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 The Way To Salvation

I have been listening to a Christian radio program where the listeners call in to a panel of two or three pastors and ask questions about Christianity. I was shocked to hear about so many Christians who were filled with fear and anxiety about their salvation. This shouldn't be!

I feel we need to go back to the beginning of the gospel and start again. The Christian message of salvation is very simple and should be kept that way. The trouble is just as it was in Jesus' time. People who don't fully understand or people who pervert the message for selfish reasons make it hard for the simple person just trying to get to know God and make it to heaven.

If you’re a Christian and your Christian experience is filled with ups and downs then it is apparent that you are mixing works and faith together. Works and faith need to be kept separated. Just like oil and water faith and works don't mix. A deadly mistake that we make is trying to work out our own salvation through works. As long as we are on this planet we will always be sinners. No matter how hard we try we can never change this fact about ourselves.

Let’s take a look at Jesus' words in Matthew 11:29-30, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

If you are on the right road you will find this verse to be true. No struggles about your salvation. You believe you are saved by grace and robed in Christ’s righteousness as stated in the Bible. If you read this verse and say "I wish this were true" then you are probably trying to work for your salvation instead of believing in the work Jesus did for you on the cross.

If you are trying to work for your salvation you are telling Christ that His death on the cross wasn't enough and the work you are doing is actually counted against you. As you will see when Jesus told those people "I never knew you" In Matthew 7:22-24 we read, "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! Also in Romans 4:4 we can see that the person who is trying to work their way to salvation is instead of storing up treasure in heaven they are actually storing up debt. "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt."

The people Jesus never knew were the people who were trying to get to heaven by their own works instead of developing a relationship with Jesus. That's really a shame because knowing Jesus and going to heaven is not that hard to do as we will see.

 It would help to start with the official meaning of the word gospel. According to Google “Gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion “good news,” and the verb euangelizo, meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Both words are derived from the noun angelos, “messenger.” In classical Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. In addition, euangelizomai (the middle voice form of the verb) meant “to speak as a messenger of gladness, to proclaim good news.” Further, the noun euangelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought joy.”

In today's language this would be equivalent to someone telling us that we won the 300 million dollar lottery.  We would be thrilled! And so should we be thrilled when we hear that God has paid the full price for us to be with Him in heaven! We see this in 1 Chronicles 16:23 "Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day"

Our salvation is a gift from God. Accept the gift graciously. Stop trying to earn it. This is how easy it is to attain salvation.

Here are a few of the many verses explaining to us just how easy salvation is to attain. Our first verse is found in Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:13, "For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 16:30-31, "And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

One of the most famous verses in the Bible pertaining to salvation and one of the verses most of us should read every morning is found in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." We also see this in Titus 3:5, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,"

 I know something as valuable as salvation we tend to want to earn it. We try to be good enough to earn God's favor. However God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows that we are born with a sin nature and no matter how hard we try we will always eventually fail. That's why salvation is a free gift. If we had to work for our own salvation we would always fail and so fails anyone who tries to be good enough.

Nobody knew this more than Jesus. During Jesus' ministry He had to contend with Judaism, the Jewish religion which consists of hundreds and hundreds of laws that the Jew had to keep or pay the consequences. One day Jesus was approached by some Jews who wanted to know what laws they were to keep in becoming a Christian.  We find this in John 6:28-29, "Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

There is also another easy way to be saved. A way in which you will always know that no matter what happens or how bad you fail you are going to heaven and nothing can change that fact. Let's look at Ephesians 1:13;

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

The above verse is telling us that if we read the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and we honestly believe that what we read is the truth, at that time God will seal us with His Holy Spirit. Once you are sealed with His Holy Spirit you are God's and nothing on this planet can change that fact. You are heaven bound! We see this in 2 Corinthians 1:22, "who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." And also in Ephesians 4:30, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

I know one of the main problems why people fall into these traps is they are reading verses that they are misunderstanding. Here's one of the main verses that can cause a lot of trouble for the new believer as well as the seasoned believer. The verse is found in 1 Peter 1:16, “because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

On the surface this verse seems straight forward and easy to understand. This verse is probably single handedly the verse most responsible for Christian believers walking around with their noses in the air trying to work out their salvation with the attitude "I am better than you."

If the person reading this verse would stop and think about it for a minute they would see that as long as they are in their human bodies and under the curse of sin their chances of becoming holy are slim and none. So what does this verse mean?

I believe the right translation would be “God said, because I am holy, you are holy." And of course I do have verses to back up my belief. In Galatians 2:20 we read, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

The Bible teaches that when we believe we become new creatures and all things become new. The Bible also says that our new lives are hidden in Christ which means when God looks at us He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ and not our righteousness which is compared to "filthy rags." we see this in  Colossians 3:3, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." And also in Isaiah 64:6, "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all righteousness's are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away."

As Christians we have to remember that we don't get to heaven using our own righteousness. There is no such thing as any human beings getting to heaven using their righteousness. In Romans 3:10 we read, "As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;" This next verse in Ephesians 2:5-7 is telling us that we are together with Christ. Since God dwells in us God's holiness is our holiness. Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

We can clearly see in the next two verses that we are clothed in God’s righteousness and not our own. In Isaiah 61:10, we read “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” And also in Jeremiah 23:6, “"In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.”

Because we are "in Christ" we become a part of God. God lives in us and we live in God. Because of this fact we can honestly say that God's holiness is our holiness. Because of Christ we are already holy so it's pointless to try to be holy using our own efforts and making a lot of enemies in the process.

There is another verse that has been misunderstood and taken out of context, the verse I am referring to is found in James 2:20, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” This verse is used by the Christian cults to fool you into working for your salvation. If we look at a few more verses we will be able to see what is meant by this verse. In James 2:18, we read “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

What James is saying is when you become a Christian you will be a different person. What was once important to you suddenly becomes unimportant. You will see things in a different light. Your eyes will be opened and your works will naturally follow your faith. We can see this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” We also see this in Corinthians 3:11 and Corinthians 3; 16, “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ….3:16, “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

I know many people are afraid of Christianity because they are afraid God is going to ask them to do something they don’t really want to do. That just doesn’t happen because we take on God’s nature and God’s will becomes our will without us even realizing that this is taking place. We can see this in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

 The one thing in my Christian life that motivates me is explained best by the late Pastor Chuck Smith in his book “Why Grace Changes Everything” and I quote;

“What’s especially exciting about fellowship with God is that the more we experience it, the more we desire it. The more we are personally touched by the peace and fulfillment of intimate communion with the Father, the harder it is to live without it. When we find ourselves out of fellowship, an inner emptiness calls us back to prayer and the word.”

The Bible verse that supports what Pastor Chuck is saying is found in Romans 8:16, which declares “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” When this happens you will feel on top of the world. You will feel that you have achieved and that the Holy Spirit will forever be filling you. Unfortunately the times I have encountered this filling of the Holy Spirit it lasts for the day and is gone until next time. I suppose that is what is meant by the just shall live by faith. If the filling of the Holy Spirit stayed with us continually all the time it wouldn’t require any faith to believe in God.

In my early days as a Christian and even today the one verse that has helped me the most is “I believe by faith in God’s word. Not by my feelings.” Or simply put “not by feelings but by faith.”

Are we saying then that works aren’t important? Not at all! The Bible says that we were created for good works. Good works are very important. We just need to remember to keep our salvation and our works separate. Once you are saved salvation is completed through the cross of Christ. That’s a done deal! Once you accept Christ, Jesus says that “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Never means never. Even the times I turned my back on God after I was saved God never left me and He will never leave you either.

Once you believe the gospels of the Bible and you accept God’s free gift of salvation tuck that away in your mind. That’s your ticket to heaven and not you or anybody else can change that. That’s how bad God wants to save you. The Bible says that when one sinner repents (turns to God) the angels in heaven rejoice. We can find that verse in Luke 15:7, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

With all these verses there shouldn’t be any reason for a believer to ever doubt their salvation. Here’s another verse confirming this very point. The verse is found in John 10:29, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

 So relax and celebrate your new or not so new salvation. Read your Bible daily and draw close to God and God will draw close to you. Rest assured that your salvation is in very good hands!                    

When I first read this next verse I said to myself how can this be possible?  That verse is found in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Then it came to me that when we approach God we are robed in Christ’s righteousness and not our righteousness. When God sees me God sees the perfect life that Jesus Christ lived with that being so I can now come boldly to the throne of grace with my prayers and requests knowing that God loves me and wants to know me.