God created man and gave him free will. He has the ability to obey God or to disobey God. This is seen in the Garden of Eden when both Adam and Eve willingly partook of the forbidden fruit. Disobedience to God is sin (I John 3:4) and sin condemns man to eternal damnation (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:27). Thus, God has provided a means by which man can be saved.
Salvation is found in Christ Jesus, not in the old Law of Moses. Paul wrote, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20). To the Galatians he wrote, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Gal. 3:21). And, the Hebrew writer wrote, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Heb. 8:7). Paul said that salvation is in Christ Jesus (II Tim. 2:10) and there is “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). So what does the gospel of Christ require of a person in order for them to have salvation?
First, the Lord requires faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). He also said, “…that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The passages showing the necessity of faith are so numerous; space would prohibit the recording of them all. Yet, far too many want to stop here and proclaim that salvation if by faith only. None of the passages commanding faith say “faith only”. In fact; the word of God clearly teaches that faith alone will not provide salvation. John wrote, “He came unto 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” (John 1:11-12). Notice those who believed in him had the power “to become” the sons of God. They were not the sons of God, but had the power to become such. In Romans 1:16 Paul said that the gospel was “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”. Believers had the power of God unto salvation, thus they did not yet have salvation, but the power of God to obtain it. The many unclean spirits, known as Legion, believed that Jesus was the Son of God (Mark 5:7), but certainly they were not saved.
A second requirement of God in order for man to have salvation is repentance. Peter, preaching the first gospel sermon on Pentecost said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Notice that repentance comes prior to remission of sins. In the next chapter we find Peter saying, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Again, notice that repentance precedes having one’s sins blotted out. Thus, repentance precedes salvation.
A third requirement of the Lord for salvation is to confess Christ. A confession often heard goes something like this: “I believe that God has for Christ’s sake, pardoned my sins”. Such a confession is unheard of in the Bible. Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). This is the same confession that the eunuch made to Philip (Acts 8:37). Paul wrote, “and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). Again, the confession precedes the salvation.
Baptism in water for the remission of sins is required in order to obtain salvation. Noted earlier was the statement of Peter on the day of Pentecost, when he said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Remission of sins was to those who both repented and was baptized. Saul of Tarsus was told to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). In both of these examples, baptism came prior to the sins being washed away. Note also that we have shown that salvation is “in Christ” (II Tim. 2:10). One might ask, “How does one get into Christ”? The answer is found in two passages in the New Testament. To the Romans, Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3). Then to the Galatians he wrote, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). Now, this is not baptism as an outward sign of an inward grace or some such expression. This is baptism into Christ for the remission of sins as clearly the Bible teaches. At this same point one is added to the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13), which is the church (Col. 1:18).
If one wishes to see for themselves what must be done to take advantage of God’s plan for the salvation of man, one need only diligently study the examples of conversion in the book of Acts and follow the scriptural example. Why not check it out?
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