Salvation In Christ
By Ron Jones
©Titus Institute 2009 (Updated August 2022)
Because of the fall of Adam and our own sin, every human being is lost. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1-3, the depth of our lostness. He writes, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."
Paul describes our past lives when we were not Christians. He gives three major characteristics of us as unbelievers. We were spiritually dead, dominated by Satan, the world, and the flesh and doomed to eternal punishment in hell. We were separated from God and followed the world's way of thinking and behaving which meant that we were following Satan, the prince of the power of the air since he is the source of worldliness. Our fleshly desires dominated us and we spent our time attempting to fulfill them on a daily basis. As a result, we were under God's judgment for our sin and rebellion and were awaiting God's divine wrath in the future. We were on spiritual death row.Unfortunately, we as human beings cannot save ourselves. We cannot make ourselves spiritually alive. We cannot free ourselves from the world, Satan, and the flesh. We cannot free ourselves from God's condemnation. We are in a hopeless situation without Christ. Jesus himself spoke to this in John 8:24 when he declares, "I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." Throughout history, human beings have tried to find a solution to their separation from God their own way by inventing false religion and false Christianity.
In ancient times, the nations surrounding Israel were worshipping false gods. They had created gods in their own minds and formed statues of them out of wood, stone, or metal. Humans created these in an attempt justify themselves and hide their sins against God, but their idols mean nothing before God. Psalm 95:4-5 says, "For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens." The psalmist declares that God of Israel is the true and only creator of the universe. There are no other gods besides him. The false gods are just worthless idols humans have created in their opposition to the true God.
Other people ignore religion and believe that just "living a good life" or "loving others" with or without a belief in God or Christ is enough to balance the scales in their favor and get to some kind of paradise after death. Others just simply deny any afterlife exists and assume the person's soul/spirit is either eliminated altogether or goes into a deep sleep for eternity. However, none of these human solutions of false religion, false Christianity, or the "good life" or denying the afterlife is true.
What is true is what God has revealed in the Scriptures. Because people cannot save themselves, there is only one way they can be saved, by the salvation provided by a loving God. God himself has made provision of salvation through Christ's death. God sent His Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin and provide forgiveness of sin. Romans 5:8-9 says, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." God provided this solution of Christ's death out of his wonderful grace. Grace is God's free favor upon man giving him what he does not deserve.
In Ephesians 2, after telling us that we were dead, dominated, and doomed, Paul shares with us the gracious kindness of God in saving us through Christ's death on the cross. He writes in v.4-5 and 8-9, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved...For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." No human work, no matter how good it is, can earn us salvation. Salvation is a gift of God which is by grace. A gift is free and cannot be earned.Paul also makes this clear in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." The "wages" we have earned by our attitudes and actions before Christ came into our lives is death, but what God has given to us is the free gift of eternal life in union with Christ. A free gift cannot be free if it needs to be earned. God's free gift of salvation cannot be earned by anything humans do. It must simply be accepted by repentance and faith in Christ. This salvation in Christ is the only way of salvation. It is God's only solution. Jesus taught his disciples this important truth, in John 14:6 when he said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Peter shared this in Acts 4:12 when he stood before the Jewish Council. He proclaimed, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
As we have seen, God offers salvation to people as a free gift. They, therefore, must respond to God's offer by faith and repentance. To come to Jesus involves trusting in Jesus. Jesus said that people come to him by believing in him, that is, by trusting that he is the Son of God who died on the cross for the sins of people, and that he will forgive their sins and give them eternal life if they trust in him. In John 3:16-18, Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
Trusting Jesus involves repentance and submission. Jesus was very specific about the issue of sin in people's lives. Sin is violating God's moral standards which he has revealed in the Scriptures. Jesus called people to repentance, that is, to turn away from sin and turn toward following Christ. Matthew 4:17 shares, "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Trusting Jesus involves submission, that is, committing yourself to following him and his moral standards. We have already seen that Jesus revealed that those people who did not believe in him would die in their sins. Dying in their sins meant divine judgment. Divine judgment meant punishment forever away from the presence of God.
To come to Jesus involves asking him to save you. The Gospels record that the people that came to Jesus all did the same thing. They believed that he was who he claimed to be; they turned from their sins; they trusted him to save them; and they asked him to save them. Paul writes in Romans 10:13, "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
If you are not sure that, in the past, you have asked Jesus to be your Savior, you can ask him today. In fact, you may have gone to church most of your life, and yet have never turned to Jesus, repented of your sins, and asked him to save you, you can make that commitment right now. If you are not sure what words to use to speak to Jesus, below is a prayer that you could use. It is not the words; it is the desire of your heart.
Lord Jesus, I admit to you that I am a sinner and have sinned against you. I turn from my sinful way of life. Please be my Savior. I accept your payment on the cross for my sins. I trust that you are the Son of God and will save me now that I am asking you. I commit myself to follow you. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Whether you have turned from your sins and trusted Christ, asking him to save you in the past or right now, you can be assured that if you were genuine, Jesus saved you. He declared in John 6:40, "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." What a blessing salvation is to us. God has given to us eternal life. We have eternal life right now and a hope for experiencing that eternal life in God's eternal kingdom in the future. No matter what happens in this life, God has secured an incredible future of joy with him. In Psalm 16:11, David praises God for our eternal life both now and forever, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."