Christian Essentials Series: Salvation

Wednesday Evening Service, 6/8/11

Songs

Salvation

– Adam Paine

So we are in the second week of our five-week series, talking about Christian Essentials. Last week we talked about the Godhead. This week we’re talking about Salvation. Let’s start with an everyday dictionary definition of the word.

salvation
The act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, descruction, etc.
The state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
The source of protection from harm, risk, etc.

The Bible dictionary definition is a little bit different, but at its core, it’s the same.

salvation (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)
In the New Testament, especially used with reference to the great deliverance from the guilt and pollution of sin wrought out by Jesus Christ.

If salvation is being saved from something, what are we being saved from? We’re being saved from hell. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. The God who created us created heaven and hell. He didn’t create us to go to hell, but we can go there by choosing not to follow him.

We often say as a Christian, “I want to have eternal life.” You’re going to have eternal life either way. All you need to worry about is where you’ll spend it. It’s not like you get to live forever in heaven –or– “retire early.”

Romans 3:22-23
  1. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
  2. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

We all deserve hell. The ways of the world are, “Live a good life, and good things will happen to you.” But we are each a sinful creature. If you don’t keep your mind on a leash, it’s like an untrained dog. It just runs about. We’re not worthy of God’s salvation, on our own.

Romans 3:12
  1. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
2 Peter 3:7-10
  1. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
  2. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
  3. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  4. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

At the end of verse 9, it says “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” So it’s God’s will that we all should spend eternity in heaven. He’s not rooting against us. I think that some people go through life thinking that God’s against them, but that’s not the case.

Also, God is going to come like a thief in the night. It’s going to happen quick. You’ve got to be prepared every day. So as soon as you come to the realization of what you need to do to gain salvation, you should do it right away. There’s no reason not to. We’ve seen news stories about someone predicting the day that Jesus will return. “It’s going to be this day.” And then, “No, it’s going to be this day.” And the sad thing is, the day he’s right, no one will be here to confirm it.

Let’s take a look at the history of God’s salvation in the Old Testament. Who was God’s people in the Old Testament?

> The Jews

That’s right.

Deuteronomy 7:6-9
  1. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
  2. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
  3. But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
  4. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

So God keeps his commandments; he doesn’t change; he says “Ye are my beloved people.”

Here’s what it would take, if you were not one of Jewish descent, to God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. It is possible.

Exodus 12:45-50
  1. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.
  2. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.
  3. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
  4. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
  5. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
  6. Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

Let’s look at another confirmation of this:

Ezekiel 18:21-23
  1. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
  2. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
  3. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

So it’s not God’s will that any should perish. Anybody could partake, even in the Old Testament. It’s just that the males needed to be circumcised. There were also other requirements according to Jewish law. A sacrifice would be prepared and offered at the temple, and both males and females needed to be washed with water.

Let’s look at an example of someone in the Old Testament who was not born a Jew, converting and accepting God’s salvation.

Ruth 1:10-16
  1. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
  2. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
  3. Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;
  4. Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.
  5. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
  6. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
  7. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

When you look at this Old Testament conversion and read the story, Naomi is talking with a lot of common sense. Her arguments are sound. She’s doing the kind, the right thing, according to the world. So she let them go, but Ruth said “No. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” So you see the flaw in all that Naomi said, in that she said, “Go back, and worship other gods,” not “Go back, and continue.”

We talk about the Jews being favored people of God, but there’s a change when Jesus comes. He created a new law. Salvation is given to us in New Testament times. (Although the New Testament was written a really long time ago, there’s nothing else newer, so we still call it “New”.)

Jesus created himself the perfect sacrifice. There is no way we can give a sacrifice greater than Jesus, because he lived a sinless life. And unlike any sacrifice of an animal, he was a willing sacrifice. He gave is own life.

Colossians 2:12-17
  1. 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.
  2. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
  3. 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;
  4. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
  5. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
  6. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Why did Jesus come as a sacrifice for us? Because he loved us. He wanted to give us a direct line to God.

John 3:16-18
  1. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
  2. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
  3. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

They say there is no greater gift than to lay down your life for another. Jesus gave us that gift. He died, was buried, resurrected, and then went back to his disciples with some final instructions that we commonly call “the great commission.” I’m going to read three separate accounts of this same event.

Matthew 28:18-19
  1. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
  2. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Jesus said in verse 18, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.” There seems to be some confusion about baptism. What name should it be in? This is going to be a continuing theme: “All power is given to me.” It’s in this one name of Jesus.

Mark 16:16-17
  1. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
  2. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

One of the things I love about this version is that if you step out of it and look at the first baptism of the New Testament, what did they do, right before the baptism? They spoke with new tongues, proving that these people were walking in the same steps that Jesus talked about.

Guys, if you’re looking for a story that’s in all four gospels, and you don’t know which one to read, go to Luke. He’s like the Cliff Notes of the gospels; he didn’t waste a word.

Luke 24:47
  1. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

We just talked about the confirmation of Mark 16. It’s in Acts 2:

Acts 2:36-39
  1. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
  2. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
  3. 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.
  4. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

Listening to what Peter is saying, doesn’t it sound like he’s rehearsing in our ears what Jesus said in the Great Commission? He uses different phrases, but he’s saying the same thing. And he does it over and over again in the scriptures; he’s a model of consistency.

Jesus if for all men, not only the Jews. Before Jesus, you had to become physically a Jew through circumcision and following the religion. But Peter was praying to God and received a vision of all kinds of unclean things, and God said “Rise, kill and eat.” And Peter did the same thing he always did: he was consistent; he said “No.” And God said, “It’s okay.”

Acts 10:27-29
  1. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
  2. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
  3. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

So immediately after the vision, a person outside the Jewish faith came to Peter and said, “Would you come and talk to us?” God’s timing was perfect. He showed that vision for that moment.

Baptism

From the scriptures, it’s pretty clear that Jesus commanded baptism. We see in 1 Peter 3:

1 Peter 3:21
  1. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

We must be baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins. Not only is it important that we are baptized, but it’s important how we are baptized.

Ephesians 4:5-6
  1. One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
  2. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

I was talking with Jonathan about this, because I had a person bring a question saying, “The Bible doesn’t say that you can’t be baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. There are plenty of places where it says to be baptized in Jesus’ name, but it doesn’t say not to be baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” It’s true. It’s not there. If you bought a TV stand at Walmart, it says “Put screw ‘A’ in board ‘B’,” and doesn’t follow up with “And don’t attach the screws with duct tape.” Because instructions tell us what to do, not what not to do. If the Bible told us all of what not to do, it would be a lot longer. The Bible in a Year would be impossible.

Acts 4:12
  1. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

So the power is invoked in the name of Jesus. That’s why we do things in the name of Jesus.

Colossians 3:17
  1. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Everything you do, in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Baptism is no exception.

There was a time when baptism was a ritual. And then there came a time after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ when baptism became necessary for salvation. Every recorded baptism after that point was done in reference to the name of Jesus.

Some people claim that baptism is a work, and we’re not saved by works. That’s true, but baptism is required by God, and there is also another component of baptism: belief. It says “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

Ephesians 2:8-9
  1. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
  2. Not of works, lest any man should boast.

So it’s not the physical act of baptism that saves; you can’t force someone into the water to save them. That’s also why you can’t baptize for the dead, or baptize babies for salvation. Belief is an essential part of salvation.

Acts 8:35-38
  1. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
  2. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
  3. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  4. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

So Philip’s response to the question, “What hinders me to be baptized?” was only that he wanted to know if the eunuch believed with all his heart.

Meaning

The word “baptism” comes from the Greek “baptizo” which means to be whelmed, or make fully wet. There’s really no way of getting around that. If you want to be baptized, you have to go down into the water and and come up out of the water. There is another word, “rantizo” which means sprinkling. That’s the short-cut to baptism. It’s the drive-through window of Christianity.

The mode of baptism was changed in the year 1311 A.D. to allow sprinkling as an alternate form of baptism.

Jesus came and brought the new law. After his death, burial, and resurrection, he commanded that we be baptized in his name, and teach all men to do likewise. So here we are, obeying that commandment.

Questions and Answers

  1. Can a person lose their salvation, once they have it?

This is a question that comes up a lot, because people teach the precept that “Once you’re saved, you’re always saved.” The short answer to the question is, “No.” Once you’ve been baptized, you can’t commit so much sin that you need to be re-baptized. There is only one sin that the Bible says cannot be forgiven, and that’s blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. So God will not turn away from us, no matter how much we sin. But at the same time, we can find ourselves turning away from God.

2 Peter 2:21
  1. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

When you get married, you don’t say as part of the wedding vows,

> I want you to know that from now on, no matter how bad I treat you, or even if I cheat on you, I still love you.

That sounds rediculous, doesn’t it?

  1. What about the thief on the cross?

There’s a couple of things that make that a weaker argument than it would appear to be. One is chronology. Jesus was on the cross with the thief. The commission requiring baptism for salvation hadn’t even been given yet. But did Jesus have the power to forgive sin on the spot? Yes, absolutely he did.

Luke 5:18-25
  1. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.
  2. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.
  3. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
  4. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
  5. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
  6. Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?
  7. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.
  8. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

If you’re doubting Jesus and he reads your thoughts and answers you, that’s another indication that he might be God. Even if the thief on the cross had come along after the great commission, if Jesus in person said, “thy sins are forgiven thee,” they are.

You don’t want to get to heaven and lay every single brick of your argument on, “Well, he did it.” The thief on the cross had a limited amount of time, and Jesus made an exception for him. You don’t want that to be your leg to stand on. I don’t want to get to heaven and argue the finer points of the Bible. I just want to get there and hear “Come on in.”

  1. Is it acceptable to be baptized “in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” as long as I have the full knowledge that the name is Jesus?

I want to go back to a scripture that Adam presented earlier.

Colossians 3:17
  1. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

It’s the name of Jesus that brings the power. It’s your faith in action, by the application of that name, that brings the power. So yes, it is important that the name be applied in the act of baptism.

An analogy for this is, if someone is in prison on death row, and they’re awaiting a pardon from the president, and a letter comes in from President Obama and says in a letter, “I pardon this person. Let him go.” and he signs it, “The President.” What would happen? They wouldn’t let him out. What if he signs it, “The Commander-in-Chief”? It still wouldn’t work. But if he signed it, “Barack Obama”, they’d let him out.

  1. Are you saying that anyone who isn’t baptized in Jesus’ name is going to hell?

That’s a touchy question. Our job is not to condemn someone to hell. All we can do is study the Bible and do what it says. I don’t think there is a special reward in heaven for people who are willing to say, “My dead mother went to hell.” But if your mother wasn’t baptized in Jesus’ name, and she was a good enough person for you to ask that question, then I’m sure she loves you enough that she would say, “Do it. Get baptized. Don’t wait just because of me.”

  1. What about those who have never heard about Jesus at all?

You hear people saying this in jest, but I love the Bible, because it has an answer for everything.

Romans 1:20
  1. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

So when you think of that scenario, you’re limiting God’s power and ability to reach anybody, anywhere. Who formed the earth? Is there anybody on earth that God doesn’t know where they are? Is there anybody on earth that God cannot touch? If someone is seeking after God, then God will make himself known. To think otherwise would be to limit God’s power. God sends missionaries throughout the world, even into the darkest jungles, to spread God’s word.

Think about Philip and the eunuch. This guy was in the middle of the desert, seeking God and seeking to understand him, and up popped Philip.

You will always find people who will play around with hypotheticals. “What if there’s no water around? What if there’s nothing but a big vat of motor oil?

  1. What about baptism for the dead, or baptism of babies?

We’ve talked about belief being an essential part of baptism. Obviously, babies don’t have that capability, and neither does someone who is dead. It’s up to each person to make their own decision. Also, babies are without sin. They don’t know what’s right and wrong, so how can they sin by choosing wrong?

James 4:17
  1. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

We hear Jesus saying several times, “Come to me as a little child,” referring to their innocence. Some would say that they baptize a baby pre-emptively, because they will sin. Well, sure they will. And when that happens, we need to teach them the way to make it right, and that includes baptism.