By Mike Willis
Jesus’ mission in coming to this earth was to save mankind from sin (Lk. 19:10; Matt. 1:21). He did not come to correct all of the social problems of His day, such as government by dictators, slavery, poverty, lack of educational opportunities, etc. His mission was more important than the temporal problems pertaining only to life in the body. He came to deliver man from the eternal consequences of sin.
Man’s Need For Salvation
Most men have little conception of their need for salvation. They have minimized the consequences of sin. Though many will admit that they are sinners, they do not act like they believe sin to be a problem in their lives. Certainly it is not as important as next Sunday’s golf game, an outing at the lake on a holiday week-end, or shopping the sale at the nearest mail. At least, most people give more attention to these activities than to the problem of sin.
Sin’s punishment is eternal damnation. Paul wrote, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “Death” is used in a number of senses in the Bible. In each of its uses, its basic meaning is separation. (1) It is used to refer to physical death where the body is separated from the spirit (Jas. 2:26). (2) It is used to refer to spiritual death where the soul is separated from God (cf. Gen. 2:17; Isa. 59:1-2; Eph. 2: 1). (3) It is used to refer to eternal separation from God in hell (Rev. 2:14). When a man sins, he is separated from God (2) and in danger of eternal damnation in hell (3).
We tend to categorize sin in our minds to the extent that we readily admit that these two separations are the consequences of “big” sins, such as murder, rape, kidnaping, terrorism, and other sins which have obvious temporal consequences of great magnitude. But, we tend to believe that God’s grace will be extended so that “little” sins will not have these same consequences. In Galatians 5:19-21, the “little” sins and “big” sins are placed side by side with each having the same consequences (cf. Rom. 1:28-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden would have been classified as a “little” sin by today’s standard, yet its consequence was death (Gen. 2:17). There are no little sins and big sins on God’s measuring stick. All sins are disobedience to the word of God and bring the consequence of separation from God and eternal damnation hereafter.
Sin has been committed by all men who have reached the age of accountability. Paul wrote, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). However good one may think himself to be, he must admit that he has disobeyed God’s word in one or more ways. “For there is no man that sinneth not” (1 Kgs. 8:46). Hence, all men are in need of salvation.
Salvation Is By Grace
Man cannot atone for his own sins. “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Prov. 20:9) The psalmist recognized that man could not even prolong physical life; much less is he able to give spiritual life. He wrote,
They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for even) that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption (Psa. 49:6-9; cf. 1 Pet. 1:18).
No one can save himself from sin without the grace of God.
Years of good living do not erase sin. Sorrow for sin does not atone for sin. Man is unable to save himself from sin, acting alone.
The blood of animals cannot atone for sin. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin” (Heb. 10:4). A system of religion in which animals are sacrificed for sin cannot remove the guilt of sin.
Man’s terrible plight is now perceived. All of us have sinned. Man is unable to save himself from sin; he cannot pull himself up from the pits of sin by human works. God’s divine grace is needed to save us from sin.
God saw man’s plight – guilty of sin and doomed to eternal damnation – and acted to save him from his sins. He loved man so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross of Calvary as an atonement for sin (Jn. 3:16). He who was in the form of God took upon Himself the form of a man and endured the sufferings of the crucifixion in order that we might be forgiven of our sins. His blood obtained forgiveness of sins for mankind (Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor. 1:7).
The sending of God’s Son to die on Calvary was God’s gift of grace to mankind. God’s grace made man’s salvation possible. The death of Jesus on Calvary was God’s response to man’s need for salvation. We were not deserving of this wonderful gift (Rom. 5:8); hence, it is called “grace.” God did for us what we could not do for ourselves through the shedding of Jesus’ precious blood.
Salvation Is Conditionally Received
Jesus’ blood was shed in order that men of every nation could be saved. His grace offers salvation to every man (Tit. 2:11). Not everyone will be saved, however. The decision of who will be saved and who will not be saved is not determined by the arbitrary choice of God; rather, it is determined by man’s free-will choice to accept or reject God’s grace which brings salvation.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is to be preached to every creature of every nation under heaven (Matt. 28:18; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:48-49). His offer of salvation is extended to every man. However, only those who will accept God’s grace in obedience to the gospel will be saved.
In the Great Commission, Jesus revealed the conditions which man must meet in order to have his sins forgiven by the grace of God. He said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15-16). Luke records that “repentance and remission of sins” is to be preached in Jesus’ name (Lk. 24:47). In order to be forgiven of his sins, man must (a) hear the gospel preached; (b) believe it with all of his heart; (c) repent of his sins; (d) be baptized (immersed) in water. Have you obeyed the gospel in order to have your sins remitted?
Many people will waste their lives pursuing things which are relatively unimportant, while they neglect obeying the gospel which can purify them from sin and give them the hope of eternal life. What does man have that is more valuable to him than the forgiveness of his sins? How sad that so many who have the opportunity to hear the word of God will never obey it!
Jesus has endured the cross to make your salvation possible. He wants you to be saved from sin. You have the choice of accepting or rejecting the salvation which God has offered to you through Christ. What will you do? Does salvation in heaven mean enough to you that you are willing to obey the gospel in order to receive it?
Guardian of Truth XXX: 12, pp. 362, 375
June 19, 1986