity. (Jer 5:25, John 3:36, Rom 1:18, Rom 2:3-5, Rev 20:12-15)
This is the most important aspect of our need of salvation… it is deliverance from our sins and their results.
Titus 2:11-14 (KJV) “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Here, in our Titus passage, we find the three fold salvation that the Lord freely offers to us…
Firstly, deliverance from the punishment of our sin, by Christ making the payment which satisfied the just demands of His Father…“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity:” (John 10:15, Gals 1:3-5, Gals 3:13, Eph 5:2, etc etc etc)
Secondly, deliverance from the power of sin in this world…“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” & “purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Rom 6:4-19, 1 Cor 6:9-11, Eph 1:4, 1 Thess 4:7 etc etc etc)
Thirdly, secure an eternity with Him, separated from the presence of sin…“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Rom 8:30-39, John 6:37-40, Hebs 10:14-18, etc) This principle is clearly seen by the terms “everlasting life” and “eternal life” … it is a type of life that cannot be lost nor come to an end. (1 Tim:1-16, John 3:15-16, John 10:27-29, etc etc etc)
Just as the Bible is clear about the importance and universal need of salvation by all mankind, so too, the Bible declares the only way of salvation.
The way of salvation is only through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ….This is why in the Titus passage He is given the title “Our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ”
This principle is emphasized in Acts 4:12 – “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (1 Cor 3:11, 1 Tim 2:4-6, Heb 7:25-28, 1 John 5:11, etc)
So who can receive this salvation? Both Jew and Gentile have access to this grace of God…
John 4:21-24 (KJV) – “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 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.
Acts 28:28 (KJV) – Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and [that] they will hear it.
As demonstrated in the above verses, the salvation that God graciously offers to man is not limited to Jew nor Gentile. ANYONE can receive salvation from the hands of Almighty God. (John 3:16, 2 Cor 5:19-21, 1 Tim 1:15-16)
In this blog entry we have seen the very basic principles of the importance and mankind’s need of salvation… In the following blog entries we will be studying, in detail, the answer to the question “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?”
(Part #2 – Repentance)
We now begin our study with blog entry #2…. Repentance….
What does the Bible mean by the term “repentance”? Repentance carries with it the idea “to turn from” or “to change your mind”, “to reverse”, or “to reconsider”.
Biblically, repentance refers to an inward change of mind and desires that result in an outward change of action…
Acts 26:20 (KJV) – But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and [then] to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Here in our Acts 26:20 text, we see that the term repentance is describing an inward change. In the context, we have those who had not come to believe in Jesus being told they must “repent”. This repentance would lead them to “turn to God” and then “do works meet for repentance”. (“works meet for repentance” refers to works that are suitable or fitting for repentance.)
When we are told to repent the Bible is saying that we must change our minds about….
God’s Word – the message of the Bible, what it says about our sin, Christ, salvation, service and the eternal things of God. The first step in our coming to Christ, is acceptance of the Word and what it says as being the very Words of God. (John 6:63-64, John 17:17-19)
Our Sin – the presence of sin in our lives, the guilt we have upon us because of that sin, and the judgment of God that will fall upon us due to our sin. We must come to an acceptance of all of these truths, as a part of our salvation experience. ( Rom 3:23, Rom 5:12, Rom 1:16-18)
The Person of Jesus – Jesus, the very Son of God the Father, and God Himself, coming in obedience to His Father’s desires. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, or in other words, the One Anointed by God to secure the salvation of His people. Acceptance of the true person of Christ is of utmost importance. (John 10:30, John 1:1-14, John 14:9)
The Work of Jesus – Although it is true that Jesus was “a prophet”, and “a wonderful example for us to follow”, His work goes far beyond these things. Christ, when He came to the earth was the One chosen by God the Father to live an absolutely perfect, sinless life. When Christ was crucified, He was “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” When He died on the cross, He was paying the price for sin. His death satisfied the demands of His Heavenly Father against our sin. It is through His shed blood that we can find forgiveness for our sins. Coming to a belief in these things is a part of true repentance. (1 John 3:4-5, 2 Cor 5:21, Rom 8:1-4, Gal 3:13-14, Eph 5:1-2, 1 Pet 1:18-23)
Our Goals in Life – Where before our repentance we were living according to the goals and desires of this world and our flesh, at repentance, we now desire to seek to please Him as Lord of our lives. This change in our goals for living is also a part of Godly repentance that works salvation in our lives. (Gal 6:14-15, 2 Cor 5:14-21)
Repentance is for Jew and Gentile alike…
Acts 17:29-31 (KJV) Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Repentance, or a change of attitude and beliefs about our Lord, is a responsibility handed to all men everywhere. Both Jew and Gentile have been given this responsibility. Based on our above text, we can see that repentance is a command handed down to all men, from their Creator, Jehovah God. Our God will hold all men responsible to fulfill this command, by establishing a future time of judgment for all.
Repentance is for those who recognize their sinfulness…
Matt 9:10-13 (KJV) And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw [it], they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard [that], he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what [that] meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
For an individual to come to repentance they must recognize their sinful condition. No one can say, “Well, I know I’m a good person who is not in need of forgiveness but I will go to Christ for communion without seeing a need for my life to change.”
Remember repentance involves CHANGING what we believe about ourselves and our condition. If we have never seen our sinfulness, and we continue to believe in our innocence, as we come to Christ, no change has taken place. Therefore, no repentance has occurred in the life of the individual.
Repentance leads to salvation…
Luke 13:1-5 (KJV) There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Acts 3:17-21 (KJV) And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did [it], as [did] also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
A sincere change in our beliefs (resulting in an acknowlegement of the truth concerning: 1. our sinful condition; 2. our coming judgment; 3. and the basis and source of Divine forgiveness) will result on an individual coming to Christ for salvation. A sincere, true type of repentance will lead a man to Christ and His gracious salvation.
Therefore, repentance is a part of the great commission (the proclamation of the gospel message)
Luke 24:45-48 (KJV) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
Based upon our study so far, we can easily see the necessity of repentance in the process of salvation. This is reaffirmed to us in the above passage that makes it plain that repentance is a part of the great commission.
What is the great commission? It is the responsibility to tell others about Christ and His work of salvation on behalf of sinful mankind. We can see this clearly when Christ says “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day:”
In the context, of telling others about Him and His work, Christ declares “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.”
Repentance is a gift of God. It is the result of God working in the heart of sinful mankind.
Acts 11:18 (KJV) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Acts 3:26 (KJV) Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
What great grace! Our Lord, saw fit to work in the heart of sinful mankind, convicting of sin, convincing of His work, and bringing that sinful man to Himself. Why did He have to work in this way? Because lost mankind cannot come to Christ apart from the Lord’s intervention…
John 5:39-40 (KJV) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
John 6:44-51 (KJV) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
In this blog entry we have seen the very basic principle of the necessity of repentance in the salvation experience… In the following blog entries we will continue to study, in detail, the answer to the question “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?”
(Part #3 – Faith / Belief)
What is faith? The Biblical term “faith” carries with it the idea of “reliance”, “persuasion”, “conviction”, or “trust”. To believe or to trust are other Biblical terms for the same idea.
When we speak of faith, or belief, or trust, in Christ… we are saying that an individual is persuaded, and becomes thoroughly convinced of the Bible teachings about the person and work of Christ. This conviction leads him to totally rely upon the work of Christ as the basis of the forgiveness and salvation from his sin. This is a Biblical faith in Christ.
A Saving faith is centered on the work of Christ on the cross…
John 3:14-17 (KJV) – And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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.
Following the plague of the serpents that fell upon the Israelites, they were told to look unto the brazen serpent on the pole to receive healing. This was a wonderful picture of the salvation that comes through faith in Christ and his work.
Just as mankind is facing eternal spiritual death due to the “bite” of sin in their lives… by looking to Christ and His work on the cross by faith, they can receive forgiveness and healing from the wounds of sin. (Psa 41:4, 1 Pet 2:20-24, Isa 53:4-6)
Saving Faith is a necessity for salvation and therefore, it is a part of the great commission…
Mark 16:15-16 (KJV) – And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Here, we find the authority to proclaim the gospel message (the great commission) being handed down from Christ to His assembled believers. Please note that belief, and the lack thereof, dictates the gain, or loss, of salvation. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” In other words, He that believes with a sincere converting belief (displayed publically through the act of baptism) shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (John 3:14-19, John 8:21-24, 1 Pet 1:18-23)
Please note in these verses, baptism, in this context, is a distinguishing mark of a genuine belief. Anyone who believes in Christ, and is willing to declare that belief publicly, shall be saved. Anyone who claims to believe, but is not willing to make a public profession, for fear of ridicule, harm or rejection cannot be certain of salvation. Why? A true saving faith will trust in Christ to handle any adverse results of a public profession of faith.
Please note that this verse does not say… “but he that is not baptized shall be damned”. The lack of baptism is not even mentioned as a cause of remaining under the damnation of God.
This verse, and the entire subject of the role of baptism in salvation, will be covered in great detail in blog entry #5 of this series.
A Saving Faith results in…
The removal of God’s wrath – John 3:35-36 (KJV) – The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
In the prior verse, faith was said to be necessary to be removed from the damnation of God. Here, it is said to deliver us from God’s wrath. “Damnation” carries with it the idea of “a judicial judgment”, “condemnation”, or a “just decision rendered”. “Wrath” involves the idea of “hot anger”, “vengeance according to justice”, “passionate fierceness”.
When these ideas are put together, we find that a saving faith removes the sinful man from God’s just sentence of punishment against sin. The punishment He has decreed against our sin is a fierce punishment flowing from His fervent anger. (Psa 2:12, Rom 1:16-20)
The gift of eternal life – John 11:25-27 (KJV) – Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
John 20:30-31 (KJV) – And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 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.
Death involves separation. Physical death is the state of separation between the body and the soul (spirit). Spiritual death is the state of separation between the individual and God due to the sin of the individual. Eternal death is the never ending state of separation from God. The individual eternally dwelling in the Lake of Fire under God’s punishment, while God is eternally dwelling on the New Earth in eternal bliss. (Rev 20:12-15, Rev 21:1-8)
A saving faith in Christ undoes the spiritual results of sin on mankind. Once saved, a man’s communion with God is restored and when he enters eternity, he will dwell with the Lord in heaven and later on the New Earth. (Hebs 11:16, Rev 21:, Rev 22:)
Being declared innocent of the sin we have committed – Rom 4:23-5:1 (KJV) – Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Although guilty of the commission of sin, man can find forgiveness and the removal of sins guilt through faith in Christ. As the shed blood of Christ is applied to our account washing away our sin, we then can be declared innocent of the very sin that before had condemned us. (1 John 1:5-10, Rev 1:4-6)
The presence of saving faith in our life can be a certainty.
1John 5:10-13 (KJV) – He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 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.
It is through a lifestyle of trusting in Christ that we can find assurance of our salvation experience. Trusting in Christ is not simply a one time act, it is an act repeated every day many times a day under the leadership of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Once we are genuinely saved, a part of our changed life is a continuous looking to Him, believing His Word and relying on Him during all our day to day issues of life. (Rom 1:17, Hab 2:4, Gals 3:10-14)
Salvation is given to sinful man by faith not keeping the works of the law
Acts 13:36-39 (KJV) For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men [and] brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Eph 2:4-10 (KJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The sinfulness of mankind can never be covered, nor outweighed by a man’s morally good works. The Bible makes it plain that a man cannot merit salvation through his good works. This principle is so important we will be devoting blog entry #4 in this series to an in depth study of the Bible teachings concerning the relationship of good works to salvation.
In the above two verses, we can clearly see that neither the keeping of the Mosaic law, nor good works of any kind can merit salvation. This teaching eliminates many good works that are falsely taught to merit salvation… baptism, church membership or partaking of the Lord’s supper. Again, as our series progresses, each of these false teachings will be examined in detail. But for now, suffice it to say that good works cannot merit salvation. Salvation comes by grace through faith upon the people of God. (Roms 3:23-28, Roms 4:1-8, Roms 10:1-10, Titus 3:3-8)
Saving Faith comes to mankind via the will and grace of God
John 1:10-14 (KJV) He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 6:32-47 (KJV) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
Faith and repentance are very similar in many aspects. One of those aspects is the fact that mankind is unable to repent nor believe apart from Divine intervention in his life.
Please notice in the above verses, we find explicit teaching on this truth…
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
“But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
“Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Although mankind is responsible to repent and believe, because of their fallen nature and sinful condition they cannot come to Christ apart from the gracious intervention of God. This is one of the greatest displays of God’s love and grace…. to intervene in the life of a rebellious, sinful, helpless man and open his sin blinded eyes, convict him of his sin, lead him to Christ and grant him repentance and faith. (James 1:17-18, Roms 8:29-31, 2 Tim 1:8-12)
Faith and Repentance are two sides of the same coin…
Mark 1:15 (KJV) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Matt 21:28-32 (KJV) But what think ye? A [certain] man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I [go], sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of [his] father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen [it], repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
You cannot have repentance without faith and faith without repentance. This is what I mean by the phrase, “faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin.” For a person to come to faith in Christ, he must experience a change of attitude and heart concerning God’s Word, Christ and His work, and his own sinful condition. This change is repentance. Without it genuine faith in Christ cannot be experienced. Likewise, without a new set of beliefs existing in the heart, no real change can take place in the lives of man. Truly, in the mind of God repentance and faith are inseparably linked.
Clearly, both repentance and belief are necessary in the experience of salvation. Note in our verses above…. “repent ye, and believe the gospel” and “and ye, when ye had seen [it], repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” Although both are necessary, many times only one or the other is mentioned as a necessity for salvation…. Here are two examples…
Luke 5:31-32 (KJV) And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Acts 16:31 (KJV) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
In these examples only one or the other is mentioned not both…. Why does this take place?
Because, they are so closely related that when the Bible mentions one, it is automatically implying the other. We CANNOT believe without experiencing repentance that leads us to that belief. Likewise we CANNOT repent and turn to Christ without becoming convinced of Bible truths about ourselves, our condition and Christ and His work.
In this blog entry we have seen the very basic principle of the necessity of faith (or belief) in the salvation experience… In the following blog entries we will continue to study, in detail, the answer to the question “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?”
(Part #4 – What about good works?)
As we continue our study of man’s responsibilities in salvation, we must come face to face with the role of good works. We have already seen that God commands us to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. But what about good works? What role do they play in the slavation experience?
Salvation cannot be merited through the keeping of God’s laws… the laws were given to show us our sinful condition.
Rom 3:19-27 (KJV) 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. 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. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 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; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Salvation is based upon the work of Christ upon the cross… not our good works. Notice in this text that Paul first acknowledges the universal sinfulness of mankind. He then speaks of the work of Christ on behalf of His people, doing the work of salvation for them. Paul then emphasizes that, because Christ has done all the work for our salvation, we cannot in any way boast or glory in it. He them summarizes by teaching us, in no uncertain terms, that “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
If man is either saved by his works, or keeps himself saved by his works, then there is room for he sinner to boast. After all, not only did Christ do His work on the cross on the sinners behalf, but also the sinner, through his own labors either brought salvation to himself, or kept himself saved. According to Paul, this cannot be.
A Christian’s good works are done to glorify and honor our Lord in the eyes of others…
Titus 3:1-8 (KJV) Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Titus 2:11-14 (KJV) – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
If a Christian does not perform good works to gain or keep salvation, why should He strive to live a life pleasing to God? In Titus 2:11-14, we are told that a Christian’s good works are motivated out of appreciation for what He has done for us. He has given us the blessed hope of eternity with Him and He has redeemed us from our sin through His death on the cross.
We find another motive for living a Godly life in Titus 3:1-8. Here, Paul explains to us that the production of good works in the life of a Christian is “good and profitable unto men.” Good works aid others, they show the wonderful change that takes place in the life of one who has trusted in Christ. Also, living a godly life of good works reveals Christ to others.
By bearing spiritual fruit…
Titus 3:12-14 (KJV) – When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
Col 1:9-14 (KJV) – For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:
Gal 5:19-26 (KJV) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Bearing spiritual fruit is another way of describing good works in the life of a Christian. Once again Paul emphasizes the need for good works in the above verses by stating, “And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful”; “ That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God”; and finally, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Why do these things? Well, in the above verses Paul tells us in Titus 3:12-14 because it is “necessary” in the proclaimation of the gospel. In Col 1:9-14, we are told to bear fruit out of a heart of appreciation considering all He has done for us. In Gals 5:19-26, we are to bear fruit because it is proof of a genuine salvation experience/. Paul also tells us in Gals 5: that the furit bearing that takes place in a Christian’s life is the result of the enabling and leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God.
And by visibly declaring our faith to others…
Jas 2:14-26 (KJV) – What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
James helps us to understand the importance of good works in the life of a Christian. James argument is this… It is an easy thing to say “I love Jesus”, “ I am a follower of Christ”… etc etc. Many who have never trusted in Christ can make these statements. It is only when we see good works resulting from their conversion that we can begin to believe their confession of faith is sincere.
James makes these statements:
“And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
It is an issue of sincerity. If someone wishes peace, warmth and being filled upon one who is in need, can he be sincere if he doesn’t do anything to help the needy individual? Likewise, works shows to others we have experienced a sincere trusting in Christ as our Savior.
“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”James points out that works are absolutely necessary to declare our faith to others. Without good works, we can say we have trusted in Christ, but there is no proof in our life that we have experienced conversion.
James immediately follows these verses with a description of the type of belief that demons possess. Here, he makes it plain that demons do have a sincere belief in God. It is so sincere they actually tremble at the thought of God. However, this is not the type of belief that brings salvation…. DEMONS ARE NOT SAVED! How do we know this? They lack the good works that prove their belief is a saving faith that produces change in the heart of the believer.
James follows this teaching using the lives of Abraham and Rahab. In both cases, his teaching is that because their life had changed and they began performing good works, their faith is not in question. They proved through their lives that their salvation was genuine.
Finally, James closes with “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Based upon the previous verses leading to this this statement it is plain to see what James meant. He is saying that if any type of faith that does not cause a change of lifestyle is a dead faith (ie a faith that is of no benefit, it is only a hollow worthless profession)
What type of “change in lifestyle” does a genuine faith produce? It is a lifestyle of good works, turning from past sins to a position of submission to the desires of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Although obtaining and keeping salvation is entirely of grace without good works, we can not use this teaching to justify living an ungodly life…
Rom 5:17-6:11 (KJV) For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul answers a question that has been asked throughout the ages and continues to be asked even to this day… “If salvation is truly by grace, and if I cannot loose my salvation, doesn’t that give the Christian allowance to live a life of rampant sin?
Paul answer is plainly stated in the above passage… “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin”
In other words, Paul is saying, “How can I person who has trusted in Christ, and received a new life, continue to live in sin. How can someone who has publicly declared his relationship to Christ via the ordinance of baptism, now choose to live a sinful life of dishonor to the very Lord who saved you? A Christian needs to understand that it was our sins that sent Christ to the cross… if we believe that how could we blatantly commit sin and not be sorrowful and concerned about it’s presence in our life?”
Based upon our study today, the answer to our question, “If salvation is truly by grace, and if I cannot loose my salvation, doesn’t that give the Christian allowance to live a life of rampant sin?”…
NO, the teaching of salvation by grace, apart from ANY works of man, does not justify living a sinful life after salvation…
A) A true salvation experience results in a changed life
B) Out of concern for the glory of Christ and the need of those who are lost around us, we are to live sinless lives.
C) Lives of good works contradict the very salvation we claim to possess. We say we are sorry for our sins, how can we live in them. We say we believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins, how can we continue to commit them without concern or sorrow?
1Pet 1:13-16 (KJV) -Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
In this blog entry we have seen the clear Scriptural declaration that salvation is by God’s grace without the performance of good works to either obtain or keep our salvation…. In the following blog entries we will continue to study, in detail, the answer to the question “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?”
(Part #5 – What about baptism?)
Before we begin to study the role of baptism in salvation, it is important for us to understand what the term “baptism” means.
“Baptism” in the NT is derived form a Greek word meaning “to dip, or to immerse”. The basic concept of the Greek term is to fully immerse, or cover something or someone. The concept of sprinkling or pouring being a type of baptism is totally foreign to the Scriptures.
The definition of baptism is illustrated for us in 1Cor 10:1-2 – “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea”
Please notice that Moses and the Israelites passing through the Red Sea and under the Pillar of cloud is described as a “baptism”. Why? Because they were entirely surrounded by water; the waters of the Red Sea surrounded them on each side, while the water that made up the pillar of a cloud covered them from above.
Also, there are several passages that speak of going into and coming up out of waters during the act of baptism, also “much water” was used to baptize… (Matt 3:16, Mark 1:10, Acts 8:36-38, John 3:23).
The next important principle for us to understand is the purpose of baptism. Why is it so important for us to be baptized? The purpose of baptism is taught to us in 1Pet 3:20-22 – “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
Here, we are told that baptism is not to “put away the filth of the flesh”, but it “answers” (follows) the receipt of “a good conscious toward God”. In other words, baptism is to follow salvation. Why? Baptism is the public declaration of our coming to faith in Christ and His work. Baptism is how we tell others about the work of Christ and the change that has already taken place in our life.
In Gal 3:26-29, we are told, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
In other words, we are saved through faith in Christ Jesus. Following salvation, at our baptism, we “put on” Christ. Much like a soldier puts on clothing (a uniform) that associates him with the military branch of which he is a member. At his baptism, a Christian announces to the world that he has trusted in Christ, and from that point forward is “wearing Christ” (he is looked upon as a follower of Christ).
This is why Philip emphasized the need for saving faith in Christ before anyone could be baptized. (Acts 8:34-39)
So to summarize our study so far, we have seen that Scriptural baptism is immersion in water, following salvation. It is done to declare our faith in Christ and to associate ourselves with Christ.
Now let’s look at a few other verses about baptism’s relation to salvation…
Mark 1:1-4 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
Please note in the above verses, that a part of John the Baptist’s message was “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Let’s cover two main points…
First, why is baptism called “the baptism of repentance”? In our study on repentance we said that repentance was speaking of a change of mind and/or action. One example of this is turning from our sin to submission to the Lordship of Christ. When we are baptized not only does it declare our faith in Christ, it also publically declares the great change that has taken place in our lives when we are saved. The Bible describes this change as becoming a “new creature in Christ” (Gals 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17).
The baptismal act of submersion and then raising from the water, symbolizes our old life is put to death and we now have a new life in Christ. Hence, the phrase “baptism of repentance”.
Paul fully explains this principle in Rom 6:1-6 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Our second question is this… what does it mean when it says we are baptized for the remission of sins?”. Here, we are told that we are baptized because our sins HAVE ALREADY been remitted (at our salvation). Much like when a criminal is “arrested for murder”, we are saying the criminal was arrested because he HAS ALREADY murdered.
Remember, if we have trusted in Christ, we are now followers of Him. Our life has changed. One of the many changes is our sins have been remitted. We are to be baptized to declare all of this to others.
The same linkage between baptism and remission of sins is spoken of in Acts 2:37-40 “Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men [and] brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”
In this passage, Peter declares to the lost men who were convicted of their sin that they must “repent”… this resulted in their salvation and remission of their sins. Then he explains to them of their next immediate need, to be baptized. Why should they be baptized? Because their sins HAVE ALREADY BEEN REMITTED.
Unrelated to salvation, another reason for baptism is to gain entrance into the Lord’s local assembly of believers. When a believer is baptized they become eligible for membership in the assembly. More on this in a later blog entry.
Peter tells them that once they repent (are saved) and then are baptized (publically declaring their sins are remitted) they then would become members of the church at Jerusalem. Remember, just previous to this in Acts 1:1-4, the church assembly had received the gift of the Spirit. As a new member of this church, the newly saved and baptized would be recipients of this gift as well.
Now let’s look at another passage that links baptism with our salvation…
Acts 22:14-16 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Paul had been saved prior to this event, when on the Damascus Road, Paul turned from his life of sin to submission to the Lord. As a matter of fact, the reason why Paul was standing in the presence of Ananias was due to his obedience to a direct command of Christ. In Acts 22:10….”And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.” Paul, who had just been saved is demonstrating a submissive will as a new creature in Christ.
Now Paul, with a willing spirit of submission to his Lord, listens as Anaias explains the ministry the Lord has called Paul to perform. Note “that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.”
Ananias, during his explaination of Paul’s new ministry, emphasizes Paul’s need of baptism as a beginning point of his ministry, much like the beginning of Christ’s ministry on earth was His baptism as well.
As Ananias explains the need of baptism to Paul, he says “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” He tells Paul of the need to be baptized, outwardly declaring that the sins of his past are no longer a part of his life. This was of absolute importance for Paul before his ministry could begin. Remember, Paul’s past life of sin involved the persecution and murder of followers of Christ. Before Paul could begin a new ministry of service of submission to Christ’s will, he had to make sure that he publicly declared this past life had ended, his sin had been washed away by the blood of Christ and he now was a new man of service to the Lord.
Remember, Paul had said in Gal 1:11-12 “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Paul speaking of the Damascus Road experience says that he had received the gospel (good news of salvation) from Christ during his revelation to Paul… what Ananias had given to Paul was his instructions to serve the Lord… “And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.”
Furthermore, 1 Cor 6:11 helps us to understand, how our sins are washed away… “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
The great change that takes place in our life is an act of the Spirit during the conversion experience. The three main parts to our conversion experience are washing, sanctifying, and justifying. These happen simultaneously by the Spirit of God based upon the shed blood of Christ.
Cleansing us from our sin is brought about through the application of the blood of Christ not applying the waters of baptism…
1John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Rev 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,
Rev 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Remember our 1 Peter passage quotation… “The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”. Making it plain to us that baptism does not involve putting away the filth of our flesh.
Clearly, “wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord” is describing a symbolic washing of sins at Paul’s baptism. He was declaring to all he was now a follower of Christ and his sins had been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
In this blog entry we have seen the clear Scriptural declaration that baptism is a very important way to make a public profession of our faith in Christ. However, baptism is not necessary for the receipt of salvation. Baptism should always follow salvation.
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?”
(Part #6 – What about the Lord’s Supper?)
Continuing with our study to find the answer to the question “What must I do to be saved?”, we now turn our attention to the church ordinance of “the Lord’s Supper” or “Communion”. These are the only two Scriptural names for this ordinance. We find the title “communion” given to this observance in 1 Cor 10:15-17. We find that the Lord personally instituted this observance in Matt 26:26 and Mark 14:22, hence the name “The Lord’s Supper” (ie The supper began by the Lord).
What is “Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper? It is when a local assembly of believers partakes of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. As they are partaking of this “supper” it is being used as a reminder of Christ’s sufferings, His shed blood, and His death for the sins of His people. It also is a reminder of the promise of His second coming. (1 Cor 11:26)
Other observances SIMILAR to that of the Lord’s Supper are commonly called “The Eucharist”, “The Blessed Sacrament”, or “The Sacrament of the Altar”.
A common teaching existing throughout the ages is the need to partake of this observance to gain, or keep, salvation from our sins. Let’s take a moment to see if this belief has Scriptural foundations.
The historical accounts of the institution of the supper…
Matt 26:26-29 – And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
Mark 14:22-25 – And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake [it], and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave [it] to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
Luke 22:17-20 – And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
1Cor 11:23-26 – For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
In the above four texts, we find the origins of the Lord’s Supper. All four are very similar in their accounts of the supper.
When Christ served the bread, He referred to the bread as “my body”… “Take, eat; this is my body” and “ This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me”. Likewise, when serving the fruit of the vine he described it as “my blood” … “ For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”, and “This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. “
When Christ described the bread and fruit of vine as “His body” and “His blood” respectfully, what did He mean?
Did He mean that they mysteriously, literally, became His body and blood? Or did He mean that they symbolized His body and His blood?
Both Christ and the Apostle Paul help us to come to answer these questions.
Note that Christ used the phrase “this do in remembrance of me.” Here, we are clearly told the motive of our taking the supper is not to partake of His literal blood an body but to simply remember what He has done on our behalf.
In 1 Corinthians 11:, Paul described the observance of the supper in this way… “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”
Here he says the observance is to “shew the Lord’s death” which should continue until Christ comes at His second coming. In other words, Paul’s emphasis in on the public declaration of the death of Christ that the supper produced.
Please notice, in both examples… neither Christ, nor Paul said anything about the act causing a gain of, or a retention of salvation. It was done to remember and declare what He has done for us. This was done through the symbolism of the supper.
When the bread (a symbol of His body) was chewed it symbolized the abused and mistreatment that the body of Christ suffered. His beatings, plucking His beard, being spat upon, the spear piercing His side, the nails being driven in His hands and feet; all of this abuse is pictured by the biting, chewing and tearing apart of the unleavened bread.
When the fruit of the vine (a symbol of His shed blood) was poured from the cup and running over the lips, gums and throat, it symbolized the blood pouring from His body and running down His body, and the cross.
This entire process of His physical abuse and His shed blood resulted in His physical death. In this way, the supper declared and symbolized His death. This is what Christ and the Apostle Paul were speaking of.
Paul now instructs us concerning the importance of proper preparation in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper…
Paul continues in 1 Cor 11:27-34 – Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
Paul makes it plain that the proper observance of the supper is A BIG DEAL. Paul explained that if an individual, or the church as a whole, observed the supper in an unworthy fashion they could suffer sickness or even death. Contextually, observing the supper unworthily involved not recognizing the proper symbolism of the supper by “not discerning the Lord’s body”. The word for “discerning” carries with it the meaning of “to discriminate, understand, or separate thoroughly”.
In other words, if those partaking of the supper fail to understand it’s symbolism or purpose, they are abusing the supper and therefore, symbolically, guilty of “the body and blood of Christ”.
In Hebrews 10:10-13, Paul emphasizes that the sacrifice of Christ’s body was a one time event. It was not only unneeded, but actually, heretical, to speak of a need to be continually sacrificing His body for the forgiveness of sins. This is another of many reasons why we know that the bread does not mystically become His body, nor is it offered continually for the forgiveness of sin… Heb 10:10-13 – By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all]. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
Must we literally partake of the flesh and blood of Christ?…
In John 6:32-51 we find Christ as the Bread of Life being discussed. In verses 53-58 we read… Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
Is this teaching us that we must literally partake of His body and blood for salvation? If so, then the obvious reference must be understood of the partaking of the Lord’s Supper and the mystical transformation of the bread and fruit of the vine into His literal body and blood.
To fully understand these verses, we must see the context in which Christ was speaking… John 6:28-31 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Contextually, Jesus is answering the question “What shall we do to work the works of God?” He then clearly explains that the work of God that is man’s responsibility is to “believe on Him, whom He hath sent”. In other words, it is to believe on the Messiah, the Lord, Jesus Christ.
The hearers then desired proof that Christ was the One they were to believe upon… they point out to Christ that God was able to perform miracles in the desert, assuring the Israelites He was with them. One of those miracles was the miracle of manna from heaven. If Christ was truly the Messiah, surely He could do miracles as well and prove His claims.
Christ then uses the picture of the manna and the partaking of it to symbolically help them to see the need to BELIEVE in Him for spiritual life. He was the bread sent from God. They were to turn to Him, in faith, and receive Him into their life, just as the Israelites of old, had turned to the bread and received it as their source of physical life from God. We see this teaching summarized in vs 57 – As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is why Christ used the symbols of bread and eating to describe securing salvation through belief in Him. It was a continuation of a subject brought up by the HEARERS who was seeking authentication of His person and message.
Before the subject of eating manna was brought up to Him, He described the act as “believing”, however, once the hearers brought up the subject of the OT manna from heaven, Christ simply turned the OT account of the manna into a wonderful lesson of our need to receive Him (the wonderful manna from God) into their life, and in doing so, secure their spiritual life.
Why does the Bible call this observance “Communion”?
Finally, we will take a quick look at 1Cor 10:15-17 – I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we [being] many are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Here, we are told that partaking of the Lord’s Supper is an act of communion with Christ and His work on the cross. The word communion carries with it the idea of “fellowship, association, and relationship”. In other words, when we observe the Lord’s Supper we are associating ourselves with Christ and His work. We are saying that we have a relationship to Christ and His work on our behalf. It is much like the public declaration of faith that we make when we are baptized.
In this blog entry we have seen the clear Scriptural declaration that the Lord’s Supper is a very important way to remember Christ’s work on our behalf and make a public profession of our faith in Christ. However, the Lord’s Supper is not necessary for the receipt of salvation. The Lord’s Supper should always follow salvation.
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?”
(Part #7 – What about church membership?)
Is membership in a local church necessary for salvation? If not, why should a Christian be a member of a church? This blog entry will be using the Holy Word of God to answer these questions for us.
Before we can understand the purpose and importance of church membership, we need to understand the origin of the church.
The Origins of the Church…
The first text we will be looking at is Matt 16:13-20 – “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”
In this text, we find the Lord addressing the issue of the lost world’s perception of Him. Of the many differing views, John the Baptist, Elijah (Elias), Jeremiah (Jeremias) or one of the other OT prophets is mentioned. Christ then asks His followers what they believe about His identity. Peter, speaking for all his disciples, says “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”.
In his response Peter reflects three basic truths about Christ…
First of all, by using the title “Christ”, Peter is saying that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. In other words, He was the One chosen by God to fulfill very special ministries. Jesus was the One anointed by God to be the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King.
Secondly, Peter presents two truths about Christ using the title “Son of the Living God”. Christ, finds His origins in God the Father. Christ was not simply a man called by His God. But, He was God Himself, the every essence of God come to earth to save mankind from their sins.
Thirdly, in the title “Son of the Living God” we are taught that Jesus was the perfect representative of the Father. Jesus was the servant of the Living God, Jesus would be actively presenting God’s Word, doing God’s deeds and fulfilling the will of God in all that He would say and do.
In response to Peter’s statement, Jesus then says “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” In other words, Jesus was presenting the truth that anyone who comes to a truthful understanding of the person of Jesus does so only after God graciously reveals this truth to Him. No one can come to this understanding of Christ with his own ability.
Who is the Rock?…
Jesus continues by saying “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” When Peter acknowledged the truth about Christ, he proved that he was a follower of Christ and a member of the family of God. Jesus acknowledges this when He said “Thou art Peter”. The word Peter means “a small piece coming from a large rock.” In other words, Christ was telling Peter, “Peter when you stated your belief in me as Messiah and the Son of God you were proving that you (the small piece) are a part of Me (the large rock).”
Christ continues by explaining that He would build His church upon “this rock”. Who is the Rock? Christ Himself. The Lord was not saying He would build His church upon Peter. How do we know this? Peter was described as a small piece coming from “The Rock” of Christ. It is because the church is built upon Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God, that we can be assured that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
What are the Keys to the Kingdom?
Jesus completes this discourse by saying “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
What is the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven? The Truth concerning the identity of Christ (The Messiah, the Son of the Living God).
Now that Peter has proclaimed the truth about the person of Christ. Christ responds by handing to the assembled disciples (the church at Jerusalem) the responsibility to present these truths to others. Christ is explaining to the disciples that they are to take these truths about who He is to a lost and dying world. In doing so, the local church would be making a legitimate offer of salvation to all. If those in the world come to a Godly faith in this message of Christ they would be saved (loosed from the bonds of sin both on earth and heaven). If those in the world who hear this truth reject it they would be condemned to eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire (continued bound under sin and God’s wrath both on earth and throughout eternity). In essence, this is the same responsibility given to the church in Matt 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,… and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
These sections of Scripture are emphasizing the importance of recognizing the true identity of Christ and the need to proclaim that truth to others through the ministries of the local church. These, in no way, teach salvation in found in church membership, nor that the local church was built upon a sinful man.
In Acts 2:47 … And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. The word “saved” brings with it the idea of protection and making whole.
Divine salvation includes three aspects to it (past, present and future):
Salvation from the penalty of sin (takes place at the initial salvation experience for sins past, present and future.
Salvation from the power of sin (this is an ongoing work of God beginning at the initial salvation experience and ending when we are taken to heaven)
Salvation from the presence of sin (this will take place in the future when we enter into heaven with the Lord).
This verse is speaking of the “present” aspect of salvation… salvation from the power of sin. It is simply saying that following a genuine salvation experience the young Christian would enter into church membership. In doing so, he would receive much needed indoctrination, fellowship and encouragement as he begins his new walk with Christ. It is through these that the young Christian is kept safe from the sinful forces in this fallen world and brought to spiritual maturity.
Christ died for the church…
Another interesting set of verses is found below:
Acts 20:28-31 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Eph 5:25-28 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
In both of these texts we have the idea of Christ dying for the church being brought out…. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Also, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;…”
What is meant by Christ dying for His church, does this imply that, because He died for His church, membership is now necessary for salvation? If not, must we come to a conclusion there must be a universal, invisible church that all saved are brought into?
Not at all. Please keep in mind that the Lord’s local assemblies can commit sin just as individual Christians can commit sin. Some examples are:
Anytime the church body makes decision or performs “ministries” opposed to God’s will they are committing a sin.
Anytime the church body sanctions or allows acts of members that are opposed to the will of God remain within their assembly, they are committing sin.
Anytime the church develops a cold, or lukewarm spirit toward the Lord, they are committing sin.
There are many, various, ways the church, as a body, can commit sin. For the church, as a body, to receive forgiveness their sins must be paid for through the shed blood of Christ (just as sinful individuals). That principle is what both of these verses are addressing.
Church attendance and service are signs that a genuine salvation experience has already taken place…
Finally, in Heb 10:19-31 -Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And [having] an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
In these verses we find several basic principles for faithful service to Christ. Paul begins by explaining the great blessing of communion with God that we have been given. (vs 19-21). Because He has blessed us so greatly, we have a big responsibility to continue this communion with Him in many ways:
1) maintain unhindered communion by forsaking and confessing sin. (vs 21-22)
2) faithfully show Christ to the world through our words and actions (vs 23)
3) loving, encouraging and sacrificing for other Christians (vs 24)
4) faithfully attending church and encouraging others to do so (vs 25)
All of these are indications of a genuine salvation experience has taken place in our hearts. If we find that we do not strive for continued communion with the Lord there is a question whether we are actually saved (vs 26-27) In these verses, we are told, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”
In other words, if we come to a mental acknowledgment about Christ and salvation and yet it does not change our lives, it is proof we have never been saved. This is described as the sacrifice that Christ has made on the cross no longer remains (it has been left behind) by us. All that can be looked forward to is the wrath of God.
Paul then uses the example of those who rejected Moses law faced only God’s punishment. A mental knowledge of the law, if it did not result in a changed life, is of no benefit to anyone. Likewise, a mental knowledge of Christ and His work, if it is not a part of a conversion experience, only results in judgment from the Almighty God.
Paul completes this section by stating “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
If rejecting the law of Moses resulted in such heinous punishment, how bad will the punishment be to those who have heard the message of the cross of Christ and reject it?
To hear the truth and reject it is tantamount to stomping Christ into the ground, counting the shed blood that set Christ apart from all other men (John 17:19) as if it was a dirtied common thing, and to insult the Spirit of God. Surely the judgment of God will be great upon any that reject His truth.
Clearly, these verses are not teaching that rejecting church attendance will result in a saved person loosing their salvation and becoming recipients of God’s wrath.
In this blog entry we have seen the clear Scriptural declaration that it is through repentance and faith that salvation is bestowed upon the sinful human. Good works, baptism, partaking of the Lord’s Supper and church membership, are very important aspects in a Christian’s new life of faith. However, all of them take place following the salvation of the individual.
If you have any questions about your condition or the salvation that the Lord so graciously offers, you can look to several sources for further information: A local Bible-teaching church in your area, or you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.