Why We Need Salvation

Becoming a Christian
Written by my husband, Rev. David J. Stankus

Ask anyone how a person becomes a Christian and you’ll probably get as many different answers as the number of people you ask. One thing that many answers will have in common, though, is that the person you ask will probably say, "I think one becomes a Christian by..." and then they fill in the blank from there. The key phrase in that answer is, "I think..."

There are many opinions and ideas about how one becomes a Christian. However, we don’t want to place our eternal future on someone’s opinion or idea - we want to base it on facts. The Bible gives us the facts about how we can receive salvation. The Bible is God’s revelation to us and He has given it to us to show us why we need salvation, to show us how to receive it, and then to show us how to live life as a Christian who has received salvation.

WHY WE NEED SALVATION:
We are in need of salvation, frankly, because we have all sinned in God’s eyes. We’re told this in the book of Romans, in chapter 3 and verse 23. It says, "... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  This means every one of us is a sinner.

If we use the 10 commandments as a standard, we can see our sin very plainly.
  • One of the commandments says, "You shall not bear false witness..." - in other words - you shall not lie. If you’ve ever told a lie, even a "white lie" you’ve sinned.
  • Another commandment says, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain..." If you’ve ever swore, using God’s name in a rather derogatory way, you’ve sinned.
  • The 8th commandment says, "You shall not steal." If you’ve ever stolen anything (even like taking pens or "white out" home from work...), you’ve sinned.

These are things we’ve all done. So, we are all sinners.

The problem with sin is that it separates us from God. We were created having a relationship with God. This is demonstrated in Genesis chapter 2 where God brings Adam the animals so that he could name them. In Genesis 3:8-9, God came to visit the Garden of Eden, and as He did, God called out to Adam to "visit" with him. Sin, however, has broken that relationship. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 59:2 that, "...your iniquities (sins) have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear." 

That leaves us with a problem. Because of our sin, we have been separated from God and we cannot have a relationship with Him like we were created to have.

But I'm a good person...
While many people know they’ve sinned against God, they also figure that if they’ve been a good enough person, and either didn’t sin real bad, or have done enough good things, they’ll earn God’s favor and they will go to Heaven when they die. The Bible tells us, however, in Isaiah 64:6 that to God, "...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." They’re not good enough for God.

All the good things we do to try to get back in "God’s good graces" fail - we can’t do it. We can’t be good enough to gain God’s favor or salvation from our sin.

But I've gone to church...

Some people try to earn their salvation by doing all the right "religious" things. They figure that if they say the right prayers, go to church often enough, even serve in some capacity in the church or even go through all the sacred ceremonies of the church, then they’ll be saved. The Bible tells us that those things will not save us, either. We can look back to Isaiah 64:6 - all the "righteous" acts we try to do are just like filthy, unclean rags to God - not good for anything. Another way that we know this is by looking at a certain group of "religious" people from back in Jesus day called "The Pharisees."

The Pharisees were a group of extremely devout men who did all the religious "things", by the book. They were very diligent to keep every commandment God gave, they were very diligent to worship God exactly as prescribed in the Scriptures. However, in John 8:44, Jesus symbolically told them that their father was "the devil." Even faithfully keeping all of God’s Laws and commandments and religious observances didn’t bring these men salvation. If they couldn’t earn salvation that way, then we can’t, either.

We can't do it ourselves...

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." (Underlined emphasis ours...) This verse tells us rather plainly that salvation does not come by the things we do - we can’t be good enough for it, and we can’t earn it in any way. 

This means that we are powerless to save ourselves from God’s wrath for our sin.

God has provided for salvation
Because we are powerless to save ourselves, God, in His love, provided for our salvation with what Jesus did on the cross for us. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

Why did He have to die for us? Because sin brings death - Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death..." This included both physical death and spiritual death, which is the separation from God that we’ve already seen.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took our punishment that God demands for sin upon Himself.

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2

Since the price for sin is death, when Jesus died on the cross, His death paid the price for our sin. Jesus could do this because He was sinless. Because He was sinless, He didn’t have to pay for His own sin, so His death could substitute for our sin.

Jesus died in our place so that God could forgive us of our sins.

Because Jesus died for our sins, God can now extend to us His grace for the forgiveness of our sin. Once again, let’s look at Ephesians 2:8-9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - not this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.

God’s "grace" is providing for us, or giving to us, what we don’t deserve - forgiveness of our sins. When we receive God’s salvation, it’s because we have received His grace into our lives.

HOW TO RECEIVE THIS SALVATION
How, then, do we receive God’’s grace into our lives? As the verse we just looked at says, "it is by grace you have been saved through faith..." Our faith in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross is what applies God’’s grace to our lives. As we’ve seen earlier, many times we might think that God’s grace is given to us because we’ve been good, we’ve taken communion or that it’s been applied to us because we’ve been baptized. But the Bible tells us that these are all external practices or ceremonies. If we could receive God’s grace through those things, why did Jesus then have to come and die for our sins?

Rather, as we saw in our last verse God’s grace is applied to us by our faith - by our faith alone in Jesus death on the cross for our sins.

The plan of salvation is very simple:
 
  • Admit that you are a sinner in need of God’s grace (Romans 3:23) and that you are helpless to save yourself (Isaiah 64:6).
  • Repent of your sin (Repent means turn away from your sin), confessing your sin to God - I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 
  • Depend alone on what Jesus did on the cross for the forgiveness of your sin (1 John 2:2).

When God raised Jesus from the dead three days later, it showed that God accepted what Jesus did for us on the cross. It shows that He accepted Jesus payment for sin.

When we believe in and trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross - when we repent of our sin and depend on Jesus sacrifice alone for the forgiveness of our sin, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, God applies His grace to our lives. We don’t have to earn His grace! That’s why Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

This is why we can’t earn it, or be good enough for it, or even receive it through "religious" ceremonies. It’’s because God offers salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, to us freely through what Jesus did on the cross for us.

IT'S ABOUT A RELATIONSHIP
Salvation is more than "just getting to Heaven when we die," although that’s what many people think it’s about. Yes, when we’re saved from our sin, we will go to Heaven when we die, but Heaven is a benefit of our salvation, not the purpose for it.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 tells us that the purpose of salvation is to reconcile us to God. Verse 18 says, "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ..." Because our sin separates us from God, our salvation, the forgiveness of our sin, reconciles us to Him.

Salvation is not like a ticket we purchase to get us through "the Pearly Gates" at the end of our lives. Salvation is reconciliation to God - a mending of that relationship we were created to have with Him. When our sin is forgiven (at our salvation, God forgives us of our past, present and future sins - Hebrews 7:26-27 - so when we sin again, we don’t need to be saved again...), we then enter a relationship with God. And that’s another reason why the Bible was written - it was written so that we would know how to live a life pleasing to God once we’ve entered into this relationship with Him.

So, salvation is being reconciled to God, which allows us to go to Heaven when we die.

If you would like to receive Christ as your Savior, simply pray and place your faith for the forgiveness of your sins in what Jesus did on the cross for you. There are three simple steps that we’ve seen from the Bible:
  • Confess to God that you’re a sinner in need of forgiveness (1 Jn 1:9) and ask Him to forgive you of your sin.
  • Depend on what Jesus did for you on the cross for that forgiveness (1 Jn 2:2) and nothing else - not being good, not a religious ceremony, like baptism or communion, but on Jesus sacrifice on the cross alone.
  • Confess that you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9) to show that He accepted Jesus sacrifice for your sin.

Here’s a suggested prayer:
If you like, you can pray this prayer. Please understand that this prayer or any prayer in itself is nothing special. Just simply praying this prayer will not "do" anything for you. It’s your faith and trust in Jesus sacrifice and resurrection that saves you. This prayer is simply an expression or confession of that trust.
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner who is unworthy of your forgiveness. I am sorry for the sins that I have committed and I want to live to please you. I accept what Jesus did for me on the cross and I believe that His sacrifice for me and His resurrection from the dead has provided the forgiveness for my sin, and I ask you to apply that to my life. Thank you, in Jesus name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer (or something similar)......and have depended on Jesus sacrifice alone for the forgiveness of your sin, then we would like to welcome you to the family of God! You have now become a Christian. Please let us know that you have trusted Jesus as your Savior; we want to rejoice in what God has done in your life and/or answer any questions you might have.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment. I would love to know your thoughts! (NOTE: It may take a little while before your comment shows up, due to all comments being moderated. Advertisements or spam will not be approved for publication.)