Plan of Salvation

Plan of Salvation

Introduction

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.  Since all mankind have sinned we likewise have separated ourselves from our creator, God.  Sin creates grave consequences in this life and eternally destructs our soul.  (Romans 6:23).  Paul writes in Romans 7:15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”  Every human can understand and relate to this struggle Paul mentions against his flesh.

Because of sin, hell was created and because of sin, Satan fell from God’s grace.  Furthermore, had there been no sin there would have been no need for Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary.  It was sin that caused the Son of God to come to this earth and save us from our sins.  (2nd Cor. 5:21).  Because of sin, there was a need for God to show mercy and create a plan of salvation!

God’s plan for salvation is freely given to all who seek him.  His mercy and his son’s sacrificial death on the cross allow us to be saved from our sins.  Jesus tells us in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  This means all who wish to be granted salvation from sins must believe that Jesus is the son of God and must obey his commands.  But what is salvation, why do we need it, what does God’s grace have to do with it, and how do we obtain it?  We will answer all of these questions by reading and studying God’s inspired words revealed in the Bible.

Sin and its consequences

To begin a study of God’s plan of salvation one must come to know and understand what sin is.  Sin is a (1) violation of the conscience.  “For whatever is not from faith is sin,” Romans 14:23.  “Faith” in this passage is used in contrast with “doubt;” therefore, the “faith” spoken of in the passage is not referring to the gospel system, but rather to one’s individual convictions and faith.  However, your conscience is not infallible as Paul records in Acts 23:1.  Our conscience must be educated by the word of God in order for us to know right from wrong.

Sin is (2) knowing what is good and not doing it.  “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin,” James 4:17.  Once one knows this they can no longer call sin wrongdoing, but rather a failure in right doing!  We are to know the load we are to lift, and lift it.  We are to know the path we ought to travel, and travel it.  We are to know how we ought to attend and praise God in services, and attend and praise.  We must remember that those on the left on the Day of Judgment, those who did not follow in right doing, will hear “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matthew 25:41.

Sin is (3) a violation or breaking of God’s law.  “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness,” 1st John 3:4.  This passage teaches us that God has a law; and that sin is a personal refusal to be governed by that law and a setting up of the human will against His.  We are all created with a “free will” and a decision to make.  It is our choice to submit or to rebel against God’s law.

Finally sin is (4) a failure to keep God’s commands.  “All unrighteousness is sin,” 1st John 5:17.  Psalm 119:160, “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”  God’s commandments are righteous; therefore a failure to keep God’s commandments constitutes unrighteousness.  This applies to the fullness of His words and commands.  We cannot simply live to be as harmless as possible and believe we have kept His commands because we have not lied or have not killed.  To keep His commands is to keep it all, we must seek to be active and follow the entirety of the Bible which means we are not just good because we are not bad!  We must do the commands requested of us such as assembling with our local church in Hebrews 10:25, and such as spreading the gospel to every human on this earth in Mark 16:15.  God has many commands for us to keep in the Bible; we must not only refrain from breaking His law, but should seek to uphold his commands as well.

Sin has dire consequences for God’s creation.  Sin involves us in three deaths that influence our relationship with God and His universe.  The first death sin engages us in is (1) a spiritual death.  “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and Your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear,” Isaiah 59:2.  Because God is holy, any sin regardless of its motivation, magnitude, or consequences must result in separation from God.  When our spiritual relationship with God is severed, it is as if the spirit inside our body has died.

The second death sin engages us in is (2) a mortal death.  Before sin, man existed in a perfect state of spiritual fellowship with God.  However, as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden we will all die a mortal death (Gen 3:19).  Mortal death of our bodies is a reminder of the seriousness of sin. 

Thirdly, sin engages us in (3) a judicial death.  God said, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” Genesis 2:16-17.  There are prices to be paid when we break the laws of the land.  For example, if one is caught speeding, we will be required to pay a fine.  If someone murders, they will be required to spend time in prison or put to death.  We have laws and punishments for the breaking of those laws by our earthly judicial system.  Likewise, God requires a judicial restitution to be paid for the breaking of his laws.  Life is the price!  God pronounced death as the price for sin and His justice must be served by all.  “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death,” James 1:14-15.

As earlier quoted, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.  As we have all broken the laws of God we know what our punishment should be.  So we are all in need of salvation, but can we receive it and if we can how?

God’s Love Provides Grace and Mercy

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.  Fortunately, God loves His creation and shows his grace and mercy on us when we sin, even though it is undeserved.  By grace we mean, God gives us what we don’t deserve which is life.  By mercy we mean, God doesn’t give us what we do deserve which is death.

To better understand God’s grace and mercy let us look to Ephesians 2:8-10.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  This is one of the most comprehensive passages in the Bible on the topic of salvation.  a)  It presents the two sides of salvation, the human and divine.  b)  It presents the two elements of salvation, grace and faith.

We are saved by grace, through faith, period. Grace is the key word here. Since our salvation depends on it, we need to be sure we understand what it is.  So again to address God’s grace and mercy we will define it as: grace is the unmerited favor of God, and undeserved mercy flowing from the unconditional love of God, not in response to any merit of works of Man but only to his absolute need for it to be saved.  While God’s saving grace is freely given to all mankind without any works being needed, let us not be deceived into thinking that all Men are saved without works being needed by Men.  Men still have to show a work, a work called faith.  Verse 8 says “through faith”, so God’s creation has to show faith in God in their daily lives to come into this freely given gift of God.  However, observe that the scripture we are looking at does not say that Man is saved “by faith alone.”  The Bible teaches that man is not justified by faith alone.  If we are saved by faith only (a) we would be saved before becoming children of God (John 1:11-12, Galatians 3:26-27), (b) before calling on the Lord (Romans 10:13-17), (c) without confessing Christ (John 12:42), (d) in direct conflict with the plain teaching of the Bible (James 2:24-26), (e) before coming to God (Hebrews 11:6) and (f) when we were no better than the demons (James 2:19).  The Bible teaches that the faith that saves is the faith that obeys (Heb 11:4, 7-8, 29; Gal 5:6; Rom 1:5, 16:26).  We will later cover the exact plan that Man is to obey in order to be saved and added to Christ’s church.

In a final look at what this scripture reveals to us we can see that God’s grace is sufficient.  But what is God’s grace sufficient to do?  God’s grace is sufficient to sustain us in trial (2nd Corinthians 12:9), to deliver us in time of temptation (1st Corinthians 10:13), to guide us in life (Jeremiah 10:23, Isaiah 58:11), to provide strength for us in distress (Heb 13:5,6), to comfort us in sorrow (2nd Cor. 1:3-4), to save in death (2nd Timothy 4:6-8, Acts 7:56-60), and to give us the crown of life in heaven (James 1:12).  God’s grace is sufficient to everyone.  To the young, the old, the Christian, the tempted Christian, the suffering Christian, the backsliding Christian, the dying Christian, and the lost soul who God loves and longs to add to the book of life if he would only obey his commands.

What Has God Done to Address Sin

Sin is the most terrible reality known to man.  Its very existence makes us feel sorrow, hurt, pain, agony, sadness, and death in this life.  The core element of sin is that is separates us from our creator, God.  The fact that God must turn his face from us when we sin and follow Satan placed God into a decision.  Thankfully for us he decided to have grace and mercy on his creation and made a path for us to be saved and reconcile ourselves to him.  That path is through the shedding of blood.

In the Old Testament of the Bible sin was cleared of God’s people through the sacrifice of an innocent representative, an animal.  God showed his mercy by allowing the innocent animal to pay the price of death owed by the sinner.  We deserve God’s justice, death, but we received God’s mercy, life, instead.  God showed His mercy by allowing an innocent animal to pay the judicial price of death owed by the sinner.

This atonement for the judicial price of sin to be paid by an animal is described in detail in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”  The life of the animal atonement pays the price for the sins of the sinner.  In another words the sinner “died” representatively through the animals substitute.  What was the purpose of God asking the Old Testament people to do this?  It allowed God to remove their sins.  In Lev. 16:30 this action is described as taking place on the Day of Atonement.  “For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

Let’s notice some basic facts about animal sacrifice.  (A)  The animal was innocent of sin, as it couldn’t sin or didn’t have the ability to sin.  If an animal could have sinned it would have been liable for its own sin, as a human is.  The fact that it was a sinless being was the requirement for it to provide a representative death.  (B)  The animal had to be physically perfect, spotless, and unblemished to be used as this sacrifice as seen in Lev. 22:21-27.  (C)  In this single act of death of the animal God demonstrated both His justice and His mercy on his created humans.  (D)  On the basis of the death of the animal the sins of the sinner were removed and they were made holy and as a result the relationship with a holy God could and was restored. 

We are made righteous and our spiritual relationship with a holy God is restored with the sacrifice of a sinless sacrifice.  He does not need blood to appease him.  Rather, blood demonstrates to Man the importance of His holiness and the seriousness of sin.  The Old Testament of God’s chosen people were not made clean because they simply killed an animal.  But, because they believed God’s promise of the removal of sin they were only accepting God’s gracious gift to them when they sacrificed the animal.  The action of obedient faith is not accomplishing some work that earns anything but is doing what God has told us to do to accept His gift.  So how do we today under the new law of the New Testament teachings have our sins washed away?

As we can read in the New Testament in John 1:29, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John whom prepared the path for Jesus’ teachings tells us Jesus will be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  John declared Jesus to be God’s sacrifice to pay for the sins of all Man.  Today, as the Israelites needed, we need not only a physically perfect, spotless, and unblemished sacrifice but a perfect sacrifice.  1st Peter 1:18-19 speaks of this perfect sacrifice of the son of God that cleanses us from our sins today.  “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Notice with me some critical observations of God’s sacrifice that he provided for us today.  (A)  Jesus’ death was not an accidental death or a failed mission by God to set up an earthly kingdom.  The plan of the sacrifice of Jesus had always been the plan of God.  Proverbs 30:4 Solomon foretells of God and his plan for his son through inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?  Who has gathered the wind in His fists?  Who has bound the waters in a garment?  Who has established all the ends of the earth?  What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know?”  Matthew 3:17 begins to answer a piece of this prophecy, “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Also in Romans 1:4-5 we can continue to flesh out the fulfillment of just one of the Old Testament prophecies, “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name.”

(B)  Jesus was the only innocent human sacrifice that will ever grace this earth that could wash away or atone for our sins for God.  If Jesus had ever sinned, even once, then He could not have been the Lamb of God to be sacrificed.  He would have then had the price of death on His head for His sin and cold not have served as a representative for you or me.  We are told in 1st John 3:5 that he was sinless, “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.”

(C)  His sacrifice removes sins for us today.  The result of being the “Lamb of God” was that it would “take away the sin of the world.”  Sacrifice of life and shedding of blood removes sin by payment of the judicial price of death.  That is the reason Jesus had to come down from heaven to this earth, to be our sinless perfect sacrifice that could wash our sins away.

(D)  In 1st Cor. 5:7 Christ is referred to as our blood of the lamb for our own Passover.  “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”  This is a reference to the blood of the lambs that were sacrificed, which was used to protect the Israelites from the angel of death in Egypt (Exodus 12:3-49).  Christ’s sacrifice for us removed the “old leaven” or sin from us by his sacrifice.  He also accomplished His purpose of fulfilling the Old Testament prophesies.  Matthew 5:17 Jesus speaks to what he came to do on this earth, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Jesus came to die, to take the place of animal sacrifice to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, and to allow us today to have our sins washed away.  “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins,” Matthew 26:28.  Jesus paid the price of death so that we may now have eternal life with his father in heaven if we will obey Him.

How Can I Be Saved

As a sacrifice must be made to atone for ones sins, we must show a sacrifice to God to have our sins washed away.  We must be willing to “die with Christ.”  This is the primary purpose of the plan of salvation, that the believer of God and that Jesus is the son of God dies through and with his replacement of physical death, Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ death represents the death of the believer that is needed to atone for our sins.  As we have already covered, death is what is deserved due to sins and what is required in order to remove sins.

We should notice that the Christian is one who has died with Christ, not for, or even because of Christ, but with Christ.  2nd Timothy 2:11 Paul says, “For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.”  The believer must die with Christ; because that is the only way the judicial price for sin can be paid to God.  This was the entire purpose of Jesus coming to this earth to be the Lamb of God, was so that believers could die with Him and their sins could be washed away.  This is the only way we can reconcile ourselves back to a holy God, through the death with His son, Jesus Christ.

So how then can I be saved?  I have heard the gospel of Jesus coming to this earth and I know what he did for me out of love.  I understand that God is holy and that my sin separates me from Him, and that the price of death is on my head to pay for sin.  I know that Jesus came to pay the price for you and me, and that by dying with Him I can have my sins removed and be reconciled to a holy God.  So again how can I be saved?

In Acts 2:14-41 Peter preached the first sermon of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  After his sermon he was asked in verse 37 “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  Peter answered in verse 38, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”  So we know that we must also be baptized so that we can die in our sins with Christ and be resurrected out of sins as Jesus’ body was resurrected from the grave.  However we must look at the whole New Testament teachings of the apostles of Christ to know the full plan of salvation.

Just as those in Acts 2 heard the words of Peter and responded, we must too hear the words before we know how to respond.  How can one believe unless he hears?  So the first step to salvation is hearing the words of God.  Once we hear the gospel of Christ and learn of the salvation that waits for us we can obey the commands of God.

To know the second step to salvation let us look to Acts 8:35-39.  The story of the Ethiopian eunuch gives us a key example of what we must do to be saved as he was.  In verse 36-37 Philip speaks to him about his belief, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.
”  The second step to salvation is to believe in God and believe that Jesus is the son of God who came to this earth to offer the perfect sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.

We can go back to our first example in Acts the 2nd chapter to obtain our third step to salvation.  In verses 37-38 we are shown that the people who heard the words spoken of Jesus’ sacrifice for them were “cut to the heart” and wanted to correct their actions.  In verse 38 we see what they did to correct their sins, they repented of their sins.  Likewise, today we must act on the same action.  When we want to be saved we must repent to God our sins against him.  This does not just mean that we confess our sins to God and continue in them.  To repent is to point the sins out in our lives and to do a complete turn from those sinful actions.  When we repent of our sins we are making a commitment to God to point them out and do them no more for his sake.

Again, if we revisit our example in Acts the 8th chapter we can see the fourth step to salvation.  In verse 37 the Ethiopian confessed that he believed that Jesus was the son of God who shed his blood for the atonement of our sins.  Once we hear and believe in the gospel of Jesus and then are cut to the heart in a way that moves us to repent; we will also be moved to confess to others, we believe that Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins.

Our fifth and final step to salvation is that death we spoke of in earlier in the beginning of this section of our study.  We must die with Christ through baptism of water.  Even though we have many scriptures we could turn to, to see this example we will continue with the two we have already been using.  In Acts 2 and Acts 8 we see both parties who wanted to be saved obey a commandment from Jesus’ apostles, baptism.  Acts 2:38-41 Peter instructed them in order to be saved they must be baptized and three thousand obeyed that day and were saved.  In Acts 8:36-38 Philip advised the Ethiopian of the same commandment and in verse 38 the Ethiopian commanded his chariot to be stopped and asked Philip to baptize him.

When we are baptized we are “freed from sin and enslaved to God.”  Romans 6:22-23 says, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  As a result of baptism we are freed from sin, and our sins are removed.  Also as a result of baptism into Christ and His death having our sins removed we are made holy, sanctified.  As 1st Cor 6:11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  The sanctification we receive after baptism results in justification, the price of death is paid and removed which reconciles us to a holy God.  Without Jesus’ shedding his blood for us on the cross we would never be able to be made holy again in the sight of God.  But, as 1st Cor 6 says, we do have a free gift from God that we can receive at anytime.  Again, if we will receive it we can be sanctified and therefore once again be justified in our holy God once again.  Baptism is the point where your sins are cleansed by your faith in Christ’s blood.  As a result, after baptism is the moment when your sins are removed and you are sanctified, justified, and made righteous (1st Cor 6:11) before God.

Conclusion

Because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross, the Bible states in 1st John 5:12, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” We can receive the Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior by our faith, by trusting that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that His death was the atonement for our sins, and by obeying the commandments of his apostles and be baptized.  John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”  John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
” 

This means we must each come to God the same way: (A) as a sinner who recognizes his sinfulness, (B) realizes no human works can result in salvation, and (C) relies totally on Christ alone by faith alone for our salvation.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.  Since all mankind have sinned we likewise have separated ourselves from our creator, God.  But, if we will read the words of Jesus and the commandments of his inspired of the Holy Spirit apostles, we can be sanctified and everyone can be saved by God’s plan of salvation.

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