By Tom M. Roberts
The inquisitive mind of man has explored practically every corner of the earth and is reaching out to the universe. Man’s thirst for knowledge has led him to the inner chambers of the atom and to the outer reaches of space. In all of this quest, there seems to be an insatiable desire to know, to understand, to find answers for whatever questions arise. In the process of learning, vast amounts of money have been spent, volumes of books have been written and knowledge has been multiplied. Yet questions remain. Man is destined to search and to look for answers to problems still unresolved.
May I suggest to you that there remains one question that is the greatest question of all? By comparison those perplexities of the atom and of space pale into insignificance in its presence. You see, not every one of us is immediately affected by some of the answers to the questions of science, mathematical theory, etc. Whether Saturn has 5 moons or 15, how it got its thousands of rings and other interesting phenomena have little effect on my eternal destiny. Which of us is vitally concerned with whether or not the sun is going to burn itself out in another 20 billion years? I really haven’t missed any sleep over such matters. But friend, I have lost some sleep over whether or not my soul is right with God. Thus, there is one question that is common to every single human being among all the teeming billions that have lived from the beginning. That question is: “What shall I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). This question vitally concerns me personally, as it does you. Finding the answer is not optional as it is with other matters (such as the rings of Saturn or understanding the theory of relativity). I must know how to be saved if I am to avoid an eternity apart from God!
What is doubly amazing about this question that is the greatest of a is that the answer is readily available. In commenting about his desire for Israel’s salvation Paul asserts that man, by his own initiative, cannot assault as it were the gates of heaven and decipher the answer to this question. In Romans 10:6-8 he explains, “Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down): or, Who shall descend into the abyss? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). ” Can man by his own strength or knowledge find Christ? No. But ours is not a hopeless condition, doomed to ignorance, for God by His grace and mercy made the answer available to us. He continued in verse 8, “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith, which we preach.”
The greatest question has a proportionately great answer: Christ. The tenth chapter of Romans continues explaining how that righteousness is to be found in Christ by the inspired revelation through the apostles’ preaching. Salvation is found among those who believe and accept Christ as Savior. Christ is the answer to the greatest question.
But the facts of the gospel are accompanied by the commands of the gospel. Remember that the question as stated in Acts 16:30 asked, “What shall I do?” While Christ is the gracious answer to our sinful condition, we must respond in faith to meet the conditions of God’s grace. Gospel preachers have always taught that Christ and His sacrifice are the grounds or basis of salvation. But we have also had to show that salvation is conditioned upon faithful obedience by those who would be saved.
The book of Acts is a treatise showing how salvation has been brought down by the grace of God and how the conditions of salvation have been met by those who wish to be saved. It does not detract at all from the grace of God to show men what they must do (meet conditions) to be saved. Salvation is either conditional or it is not. If it is not conditional, man has nothing at all to do. If it is conditional, man must do something; the conditions must be met before blessings are received.
When the question is raised, “What must I do to be saved?”, it is understood that God has done His part fully in initiating, implementing and fulfilling salvation. Nothing is lacking of God’s grace. There is no need to implore God to be more gracious (can He give more than His son?). What remains is to exhort man to his part.
Throughout the book of Acts (and other parts of the Scripture), we see the apostles and evangelists doing this very thing: exhorting people to obey the gospel. They understood that the greatest question had been answered. They preached the answer. And “those that gladly received the word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).
The people who considered the question in New Testament days either accepted or rejected the counsel of God. But their day is past and gone. Now the question is for us for it is now our time “under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). Are you interested in the question? Do you understand the answer? It will matter little in eternity about the chemical makeup of Saturn but it is of vital importance whether or not you spend eternity with God or apart from Him. Do you know the answer to the greatest question of all time? Are you even interested in the question?
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 12, p. 362
June 21, 1984