Chapter 1 Continued from the INTRODUCTION
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
A series of Bible studies on
SALVATION IN CHRIST
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART A’: – SALVATION IN CHRIST (#1)
Conditions for our salvation
Before I begin exposing the conditions that man must meet in order to be saved and receive eternal salvation, I deem necessary to briefly mention God’s intention for man and the work He has accomplished for him by the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.
- 1. God’s plan for man
The central message of the Bible is that: “[…] God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God loves us, whether we love Him or not! He cannot, however, save us and have communion with us unless we accept to believe His words and entrust our life to Him! His wonderful and unsearchable love was revealed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection on the third day. The apostle Paul describes it as follows: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brothers at once; of whom the greater part remain to this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1Cor.15:3-8).
Christ’s redemptive death and resurrection constitute the proof of His triumph over death and over Satan, the proof that He is “the Son of God” (Rom.1:4), as well as the proof of our justification, of our reconciliation and of our peace with God (Rom.4:24-25 and 5:1). God’s love was and is always ready to accept and embrace man, IF man wants to change his mind and position towards Him. This is confirmed by the following verses:
- “Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).
- “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom.4:23-5:2). Alleluia! No one should, therefore “[…] seek the living among the dead!” He is not any more in the tomb, but He is risen! Jesus, before His death and resurrection, had told them prophetically what was going to happen… (Luke 24:5-6).
- 2. Man’s salvation was conceived before the creation of the world
Man’s salvation was a plan conceived before the world was created, in the depths of eternity. Christ’s mission and victory was prophesied right from the first pages of the Bible when God told Satan: “… I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen.3:14-15). In spite of man’s enmity, the bloodshed throughout the ages, the apostasy, etc., nothing could stop God from the accomplishment of His plans! He loved us with an everlasting love and has drawn us with His loving-kindness (Jer.31:3). Now, He extends His protection to us believers and bestows upon us His Holy Spirit, as our Guide and our Advocate. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col.2:13-15). Why has He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross? The answer is simple: That there might be no condemnation against the believers who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom.8:1, 4).
He extends His hand also towards unbelievers: “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mat.11:28-30).
- 3. Christ was humiliated in order to lift us up…
As mentioned above, the work of our salvation was the product of God’s great love for man (John 3:16). His only begotten Son emptied Himself of the honors and authorities in heaven in order to come and save us. We were lost and did not know what we were doing! Jesus “[…] who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php.2:6-11). Yes, yes, yes! One day, we all, without exception, we will kneel before Jesus whether we believe it or not, whether we want it or not!
We can, therefore, understand the unfathomable and unconditional love of God! If God’s justice was applied… we would have been consumed, but His compassions did not fail (Lam.3:22). Let us pay attention to a glorious truth: It is never said that God was reconciled with man but that man is reconciled with God! God always loved man and wanted to be his friend. Through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection, God gave us new life and eternal life! He forgave us in His mercy! He saved us by His grace! He regenerated us by His Holy Spirit! He gave us power over sin and our passions! He added spiritual gifts in our life (1John 2:25)! Out of His love… He also predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son… (Rom.8:29). For the time being, “[…] we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1John 3:2)! And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (1Cor.15:49). He has called us by the Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Thess.2:14)! What a glorious future! And much more, “[…] To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev.1:5-6). HE made us believers the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in us (1Cor.3:16). Yes! Habitation of God through the Spirit! (Eph.2:22). IF CHILDREN, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ! If we accept to suffer with Him, we will also be glorified together (Rom.8:17). The saints shall judge the world and even angels (1Cor.6:2-3)!
Did we deserve such a compassionate treatment and such a glorious destiny? No, absolutely not! God demonstrated His love: “[…] For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly [………] while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us [………] 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.5:6-10). (It seems that the apostle Paul the moment he was writing the word “enemies” he had in mind the fact he was a hardcore enemy of Christ and of Christians). This is the most pleasant and encouraging message for all those who despaired of themselves. Romans 3:23-24 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” So, let us take heart, for “there is now no condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST JESUS […]” (Rom.8:1).
Paul, an example/model of the true believer, ‘sold’ everything, all his prerogatives that he counted but as dung, in order to ‘buy’ that precious “pearl”, which was Jesus Christ. Paul gloried in the cross of Christ because Christ had suffered for him! HE took his place on the cross; he was reconciled with God because he had been redeemed from the slavery of sin; because he could now live a holy life. Paul had now the power to resist sin and stand against the wiles of Satan and do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Php.4:13). Satan was defeated and judged (Joh.16:11)! Paul was transferred from Satan’s dominion, from darkness, to the wonderful light of the Gospel of Christ and under the sweet dominion of Christ’s grace. God, in His grace, had put His laws into his heart, and had written them in his mind (Heb.10:16 and 8:10). He knew that he had everlasting life because his name was written in the Book of the Lamb and because he would reign with Him, etc.! And all this because he had responded from “THE HEART” to God’s basic requirements: Sincere repentance and faith without hypocrisy! From “THE HEART” means: Complete commitment of OUR WILL, energy and action with the cooperation and guidance of the Holy Spirit!
A brief note: The fact that Paul was saying: ‘I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway’ does not refer to a possible perdition of his soul, but to the possibility to be disapproved because of lack of discipline of his body and to a lack of consistency in his life that could render his ministry unproductive (1Cor.9:27)!
Is our Heavenly Father a respecter of persons? By no means! All Paul’s blessings are ALSO OURS, provided we have repented sincerely producing works worthy of repentance and have put our complete trust in Christ! If I could obtain righteousness by the Law of Moses or by my good works, then Christ was crucified in vain. By faith, I have been crucified and died with Jesus and now I live with Christ and for Christ. The sacrifice on the cross, the blood of Christ, is my only hope. When I was at my worst, Jesus gave His life to save me.
4. From His enemies His friends and His brothers!
The apostle Paul wrote: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends his love toward 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. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Rom.5:7-11). Yes, Jesus calls us His brothers and His friends (Luke 12:4; Joh.15:5; Mat.28:10; Joh.20:17; Heb.2:12)!
Yea, while we were dead in our trespasses and sins…, God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, made us alive together with Christ (by grace we 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. For by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph.2:1-9).
Isaiah the prophet said: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa.53:4-6).
There is something else that we should never forget. And this is that “[…] we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb.4:14-16). If Jesus, the Son of God, who was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, gave us the possibility to come boldly to the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”, should we not make use of these unprecedented privileges? Our redemption by Christ has not only to do with our sinful past, but also with sins that we may commit while we walk in our Christian life: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). HE forgives our sins if we sincerely confess them! A sincere confession of our sins is always accompanied by the production of works worthy of our repentance, but also by the blessings of the Holy Spirit! The adulterer of Corinth was forgiven and continued his Christian life because he repented! The proof of his repentance, we read in Paul’s words: “[…] lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2Cor.2:7). What was going to happen if he did not repent? Consequently, IF WE DO NOT CONFESS our sins for which our conscience accuses us, God CANNOT forgive us! Consequently,WATCH OUT!
Conclusion: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pet.1:3). A true victory! His victory is also our victory! We can enjoy that victory in our personal life IF we have taken the firm decision to walk according to the instructions given to us in Rev.12:11: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death” We must make ours, by faith, Jesus’ victory on Golgotha, so that we may win. Our great enemy has been defeated. The cross is the only weapon against Satan! We must never move from our position and from our privileges in Christ. Otherwise, we will lose our way! We should, therefore, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2Tim.2:1).
To be continued…