What Saves Us from Sin?
by Clem Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 57, No. 28, July 11, 2008
We are not saved by one thing to the exclusion of all others, for there are many factors that work out our salvation. Rather than focus on just one passage that speaks of our being saved, we must learn the truth of what Jesus said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Anything which God declares is necessary to salvation in certain passages of Scripture must be implied in all other passages which speak of salvation.
Honest people must recognize that we are governed by "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We can't "pick and choose" which commandments of God to obey. Arraying one Scripture against another is rebelling against God, for He gave all the Scriptures. As the apostle Paul wrote, "When ye received from us the word of the message, even the Word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also worketh in you that believe" (I Thessalonians 2:13). In other words, if you read it in the Scriptures, it is God's truth. And we dare not try to make one of God's truths contradict another of His truths.
So, what does the Bible teach about it? What saves us? Well, actually, there are several things. But let us be careful, when we find one of them, to not deny any of the other things which God names. There are probably thirty or more things that the Bible says saves us from sin. But let us look at just seven of them in this article.
We Are Saved by God
"This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:3,4). Yes, God is our Savior. But by what does He save us? Specifically mentioned in this text is "knowledge of the truth." So, we are also involved in the process. God expects us to learn His Word, and mold our lives by it. Thus, God saves us by instructing us in His Will and showing how we are to respond.
Paul wrote, "God, being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved)" (Ephesians 2:4,5). So God saves us by His love and His grace. This is shown in the sending of His Son to die for us: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "But we behold Him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He should taste of death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9).
We Are Saved by Jesus Christ
The angel announced to Joseph before the birth of Jesus, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for it is He that shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). And again, we read in God's inspired Scriptures: "Though He was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which He suffered; and having been made perfect, He became unto all them that obey Him the Author of eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:8,9). But through what means does Christ save us?
He Saves Us by His Blood
"Ye were redeemed not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ" (I Peter 1:18,19). And again: "But God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Romans 5:8,9). We are also saved by the death of Jesus and His resurrection (Romans 5:10; 4:25). The apostles told the Jewish council, "He is the stone which was set at nought of you the builders, which was made the Head of the corner. And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4:11,12).
We Are Saved by The Holy Spirit
The Scripture says, "Ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11). Christ saves us with the gospel (Romans 1:16), and He shows exactly how that gospel was delivered to us. He said to the apostles, "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you" (John 14:26) "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13).
Jesus explained just how complete the guidance of the apostles really was: "He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth Me; and he that rejecteth Me rejecteth Him that sent Me" (Luke 10:16) "For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say" (Luke 12:12). Read again, as God explains how the Spirit guided the apostles: "Who among men knoweth the things of a man, safe the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words" (I Corinthians 2:11-13). Thus, the Holy Spirit saves us by the words which the apostles delivered.
We Are Saved by Grace
"By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Ephesians 2:8,9). No one can "earn" salvation, no matter what he does nor how much he does. Like Jesus said, "Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10).
Notice that carefully. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And even if we were to do everything we are supposed to do, God does not "owe" you anything! If we are saved, it must be by the grace of God.
We Are Saved by Faith
We are "saved by grace through faith." The grace is God's part. Faith is our part. God says, "And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus said it this way: "Except ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). In John 3:16, we read: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life." And Jesus promised, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
The apostle Paul echoed this theme through all the book of Romans, as he wrote of our being justified by faith (Romans 5:1,2,8-10). But the faith that saves is not "faith only." It is "Faith which works by love" (Galatians 5:6). In fact, the Lord's Word informs us, "What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? ...Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself...Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:14,17,24). Yes, we are saved by faith. But we are not saved by faith only.
We Are Saved by Repentance
We have all "sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). So Jesus said, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish" (Luke 13:3). On the day of Pentecost, people were convicted of their sins and asked, "What shall we do?" God's answer was: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins" (Acts 2:38). To repent simply means "to change one's minds and then change one's actions by turning from sin to God. But in the Scriptures, it carries with it the intention to do an about-face and live differently.
The apostle Paul, preaching in Athens, told those Gentiles, "The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now He commands men that they should all everywhere repent" (Acts 17:30). You see, when one learns that God loves him and wants him to live here so that he can live with God forever, he naturally repents. As Paul put it, "Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation" (II Corinthians 7:10). And Peter, preaching to the Jews in Jerusalem, said: "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). That is why Jesus said, "Except ye repent, ye shall perish." If we were saved by "faith only" than repentance would not be a factor in our salvation.
We Are Saved by Baptism
Jesus made it clear in the Great Commission when He told the apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15,16). That seems very clear to me. Yet people will argue with it and say that baptism has nothing to do with salvation! The problem is really very simple: they don't really believe the Lord Jesus! When God, by the mouth of Peter, told people "Repent ye and be baptized" (Acts 2:38), we then read, "They then that received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:41). You see, when they accepted God's Word, they were baptized. The same thing is true today. When anyone hears the gospel of Christ, and believes, he will be baptized because he wants to be saved.
Saul of Tarsus, on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians, was stopped by the Lord Jesus Christ. When Saul asked what to do, the Lord answered, "Enter into the city and it will be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). Saul then spent three days and nights praying. Jesus then sent a disciple named Ananias to Saul to tell him, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16). It was evident that Saul had believed, for he had called Jesus "Lord" and then spent three days praying. But he wasn't saved yet, for he still had sins that needed to be "washed away."
Some boldly declare, "Baptism cannot save anyone." But the apostle Peter wrote of the salvation of Noah in the ark, "God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also -- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God" (I Peter 3:20,21). That forever answers the argument that baptism doesn't save. The Bible says that it does.
The Bible says, "Are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" (Romans 6:3). How important is it to be "in Christ"? Listen again to what the Bible says, "God...hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
We are not saved by just one thing. God saves us, Christ saves, the Holy Spirit saves, grace saves, faith saves, repentance saves and baptism saves. We are not saved by one of these to the exclusion of the others. It takes all of them to accomplish our salvation.