March 3, 2016
We live in a wonderful time period. We live in the age of grace. Sin is still sin, but if you have accepted Christ as your Saviour, your sins are forgiven. Past sin, present sin, and future sin. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14. Christians have been eternally sanctified, but that doesn’t mean we’re free to continue living a sin-filled life. When we stumble we need to go to Jesus and confess our sin and He will forgive us. This confession isn’t because our salvation has been lost, but because we need to acknowledge our sin and seek God’s help to move away from it. Salvation comes only through the shed blood of Jesus and there is nothing we can do to add to our salvation or detract from it. Why, then, do people try to complicate salvation by adding religion? Religion is works, and works won’t save anyone. Religion is what people do to try to be good enough for God. We can’t do anything on our own to be good enough.
Salvation isn’t complicated. God made it simple because He loves us with a pure love and wants us to spend eternity with Him. One evening a Pharisee named Nicodemus came to Jesus to try to understand who Jesus was. Most Pharisees wanted Jesus out of the way, but Nicodemus wanted understanding. Jesus explained the Gospel by saying “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.”John 3:16. Pharisees were familiar with works, such as animal sacrifices, keeping the Law, and performing daily rituals, so Nicodemus was confused with the fact that belief in Jesus was all that was necessary for salvation. People today also think there are works to do in order to prove our worthiness to God. Jesus only gave one direction for salvation: believe. He loves each and every human being on this planet and His love is pure and unconditional. Jesus continued His conversation with Nicodemus “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 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.” John 3:17-18. There is no “and” in Jesus’ words (“and be baptized” or “and say a prayer”). Just believe and gain eternal life or don’t believe and condemn yourself .
God provided the only way for all people to receive everlasting life. He made it simple for us because He knew how stubborn people can be. The ritual sacrifice of animals was ordained under the Law of Moses, but those sacrifices were only a temporary covering. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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;” Colossians 2:13-14. Only God’s blood can permanently remove sin from our life. When Jesus went to the cross, He shed His blood as the once for all sacrifice to take our sin away. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19:30. The war is over; Satan lost and God won. This victory means that sin no longer is the barrier to salvation. Belief in the finished work of Jesus at the cross is the only way for mankind to live eternally in Heaven. There’s still a spiritual fight happening, but Satan can no longer come between believers and God. Sincere belief in this truth is all it takes to establish ourselves as a child of God. Jesus said so. His perfect plan of salvation isn’t complicated and it’s accessible to everyone. Faith in Jesus is the ONLY way of salvation.
Works should result from our faith, but they are not the source of our salvation. “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18. Once you have accepted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for your redemption, then you need to grow. If you don’t have a Bible, get one and read it. It will guide you to a deeper faith and understanding of our Lord. It will show you things in your life that you need to change. Baptism is works, but it is an important part of obedience. It’s an outward sign of your inward faith. There are some who wrongly teach that you are not saved if you haven’t been baptized. I once knew a man who claimed that God doesn’t even know who you are until you’re baptized. God disagrees. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.“Jeremiah 1:5. The prophet Jeremiah was chosen by God before he was conceived! Nobody in the entire Old Testament was baptized for the same reason a Christian is baptized, yet God knew them. Another example is the Apostle Paul. He persecuted Christians with a vengeance until Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. Paul certainly hadn’t been baptized yet, but Jesus knew him. Paul’s ministry and the letters he wrote have blessed generations of Christians. God knows you too, and has a special purpose for you. Once you accept Him as your Saviour you need to grow in your faith and allow Him to sanctify your life for service to Him.
First there has to be faith. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:12-14. The Holy Spirit is sealed within you when you first put your faith in Jesus and your eternal destination is Heaven. “What about asking for forgiveness – repenting – and turning from our sinful lives?” Those things are a part of the sanctification process, which means you mature in your walk with the Lord. New Christians can’t fully understand what constitutes sin, therefore it’s impossible to confess every sin and turn from it. There are big “in your face” sins, such as homosexuality or murder, but the smaller ones seem to be overlooked even by mature Christians. Anger and white lies are some of the sins that get ignored. A desire for a closer walk with God and prayer will reveal sins that get in the way of that walk. This sanctification process is ongoing and will last until the day we die or until the rapture. The Holy Spirit will reveal things in your life that are opposed to God. That’s when you repent and turn from sin. Over time you begin to hate sin as God does.
When we first believe we become a new being…a new creation. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. God no longer sees you as a sinner condemned, but as His beloved child. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17. It’s important for every Christian to strive to honor God with their life. Living a God-honoring life won’t make you more saved, but there are rewards in Heaven for living for Christ on earth. The way to earn those rewards is to become a living sacrifice to God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1. The first time you say no to participating in a sin may be difficult, but the second time you say no will be easier. Jesus, who was God incarnate, sacrificed everything to purchase your redemption. Any sacrifice you make in order to draw closer to Him pales in comparison to what He did for you.
The simplicity in believing in what Jesus did for us on that cross and through His resurrection shows the depth of God’s love for us. We must believe that God loves us, and that He loves us so much that He sent His perfect Son to take our punishment and to die in our stead. Salvation isn’t complicated. It may seem too simple, but it isn’t complicated. “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.“Romans 9:33. People who can’t understand who Jesus is find Him to be a “a stumblingstone and rock of offence“. It’s hard for those who’ve been taught in school or at home that there is no God to accept that they are sinners in need of salvation. If the lie of evolution is embraced then there was no Creator. If Adam wasn’t the first man, then death and sin must have always existed. If death and sin always existed, then why would God have to die for His creation? If there is no God, then there is no moral guide. God’s word says that Adam was created on the sixth day and it was his sin that brought death. Because of that sin, we need a Saviour. Our own efforts and works can never repair the damage Adam’s sin caused. It’s only faith in Jesus Christ that repairs that damage and makes a person able to enter Heaven.
The free gift that God offers is just that, a free gift. We can never be “good enough” by our own works to earn salvation, but we must accept His gift of grace and mercy. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. It is only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we are sanctified. It isn’t complicated; it only takes faith. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:28-29. Believe on Him (Jesus the Christ) whom He (God the Father) hath sent. That’s not complicated at all. The simplicity surrounding the decision to say yes to Jesus Christ has been given to us by God. Will you accept His free gift or will you reject it?
God doesn’t want any of His creation to perish. “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.” 2 Peter 3:9. God wants you to come to Him in belief. You cannot sin enough to be beyond salvation. You may be in a jail cell right now because of a crime you committed, but you aren’t beyond God’s forgiveness. Put your faith in Jesus and accept His free gift of salvation and your sins will be forgiven. Then, as Jesus told the prostitute, “…Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord, And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8: 10b-11. Jesus loves you and won’t condemn you if you turn to Him in faith, then turn from your sin.
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31. That’s not complicated.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
Previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham