by Frank Richey
via The Elgin Hills Examiner, Vol. 4, Nos. 4-6, April -- June 2009.
Notice we do not ask the question, "What does a particular church teach about salvation?" The reason for this is that no church has the divine right to teach anything about salvation other than what is revealed in the Bible. Many study their Bibles and twist the Scriptures to suit themselves, and determine this to be the answer to their personal search for salvation. Some say they are saved by the love of God, others by mercy or grace. Some say they are saved by obedience, some by the blood of Christ. Some say they are saved by faith, others by repenting and asking Jesus into their heart. Some require a "spiritual experience" while some believe acknowledgment of Jesus as their personal Savior is all that is needed.
How confusing when different churches teach different things about salvation! How do we navigate through these waters of confusion and uncertainty? We do so by looking at what is revealed to us in the Bible, the inspired Word of God.
The Bible teaches that man's salvation involves God's part and man's part. Both parts are necessary for salvation. If we are open-minded and receptive to God's Word, we will accept what God has to say about this matter and turn from the doctrines of men.
God's Part in Man's Salvation
God Himself Saves Man
We are justified (declared guiltless) by God through faith (Romans 3:25,30; 8:33). Faith is produced by God's Word (Romans 10:17).
Mercy Saves Man
How blessed we are that God's "merciful kindness is great toward us" (Psalms 117:2), and that "according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
Sending Christ Into The World Saves Man
The Bible says that "He (Jesus) will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21), and that "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).
The Shedding Of Christ's Blood Saves Man
We are "justified by His blood" and "saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9). Jesus, in instituting the Lord's Supper, said, "For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28); and in Revelation 1:5; John writes, "and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood."
The Sending of the Gospel Saves Man
The gospel is the power that God uses to bring us to salvation. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:16,17). Paul said that it "pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (I Corinthians 1:21). Paul plainly stated that the gospel saves us (I Corinthians 15:1,2), where he says "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain." Paul also said to Timothy that the Scriptures were able to make him "wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). When Peter came to the household of Cornelius, he stated that he had come to "tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved" (Acts 11:14)
God's Grace Saves Man
It is God's grace "that brings salvation" and "has appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11). We are justified by His grace (Titus 3:7). It is "by grace you have been saved and that is through faith" (Ephesians 2:5,8).
God's Longsuffering Saves Man
God wants all men to be saved. For this reason, God is longsuffering toward us. Peter says, "And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation -- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you" (II Peter 3:15).
Perhaps there are other things we can find in the Bible that mention God's part of salvation, but let us now look at man's part in salvation. As we do so, let us remember that we are not to "pick and choose" from those things God says, but we are to do all the things that God requires of us.
Man's Part in Salvation
The Bible Teaches That We Must Hear the Word of God
It is through the Word of God, the Bible, that we can understand the Will of God for man. Paul said, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). We cannot know what we must do to be saved unless we can read what we must do in the Bible. Therefore, Bible study is necessary to know God's Will for man.
Man Must Have Faith in the Word Of God
It is not enough to hear God's Word; we must believe that it is God's revealed message to mankind. Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). The Hebrew writer said, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
Man Must Repent of His Sins
In Luke 13:3, Jesus said, "Except you repent you shall all likewise perish." He again repeated this in verse five. The Bible teaches that God requires "all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). When we repent, we determine to turn away from the sins that separate us from God and have genuine sorrow for our sins (Isaiah 59:1,2).
Man Must Confess Christ
Confession of Christ as Savior is a part of the gospel plan of salvation. The Bible teaches, "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10).
Man Must Obey God's Will
God has always required obedience from man. Even Jesus was obedient to the Will of God: "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:8,9).
Man Must be Baptized for the Remission of Sins
People in most denominations agree with all that has been said up to this point, and then fail when it comes to obeying the requirement of being baptized for the remission of sins. The passages that teach this are numerous and there is no room in this printing to pursue all of them. However, notice some of the passages where God, through the Holy Spirit, tells how one becomes a Christian.
Jesus, before ascending back to heaven, said to His disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen." (Matthew 28:19,20).
Peter, in the first gospel sermon, said, "...Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Later on, in the first epistle of Peter, Peter said that baptism saves us. "There is also an antitype which now saves us --- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).
When the apostle Paul recounted his conversion, he said that Ananias came to him and said, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).
Paul also said that it is through baptism that we put on Christ. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
Denominational preachers will try to dismiss these Scriptures as unimportant and baptism for the remission of sins as unnecessary. But read for yourself what God says!
Man Must Endure To The End In Order To Be Saved
Jesus knew that many would start on the road to heaven and then fall away. Therefore He
said, "But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13). This is repeated in Mark 13:13: "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Paul, using the analogy of a race, points out that salvation is for those who "finish the race" and "have kept the faith." Those who do so will receive a "crown of righteousness" (II Timothy 4:7,8).
Man Must Love The Truth In Order To Be Saved
Paul talks of those that will perish because "they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (II Thessalonians 2:10).
The church of Christ is a group of Christians meeting in a given location who have joined themselves together to worship God according to the New Testament pattern. The New Testament church had no denominational name of headquarters. It did not have members of any man-made denominational organization, conference, synod, or association. The New Testament church was made up of Christians trying to serve God in the manner prescribed by God's Word. They are not perfect and infallible but know that God is and that they must strive to serve Him in order to have salvation. They are concerned about having Scriptural authority for the things they do.
The organization of the New Testament church has elders, deacons and saints (Philippians 1:1). The elders have oversight of the congregation and "shepherd the flock" (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2).
The New Testament church did not support any of the man-made, quasi-church institutions that have become so much a part of many churches today. The New Testament church was not involved in sports, parties, church socials, or any other activities for which we cannot find Scriptural authority. We are to follow the Biblical pattern of the work of the church, that being the preaching of the gospel (Acts 13:1-3), edifying of the saints (Ephesians 4:12,16), and providing benevolence for needy saints (I Corinthians 16:1,2). The Bible teaches that, as individuals, we are to "do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).