In the last lesson we learned that because of the sin of our foreparents, we were all condemned in unbelief. How did we escape from that condemned state? How can we be saved? Unless you know the answers to these questions, you will never really appreciate Jesus Christ. You will never love Him as you should. And if you do not really love Him, you will never really be happy and successful as a Christian. What you believe and know about Jesus will do much to determine what kind of person you will be. Let us memorize the following statement;
Salvation from sin has been provided for all mankind by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, but mentally capable people receive this salvation only through faith and repentance.
I. What Do You Mean by Salvation?
I am often asked about what exactly does this word “salvation” mean. This word is used many times in the Bible, and all too often we do not know what it means. It is defined as “the saving of man from the spiritual consequences of sin by the work of Christ.” The sentence of death passed upon us by the sin of Adam and our own sin, has been removed by the resurrection of Christ (Read I Cor. 15:22). By the disobedience of Adam, we were all made sinners, but by the obedience of Christ, the gift of forgiveness came to all of us (Read Rom. 5:19). Thus, the Bible says that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, died for all men (Read Heb. 2:9). And that same Bible clearly points out that we can find salvation from sin only through Christ (Read Acts 4:12).
The Bible uses many churchy words to describe salvation. We will note here a few of them;
1. Regeneration. This word means “to cause to be reborn spiritually”. Think of it as a complete spiritual overhaul. Titus 3:5 says this is done in us by the renewing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Thus, we are said to be converted (Read Matt. 18:3). Thus, we are said to be born again by the Spirit (Read John 3:5-6). Salvation makes us new! (Read I Peter 1:3)
2. Justification. (Read Rom. 5:18) This word means “being pronounced free of guilt”. We are set free from the charge of sin (Read Rom. 5:1). This part of salvation occurs instantly when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior. It is often illustrated this way. Imagine yourself in a courtroom standing before the Judge. You know you are guilty and that there is no way you are going to get out of judgment. You know the Judge is going to throw the book at you and you also know you deserve it. You are helpless before the Judge. But suddenly your Advocate says to the Judge, “He is one of mine”. To which the Judge replies, “Not guilty!” Not only are you declared not guilty, but all records of your offenses are destroyed. The Holiness of Jesus washes away our guilt. It is His authority that saves us.
3. Sanctified. (Read I Cor. 6:11) This word means “free of sin, set apart for sacred use.” The Holman Bible Dictionary defines “sanctification” as “the process of being made holy resulting in a changed life-style for the believer.” Let see if I can explain it in less churchy terms. When we receive Jesus into our lives, we began to develop a “new attitude”. We begin the quest to move from our sinful lives to a holy life. We separate ourselves from a life driven by self-gratification to one driven by our desire to please and obey God. The Holy Spirit sets us apart for service to God.
4. Redemption. (Read Col. 1:14) This word means “to rescue or deliver from bondage by paying a ransom.” Read Mark 10:45. You may not realize that you were a slave to sin and were in bondage because of it. It is as if you had sold your soul to the devil. When you hear church folks say things like, “Jesus paid the price for our sins”, this is what they are speaking about. Because Jesus paid the price for us by His death on the cross, we can be redeemed. (Read Acts 20:28). The purpose for Jesus in the world was to make a deliberate sacrifice of Himself for human sin. Because He paid the price He can redeem us and declare us justified (legally not guilty).
II. Through the Work of Christ
If you read all the Bible references faithfully in the above section, you noticed that salvation, with all that it implies, came through the work of Jesus Christ and that there is no other by whom we can be saved. What was that work? What did He do to bring us freedom from sin?
1. He Lived for Us (Read Rom. 5:10)
His life was one of loving helpfulness and service to others. He served us by providing a way for us to be saved. His life sets an example by which we should live with God (Read I Peter 2:21). By His life, we know how to live pleasingly before God (Read John 1:4; 10:11; Rom. 5:10).
2. He Died for Us (Read Heb. 2:9; John 3:16-17)
By His death, He supplies the means of our forgiveness (Read I John 1:7). Since we could not save ourselves, He died for us. If we accept Him, the Father accepts the sacrifice of Jesus in our place and forgives us of all sin. (Read Hebrews 9:14)
3. He Arose From the Dead (Read I Cor. 15:17-22)
Because He arose, we have hope of life after death (Read I Peter 1:3). Now the sentence of death through Adam is removed in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Read Romans 4:25)
4. He Is Intercessor
After His resurrection, He ascended to heaven (Read Acts 1:9). There He is today, our great High Priest (Read Heb. 4:14-15). There He pleads for us (Read Rom. 8:34). As our High Priest, He provides salvation (Read Heb. 5:9). When we do wrong and ask forgiveness, He is our pleader (Read I John 2:1-2).
III. What We Must Do
We cannot save ourselves (Read Eph. 2:8-9). Without Christ, our very best deeds are as dirty rags (Read Isaiah 64:6). So we must follow the instructions of the Bible and come to the Lord Jesus Christ. We must believe in Him (Read Heb. 11:6; John 3:16-17). We must repent of our sins (Read Luke 13:3; II Peter 3:9; II Cor. 7:9-11). As we have noted in another chapter, this brings a change in our lives. We are converted. After this, our good deeds become fruits for Christ (Read John 15:1-6). By obedience, we are held to Christ, who in turn provides us with eternal salvation (Read Heb. 5:9). We must continue this relationship with Christ (Read Luke 9:62; Matt. 24:13).
IV. What About Babies?
If all people are sinners and all must repent, what about those who are mentally incapable of making a choice? There are the babies who cannot choose, and there are people whose minds are have limited capacity to the point that they cannot choose. What about them?
Thank God, the mercy and goodness of heaven has well provided for them! The Bible teaches that sin is choosing to disobey the law of God (Read I John 3:4). Where there is no ability to know right from wrong; God does not consider the person a transgressor (Read Rom. 4:15). And so, even though all of us were held to be condemned in unbelief, God has accepted the work of Christ and does not charge (impute) sin to those who are unable to know right from wrong (Read Rom. 5:13). Thus, little children or those with the minds of little children are safe in the grace of God. That is why Jesus scolded His disciples for trying to keep the little children away from Him (Read Luke 18:15).
V. Our Love for Christ
So every Christian has many reasons for loving Jesus. And so we sing, “O how I love you Jesus.” So we work for Him because He loved us and worked for us. We love Him because He first loved us. (Read I John 4:19). We thank Him for delivering us from sin and death (Read Rom. 8:2). We praise Him for the hope of life eternal through the resurrection (Read I Cor. 15:55-57). We tell others about the wonderful things He has done for us. (Read Mark 5:19).
What you believe about Christ and yourself will make all the difference in the way you love Him, serve Him, and testify for Him. Remember always what Jesus has done for you, and put all you have into His service. He died for you and for me. The least we can do is to live for Him. Let’s praise the Lord Jesus!
VI. How to Praise the Lord
1. Speak up for Christ.
Now you know who saved you, who redeemed you. At each opportunity, speak up for Jesus. Read Psalm 107:2. Pray and ask God to help you to speak up for Jesus. Read it again and put it in your heart.
If we, God’s redeemed, don’t speak for Him, who will? Why should others if they are lost? Only the redeemed in Christ can speak for Him, and that is what we are called to do. Jesus desires all of us to witness to those around us about how God has filled a void in our lives.
2. Be a Light for Jesus (Read Phil. 2:15)
All around you are the wicked, and you live in the midst of a crooked and perverse people. Jesus came to be a light to them. He did not hate such people. He loved them. Now He has left you to be His light among them. Be a light for Jesus every day.
3. Sing unto God (Read Eph. 5:19)
There are many songs you will hear and hum. Some of them are nonsense; some express good sentiments; some are downright dirty. If we have joy in our hearts, we want to sing, whistle, hum. Let’s sing songs that praise Jesus, even when we are alone. Avoid the dirty songs. Think clean thoughts in your heart; sing clean songs. Be a clean and decent person in mind and action. When I was in the US Air Force, I worked in communications. Sometimes when there was a problem with a piece of equipment we would determine the problem was not the equipment but the person operating it. We had a saying, “garbage in = garbage out.” Meaning if the input was bad, expect to get bad results. Good, Godly, inputs will yield Godly results.
4. Be Clean in Conversation (Read Heb. 13:5)
Avoid dirty language. Shun profane language as if it were a plague. When people around you start telling dirty stories, get up and walk away. Under no circumstances should we join in this ugly and Christ-dishonoring pastime. Let your very silence witness against this.
5. Stand At Your Post
Be faithful in church attendance. Try to contribute something to the Sunday School lesson by study and preparation. Do not let the church down, for Christ loved the church. Be a faithful church member. Draw on the knowledge and experience of older Christians and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t let Satan draw you back into old habits!
1. What does the Bible say about our loss by Adam’s life and our gain by the life of Christ? (I Cor. 15:22)
2. What are some things for which we should always be thankful to God? (II Cor. 9:15)
I Cor. 15:57
3. How do we know that those who are not mentally capable of choosing between right and wrong are safe in the grace of God? (Rom. 5:13)
4. What are some ways in which we can praise God? (Psalm 107:2)
I Thessalonians 5:17-18
5. Discuss in class the words which describe “Salvation.” Tell what each word means and give at least one verse where each is used.