Question #3 – Salvation

Before moving on, I do want to encourage silent readers to participate. No one’s being graded, and you don’t have to post an answer to any question. I strongly suggest at least writing the answers in a notebook or on your computer so that you get more comfortable with researching questions. When you begin answering the questions, you engage yourself and are more likely to remember the answers or how to find them. It will also give you more confidence as you start dealing with a range of questions. We’ll split this into sections.

Online Bible – http://www.biblegateway.com
Concordance – http://www.blueletterbible.org

It’s not uncommon for people to have questions about salvation, especially with so many different teachings. We are to be like Bereans and search Scriptures for ourselves to be sure what we’re told is true regardless of who’s saying it.

– Why would anyone want to be saved?
– Who saves people?
– Who can be saved?
– What must I do to be saved?
– People use this verse as a call to salvation. To whom is this verse written?

“20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” – Rev 3:20

– I found a prayer online. My pastor told me to say the sinner’s prayer and write down this date in my Bible so I can look at it and know I’m saved. I want to show my cousin. Where’s the sinner’s prayer found in the Bible?

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We need Jesus to be our Savior because only Jesus could carry the wrath of the Father. The penalty for sin is death and requires a perfect sacrifice. Jesus lived a sinless life and fulfilled the law completely. “13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 If Jesus was not willing to sacrifice Himself, we would have no hope of being reconciled the God because our eternal destination would be hell since we were spiritually cut off by sin.

“16 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

EVERYONE has the opportunity to be saved. ANYONE (whosoever) that believes and puts his faith in Christ can be saved. To believe is an action. It is a heart condition and not just a head knowledge of the ability of something to work. To repent is an action. A repentant person has a believing heart.

“9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10

“30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” – Acts 16:30-31

We have many people that have been taught the “sinner’s prayer” and told to invite Jesus to come into our hearts. This is a method of evangelism that has picked up momentum over the past century with altar calls. While praying at the altar is not a bad thing, somewhere along the line, people tried to develop a formula to get people saved, which involves repeating a prayer. The idea is based on the Romans passage but usually combines Rev 3:20, which is not written to unbelievers but to people who were Christian or in church and not really concerned about the things of Christ.

“14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” – Rev 3:14-22

The sinner’s prayer is based on a Biblical model but is unbiblical in nature. People have been taught that if they read words on a tract/page or repeat from a person that professes Christianity that they have somehow said the right words to secure them of salvation. People usually say “Welcome to the family of God!” afterwards because, as long as the person “really meant it,” he’s “saved.” The problem is that people tend to mean words at the time because they have been emotionally manipulated into coming forward to “accept Jesus as their own personal Savior.” Jesus commands men to repent. Jesus is not some lonely person sitting in Heaven wringing His hands together hoping for friends and begging people to receive His gift of salvation as if we’re doing Him a favor. He’s Lord and Savior and gives two options. Repent and believe unto salvation, or remain in a state of sin and face the penalty. We can recognize what we’ve done and be grateful for Jesus taking on the wrath of God, or we can reject Him and take the wrath of God ourselves (which no human has successfully been able to handle). We cannot guarantee someone is saved because they just prayed a prayer. We cannot see their hearts and know they have been converted.

Short clips:

Paul Washer Mocks Modern Gospel

Declaring War on the Sinner’s Prayer

 

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“1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:1-5

What does it mean to be born again?

“19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” – Acts 3:19

What does it mean to be converted?

What are some of the evidences of salvation?

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We are born in sin, but we are regenerated when we are born again. We die to our old selves and are born into God’s Kingdom. God’s seed is planted in us, and we have new desires that are God-focused. As we mature, we become stronger in Christ and have a deeper love for Him and things of Heaven. While we are still in our flesh, we will have to resist temptation as it crops up. Eventually, our desire to do our own thing decreases while our desire to live in righteousness and walk in holiness increases. It’s similar to living like a pig and desiring slop and mud and transforming into a sheep. While a sheep may slip and fall in the mud, he’s not going to stay there because it is now contrary to his nature. His appetite and behavior have changed.

Jesus talks about identifying people by their fruits in Matt 7. There are two types of fruit – evil & good. Evil fruit is produced when a person walks after the flesh. Good (Godly) fruit is produced when a person walks after the Spirit.

“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” – Gal 5:19-23

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So, the big question is – Can a Christian lose his salvation?

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See this blog for a detailed explanation.

- We are all born sinners and headed for hell. We need a Savior.
- We will continue to sin but will sin less as we are changed into the image of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us and causing us to produce the fruits of the Spirit.
– Jesus is the One Who saves because only He could fulfill the requirements.
– We must be born again.
– The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit/refusing to acknowledge Jesus as the Holy Spirit points us to Him is the only thing that will be unforgiven in life or death. Christ is the only way to Heaven, so rejection of Him is what will keep us out.

When you were born, you had nothing to do with the process. You just went from “not” to “is.” When you are born again, you have nothing to do with the process because you aren’t God. You admit your fallen state, repent, and pray for God to change you and mold you. You can’t save yourself, and you can’t keep yourself saved. God is the One keeping you because He finishes what He starts.

We are supposed to make sure we are following God and haven’t fallen into a slack state or a false sense of security or a false salvation. However, once we are born again, we are saved. There is no indication that a person is ever unborn again, returned to a state of being unsaved, re-unregernated, unadopted, or transformed back to the old creation. We are adopted in the family of God. When Paul describes adoption, it’s much like our process. Parents willingly choose a child and decide to rear that child as their own. God already knows how many issues we have when He adopts us. He disciplines His children, and does not cast them away. We can grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30) by being outright disobedient and will have to suffer consequences of sin (STD, loss of job from laziness, death from actions, etc), but it does not remove our sonship.

Summary, you cannot lose your salvation because there is nothing you can do to save yourself. It is God Who saves you, God Who sanctifies (teaches & matures you), and God Who keeps you. We don’t do good works to get or keep salvation. We do good works because we are saved because anything not done in faith is sin. Since God will not lose His children, the most important question that should be asked is “Am I really saved?” instead of “Did I lose my salvation?” Each person has to give himself an examination to answer that question. Either you “are” saved, or you aren’t. There is no in-between. Salvation is a one-time event just like you aren’t still being born. You were born and are growing up/living your life and learning in the process. If you are born again, you got saved and are in the process of maturing/learning – sanctification.

Here are a couple videos I’d like you to check out to kind of round out this section.

Note that this isn’t just dotting “I’s” & crossing “T’s” of obeying laws. Jesus told us to follow what He taught & to understand the spirit behind the commandments. This is not “rule-keeping” but following the leading of the Spirit to honor God in all that we do and to love our neighbors, and love sometimes hurts with truth. Love doesn’t close its eyes & hope sin goes away. Notice the first love is for God. If trying to be nice to neighbors stops you from loving the God that keeps you from a burning hell, then there’s a problem. I’m not going to turn my house upside down to cater to a neighbor if it means I’ve trampled all over my husband in the process. There is an order. The Gospel has love in it, but God is holy first. The Gospel is offensive, but we can see just by looking at the conversations that people get their feathers ruffled when you don’t agree. Tell them they’re wrong, and fur flies. God’s Word applies to everyone regardless of if they want to follow. If they refuse to hear, shake the dust off your feet. There’s a testimony that will be held against them if they choose to go their own way. When they stand before God and say, “Nobody every told me…” there will be a reminder that somebody did, and they rejected it. Once you hear truth, you can’t “unheard” it. (Okay, small side bar.)

I encourage you to watch these videos to examine yourself first and then to pray on how you can be used. You may have different jobs for different people – till ground, sow, water, harvest, something…

Hell’s Best Kept Secret

(disclaimer: at the end, he mentions turning “once & for all” as a first step in salvation. We don’t have to ability within ourselves to stop ourselves from sinning before coming to God. Even as saved Believers, we will sin. The idea is to put faith in Christ that He will keep us and give us the mind and desire to not sin because we love Him and do not want to offend & hurt the One we love by sinning against Him.)

Are You Really a Christian? –

(There are a couple small things that I disagree with, but they’re not salvation issues. One note, the Bible he’s using interprets anger as murder because that version leaves out “without cause.” We can be angry with cause but are not supposed to sin in our anger. Just wanted to point that out because some have beaten themselves up behind that.)


Comments

Question #3 – Salvation — 5 Comments

    • CoC teaches faith + works, which is another gospel. Their instruction is to believe on Christ, which is faith and required for salvation and then get water baptized to complete it, which means Christ’s death isn’t enough. Even though the Bible expressly states that those who do not believe will go to hell, they teach not getting water baptized prevents a person from being fully saved, which basically means the Believer falls into hell. Saved people don’t go to hell, and there are no partially saved people. So, if someone were to hear the Gospel and put his faith in Christ, get killed by a car before being baptized, his faith in Jesus isn’t enough to secure his salvation…according to CoC. If Bibles were dropped onto a deserted island that had 1,000 idol worshipers, and one man picks up the Bible and believes on Christ, he’s still headed for hell (according to CoC) because there is no one on the island to baptize him. That means salvation and a person’s eternal destiny lies in the hand of man – not God. Baptism is an ordinance we should follow; however, none of our actions save or help save us. Either we find salvation in Christ, or we try to make it ourselves. This topic is actually going to be posted soon, so we’ll expand more about Acts 2:38 in that blog.

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t use the “thief on the cross” argument which is the one most people usually repeat to state baptism is a work and therefore not required for salvation, even though that man was still living before Christ had died and His Kingdom had not fully come into effect yet on the Day of Pentecost. But after Christ’s death and on the Day of Pentecost, what did Peter tell the people who realized they had crucified the Son of God to do?

    Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

    James says that even the devils believe and tremble (James 2:19), but true faith is shown by righteous works.

    Those who ignore the requirement of baptism almost always use some unusual case, as you did, to try and prove their point, like dying in a car accident on their way to church to get baptized, or being dropped on a desert island with no one to baptize them. I believe God is the judge in those cases and with His mercy will take that into account. But we cannot ignore the many scriptures that reference baptism in the New Testament as part of a person’s salvation, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21 just to name a few.

    I realize we cannot save ourselves by our works and that’s why Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins. But God expects obedience as well. You might call it a working faith. You seem to believe faith only is the requirement for salvation. What about repentance? Should we ignore that too since it is a “work”, despite the fact it is also mentioned several times in the New Testament.

    Jesus said:
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23

    No one is perfect but God knows our hearts and if we are truly seeking His Will, He will judge us accordingly, in my opinion, even if we are not doing everything according to the way we are instructed. The writer in Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”

    How can you say the Church of Christ preaches another Gospel because we teach baptism as a requirement for salvation? Jesus Himself was baptized, even though He was sinless. I believe He was baptized as an example for us to follow. Who’s the one teaching another Gospel here?

    You know I thought you had a good website here and were concerned about following the truth of God’s Word. I first read your article on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (MDR) which I found to be very logical. However, now that I see the direction you are going on this matter of the requirement of baptism for salvation, I’m questioning everything you teach. For one thing, I don’t like the fact that you don’t give your name or any background of your religious beliefs such as what church you are connected with or may have been connected with. To me, and maybe to others, that shows a lack of real commitment to what you are espousing on this website.

    You probably won’t post this comment on your website. That’s fine. But I’ll be glad to discuss any Biblical matter you would like to discuss privately. The Lord loves you and wants to see you saved. And if there’s anyway I can assist, I am more than happy to do so. May God bless you as you seek His Will, as I truly believe you are doing.

    • Hi,

      I’ve already explained my reasons for not focusing on myself, so if you choose not to believe it, that’s your choice. The examples I gave are actually not unusual cases. I’m sure you’ve known of people you hadn’t expected to die as suddenly as they did. I worked in mental health for several years in both a psychiatric hospital and residential facilities. I remember many conversations I had with those who were suicidal/homicidal. I also remember the altercations that broke out at those locations. It doesn’t take long for an enraged resident to choke out a staff member. I’ve also lived in communities that had large military, law enforcement, elderly, and/or violence. The simple fact is that most people die before everyone else is ready to say good-bye. The problem with your reasoning is that you’re suggesting God has one plan of salvation but allows at least two ways to be saved. You just said that a person is “required” to believe and be water baptized in order to be saved; however, if a person doesn’t have the opportunity to be water baptized, you believe God will be merciful and let him in anyway. Is that Biblical? God doesn’t offer two types of salvation. Everyone from Adam until the last person is saved through faith.

      I’m pretty sure I said those verses would be addressed in another post since this topic can take time to cover. However, let me just say that none of the verses you cited mean water baptism saves. One of the problems with the baptismal regeneration teaching is that it assumes water when the word baptism is used. That’s no more correct than assuming “wash” involves water in every usage. For instance, we are washed by the Blood of the Lamb. Husbands wash their wives with the Word. No water involved. There are also multiple baptisms, and not everyone gets wet. Ex: Baptism of Moses and Jesus’s second baptism Matt 20:22-23. Baptism is not solely immersion but also being identified with someone. Unlike today’s long & drawn out process that may require classes for some churches that stretch out for months before a person can be baptized, people used to make their confession of saving faith and then get baptized to identify with Christ almost immediately…possibly due to knowing death might come soon afterward. The two just went together, but the baptism in water didn’t save. It’s similar to a couple getting married. It’s usually a given that the wife takes the husband’s last name – to identify with him. Just like baptism comes after salvation as a public way of announcing who you’re with, the change in name comes after the marriage to identify to whom she’s married. The name change doesn’t come before the marriage. And…if she doesn’t change her name for months…or ever…she’s still married to her husband because the name change is not what solidifies the marriage. She’s married regardless of what her last name is.

      Speaking of the thief on the cross, that example actually does show baptism is not a requirement for salvation because baptisms were already being given. The disciples were baptizing (John 4:2), and John the Baptist wouldn’t baptize people who weren’t repentant. Everyone prior to Christ’s death, burial, & resurrection had faith forward and believed what God said and that He would send the Messiah. People living during Christ’s lifetime had the opportunity to believe on Him as the Messiah (remember He told Pharisees they would die in their sins unless they believed He was Who He said). This is evidenced as Martha acknowledged Jesus as the Christ.in John 11. We know Mary was a Believer and loved the Lord. Jesus loved Lazarus, who believed on Him as the Christ even though he was dead. At this point, we put our faith in Christ and trust in what He has accomplished and are saved. So, if water baptism is required, the thief is in hell and not Heaven. This account is given purposely so that we know it’s only when the Holy Spirit quickens us to bring about repentance that we can believe unto salvation, which rests on Jesus.

      Quickly,
      – Matt 7:21-23 – These are people who were never saved. Verse 23 says Jesus NEVER knew them – not that they had faith but didn’t finish on their end so He forgot them. They talk and act the part but never put faith in Him.
      – 1 Peter 3:21 is about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given at salvation, which converts us to give us a good conscience. Outside of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have a good anything. Not only is this verse not about water baptism, Peter goes out of his way to specify that it isn’t by stating “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” Water cleanses us on the outside. Water can’t purify a mind. Generally, when water is on the brain, it’s a serious health condition.
      – Acts 2:38 – baptism is not to remit sins but to identify with Christ because we have been forgiven of sins. See Luke 5:12-14
      Jesus encountered a leper whom He healed. I’m sure we can agree that Jesus met the man, healed him, and then sent him out. Notice this phrase in verse 14: “and offer for thy cleansing.” It is similar to the phrasing in Acts 2:38 “for the remission of sins.” Now, is the man going to the priest to give an offering to be cleansed? No, Jesus has already healed the man. He is taking an offering “because” he has already been cleansed of his disease. In the same manner, we get baptized because we have received forgiveness of sins. The Bible makes it clear that blood shed is what is necessary for remission of sins. At no point throughout the history of the Bible will you ever see anything but bloodshed to cover and wash away sins.
      – “28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” – Matt 26:28
      – “22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” – Heb 9:22
      We do not take anything away from Christ’s sacrifice. His blood, and only His blood, remits sins. If water baptism washed away sins, then we would either need to live in a bathing pool to repent of our sins (1 John 1 says Believers still sin), or there’s no point in having any instruction for the Believer in the NT because we’ve somehow attained sinless perfection. It also means faith is not required because people can just get baptized and be free of sin. Jesus’s death on the cross was in vain because he could have just lived to a ripe old age, died of natural causes, and risen again. Peter’s message to the Jews on this day was to come under the authority of Jesus Christ.
      – Mark 16:16 – Please note part 2 of this verse.”16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Jesus does not say the person who believes but doesn’t follow through with water baptism isn’t saved and goes to hell. In fact, when you look at Rom 1:18-32, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Gal 5:19-21, and Rev 21:8 under the lists of sins worthy of destruction and hellfire, not getting baptized is nowhere to be found. We are each to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. I can’t work out my own salvation if my place in God is dependent upon finding someone with the right credentials to baptize me because that person has to help me with my salvation. That makes the baptizer the mediator between God and myself because he’s the one who can help me get “fully” connected to God.

      In no way am I discounting the importance of water baptism or encouraging people to not get baptized. Jesus did instruct us to do so just as we are to participate in communion. However, there is no supernatural change happening because we went under water. When we place our faith in Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit as a seal of salvation, and baptized into Christ. That is the baptism that saves.

      As I said earlier, there will be a post to expand on the verses with additional resources so everyone can continue to read and study for himself.

  2. I certainly appreciate your willingness to explain your position. And even though, I would prefer more description of your background, I can respect your reasoning for not doing so.

    Acts 22:16, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

    Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    Both of these verses indicate the actual removal of sin does not occur until after water baptism. That’s exactly what salvation is, the removal of sins so we can be pure before God. This removal is possible only by the cleansing blood of Christ. But Jesus just does not hand the forgiveness out to everyone. There are requirements to accept the grace He offers. Of utmost importance is faith that He is the Son of God. But I believe He also requires confession of that faith, repentance and water baptism as evidence the person desiring salvation is really sincere. You even said yourself Jesus instructed us to be baptized. If it wasn’t important for salvation, why would he command it?

    If baptism was not required for salvation, why are there so many NT examples of it being performed?

    Would you not agree we cannot be saved without faith Jesus is the Son of God? OK, isn’t that a work? A person has to seek the Will of God for His life and make a decision if he really believes what the Bible teaches to be true. Once he comes to the decision it is true, he then needs to study what more he needs to do to receive salvation. That includes willingness to confess Jesus as the Son of God, repent of his sins and be baptized to wash away those sins.

    Do you think Naaman would have been healed of his leprosy if he decided instead of dipping in the dirty waters of the Jordan River 7 times, which he was furious at having to do, he had just waited for God to wave His hand over him and declared him healed as he thought was a more “respectable” method? No, God wanted him to do it His way. I see this as God testing Naaman’s faith.

    James said that faith without works is dead and a person shows their faith by their works. Water baptism is a work that shows we are truly committed to our faith in Jesus, not to mention the all important reason for doing it as an act of obedience to God.

    I would hate to stand before God on judgment day and say Lord, I believed in you, I served you faithfully, I believe you saved me because of my faith in you, but that baptism thing, I really didn’t think I needed to do that because you saved me without it, even though you commanded it in your Holy Word on a number of occasions.

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