And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Among the things of which one should be sure, none is more important than salvation. Mankind has a soul that will survive the death of his body and will exist eternally in heaven or hell. Where one exists eternally depends on how he responds to the all-important question, "What must I do to be saved?"
Jesus emphasized the soul's importance when He stated, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). As profitable as it might seem to "gain the whole world," it is not as important as saving "his own soul." You have a soul. It is very important. There is nothing of more value to you than your soul. Unfortunately, many do not value their souls very highly. People often times neglect their souls. The Bible warns, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him" (Hebrews 2:3). Also, many do not make sure that their soul is saved. Perhaps they listen to some preacher or priest and never check with the Word of God. In this lesson, we want to address the all important subject, "You Can Be Sure About Salvation..
When we are born into this world, we are sinless. We do not inherit sin. God, through the prophet Ezekiel, stated, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20). Jesus likens those who would enter into His kingdom to little children. The Bible records, "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:1-4). Again, showing the spiritual purity of children, the Bible states, "Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:13-14). Jesus would not tell us to become as little children for "such is the kingdom of heaven," if they were sinners or totally depraved.
People become sinners, in need of salvation, after they sin. But what is sin and how do we become sinners? God says, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). Sin is defined as "the transgression of the law." It is going beyond the limits or boundaries of God's law. Again sin is defined as "unrighteousness." John wrote, "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death" (1 John 5:17). Unrighteousness is failing to do what is right. In the above two passages, sin is seen as act of commission ("transgression of the law") and sin of omission ("all unrighteousness is sin"). Likewise James stated, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). From God's definition of sin, one learns that sin is either something one does or fails to do; it is not something one inherits.
The Bibles teaches us that all of us at one time or another have sinned. We have transgressed God's law and left undone what should be done. Consequently all have sinned. The book of Romans teaches the need for Jesus having come into this world to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the world. After showing that both Gentiles and Jews (all humanity) had sinned (Romans chapters 1 and 2), Paul wrote, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The good news is that Christ came into the world to take away sin. When John saw Jesus, he declared, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29b). God doesn't simply overlook sin, but He will forgive sin. God is just, which means He cannot simply overlook our transgression. We would not respect human judges that simply overlooked the breaking of our laws. But even though God is just, He is also our "Justifier." Paul wrote, "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" (Romans 3:24-26).
God desires our salvation. He wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). God sent Jesus into the world that we might be saved. John records, "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" (John 3:16).
There is both a Divine side and human side to our salvation. God's side of salvation includes such wonderful attributes as mercy, grace, love, the sacrifice of Christ, longsuffering, etc. We could not be saved without these attributes of God. However, there is a human side to salvation also. If we did not have to do anything to be saved, then all people would be saved, for that is God's desire, but yet not all men are saved. Jesus says there is something we must do. He stated, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Whom did Jesus say would enter into the kingdom of heaven? "He that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven." What must we do to be saved?
One must HEAR the Word of God to be saved. Paul wrote, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit or some experience one has in life. God draws us through the process of hearing and learning. Jesus stated, "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" (John 6:44-45).
One must also BELIEVE in Christ in order to be saved. Jesus said, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). Additionally, all must REPENT of their sins in order to be saved. Jesus said, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). Paul told the Athenians, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30). Repentance is a change of heart that will result in reformation of life. God has also said that one should CONFESS the Christ in order to be saved. Paul wrote that confession is unto salvation. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). A Bible example of this confession is seen in Acts 8:37, "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37). The final act that places one "into Christ" is BAPTISM. When the Gospel was preached in the city of Jerusalem, the ones who crucified Jesus realized their sin. They asked, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" The inspired answer is found in the following verse, "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" (Acts 2:38). These who believed in Jesus were instructed to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins remitted (sent away). Earlier Jesus had instructed, "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" (Mark 16:15-16). Jesus stated that belief and baptism were essential to salvation. One can understand why baptism is essential to salvation when he realizes that in baptism is when God places us "in Christ." Paul wrote; "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
Salvation is found only in Christ. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Paul said; "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:10). Since salvation is found only in Christ, it is imperative that one be in Christ. If one is in Christ, he can be sure of his salvation.
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