For What Saith the Scriptures About Salvation?
The greatest possession anyone can have is salvation from his past sins and the hope of eternal salvation after awhile. Salvation is available to all who desire it. The scriptures plainly tell us all we need to know about obtaining this salvation.
The Need of Salvation
An insurance man begins to sell his policy by showing the needs of the prospective policyholder. If the need is not recognized, no policy will be sold. The need of salvation must also be shown if we are to convert souls unto Christ. This need can be shown in Ephesians 2:12, "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." Peter told the crowd on the day of Pentecost that with their wicked hands they crucified the Son of God. The need of salvation was evident. Since the sins of Adam and Eve, mankind has been in need of salvation. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). We can also see, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
Salvation in Christ
God recognized the need of man's salvation and made the provisions necessary for man's salvation. In Genesis 12:3, the Lord said to Abraham, ". . . and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." God has promised Abraham that He would bless all nations in his seed; that seed is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Therefore God has fulfilled his promise and His blessings are enjoyed in Christ (Eph. 1:3). The hope of an eternal life in heaven can only be enjoyed in Christ, "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:11).
God sent his only begotten Son into this world so that all may have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). Jesus came into this world "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10). The divine side of salvation has been completed. God has done his part, Jesus has done his part, now men must do their part if they are to have salvation. It is not enough just to live a good life, or try to be saved by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39). God has given us his plan of salvation.
The Plan of Salvation
Jesus said in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." The "and" in this passage shows that two conditions must be met: faith and baptism. If we transposed this verse into a mathematical formula, it would read: Believe + Baptism = Salvation and Not Believe = Damnation.
The crowd asked the apostles on the day of Pentecost, "What shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:37-38). Once we believe and repent, the next step is confession. An example is found in Acts 8:37, where the eunuch said to Philip, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
After Saul was struck down by a great light, the Lord spoke to him saying, "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 22:16). This is what he was told he must do: "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
At this point our Christian life has just begun. "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matt. 24:13). Also in Revelation 2:10, ". . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." In summary the plan of salvation consists of hearing and believing the gospel, repenting of our sins, confessing that Jesus is the Son of God, being baptized for the remission of sins, and remaining faithful until death.
The Great Salvation
Hebrews 2:2-3 states, "For if the word spoken by angel was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." As humans we cannot earn salvation, but we can escape the punishment that is justly due us by the great salvation which the Lord has offered. Why is it a great salvation? (1) God gave his only begotten Son (Jn. 3;16). (2) It was purchased by the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28). (3) It is an eternal salvation (Heb. 5:8-9). (4) It saves man from an everlasting punishment (Rev. 20:12-15; Matt. 25:41).
The Common Salvation
God is no respecter of persons. His plan of salvation is therefore available to all men everywhere on the same conditions. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). If we could be saved by the doctrines of men or by the law of Moses, Jesus died in vain (Gal. 2:21). Jesus died to offer the hope of salvation to all men equally. Jesus is the common sacrifice (Heb. 2:9). The common salvation is needed because all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). The Lord did not design multiple plans for salvation, but one common plan. Ephesians 4:4-6 lists items that God in-tended to be only one: body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father. There is only one hope of salvation, which is God's plan.
The Conditional Salvation
The plan of salvation has been offered to all men on the same terms. If man accepts the conditions, eternal life in heaven will be the reward. If man rejects the conditions, everlasting torment will be the punishment. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). We must obey the will of God to obtain an eternal heavenly home. Revelation 2:10 says we must be faithful unto death. Hebrews 5:9 speaks of Jesus saying, ". . . being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:9). The alien sinner must obey the plan of salvation stated previously to become a Christian. This is God's plan. Man says that one can be saved by "faith only," but this phrase is used only once in the Bible. "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:24). It is also possible for a Christian to turn away from God. Galatians 5:4 ends with the phrase, ". . . ye are fallen from grace." Galatians 6:1 states, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." When the erring Christian realizes his lost state, he must repent for forgiveness of sins and pray that his sins be forgiven.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 8, p. 12-13