The question to which we direct our attention this week is one of eternal importance. We need to understand and apply unto ourselves the things of God in regards to salvation. There are many ideas within the religious world concerning salvation, and how it is that man might become a partaker of such, but we need to interest ourselves in what it is that God says on the issue, for that is where we will find the truth. Consult teachers from different groups, and you will find many different ideas on what ought to be done, if anything. Therefore, let us consult the Good Teacher.
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
It is necessary for man to hear the gospel. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” One cannot believe something they have not heard, and likewise, one cannot believe in God except that they hear of Him. Therefore, it is needed that man hear the message of the gospel.
Throughout the Scriptures, we see the great importance placed upon the spreading of the word of God. Each of the writers of the New Testament found it necessary to write certain things, that people might know and obey the message of God. John summarizes his gospel by writing, “…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
The need for faith is universally recognized. Most people are able to recite John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Hebrew writer penned, “For 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 that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) In no uncertain terms, we are told that faith is necessary. How do we develop faith? As previously stated, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) If we are to be believers in Christ, we must be students and followers of His word.
For an alien sinner to become a child of the Most High God, that individual must repent of his/her sins. To repent means that we turn from our sins. We had walked the path of sin, and resolve to change. Jesus said, “…unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)
In Acts 2, following the first ever gospel sermon being preached, Peter was asked by those convicted by the message, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37) In response, Peter answered, “Repent…” (Acts 2:38) We must turn from our sins, have a hatred toward sin, and a desire to do those things which are right if we are to be a Christian.
When we say that one must confess in order to follow those things which God set in motion concerning salvation, we do not mean confess sins. Acknowledging that on is a sinner is necessary, and is accomplished in the act of repenting. For us to confess every sin that we had ever committed would be virtually impossible.
Rather, what we mean by confess is simply that which Jesus asked of us, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
Peter, in the company of the other apostles and Jesus confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Jesus says of this confession, “…on this rock I will build My church…” (Matthew 16:18) In Acts 8, we see the Ethiopian eunuch as he traveled a desert road. Philip joined him in his chariot, preaching to him the gospel, starting from the book of Isaiah. Before being added to the body of Christ, we see him giving a good confession of faith, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37) This having been said, Philip commanded that the chariot stop, and they both went down into the water, that the eunuch might be baptized.
It has been suggested by many that it is possible for one to be saved before baptism. Many religions teach that baptism is “…an outward sign of an inward grace,” or in more simple terms, you are baptized because you have been saved already. Quite contrary though, the Bible teaches that one must be baptized in order to be added to the body of Christ. Galatians 3:27 states, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” How is it that one gets into Christ, the place of the saved? Paul says we are baptized into Christ.
In the act of baptism, we have our sins removed. Peter writes, “There is 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…” (1 Peter 3:21) Paul wrote to the Roman brethren, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
It must be stated, we must be baptized for the correct reason. Baptism is “…for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38) If we were baptized for any other reason (i.e. we thought our sins had already been removed), then we have been baptized for the wrong reason, and it was not the baptism which the Scriptures teach. Thus, we would need to be baptized again, for the correct reason. For example, many were baptized by John’s baptism. They needed to be baptized again to be added to the church, for John’s baptism was not “…for the remission of sins…”
Finally, we must continue in faithful service to the Lord. Jesus said, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) We must endure, until death, or the Lord’s return. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)