“For the Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and to save that which is lost.” Luke 19:10
“There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Anyone who has truly experienced life comes to the conclusion that life is quite chaotic at best. Early in life one tries to maneuver the situations in life to their advantage only to find out later that the trails of life are beyond a person’s ability to control. There are those who believe that all life is random streaming from a cosmic explosion and there are those who believe God created and is actively involved in His creation. People are wired in such a way that they need something to believe in, something they can have faith in. Faith may be in the Theory of Evolution or in a supreme being. Either humanity exists because God created everything that is or we are here just by chance. The Bible says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘God does not exist’” (Psalm 14:1). People whose faith is in Jesus Christ as Lord have come to this understanding by the power of God.
People are sinful by nature and deserve to be cast into hell. But God, who is rich in mercy, loves people and has provided a way for sinful man to be saved from eternal separation from God in hell.
The Problem of Sin
In the beginning of man God created a man and a woman then placed them in a garden and called it Eden. God instructed them to tend the garden and gave them freedom to eat from any tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When tempted by Satan they rebelled against God’s authority and ate from the only forbidden tree in the garden. This was the entering of sin in the world. Now every person who is born has a nature that is bent toward sin. Sin is rebellion against God. It is the thought that we best know how to live without regard for God’s ultimate authority. Every person has a mind and a will that allows them to think and act. God requires that we love Him and all other humans. When we act unloving towards Him or others we are guilty of sin.
Sin has consequences. The wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23). God had told Adam that in the day that you eat from the Tree of Knowledge you will surely die. Adam sinned and on that day he died spiritually. Adam would live out his life physically but the day would come when he would die. Death exists because of Adam’s sin. All people are guilty of sin. By virtue of being a descendant of Adam and Eve we are guilty. Just like the whole football team is penalized when one player jumps off sides, the entire team is punished for one man’s infraction. But don’t get too hung up on this because each person is guilty of their own personal sin. There is no one who does not sin.
Since God is the righteous judge He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. All unforgiven sinners will be cast into an eternal lake of fire at the end of time. The only way to escape this eternal punishment is for Jesus to remove our guilt. God requires that anyone who is to be saved from hell (the lake of fire) must have justification to enter into heaven.
The Solution to the Problem of Sin
The solution to the problem of sin is faith in Jesus. The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind showing them that Jesus has made a way for the penalty of sin to be removed for individuals, because God is a god of grace and mercy. He sent His One and only Son to come to earth as a man who would receive the wrath of God that rightly belongs to repentant sinners. Wrath is a term the Bible uses to describe the punishment God inflicts on all for sinful rebellion. Since God is just, all sinners must receive punishment (the wrath of God) for their sinfulness.
Jesus was born of a virgin and was without sin. Therefore He and He alone was worthy to receive God’s wrath on behalf of those who confess Him as Lord. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. By being beaten by the Roman soldiers and enduring the cross Jesus was our substitute. The wrath we should receive He received. This allowed God’s wrath for our sin to be appeased and we are set free from its penalty of eternity in hell.
Salvation by Grace
Salvation is wholly and completely of God. Every person who confesses that Jesus is Lord over their lives is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation can be found in no other person than Jesus Christ because no other person was God become flesh who died as a substitute for sinners.
By God’s grace people are drawn to Jesus for salvation. God awakens the soul of people and makes them aware of their sinfulness and their need for salvation. “It is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to the saving knowledge of Jesus” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV) God calls the lost person to respond and by His grace they enter into a relationship with the God of the universe. By faith they accept that God has made a way for them to receive His mercy. “Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:4 NIV).
Because of God’s foreknowledge He predestines our souls for salvation. Before we are even born our lives are in His hands. He guides us and moves us along so that we will find His saving grace and at the same time He holds every person responsible for their sinfulness.
In every believer’s life there comes a day when the Holy Spirit convicts their soul of sin. They come to the realization that they are a sinner and that their only hope for salvation is to confess “Jesus as Lord.”
Confessing Jesus is Lord is much more than simply saying the words “Jesus is Lord” or even praying a prayer. Confessing Jesus as Lord is taking full responsibility for your sin and making a decision to change the direction of your life. This change of direction is referred to as repentance in the Bible. In a sense you are committing to Jesus that you will acknowledge that He is your Master and that you will voluntarily become His slave. Whatever He commands of you, you will do. You repent of your previous sinful ways and begin to walk in the ways of Jesus’ example.
When a person relinquishes control of their life to Jesus, God transforms their soul. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17). By the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit God empowers a believer to become more like Jesus Himself. They begin a lifelong process of becoming like God’s one and only Son. Upon regeneration a believer’s desires change. They long to live for the glory of God and struggle from day to day to become the person God wants them to be, but by God’s grace He sufficiently reminds them that they are saved by Jesus’ work on the cross and not their personal good works. This motivates them to go into the world and serve their Master by doing the good works He places before them. The good works God created and predestined them to accomplish. Paul said, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is a gift—not from works, so that you can boast. For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Salvation is a call to follow Jesus. It is not a onetime event a person does rather it is the beginning point of a journey. On numerous occasions Jesus called individuals to come and follow Him; some did, some did not. Those who follow are to consider the cost. Their lives will be radically changed. There will be times of struggle, persecution and tribulation, but God’s mercy, love and power will see that as they follow Him their every need, emotional, physical and spiritual need will be met according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
In His infinite wisdom, God has created an environment whereby humans are certain to fail. No person can live and not sin. But God also made the solution to the problem of sin by sending His Son, Jesus to make a way to be saved from our hopeless dilemma. God demonstrated His glory by creating you and me with the need for Him to save us. Without Him we would be destined to eternal damnation, but with Him we are destined for eternal life in heaven and a present life abundantly full of His provision, grace, mercy, comfort and strength.
Now some may say this is an arrogant self-centered God who creates in this way. If that were the case it would be acceptable because He created everything. He stepped out of nowhere stood on nothing and created everything. However His selflessness is demonstrated in His saving action. Jesus is God become flesh; God became one of us, flesh and bone. He willingly became a fragile human man. He set aside His glory in heaven and became a single cell in the womb of His mother Mary so that He could demonstrate His love for us by dying all for the sake of the very people He created.
Salvation can be found in no other name. Jesus is the One and only. He is the only Son of God, the only One who died for your sins, the only One who conquered death and the only One willing to forgive you of your every sin and the only One who took your place and received God’s wrath that was deserved by you. Every person who is saved by God’s grace has taken responsibility for their sin and surrendered themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and is to follow Him day by day. Once a religious leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, he knew that Jesus was from God and he desired to know Him more fully. Jesus told him, “I assure you: unless someone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus was letting Nicodemus know that it was not his religion that would save him it was Jesus who would save him by giving him a new life; a spiritual life. God loved this man so much that He sent Jesus, His One and only Son, to bring life to him. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world rather He came so that Nicodemus and you might be born a second time. The first time physically, the second time spiritually.
If God is calling you to salvation take responsibility for yourself. Change the direction of your life and follow the way of Jesus. He will give spiritual life to your soul and He will prepare for you an eternal home in heaven.
Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. (Jeremiah 6:16)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
2 Corinthians 5:17
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
1 Peter 2:9
2 Peter 3:9