SALVATION: THE SECRET TO ETERNAL LIFE

Throughout  the ages many questions have been asked about  salvation. What is it?  Why should we seek it?  How do we acquire  it? Answers  to these and many other questions about this vital subject are found in the handbook for human survival—the Bible.

THE REALITY OF DEATH

The  reality of death is one of the most terrifying realities  of  this  human existence. It is so frightening and distasteful  that  most  people try to avoid talking or thinking about it, and  most humans go about their daily lives acting as if death only happens  to  other people.  Many  will go to great expense and  effort  to  try to preserve their life and will use every scientific  device  available to extend their life.  Some will even needlessly  take  another's life in order to preserve and extend their own.

Yes, life is our most precious possession, but no matter what  we  do or how hard we try to preserve it, the inevitable will happen;   we  will  die.

WHAT IS DEATH?

The scientific definition of death is "the cessation of the life  function" (i.e., all systems cease to operate). The heart  stops  pumping blood, the brain stops sending orders to the organs,  the thought processes cease, the body becomes immobile, all regeneration processes stop, and the body starts to decay.

The biblical definition of death is basically the same as the scientific  one, with one exception.  God said to Adam and  Eve  after  they had disobeyed in the garden of Eden:

"For  dust  you are, and to dust shall you  return"  (Gen.3:19  KJV).

"His breath goes forth he returns to his earth; in that very  day  his thoughts perish" (Psa.146:4 KJV).

There  is  no quarrel with the scientific  definition  here.   It  would seem as though human life is just a chemical-electrical  reaction  of  a  well designed structure of gas,  fluids,  and  solid  matter, reacting to internal and external stimulation.

IS DEATH THE END?

Is death the end of our existence? Is there no more to human life  than  just a few short years on this planet?   People  throughout  the  centuries have pondered these same questions about life  and death.  Men and women alike have searched in vain for the  elixir  of  life,  the fountain of youth, a magic potion,  a  philosophy,  anything  that  would extend life, both life here  on  earth  and  beyond the grave.   

Many  believe  in life after death, and a  multitude  of  bizarre  theories  have developed over the centuries as to how  to  attain  life after death.  One religion teaches that holding the tail  of  a  cow will bring life after death.  The ancient  Egyptians  believed that after death their spirit embarked on a great  journey  and  would  be carried to the after-life on a boat.   Many  today  believe they will be reincarnated at death, and their spirit will  re-enter another human, a beast, a bird or an insect. Almost  no  one believes that at death they will cease to exist.

THE HOPE OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY

Those who do not believe in life after death hope for a  continuance  of  life through scientific achievements.  Scientists  say  that  given enough time, money and effort there is no doubt  that  they will discover a way to prolong  life  almost   indefinitely.  But what about those who have died in the past?  Will science  be  able  to bring them back to life?  Even if science  could  extend  life  a thousand or a million years, what happens when the  earth  and  the  universe finally wear out and cease to  function?  What  about  accidental death?  What about those who die before a  life-extending discovery is made?

If there is no hope beyond this physical life, at  death  we would cease to exist, never again to enjoy the fragrance of  a  flower or feel the sun and wind on our face, never again to see a beautiful  sunset or hear the voice of a loved  one;   we   would  return to the basic elements from which we are composed.  Or will we?

HUMANITY NEEDS SALVATION FROM ETERNAL DEATH

Humanity  needs  God's  intervention in order to  live  on  after  physical death.

The  first reason that we need God to save us is that,  to  date,  all  human  efforts have failed to eliminate  death  and  produce  eternal  life.  The second is that all humans are under  a  death sentence for violating God's law. Therefore, there is no hope  of  eternal  life unless it comes from the Creator of  all life.

The  Creator God explained the frailty of human life to  our  ancient  ancestors:

"In  the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you  return  to  the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust  you  are,  and to dust shall you return" (Gen.3:19 KJV). See also Psa.146:4; Matt.10:28.

This  saving  from  the fate of eternal death,  and  being  given  eternal  life by God the Father through Jesus Christ, is  defined  in the Bible as salvation.

LIFE AFTER DEATH

Salvation from eternal death and the granting of eternal life  is  a  central theme of the Bible.  It is this salvation  that  Jesus  Christ, the apostles, and prophets expounded upon throughout  the  pages  of the Bible. Being given salvation from God the  Father  through Jesus Christ is the only hope of the living and the dead.  No science or philosophy can guarantee life after death. Only God the Father and Jesus Christ (who was the Creator of mankind) have  the power to resurrect and change the physical to eternal.

Job

Thousands of years ago, a man named Job asked the same  questions  that many people today ask about life after death. The only  difference  between Job and most people of today, is that  Job knew the  answers  to  the questions. He knew that there  would  be  a  resurrection of the dead, and that there was a purpose for humanity beyond this physical existence:

"But  man dies, and wastes away:  yes, man gives up  the  spirit,  and  where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the  flood  decays and dries up:  So man lies down, and rises not: till  the heavens  be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised  out  of  their  sleep.  O that you would hide me in the  grave,  that  you  would  keep me secret, until your wrath be past, that  you  would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed  time  will  I  wait, till my change come [Job knew  he  would  be resurrected.]  You  shall call, and I will answer you:  you  will  have a desire to the work of your hands" (Job 14:10-15 KJV).

God Desires All to be Saved

It  is the intense desire of God the Father and Jesus Christ  for  all of humanity to be saved from eternal death and to become eternal spirit- beings in the God family:

"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the  knowledge  of the truth" (1.Tim.2:4 KJV).

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should parish, but that all should come to repentance" (2.Pet.3:9 KJV).

"For  the  Son  of  man is come to  save  that  which  was  lost"  (Matt.18:11 KJV). See also Lk.9:10.

God the Father and Jesus Christ earnestly desire that all mankind  be saved, but they leave the choice up to each of us  individually.   God  will neither force us into his kingdom,  nor  will he  grant eternal life to those who will not obey his laws, precepts,  and principals. See Deut.30:19, 15-29; Rev.22:14-15.

SIN––A MAJOR OBSTACLE TO SALVATION

There  is  no  doubt that the Father and Christ want  to  save  human beings  from  eternal death and give them eternal life.  However,  there  is  a  major obstacle which must be overcome  prior  to  a person being transformed into an eternal spirit-being.

The  obstacle that prevents a person from obtaining salvation  is  the  death sentence which has been imposed upon humanity for  the  violation of God's empirical law.

The First Lie

The  first lie recorded in the Bible was spoken by Satan when  he  told  Eve that she would not die if she ate the forbidden  fruit.  Since that time, Satan has deceived most of humanity into  thinking they already have an immortal soul. However, humans  do  not  have an immortal soul, and will not escape the penalty for  disobedience  to God, which is death. All sinful humans shall be  put  to death, and this death is final and eternal if they  persist in their rebellion against God.

Paul explains that because of Adam's violation of God's  instructions,  the death sentence through the law was imposed  upon  all  humanity:

"Because of this, even as sin entered the world through one  man,  and death through sin, so also death passed to all men,  insomuch  as all sinned; for sin was in the world until the law, but sin is not charged where there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to  Moses, even on those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's  transgression"  (Rom.5:12-14 Para.). For more details see  our study paper "Understanding Genesis 3."

UNDER THE LAW

Because of Adam's disobedience, humanity is now under the  dominion  of  God's perfect law, and because this law is  perfect,  it  demands  perfect  obedience. If perfect obedience  is  not maintained, the law requires the death of the violator. The writers of the Bible record clearly that the violation of the  law  results  in  the violator being put to  death.  The  prophet  Ezekiel  and  the apostles John and Paul  expressed  simply  what  constitutes  the violation of the law, and what the penalty  for its violation is:

"Behold,  all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so  also  the  soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it  shall  die"  (Ezk.18:4,20 KJV).

"Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is  the  transgression of the law"  (1.Jn.3:4 KJV).

"For  the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God  is  eternal  life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.6:23 KJV).

Under the Sentence of Death

Many  believe that all of humanity will enjoy a life after  death regardless  of their behavior during this present existence,  and  others believe sinners will somehow escape punishment.  However, the Bible says that all of humanity is under the death  sentence  because of the violation of God's law, and  they must be put  to  death unless they have their sins forgiven and their death  sentence removed:

"Do  you  not know that the unjust ones will not  inherit  the kingdom  of God? Do not be led astray, neither  fornicators,  nor idolaters,  nor  adulators,  nor  abusers,  nor  homosexuals, nor  thieves, nor  covetous ones, nor drunkards, nor revilers,  nor plunderers shall inherit the Kingdom of God" (1.Cor.6:9-10 Para.).  See also Ezk.33:11; Rom.1:28-32; Jms.5:19-20; 2.Pet.2:1-22.

God's  law  requires perfect obedience, and no one  except  Jesus  Christ has ever kept the law perfectly. Everyone is under a death  sentence, until it is removed by God the Father:

"For  all  have  sinned; and come short of  the  glory  of  God;"  (Rom.3:23 KJV).

None Righteous

Romans 3:10-20 KJV

"As it is written,   There is none righteous, no, not one:  There  is  none  that understands, there is none that seeks  after  God.  They  are all gone out of the way, they are together become  unprofitable;  there  is none that does good, no,  not  one.  Their  throat  is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they  have  used  deceit;  the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose  mouth  is  full of  cursing and bitterness: Their feet are  swift  to  shed  blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way  of  peace  have they not know: There is no fear of God  before  their  eyes" (vs.10-18). See also Isa.59:1-2; 64:6-7; 1.Jn.1:8-10.

Here,  Paul speaks of the natural condition of a person  prior  to  having  their  sins forgiven and being made sinless  by  God the  Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

"Now  we  know that what things soever the law says, it  says  to  them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped,  and  all the world may become guilty before God" (v19).   

God's  law  is  very specific as to what the law  is,  and   what  constitutes obedience and disobedience to his precepts and  principles.  Because of the strict and eternal standards of the  law, everyone has violated them and stands guilty before God:

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (v20).

Paul  goes on to say that no one can be justified in God's  sight  by keeping the deeds of the law, since everyone has fallen  short  and  has violated the law sometime during their life,  and  after  the law has been violated, no amount of obedience to the law  can  erase the penalty of past violations.

Humanity's attempts to be justified or declared righteous  before  God by their own efforts have failed. Therefore, all of  humanity  is  doomed  to  death, unless there is another  method  by  which individuals can be made righteous before God.

God the Father and Jesus Christ knew that humanity might not obey  and  would  come under the penalty of the law;  therefore,  their  plan  for  the salvation of humanity included a method  by  which people may escape the death sentence.

GOD HAS HAD A PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING

Humanity was created with the ability to reason and weigh  alternate  courses  of  physical and mental action.  In  other  words,  humans  were  created with the ability to choose to  do  as  they please, whether good or evil.  Before God created  humanity,  he  knew that they might choose evil over good, and that after choosing  evil   and seeing the results of such behavior,  some  would  want to change and establish a positive relationship with him.

Long  before creating human beings, God formulated  a  sacrificial system  in order to give humanity a way to be placed  back  into contact and right-standing with their Creator.

The Sacrifice

"Then  Abel  brought  the first lamb born to one  of  his sheep,  killed  it, and gave the best parts of it as an  offering. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but he rejected Cain and his offering.  Cain became furious, and he scowled in  anger. Then the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? Why that scowl  on  your face? If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling, but  because  you have done evil, sin is crouching at your  door.  It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it.  Then Cain  said  to his  brother Abel, Let's go out  in the fields.   When  they were out  in the fields, Cain turned on his brother and  killed  him" (Gen.4:4-8 GNB).  

God  tells Cain that if he had done the right thing, he would  be  smiling.  But what was it that Cain should have done? The  answer  is  obvious when we see what the apostle John says to  Christians about Cain's behavior:

"The  message you heard from the very beginning is this: we  must  love  one another. We must not be like Cain; he belonged  to  the  Evil One and murdered his own brother Abel. Why did Cain murder  him?   Because  the  things he himself did were  wrong,  and  the  things his brother did were right" (1.Jn.3:11-12 GNB).

The  apostle  John says that Christians must not be like  Cain  who  hated  his  brother and murdered him. But why did Cain  hate  his  brother and murder him? The scriptures seem to indicate that Cain was  jealous  of  Abel, because the things that Cain did  were  wrong,  and the things his brother Abel did were right. But  what  were the right things that Abel did?   

Here  is what the writer to the Hebrews says that Abel did  right  and Cain did wrong:

"It was by faith that Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than  Cain. Through  his faith he won God's approval as  a  righteous  man, because God himself approved of his gifts. Because of  this act  of faith  Abel  still  speaks,  even  though  he  is  dead"  (Heb.11:4 GNB).

It was through a more excellent sacrifice that Abel obtained  the  witness  which  showed  that he was righteous  (i.e., in right-standing with God).

Why  was Abel's sacrifice  more excellent than  Cain's?  And how  did  the  act  of offering the correct sacrifice  cause Abel  to  continue to speak to us?

THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

Without the shedding of blood there can be no atonement for  sin;  unless a life is sacrificed to pay the penalty for violating  the  law, sin cannot be forgiven:

"For the  life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given  it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls:  for  it  is the blood that makes an atonement for the  soul"  (Lev.17:11 KJV).

"And  almost  all things are by the law purged  with  blood; and  without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb.9:22 KJV).

From the Genesis record it is obvious that Cain and Abel had been  instructed  as to how to be put back in right-standing  with  God through the sacrificial system. Cain was unwilling to  diligently follow God's instructions and was a sinner before God.  However,  Abel was willing to obey God and was righteous in God's eyes.

As it says in Genesis 4:7, Cain would have been smiling if he had  given the proper sacrifice.  We know Abel  offered  the  proper sacrifice (Heb.11:4),  because  he was  put  back  into right- standing with God.

Why was Abel's sacrifice more excellent than Cain's? Genesis 4:4  tells us that Abel offered a firstling of his flock.  Abel  knew  that someday Christ would come to earth and offer himself as  a perfect  sacrifice, and through Christ he could  have his  sins  taken away, never to be remembered again. Abel offered the proper  sacrifice,  which was symbolic of Christ's sacrifice.  His sins  were then covered, and he was put back into right-standing  with  God.  Through his faith in this  sacrifice (a type  of  Christ)  Abel still speaks to us.  

If a  person could always maintain  perfect and faithful  compliance with God's law, they would always be in constant harmony and  fellowship  with him.

Prior  to Christ, when someone violated God's law, their  fellowship with him was interrupted and their access to him was barred.  In order to deal with this situation, God designed the priesthood and the sacrificial system. The priest functioned as a  mediator  and bridge-builder between people and God by means of the  sacrificial  system.   By offering a correct sacrifice, the breach  of  the law was repaired and fellowship with God was restored.

The Ancient Israelites

In the covenant that God made with the nation of Israel at  Mount  Sinai,  he promised that if they would keep his law  (Deut.5:29-33; 30:15-20), they would be righteous and sinless before him.

Maintaining  a  right-standing with God was a major part  of  the  terms and conditions of the Old Covenant. God told the Israelites  that  if they would obey him, he would bless them, but disobedience would bring curses (Deut.28:1-68).

It is very important to understand how those before Christ   maintained a good relationship with their Creator because it is  this good relationship or right-standing with God the Father that  ensures a person salvation under the terms and conditions of  the  New Covenant:

"And  the  Lord showed signs and wonders, great  and  sore,  upon  Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:  And  he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in, to  give  us  the land which he swore to our fathers.  And  the  Lord  commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our  God,  for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to  do  all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he  has  commanded us" (Deut.6:22-25 KJV).

Here,  we see that the commandments are defined as  righteousness.  If a person could always keep the commandments perfectly without  ever  violating one of them, he or she would be a righteous individual in God's eyes and would escape the second death.

The Prophets and Writers

"When  a  righteous  one turns from his  righteousness  and  does  injustice, and dies in them; he shall die for his injustice which  he  has done. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness  that he  has done, and does justice and righteousness, he  shall  keep  his  soul alive.  Because he considers and turns  from  all  his  transgressions  that he has done, surely he shall live; he  shall not die" (Ezk.18:26-28). See also Ezk.3:18-21; Jer.4:14.

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the  testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (Psa.19:7 KJV).

"My  tongue shall speak of your word: for all  your  commandments  are righteousness" (Psa.119:172 KJV).

SALVATION THROUGH JUSTIFICATION

There  are  many scriptures which speak of the  necessity  to  be justified before God in order to obtain salvation. But just  what  does being justified mean? Since being justified is necessary  in order to obtain salvation, it is vital to understand exactly what  justification  is, and how to obtain it.

The Word Justify  

The  English  word  'justify' as used in the  Old  Testament,  is  translated from the Hebrew word that means  'to render just  or  innocent, free, justify, or to be righteous.' The words  'justification' and 'righteousness' deal with the concept of being made free  from sin and being placed in right-standing  before God.  

It will help in our study to understand that the words 'justification' and 'righteousness' as  used in the New Testament are derived  from the same Greek word and are used interchangeably.

Both the Hebrew and the Greek words for justification and  righteousness are used to convey the same basic meaning of being  made  right with God and being sinless before him.  

God is Our Salvation

"Look to me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I  am God, and there is none else" (Isa.45:22 KJV).

"Lead  me in your truth, and teach me: for you are the God of  my  salvation; on you do I wait all the day" (Psa.25:5 KJV).

In order to obtain salvation, we must have our sins forgiven and  our death sentence removed. Because it is impossible for us to forgive  our own sins or remove our own death sentence, it  must be  done for us. The only being who can forgive sins and remove  the  death sentence is God the Father, because he is the Sovereign  of  all that exists. Therefore, it is he that must declare us sinless and worthy of saving. The question is not whether or not he will save us, the question is how does he save us?

The Righteousness to be Revealed

"So  says  the Lord:  Keep justice and do  righteousness;  for  my  salvation  is near to come, and my righteousness to be  revealed"  (Isa.56:1 Para.).

A careful study of the Bible reveals how to become righteous  and  be  saved from eternal death. The righteousness Isaiah  foretold  was the righteousness of the life and sacrifice of Christ. It  is through belief in the perfect sacrifice of Christ that a  person  may obtain righteousness and salvation.

As  we  have read, righteousness is defined as the  obedience  to  God's  law. What is the righteousness that Isaiah  foretold  that  would be revealed? The answer to this question is found in the  writings of Paul:

"For  I  am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for  it  is  the  power  of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the  Jew  first,  and also to the Greek. For in it is the righteousness  of God  revealed  from faith to faith: as it is  written,  The  just  shall live by faith" (Rom.1:16-17 KJV).

Romans 3:20-31 KJV

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified  in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of  sin.  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets:" (vs.20-21).

Paul  says that a person can no longer be justified by their efforts of keeping the law, because God has revealed a  method to become righteous apart from the deeds of the law.

"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus  Christ to all and upon all them that believe: for there is no  difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory  of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption  that is in Christ Jesus:" (vs.22-24).

Under  the New Covenant, the way to receive righteousness and  to be justified takes faith in the redemptive power of the sacrifice  of Jesus Christ:

"Whom God has 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 believes in Jesus" (vs.25-26).

It is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ that a person may  be justified and declared righteous before God the Father, and it  is  because Jesus Christ sacrificed his life blood that  we  can  have our sins forgiven, our death sentence removed, and be  made  innocent before God.

JESUS, THE ONLY WAY TO SALVATION

"Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by  the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, whom God  raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand before  you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you  builders  which  is become the head of the corner. Neither is there  salvation in  any other: for there is none other  name  under  heaven  given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12 KJV).    

 Jesus  Christ  holds the key to our salvation because he  is  our  Savior.  It is through his sacrifice and intercessory  authority  with  the  Father,  that we can have our  sins  forgiven.  It  is  through  his sacrifice that all of humanityCpast,  present,  and  futureCmay obtain salvation:

"For  God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain  salvation  by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1.Thes.5:9 KJV).

Jesus  Christ was not only sent to pay the penalty for our  sins,  but also to explain how to obtain salvation:

"Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man  comes to the Father, but by me" (Jn.14:6 KJV).

"This  parable spoke Jesus to them: but they understood not what things they were which he spoke to them. Then said Jesus to  them again, Truly, truly,, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any  man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to  destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep" (Jn.10:6-11  KJV). See Jn.6:39-40; 11:25-26; Rom.1:16-17.

The  writers  of the four gospels give us a summary of Christ's teachings.  In the 14th and 15th chapters of the gospel of  John, Jesus stated how he and his Father want those who would obtain eternal life to live their lives. If a person desires to have life everlasting, they must endeavor to obey the  teachings  of God's word.

Note:  

Please  read John 14 and 15 before reading the  rest  of  this study paper.

THE GOD WHO BECAME MAN

History  clearly shows that Jesus was not a myth or a legend;  he  did  exist. He was a real human being who  preached  and  taught  God's word with great power and zeal.

John 1:1-5, 10-14 KJV

"In  the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with  God,  and  the  Word was God. The same was in the beginning with  God.   All  things  were made by him; and without him was not  anything made  that  was made.  In him was life; and the life was the  light  of  men.  And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness  comprehended it not"  (vs.1-5).     

"He  was  in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among  us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (vs.10-14).

The God Who Died

Prior  to  being human, Jesus was an immortal spirit-being who possessed the highest form of existence; life that springs forth from itself, never dying or decaying. This immortal being who was not subject to death, emptied himself of his glory, power, and immortality to become a mortal man. See our study paper  "Who Is God?"

"But  now  in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything, and through whom he made the world and everything there is. God's Son shines out with God's glory, and all that God's Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is  the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven" (Heb.1:2-3 LBP).

"But  we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than  the  angels  for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he  by  the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb.2:9 KJV). See Lk.24:1-7; Acts 2:24-32; 3:15,26; Rom.6:8-10; Phil.2:6-8; 1.Pet.3:18; Rev.2:8; 1:4,17-18.

The Creator God who made all that exists voluntarily gave up his  immortality  to come to earth in human form, live a sinless life as an example for us to follow, and sacrificed his life in an agonizing death as payment for the sins of all humanity. He did this in order that each of us could be saved from eternal death as a result of our violation of God's perfect law. See 1.Cor.6:20; 7:23; Ezk.18:4,20; Rom.6:23.

Before the advent of the Messiah, animal life could be sacrificed in place of the life of the violator of the law in order to temporarily cover the sin. Under the New Covenant, the Creator God who became the Messiah sacrificed his own life as a substitute for the life of the violator in order to forgive sins.

Jesus  Christ, the Creator and Son of God the Father,  holds the key to our salvation because he is our Savior (Isa.43:11; 45:21). It is through his sacrifice and intercessory authority with  the  Father that we can have our sins forgiven.

Notice what the writer to the Hebrews says about the sacrifice of  Christ being the ultimate and final sacrifice  for the  forgiveness of sin:

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal  spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience  from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is  the  mediator of the new testament, that by means of  death,  for  the redemption of the transgressions that were under  the  first  testament,  they  which are called might receive the promise  of  eternal inheritance" (Heb.9:14-15 KJV).

It is extremely important for anyone who is seeking salvation to understand and believe who Jesus Christ is, and that he  sacrificed his sinless life to pay the penalty for their sins.  

The  scriptures  say that all have sinned and are under a death sentence waiting to be executed. In order to escape execution, a person must have their sins forgiven and  be  justified (made innocent) before God the Father.  

The  Bible says that the only way to have one's sins  forgiven is through  the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Without belief  in  Jesus ChristCwho he was and what he didCno one can be saved.

As  human beings, we cannot begin to comprehend or understand the enormous sacrifice the Creator made when he  became a human himself. The price he paid and what he gave was worth more than the sum total of all that exists, because he was and is the  Creator of all that exists.

Jesus Our Creator and Our Savior  

"I,  even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no  Savior" (Isa.43:11 KJV).  

"This  says the Lord, your redeemer, and he that formed you  from the  womb,  I am the Lord that makes all things. . ." (Isa.44:24  KJV).

"I the Lord am your Savior and your Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob" (Isa.60:16 KJV). See also Isa.45:21.

"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but  he that  believes not shall be damned" (Mk.16:16 KJV).

"For  God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," (1.Thes.5:9 KJV).  

"For  the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives,  but to save them . . ."  (Lk.9:56 KJV).

"For  the Son of man is come to save that which was lost [i.e., humanity]" (Matt.18:11 KJV).

The apostle Paul said, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all  acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world  to save sinners; of whom I am chief"  (1.Tim.1:15 KJV).

JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD–– SAVED BY HIS LIFE

Paul  spoke to the Colossians about God the Father redeeming  us  by  sending his Son to give his life as payment for the  sins  of  humanity.

Colossians 1:13-22 KJV

"Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption  through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  

"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that  are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones,  or  dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created  by him, and for him:

"And he is before all things, and by him all things  consist. And  he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might  have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him  should  all fullness dwell;

"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in the earth, or things in heaven.

"And you, that who were sometime alienated and enemies  in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he  reconciled. In the body of  his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and  unreprovable in his sight:"  

Again, it is by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the Creator God) that we are reconciled to God the Father and  have  our death sentence removed:

"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your  faith is also vain" (1.Cor.15:14 KJV). See also 1.Cor.15:3-4.

If Christ had not risen from the dead,  we would be lost  without  any hope of salvation. This is a very important point because  it  shows that not only did Christ have to die for our sins but  also he had to be brought back to life in order for  us  to  be  saved. But why?:

"For we yet being without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will with difficulty die for a just one—for perhaps one even dares to die for the sake of the good one—but God commends his love to us in that we yet being sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being justified now by his blood, we shall be saved through him from wrath. For being enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more,  being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom.5:6-10).

Paul  says that we are reconciled to God the Father by the blood of Christ and that we shall be saved from  death through him. Notice also that we are made innocent before God the Father by the death of his Son, and because he lives, we are saved. But  what is it about Christ's life that brings salvation to humanity?

OUR HIGH PRIEST

Christ now holds an extremely important position, which is  vital  to our salvation. This position is that of our High Priest. It is  because he lives that he is able to be our High Priest and intercede before the Father on our behalf:

"Seeing then  that we have a great high priest, that  is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For  we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but  was in all points  tempted  like as we are, yet without  sin" (Heb.4:14-15 KJV). See also Heb.2:14-18; 9:7-28.

Christ,  our High Priest and Mediator now sits at the right  hand of the Father in heaven. Christ can and does understand  why we sin. He knows our weaknesses as human beings, because he has been human (Heb.2:14-18). Therefore, when we petition the Father,  we can also ask Christ to intercede with the Father on our behalf, because he understands exactly what we are feeling. He understands us because while he was here in the flesh, he was also tempted.

Jesus knows how weak the flesh is and now he can explain to the Father who has never been human how difficult it is to dwell in this flesh. Then, the Father can also understand and have mercy on us and forgive us of our sins, because all of us sin, even after we are baptized. Therefore, we still need forgiveness on an ongoing basis, in order that we can always stand before  God  as righteous individuals.

When  we  go  before God the Father in prayer, we  must  ask  all  things in the name of Jesus, which is the same as asking by  his  authority as our High Priest, because Jesus alone has the authority  to intercede on our behalf for the forgiveness of our  sins.  See Acts 4:12; Heb.7:25.

Notice what is said about the intercessory power and authority of  Jesus:

"Wherefore  he  is able also to save them to the  uttermost  that  come  to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make  intercession  for them"  (Heb.7:25 KJV).

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men,  the  man Christ Jesus"  (1.Tim.2:5 KJV).

SALVATION IS A GIFT FROM GOD

God the  Father is expanding his  family  (Jn.1:12;  1.Jn.3:1-2;  2.Cor.6:1;  Heb.2:10)  and  his intent is to share  all  he  has  throughout eternity with beings just like himself (1.Cor.2:9). To  accomplish this,  he has set in motion a plan through  which  he  will  give eternal life and immortality to those who will  accept  his way of life.

Salvation  cannot   be  earned, purchased, or taken from  God  by  anyone. The power to save a person from eternal death and impart  eternal   life  and  immortality  is  God the   Father's   alone (1.Sam.2:6), and he will freely do this through Jesus Christ  for  those who meet his terms and conditions:

"For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of your selves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9 Para.).  

God desires to save all of humanity

"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the  knowledge  of the truth"  (1.Tim.2:4 KJV).

The desire to save humanity was so great and important to the God  Family  that  Jesus Christ, the Creator God, came to  earth  and  sacrificed himself in order to remove our death sentence.

JESUS THE GIVER OF LIFE

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And  I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither  shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (Jn.10:27-28 KJV).   

"And  this is the will of him that sent me, that every one  which  sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and  I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn.6:40 KJV).

The apostle Paul also spoke of the hope of life after death and  a resurrection from the dead:

"But  now being made free from sin, and become servants  to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting  life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God  is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.6:22-23 KJV).  

Paul understood that the material things of this life are  worthless  and that the real prize to be sought in life is the  knowledge of how to obtain eternal life and immortality:

"Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead" (Phil.3:8-11 KJV).

JESUS CHRIST IS THE HOPE OF THE DEAD  

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten  Son,  that  whoever believes on him should not perish, but  have  ever lasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the  world;  but  that  the world through  him  might  be  saved"  (Jn.3:16-17 KJV). See Mk.16:16; 1.Jn.4:9-10; Rom.8:7-18.

After  Christ's death and resurrection, the apostles  taught  the  hope  of the dead through the sacrifice of Jesus and a resurrection:

"And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the  temple,  and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them  in hold (i.e., jail) to the next day:  for  it  was now evening" (Acts 4:1-3 KJV).

"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become  the  first fruits  of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man  came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die,  even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1.Cor.15:20-22 KJV).

"He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that does  not believe shall be condemned" (Mk.16:16).

"For  God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain  salvation  by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1.Thes.5:9 KJV).  

JESUS THE RIGHTEOUS

Jesus  was the only truly righteous human who has ever lived.  He  perfectly kept all the commandments, precepts, and principals  of  God  his entire life without ever sinning. He did not deserve  to  die,  but  chose to die for us, in order that we could  have  our  sins forgiven and live (see 1.Pet.2:21-24):  

"Where is boasting then? It is excluded.  By what law? of  works?  Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is  justified  by  faith without the deeds of the  law" (Rom.3:27-28 KJV).    

Is  it because of a persons efforts to obey God's law  that  they  are  declared righteous before God? Absolutely not! All  that  is  required  to become righteous is that a person believe  in  Jesus  who was able to meet all the righteous demands of the law:

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yes, we  establish the law" (Rom.3:31 KJV).  

Is  it  now  permissible to violate the righteous  laws  of  God   because a person has been justified or declared righteous through  belief  in Jesus Christ? The answer is an emphatic NO!   After  a person  is declared righteous, they must then establish the  law.  But how is this done? This is done by beginning to keep the  law  ourselves  with the help of the spirit of God; we  establish  the  law by practicing it. See Rom.6:15-16.

JUSTIFICATION THROUGH FAITH AND WORKS

Some  believe that all one has to do to obtain salvation  is  believe that God exists. This may sound good to some; however, this  is not the kind of belief Abraham had. His belief in God was much more than just an awareness of God's existence:

Editor's Note:

For  a detailed definition of exactly what faith is, please  read  our study paper that deals with the attributes and functions  of  the holy spirit.

"What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to  the flesh, has found?  For if Abraham were justified by works, he  has  whereof  to  glory; but not before God. For what says the  scripture?   Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him  for  righteousness" (Rom.4:1-3 Para.).

Paul  said that, if Abraham had been justified by works, he  would  have had something to boast about. Notice that Abraham "believed God"  and  he was counted worthy, declared righteous, and  justified by  God.

"And  being  fully persuaded that, what he had promised,  he  was  able  also  to perform . . . But for us also, to whom it  shall  be  imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord  from the dead"  (Rom.4:21, 24 Para.).

Because Abraham had faith that God would fulfill his promises, he  obeyed what he was told to do.

In verse 24, we find that we can become righteous or justified if  we believe in God the Father who raised Christ from the dead.  We  know  also that a person  may have righteousness imputed to them (given as a gift) because of their belief in Christ's blood.  And  we have also found that all efforts by humans to earn  righteousness (justification) have failed.

THERE IS NO FAITH WITHOUT WORKS

Up  to now we have studied about faith. But what about works?  Do  works have something to do with justification and salvation?

James 2:11-24 LPB

"For the God who said you must not marry a woman who already has a husband, also said you must not murder, so even though you have not broken the marriage laws by committing adultery, but  have murdered  someone, you have entirely broken God's law  and  stand utterly guilty before him.  You will be judged on whether or  not  you are doing what Christ wants you to. So watch what you do  and  what  you  think; for there will be no mercy to those  who  have  shown no mercy.  But if you have been merciful, then God's  mercy  toward you will win out over his judgment against you" (vs.11-13).

"Dear brothers, what's the use of saying that you have faith and  are Christians if you aren't proving it by helping others?  Will that kind of faith  save anyone?  If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing,  and you say to him, 'Well,  good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,' and then don't give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn't enough  just to have faith. You must also do good to  prove  that  you  have it. Faith that doesn't show itself by good works is  no  faith at all—it is dead and useless" (vs.14-17).

James says that it is not enough just to have faith, because faith that does not show itself through good works is no faith at  all. It is dead and useless.

FAITH AND WORKS

"But someone may well argue, "You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works  are important too, for without good works you can't prove  whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act." Are there still some among you who hold that "only believing" is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the devils believe this too—so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that "believing" is  useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that  does not result in good deeds is not real faith" (vs.18-20). The King James Version renders verse 20 as: "Faith without works is dead."

"Don't you remember that even our father Abraham  was declared good because  of what he did, when he was willing to  obey  God, even if it meant offering his son Isaac to die on  the altar?" (v21).

James  says  that  Abraham was declared  righteous  or  justified  because of what he did. Abraham was willing to obey God, even  if  it meant offering his only son, Isaac, to die on the altar:

"You  see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to  do  whatever God told him to; his faith was made complete by what  he  did, by his  actions,  his  good   deeds"  (v22).

Abraham was willing to trust (have faith) in God,  no  matter  what God instructed him to do. Therefore, because of  his  physical works, his faith was complete.  Thus, without the manifestation of works, faith is not complete.

Abraham's  faith was also the knowledge that God could  resurrect  Isaac,  and that God had promised the blessings to  come  through  Isaac. His physical works, based on knowledge, resulted in  faith  that was complete:

"And  so  it happened just as the Scriptures  say,  that  Abraham  trusted  God, and the Lord declared him good in God's sight,  and  he  was  even called 'the friend of God'.  So you see, a man is  saved  by what he does, as well as by what he believes" (vs.23-24).

BELIEVING AND DOING  

James concludes that a man is justified or made righteous by what he does as well as by what he believes.  It is very important to understand what James said about faith and physical works. It takes physical effort as well as a right  attitude  to fulfill God's laws, precepts, and principals:

"For  not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of  the law shall be justified (or  declared  righteous)" (Rom.2:13 KJV).

Righteousness is imputed to us (given as a gift) because of  our belief in Christ's sacrifice of his own life. We have found  also that all efforts by man to earn  righteousness (justification) without God's help have failed, and that we must obey God's laws in order to be justified.

SUMMARY

Prior to the coming of Jesus, all of humanity was awaiting the death sentence to be carried out as punishment for the  violation of God's law. But now, we may have our sins forgiven and be made totally  innocent before the Father through  the  sacrifice of Christ.

Prior  to the advent of Jesus Christ, a person could offer a sacrifice for certain sins, and be  put back in right-standing with God.

Because Jesus  Christ offered his life as the final and supreme sacrifice for the sins of mankind, there is no longer a need for animal sacrifices to be performed for justification; however, there is still a need for the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ:

"But God commends his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved  by his life" (Rom.5:8-10 KJV).

Escape the Death Sentence

Now the forgiveness of sin can be accomplished by going directly to God the Father by the authority of Jesus Christ and asking to be forgiven. The Father will then forgive and forget the sin because of the supreme sacrifice of his Son.

This is how we are saved. This is the way God has chosen to  give  us salvation. For those who accept the call of God and follow his  way of life, the reward is eternal life, tremendous  joy, and happiness forever.

God the Father wants everyone to repent of sin and obtain salvation.  He has set before humanity the choice of life  and death, and each one of us must eventually choose which we desire—death or life (Deut.30:15-20).  

Now that you have this knowledge, may God give you the wisdom and  strength to act upon it in a positive manner.

If  you are being called to salvation in this age, the apostle Peter  says, "Repent and be baptized . . . and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).

By B.L. Cocherell, file b3w9 home.gif (1487 bytes)