The Fundamentals Of Salvation: God’s Responsibility; Our Responsibility

It is the greatest desire of man that he could live forever. There have been many books written, movies produced, and songs sung, that express our desire to live a life that would never end. When we think about the end of our existence here on earth, it doesn’t make sense. How could we suddenly cease to exist? It is our consciousness, self-awareness, and ability to deeply think and consider life, that causes us to question the end of our life. Animals do not think about these things—their duration or method of death. Only human beings contemplate eternity.

If there was a fee that could be paid in order to gain access to eternal life, it is certain that many would endeavor to pay it. The reason why many people seek religion, in the first place, is to understand what happens at the moment of death, and seek to know if they will go on living after their body dies.

Amongst all religions of the world, there is a common thread: the fact that eternal life can be achieved at a cost. Those who will acquire the right to live forever must perform certain rituals, procedures, or follow a set of rules. Only the Bible reveals that eternal life is a free gift that cannot be purchased. God will give any person the right to live forever, without cost, if they will simply believe what He has said.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.[1]

Jesus is not a way to heaven; He is the way, and He purchased salvation for the whole world by His death and resurrection. All we must do is believe it and receive it as a free gift.

The entire purpose of the Bible is to reveal to every person the fact that God has already provided one perfect way in which we can receive eternal life. God sent His Son into the world for the express purpose of saving all people, for all time. Jesus’ death and resurrection provides free admission into heaven for anyone who believes.

The prophet Isaiah writes: The Messiah will offer salvation to everyone without cost.

The Old Testament Prediction:

Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.”[2]

The New Testament Fulfillment:

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.[3]

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.[4]

What is Priceless Cannot be Earned

Why is salvation a free gift? At the heart of the salvation issue is the Holiness of God and His Glory. Because God is so magnificent and all things have come from Him—all glory, honor, and praise belong to Him alone.

I will not give My glory to another.[5]

The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.[6]

The entire universe was created by God—everything we can see, and even the invisible world of the atom—all things are made by God. It is reasonable that He would not allow any of His creation to receive praise for His magnificent works. If we give a gift to God, those things we present to Him were already His to begin with. He is certainly pleased with our gifts when we acknowledge that He is the originator of all things. If we make something and dedicate it to the Lord, the elements we used to construct the article of our worship were already created by God. In the same way, if we find our salvation through Jesus Christ, we should understand that it originated with God and was finished with God—therefore, all credit for salvation is His alone.

If God were to permit us the ability to earn our salvation, then we would have something to boast about. “Yes, Jesus saved me, but I helped God out a little….” Sounds pretty foolish if we really think about it.

So that only God receives the glory for our salvation, not a single part of redemption, from start to finish, has anything to do with us. All we can do is believe it, accept it, and give thanks to God for it. We cannot boast about anything we have done to earn our salvation because we didn’t do a thing.

If this important principle was understood by the world, then the problem of working to earn salvation, which is claimed by many churches and religious organizations, would cease to exist. It is apparently very appealing to the pride of fallen human beings, to believe that people can work to earn God’s favor.

For some, they are offended that they cannot participate in their salvation. Other people believe that they have an inherent goodness and that God should recognize their virtue and give them some credit for taking the time to recognize and respond to God. This belief is due to an unawareness of the Holiness of God.

If we feel the desire to approach God, this need was placed in us by Him. If we respond to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to our heart, we should understand that it is He who placed this desire in our heart in the first place.7

There is nothing any person can do to win the love and compassion of God; they already have it. If God did not love you immensely even while you were in your sins, He would never have allowed His only Son to die for you. Every part of your eternal salvation has already been accomplished. All you must do is come to God in repentance for your sins (willingness to change) and a sincere desire to know Him. If you choose to call upon Jesus and make Him the Savior of your soul, He will hear and give you eternal life. All the details of salvation have already been worked out by God. All you must do is repent, believe, and receive.

God knows all things. There is nothing He must learn. He knew, before the universe was created, who would respond to Him and receive Jesus as their Savior. He knows who will never respond and will be lost forever. This did not prevent God from offering salvation to everyone, nor preclude Jesus from dying for the sins of all people for all time.

Since Jesus’ suffering was directly linked to the number of sins He died for, it seems to me that He should not have died for the sins of all those whom He knew in advance would not receive Him. Rightly so, God did not consult with me on this matter. The Bible is clear that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. God felt it important that everyone should know, that His offer of salvation was for every descendant of Adam and all of us, personally, have the opportunity to respond to Him.

This important truth is one principle of Christianity that is singular amongst the world’s religions. In every system of religion I am aware of, there is not a solitary instance where salvation is completely free to the willing participant. There is always something a person must do in order to be found acceptable to any particular method of obtaining eternal life.

The act of Jesus dying on the cross, paying the full price required by God for salvation, stands alone in stark contrast to the work-based religions of the world. In a few religious systems, sin is completely ignored and is not an issue at all. Doing good works, as proof of one’s sincerity, is pronounced and highlighted without any teaching that all human beings are inherently sinful and in need of salvation.

Jesus said that God sent Him into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.[8]

Jesus did not come to condemn us because we were all already condemned. Our sins had relegated us to eternal death and separation from God. There is virtually nothing that any person could do to change this. We formerly existed as helpless and hopeless.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.[9]

Because God is good, merciful, and very kind, He could not sit idly by and allow our hopeless condition to continue. The Lord was compelled to give Himself in exchange for all of us.

What is truly amazing is that God knew in advance, that we would all sin and be lost. The reasonable question would be: “Why did He bother?” The answer to this conundrum cannot be fully known until we are finally with the Lord in heaven, where we will understand why He chose to die for those who would never receive Him.

I can only speculate that this had something to do with His desire to make His character and nature known, in practical terms. God would create a race of beings who were like Him, in their ability to determine their own destiny. With the ability and power to choose, these rights could be used either to love and serve God, or to deny and defy His claim upon our lives.

Of course, a majority of us understand that the most meaningful relationships we can experience with another human being comes to us when a person chooses, of their own free will, to love us. If the only way we could obtain their love and companionship was to compel them to love us, their affections would not be nearly as meaningful as when they do so by their own choice.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ defines for us the fact that God has done everything that is required for salvation. There is nothing left for us to complete, except believe and trust in the finished work Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross.

If we examine the requirements of all religions and compare them to what Jesus has said, we see a stark contrast: salvation by grace through faith, or salvation by works through the institutions of man. The Gospel of Jesus Christ stands alone in declaring that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor except believe in the One He has sent to save us.

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”[10]

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.[11]

In the parables of Jesus, He taught the important principle of salvation by illustrations from life. The hidden treasure and the parable of the Prodigal Son are two that vividly portray redemption to us.

The Hidden Treasure

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”[12]

In this parable, the treasure is the human soul. The field is the earth. The Man who finds this treasure is Jesus—who, for His joy over discovering this treasure of human souls, gives up His very life to redeem the earth and all those who will believe in Him for their salvation. It certainly does not mean, as the commonly interpreted idea that the treasure is the gospel, and we must sell all that we have to buy it. This would place salvation in our hands and make salvation our work instead an act of God’s Grace. The Bible is explicit in the foundation that salvation is by grace through faith, not of ourselves.[13]

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.[14]

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.[15]

In a second parable that Jesus taught, we see the principles that are necessary for salvation,  and how our Father in heaven waits patiently for us, and accepts every person who comes to Him in sincerity.

The Prodigal Son

To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”[16]

These two parables deal with the heart of God towards people. He earnestly desires that we are all redeemed and have the opportunity to partake of the infinite blessings He has prepared for us.

The issues contrasted in this parable are:

  1. A Father who loves His son.
  2. A foolish son who has made bad choices.
  3. A life that is wrecked because of those choices.
  4. Humility by the difficulty of trials.
  5. A desire to change.
  6. A return to the Father.
  7. A Father’s welcome and the restoration of His son.

The major issues addressed in this parable is repentance.

There are two Greek words that are made use of in the New Testament to illustrate repentance. First, the verb, metamelomai—used to describe a change in the mind that would produce regret or remorse for the sin committed. Although the mind has been changed, the heart remains the same; therefore, there would be no change in the lifestyle of the individual. This is observed by the repentance of Judas Iscariot who was remorseful, but took no further action to change his behavior.

The second Greek word used to describe repentance is metanoeo—to change your mind and the direction of your actions after coming into a knowledge of your sin.

Only when our actions are changed, along with a changed mind, can the Lord grant us the forgiveness of our sins. The son described in this parable of Jesus had true repentance that led him to change the behavior of his life. Because of his true repentance, the father ran to the son and welcomed him back home.

Upon the son’s restoration, the father places his ring on his son’s finger as a symbol of authority. The son is given the robe of his father, signifying that his righteousness now comes from his father. A person who is Born Again by the Spirit of God is said to have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to, or given to them, as described by Isaiah 61:10.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.[17]

This righteousness that comes from the Lord is like a robe that covers those who come to Jesus for salvation. This covering from the Lord, which is His righteousness, is described in the Book of Revelation Chapter 3:5 as a white garment worn by the saved.

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.[18]

Upon the return of this son, the father places shoes on his shoeless son. Slaves did not own shoes; but a son is free, therefore he wears the sandals of his father. This is now a time for celebration and feasting; for the formerly lost slave is now home, no longer a slave of sin—he is now a son of righteousness.

  • Filthy garments removed, robes of righteousness given.
  • Authority and honor given to the son by the father’s ring.
  • Shoeless feet covered with the sandals of his father.

The older son is bitter at the treatment his father has shown to his wayward brother. This older brother is a picture of Israel who has yet to come into a personal relationship with God through the Messiah, but attributes sonship to physical birth rather than by the new birth of the Gospel.

This older son (Israel) desires that his many years of service to his father would be the basis for his acceptance by the father. This is significant of the fact that the Jews today base their righteousness before God on their long-standing status as “chosen” rather than what the gospel requires: a new birth and salvation by grace through faith.

Though the older son is bitter and the younger son has wasted his life thus far on reprobate living, the character of the loving father rises above all their sins. In this amazing love the father shows to both his sons, we can understand, by this parable, that Jesus taught how much our heavenly Father loves each one of us and so earnestly desires that we are reconciled to Him.

Salvation must originate with God because man is helpless to save himself

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.[19]

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law.[20]

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ.[21]

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.[22]

The entire body of scripture indicates that mankind is lost in sin, with no hope of redemption. Therefore, there is no work anyone can perform that is sufficient to merit their own redemption. For this reason, unless God initiates our salvation, which is otherwise impossible.

The common thought among those who are uninformed is that human beings are basically good and, if our good works outweigh our bad, God will accept us into heaven when we die. Unfortunately, the Bible teaches the opposite: All men are sinners and therefore not truly good, and incapable of self-redemption. This impossible state of man necessitated action by God to initiate salvation.

Under a provision carried out by God, all people may enter heaven if they follow the requirements God has prescribed.

First, an awareness that we are all separated from God by our sins, with no hope of redemption on our part. (Romans 3:23)

Second, a sincere sorrow for the sins we have committed, with an honest desire and willingness to turn from those sins. (Romans 10:9)

Third, an acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for the sins we have committed, and a complete trust in Him for our salvation. (1 John 2:2, 1 John 5:12)

Fourth, a willingness to follow Jesus closely and be obedient to Him for the remainder of our life. (Luke 6:46)

Three additional requirements keep those who have been saved in fellowship with God. These three points are not required for salvation. They do, however, give evidence of a new life that has been changed as a result of coming into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Fifth, when sins are committed, an immediate confession of those sins to the Lord whereby fellowship with Him is restored. (1 John 1:9)

Sixth, a constant expectation of Jesus’ promise to return to earth at any moment. The effect of an expectation of Jesus’ imminent return will have the result of purifying the life of those who wait for Him (1 John 3:3, Luke 12:42-44).

Seventh, to be a witness of Jesus’ power to change lives, declaring who He is and what He has accomplished, so as to lead as many people as possible to a saving faith (Luke 28:19, John 4:35).

We should not confuse the issue of fellowship with God by determining that He created us because He had a need. God has existed forever and is complete, apart from His creation. God does not need us, nor can we offer to God anything that would enhance His existence. His demands for obedience are for our benefit, not His. We are the beneficiaries of doing what He commands. All of God’s law is good and will enable us to enjoy a rich and satisfying life while here on earth and into the world to come.

Those who chose to disobey God and live their lives for themselves, in the end, are found to have empty, meaningless, and hopeless lives. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a person who has denied God for his entire life, who arrives at his last day without any hope beyond the final beat of his heart. Conversely, the person who has lived a large part of his existence in obedience to God comes to the end of a wonderful life of blessing and purpose, eager to enter his new and eternal life the moment his body ceases to function.

We all feel a deep and abiding sense, that life is a beautiful and magnificent gift that allows us to richly enjoy, with great satisfaction, the love and joy of this incredible world in which we were born into. The only explanation that answers all of the deep and mysterious questions of life is—God, who loves us, has created this universe for those made in His image. Even when we turned aside from Him by our own free will, He continues, through every generation, to pursue each one of us and tell us about His Son who died for our sins—offering every person eternal life without cost, if we only receive Him.

Why Jesus Died For Us


NOTES:

1 John 14:6 (NLT)

2 Isaiah 55:1

3 John 3:16

4 Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)

5 Isaiah 48:11

6 Psalms 24:1

7 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44

And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” John 6:65

8 John 3:17

9 John 3:18

10 John 6:29

11 Ephesians 2:8-9

12 Matthew 13:44

13 Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)

14 Hebrews 12:2

15 2 Corinthians 4:7

16 Luke 15:11-32

17 Isaiah 61:10

18 Revelation 3:5

19 Romans 3:20

20 Galatians 4:4-5

21 Galatians 2:16

22 Ephesians 2:8-9



Categories: Book of Life, Chosen/ Elected, Encouragement For The Day, Forgiveness of Sin, How Salvation Occurs, Jesus is the Messiah, Living For Jesus, Not understanding salvation, Predestination, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation is a free gift, Salvation through Jesus, The Condition of the Heart, The Historical Jesus, We must see our need, Why Jesus had to die

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