Salvation 2: mankind's response - Scripture overview
In the introduction to study: ‘Salvation 1 - God and Saviour’, we see how God longs to save mankind.
In section 2 of that study we see mankind’s great need of salvation, and that mankind is helpless in sin. Consequently, we can contribute nothing to our salvation - we must rely entirely upon God.
However, as much as God desires to save us He will not save a single soul unless they consent to be saved. Christ Stands at the door of the heart and knocks (Re 3:20) but does not enter unless invited.
Here, we address how mankind must consent to be saved, and also the end result of doing so. First, we must understand precisely who will be saved.
Note. The Scriptures given in this study are not exhaustive, but are representative of the topic.
2. Who will be saved?
2.1 All Israel will be saved
Ro 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved…
To understand this text, we must understand what the apostle Paul means by Israel.
Israel more than a nation
Ro 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Ro 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Not everyone who is of the nation of Israel (i.e. a Hebrew) is of Israel. One must be a Jew inwardly, i.e. one who’s heart of sin has been ‘circumcised’ (changed) by faith in God’s promise of salvation.
Before the Cross, the faith of the 'inward' Jew was in the Messiah to come. After the Cross, the faith of the ‘inward’ Jew was, and is, in Christ, the Messiah already come.
An 'inward' Jew is a descendant of Abraham, i.e. Abraham’s child , and as such receives an inheritance from him.
All Israel identified
Ga 3:6,7 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Abraham was made the father of many nations (Ge 17:5)), and all nations of the Earth are blessed by Abraham’s obedience (Ge 22:18).
All Israel: they are therefore those from every nation on Earth who are of faith and are thus ‘inward’ Jews - they comprise spiritual Israel.
As Abraham is their father (Ro 4:16), all those of faith inherit a legacy from him.
2.2 Abraham’s legacy - accounted for righteousness
Because He believed God’s promise, Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness.
Gen 15:5,6 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Ro 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Abraham's children - their inheritance
The inheritance of Abraham’s children is to be regarded by God in the same way as Abraham was regarded by God - that is, they also have their faith accounted to them for righteousness.
All, from every nation and every age, who put their trust in God's promise of salvation are Abraham's children and receive the same inheritance.
Abraham's legacy was not for the Jewish nation alone
At the time he was counted as righteous Abraham was not a Jew - he was not yet the father of many nations (Ge 17:5).
Thus salvation was not granted to a Jew, and salvation therefore was never exclusively for the nation of Israel - it was, and is, from Adam to this day, granted to all who are of faith - both Jew and Gentile alike.
Christ: Saviour of both Jew and Gentile
A saving faith in Christ is incumbent upon both Jew and Gentile alike.
Ep 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Ga 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Christ died outside the gates of Jerusalem (He 13:12), symbolizing that He died for all mankind, not for the Jews only. Furthermore, the inscription on Christ’s cross was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (Jn 19:20), confirming Christ died for all mankind.
Thus Gentiles and Jews are equally worthy in Christ of salvation. Christ paid the penalty for sin for all mankind, and if they are repentant, all (both Jew and Gentile) are counted as spiritual Israel. Thus indeed all Israel will be saved.
2.3 God requires an active response
It is true that we can do nothing of ourselves to contribute to our salvation. However, God expects us to respond actively to His offer of salvation. The Apostle Paul and Silas were asked the most important and greatest question of all time:
Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
We must understand what we must do to be saved - the answer is given, from Scripture, in the next section.
3. Our part – what we must do to be saved
3.1 Love God
This is the first criterion - all else stems from this. If we take the time to consider God (Ps 46:10), the Holy Spirit will stir the heart with a realization of God’s love for us, which leads us to love Him:
1Jn 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
To love Him unreservedly is what God first requires of us:
De 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
When the heart is filled with love for God, the following steps occur naturally.
Mt 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Ac 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
God requires zealous repentance - only heartfelt sorrow for sin is sufficient.
Pr 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
In Scripture, confession of sin, forgiveness, and cleansing go hand-in-hand.
Ac 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
This is Paul’s and Silas’s answer to the question: ‘what must I do to be saved’ (section 2.3).
Christ Himself confirms this:
Jn 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Belief in Christ enjoined
Ro 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
1Jn 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know [Strong's G1492, see - in the past perfect tense] that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
In 1 John 5:13, 'know' is in the past perfect tense, indicating that belief in eternal life is based on 'seeing', i.e. understanding, that eternal life is settled, and is therefore certain.
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
Ac 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
He 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Christ our example
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
If Christ, our example, was obedient, then we also should be.
3.6 Forsake sin
Is 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
He 12:1 … let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
The old life of sin cannot continue
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve [Strong’s G1398, to be a slave to] sin [Strong’s G266, sin- abstract form: sinfulness].
Paul teaches in this verse that in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sinfulness, i.e. the state of sin, which is the underlying problem from which acts of sin stem (see study: ‘Sin’,6.1).
A slave cannot choose whom he serves. In Christ, however, we are no longer slaves - we may choose whom we serve: Christ or sin.
3.7 Be baptized
Baptism is the culmination of repentance and faith. In baptism we are both buried with Christ, and resurrected with Him to new life.
Rom 6:4,5 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Burial is a complete covering of the body. Thus Biblical baptism is by full immersion - Scripture supports neither baptism by sprinkling nor the Christening of infants (Baptism is valid only after a decision to repent).
In Baptism the sinner is identified fully with Christ. Full immersion symbolizes the full, complete cleansing, in Christ, from sin - no part can be left unburied (unwashed), and thereby left unclean.
3.8 Allow God to create a new, clean heart in you
While baptism is the culmination of repentance and faith, it is also the beginning of a new life in Christ, with a heart that is cleansed of sin:
Ps 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
The old stony heart of sin must be broken and replaced with a new heart of flesh, which is Christ living in you:
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
The greatest testimony to a loving, saving God is the marked change for good in the believer.
4. Must we be perfect?
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect [Strong’s G5046, complete], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect [Strong's G5046].
This verse is a source of concern to many - they see both their own imperfect condition, and also an apparent contradiction with the following verse:
1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Additionally, we see in the study: ‘Sin’, section 4, that all have sinned, and that sin is natural to us. We must then take care to properly understand Mt 5:48 (above).
The Greek word (Strong’s G5046) used in Mt 5:48 means ‘complete’ - it does not mean ‘without sin’, i.e. sinless perfection, for which there is a different Greek word (Strong’s G361, ‘anamartetos’, as in Jn 8:7).
Thus we must understand Mt 5:48 (above) to mean that we must be as ‘complete’ as we are able to be in our sphere, just as God is ‘complete’ in His Heavenly sphere.
Furthermore, scripture tells us how we may achieve such ‘completeness’:
Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect [Strong’s G5046 complete], in Christ Jesus:
We may be complete, not of ourselves, but in Christ only.
Eventual sinless perfection
Nevertheless, absolute sinless perfection is the final condition of the redeemed. Because Christ was made what we are, we can be made what He is: the righteousness of God (2Co 5:21).
This is achieved fully only when Christ returns to take His redeemed to Himself. In that moment they will be changed (1Co 15:51,52).
Until then, we must allow Christ to work in us (i.e. to sanctify us), that we can be as ‘complete’ as we are able to be, now.
5. The end result
5.1 Freedom from condemnation
Jn 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Ro 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5.2 Reconciled to God
2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
He 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
5.3 Peace with God
Ro 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Ep 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
5.4 Eternal life
Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Jn 2:25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
1Jn 5:11,12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
All these Scriptures speak for themselves - there is an eternity of peace and joy in store for those who desire it above all other things.
The free gift of saving Grace is available to all, without exception. Yet we must consent, actively, to be saved.
God has presented each one a lifeline - as individuals we must reach out and grasp that lifeline.
We must first love God with all our being, then repent of sin and believe in Christ as Saviour, and demonstrate our repentance and faith by being baptized. We must then begin a new life by allowing God to change us into Christ’s image.
If any are lost, it will be by their own hand because they will have refused to allow God to save them. It is in our own hands - life or death - choose life (De 30:19).