Category: New Life

What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

John 3:16 is a familiar verse about salvation which most Christians often quote without considering what it really teaches about salvation. Of the doctrines that are important for us to master, salvation is one of the most important.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

So let us take a look at what the text actually teaches.

The Nature of God’s Love

In our text, God’s love is the ultimate cause of salvation. The love that motivated God to create us is also what motivated Him to save and restore us to a positive relationship with Him.

When man rebelled against God by choosing to willfully disobey Him, God was in no way morally obligated to save him, yet He did because of love. We must understand that God is not full of love, He is love. It is because of love that the Father gave His Son for the world.

“Realizing how much the Father loves the Son helps us understand His love for the world.”

Have you ever stopped to wonder why God would send His beloved Son, whom He loved infinitely and eternally, to die on the cross for us? Why would God even bother to save a world that rebelled against Him?

God’s love is the only explanation! God is love but He is also just. There was no way God would just let sin slide. No one and nothing else will be able to satisfy God’s justice but because God is love, He will not also let man suffer eternally in hell. God made a way for man to be reconciled back to Him because He is love.

But we will never truly understand the depths of God’s love for us and the world until we realize how much the Father loves the son. The mutual love between the Father and the Son is repeatedly emphasized in the gospel of John (John 3:35; John 10:17; John 14:31 & John 17: 24).

“The cross makes love believable.”

The love that John describes reveals an intimate relationship, an affection expressed in self-giving sacrifice. To save the world He loved, God was willing to endure the pain of losing His Son.

Parents and children who love each other can relate to John’s description of divine love, even though our love can never be a shadow of the mutual love between the Father and the Son. In the face of what God sacrificed, to doubt the love of God for us is unbelief that wounds His heart.

The Meaning of the World

The world is the object of salvation. God not only loved His obedient Son, but also the world that did not know Him and opposed Him. God’s love for the world is a constant reminder for us that He wants everyone to believe in Jesus and receive salvation (2 Peter 3:9).

However, there are different interpretations from Bible teachers, scholars and denominations as to who are embodied in the “world.” Some say that God’s special love only is for Israel and for the righteous.

But God loved everyone. There is no group of people or any individual beyond the pale of God’s love. Jesus shed His blood for all!

“Salvation is for whoever believes.”

However, just because God gave His Son for the world does not mean everyone is automatically saved; it means salvation was made available for anyone. The Bible emphasizes that God’s purpose in sending His Son was not to condemn the world because it was already condemned (John 3:17).

God sent His Son to save the world. Jesus became the sacrifice that appeased God’s anger for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). Salvation is given freely for “whoever believes,” not just for the elect or the nation of Israel (Galatians 3:28).

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

How God Gave His Son

Man’s salvation is motivated by the love of God, but it was giving His Son that made it available. God did not simply say abstractly, “I love you.” He provided the ultimate demonstration of love by giving His own Son to die on the cross. This is how “God loved the world.”

It’s February, commonly called “love month.” It’s when everybody likes to speak of love. But love means different things to different people and often times; true love in the romantic sense turns out to be not so true after all.

“The best definition of love anytime, anywhere is still found in the Bible.”

If you’re looking for the best definition and illustration of love anytime, anywhere, it is found in the Bible. The greatest love story ever told is how God gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die on the cross in order to make salvation available to whoever believes.

Who is God’s only Begotten Son?

The term “one and only Son” (John 3:16 NIV) was especially appropriate for a particularly beloved child, normally one’s only child. It’s important to note that this phrase is used to highlight Abraham’s obedience to God in his willingness to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac (Genesis 22:15-16).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

John thinks of God’s Son in John 3:16 in terms of the eternal relationship that Jesus has with the Father. In his opening prologue (John 1:1), John emphasized that Jesus is God and yet distinct from the Father.

In other words, Jesus is God the Son, not the Father. Likewise, toward the end of John’s gospel, Thomas confesses Jesus as his Lord and his God (John 20:28).

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:28

It is important to reiterate the point of “one and only Son” or “only begotten Son” in John 3:16. The one whom God gave was His “one and only Son.” John highlights the immeasurable love God had for the world in giving His beloved Son Jesus.

What Saving Faith Involves

Some are offering an appealing message that everyone will be saved. However, John 3:18 says that people stand under judgment until they put their trust in God’s only begotten Son.

Yes, God has provided the gift of salvation for all and it’s free, yet it does not mean that individual’s salvation is automatic. John 3:16 declares that people must still receive God’s gift; they must “believe” which means they must depend on the gift.

“A true, saving faith must persevere to the end.”

Another appealing idea is that if anyone believes at any moment, he will be saved whether or not he continues to believe in Jesus. But the present tense used for “believes” in the text (John 3:16) implies continuing faith. Faith must persevere to the end if it is true, saving faith.

In Whom Saving Faith Must Rest

Saving faith as described in John 3:16 is “believing in Him”– in Jesus as God’s Son and as God. Saving faith affirms more than Jesus as a mere prophet, miracle worker or God’s messenger.

Throughout the gospel, Jesus reveals His identity often in explicit “I am” statements (John 8:24, 58; John 10:11; John 15:1) and climaxes with Thomas’ recognition that Jesus is Lord and God (John 20:28).

“Saving faith has a specific content.”

Different New Testament passages talk about salvation in different ways but all of them share a common thread: we come to God only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Jesus has already paid the price in full; now people must respond. No church or religion can save you, only Jesus Christ can.

What Eternal Life Means

Eternal life is given to “whoever believes.” But what is eternal life? Jesus talked with Nicodemus shortly before John 3:16 about new birth which is the beginning of a new life – eternal life. Romans 6:23 also promises eternal life in Christ Jesus as God’s gift.

Although eternal life is commonly perceived as the life of the coming world expected after the resurrection of the dead in the future, eternal life is a present tense possession (John 3:36). It’s not something that begins only when we get to heaven.

“Eternal life is knowing God.”

John 17:3 defines eternal life as “knowing God.” But the word “know” here is speaking of much more than intellectual knowledge. When Jesus said eternal life is “knowing God,” He was speaking of having an intimate, close, personal relationship with God.

“True eternal life begins with a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.”

If you have received forgiveness of your sins and received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life but you’re just waiting to get to heaven to start living eternal life, then you’re missing the point of salvation.

If you have been saved by grace through your faith in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8), you have actually already begun eternal life. Live it to the full and experience the life of the coming age as you live in relationship with God and with fellow believers under the true and rightful Lord of humanity, our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

If you died today, would you go to heaven or hell? This is the most important question to which a person needs to know the answer. In the beginning, man was good. Man was created by God in His own image as the crowning work of His creation (Genesis 1:27).

But by his free choice, man sinned against God. And every person afterward inherited a nature and an environment inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23). How does God deal with sin?

Salvation is God’s way of forgiving sin and providing a means for man to receive eternal life now and in heaven. On the cross, Jesus Christ made the “once for all” sacrifice for man’s sin and its penalty. This salvation was and is offered to everyone on God’s own initiative, as an expression of His love for sinners.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12

Why not receive salvation today by believing in Jesus and putting your faith in what He has done for you on the cross of Calvary? You no longer have to rely on your good deeds to save you, but on the gift of eternal life that God is offering through Jesus Christ because of His great love.

 

Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life In Christ

Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life In Christ

One Bible verse that is always quoted every time the Gospel is shared is Romans 6:23. This verse says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Looking at this verse more closely made me realize one thing, and that is, we get exactly what we deserve! We receive death as penalty for our sins. “Wages” refers to a payment. When a person works, he receives a payment for his work. In the verse quoted above, it means that those whose work is “sin” receive the payment of death.

In today’s article, I would like us to look into the three important ingredients of the above mentioned text namely: SIN, DEATH and ETERNAL LIFE.

Sin: What is it? When, where and how did it start?

The Bible defines sin as the “transgression or breaking of the law” (1 John 3:4 KJV); it is rebellion against God’s will (Deuteronomy 6:23; Joshua 1:18), an act of revolution and anarchy against God’s righteous government.

Sin started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve deliberately disobeyed God. We read in Genesis 2:15-17 that God put the man (Adam) He created in the Garden of Eden and instructs him that he is free to eat from any tree in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because in that day that he will eat of it he will surely die.

Not long after that in Genesis 3:1-6, we read the account of the fall of man as Adam gave in to Eve’s suggestion to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God specifically forbade and committed the sin of disobedience. And because Adam stood as the representative of the human race, his sin was imputed, reckoned and imparted to all future generations (Romans 5:12). The result is that we have all sinned and are under the judgment of God (Romans 3:23).

We were all born into this world spiritually dead and that’s why we need to be born again as Jesus explicitly said in John 3:3-5 in his conversation with Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Death: The punishment for sin

What is death? It is very important we understand that death is never associated with the concept of non-existence. Instead, death always carries the idea of separation – whether in a physical or a spiritual sense.

2 Kinds of Death:

1) Spiritual death – the state of being separated from fellowship with God as a result of sin.

2) Physical death – separation between the soul and body.

Did Adam and Eve die spiritually or physically? Or both? Genesis 3:23-24 tells us that the Lord banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and so their fellowship with God was cut off. Clearly, Adam and Eve died a spiritual death. Take note that before the fall, God had a close, intimate relationship with Adam. God would come down to the Garden of Eden to fellowship with him. But that relationship was not only tainted but broken as a result of sin.

Some Bible scholars claim that Adam and Eve did not only experience spiritual death but they also died physically that day. Yes, Adam went on to live for another 930 years after being banished from the Garden of Eden, but “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). Assuming that Adam was 70 years old at the time of the fall, add to that 930 years for a total of a thousand years which is like one day to the Lord.Death Penalty for Sin Eternal Life in Christ.

Do you ever wonder why such a severe penalty for merely having an appetite for a fruit that looked so enticing? Why did God impose the death penalty for the sin of having an appetite for a forbidden fruit? It should be noted that the motive for Adam and Eve’s disobedience was more than just appetite, but the ambition to be “like God” (Genesis 3:4-6). Sounds familiar? It’s the same sin Lucifer committed that resulted to his fall from heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14 & Ezekiel 28:12-18).

Eternal Life in Christ: God’s gift

Going back to Romans 6:23, do you notice how the bad news comes first while the good news comes last? Often times in our conversation, we always deliver the bad news first so that we can end on a good note. Like when we go to the doctor and he says he’s got bad news and good news. Without even asking which one we want to hear first, he will go on to tell us the bad news first and then follow it up with the good news. Now why is that? Because although we need  to be aware of the reality of the bad news, he wants us to focus on the good news.

That’s exactly what the apostle Paul was doing here when he wrote to the Roman Church. Paul mentions a problem (bad news) and then introduces a solution (good news). If the bad news is death as the consequence of sin, the good news is the gift of God which is eternal life in Christ Jesus.

But what is eternal life? Is it “living forever?” Does having eternal mean we get to “live forever?” No, because no one ceases to exist when they die! Everyone gets to live forever. The only difference is the location; everyone gets to live forever in either heaven or hell.

What then is eternal life? John 3:36 NIV says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Also in John 3:16, the very heart of the Bible, it says that the reason Jesus came to live and die was for us to have eternal life. Do you see in these verses that eternal life is a present-tense possession?

Death Penalty for Sin Eternal Life in Christ.

Eternal life is not something that begins only when we get to heaven. Sadly, many Christians mistakenly assume that the goal of salvation is the forgiveness of sin to avoid hell. Sure, not perishing in hell is an important part of what Jesus came to do. But there’s a lot more to our salvation than getting our sins forgiven so we can be with God in heaven instead of hell.

As mentioned earlier, spiritual death is separation from God that came about as a result of sin. Sin which was a barrier that stood between man and God had to be removed and that’s exactly what Jesus came to accomplish. So now, sin is no longer standing between us and God because we have become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus defined eternal life in John 17:3 as “knowing God.” But what does the Bible mean exactly by the word “know?” Let’s look at one particular Bible verse where the word “know” is used in the same way as in John 17:3. Genesis 4:1 says “Adam knew his wife …” Adam didn’t just know Eve intellectually. He had an intimate, personal experience with her. This was speaking of a relationship between a man and a woman in the most intimate way possible.

Death Penalty for Sin Eternal Life in Christ.

So when Jesus said eternal life was knowing God, He was speaking of having an intimate, close personal relationship with Him and His Father which we can have right now. We do not have to wait for heaven to be able to enjoy eternal life. Jesus did not come to die so you won’t go to hell. Jesus died for our sins in order to have our broken relationship with God restored as to how it was before sin entered the world.

“True eternal life begins with a relationship with the Lord.”

Conclusion

Romans 6:23 addresses both the consequences of sin and the deliverance from it. The wages (just payment) for sin is death. However, God has given us a gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This gift is not something earned or deserved, but is given freely. The Bible is clear that Jesus is the only way to be free from the bondage of sin and death and to the Father (John 14:6).

Sure, Adam’s disobedience has put everyone under God’s curse and due to receive the death penalty for that sin, but Jesus’ obedience made us righteous (Romans 5:18-20) in the sight of God and can now receive His gift of eternal life.

Do you want to receive God’s gift of eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord? Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Would you like to have a personal, intimate relationship with God, declared righteous by God and not suffer death penalty for your sin? God has set before you today life and death and He wants you to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:15 & Deuteronomy 30:19).

The choice is yours!


Recommended Resource: Knowing God By J.I. Packer

J. I. Packer’s Knowing God has become a classic of the Christian faith. Why? While it gives us information about God with clarity and grace, it does much more — it aids us in actually knowing Him, in building our relationship with Him, and helps draw us closer to Him in love and worship. This 20th anniversary edition of Packer’s classic has new Americanized text, reader-friendly type, and a new preface. Study guide not included.

 

 

 

 

Genuine Faith: The Faith that Saves

Genuine Faith: The Faith that Saves

How many times have you actually heard people say, “We are saved by faith alone and not by works so all we have to do is believe in order to be saved? Yes, you heard it right! Just believe and you are saved.” But is that really what the Bible teaches? That we just have to believe and we are saved? Sounds pretty easy right? Considering that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

And what’s the payment for our sins? Death (Romans 6:23)! This Bible verse is referring to spiritual death which means separation from God. Every man born after Adam has inherited a sin nature and so we all have been alienated from God and are destined to suffer for eternity.

If salvation is just a matter of believing, in what should we believe? Or whom should we believe? Years ago, a close friend and relative of mine confided in me how she has struggled with this for quite sometime. She just couldn’t comprehend how God could find it very easy for us to obtain salvation. Is God’s salvation that cheap? Surely not!

We are not saved by believing in some fairy tale that people have made up. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by putting our trust in what the Lord Jesus has accomplished for us when He suffered and died, and when He was raised to life to conquer death once and for all.

Faith Defined

So what is faith? The dictionary defines faith as belief, trust, fidelity, or loyalty to a creed or religion. The Bible, however, defines faith as the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

There are 2 kinds of faith in regard to salvation: head belief & heart belief

1. Head belief – a knowledge of the historical Christ and a general acceptance of the Bible.

Personal saving faith, as Scripture defines it, involves more than mere knowledge. Of course, it is necessary for us to have some knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done. But knowledge about the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is not enough because many people who know the facts may still rebel against them or dislike them.

Paul tell us in the book of Romans 8:32 that many people know God’s laws but dislike them. Even the demons know who God is and know the facts about Jesus’ life and saving works (James 2:19). But that knowledge certainly does not mean that the demons are saved.

2. Heart belief – faith from the heart that causes the person to act on his faith.

In addition to knowledge of the facts of the Gospel and the approval of those facts, in order to be saved, we must make a decision to depend on Jesus to save us. We then move from being an interested observer of the facts of salvation and the teachings of the Scriptures to being someone who enters into a new relationship with Jesus Christ as a living person. True faith in Christ is believing to the extent of receiving Christ as personal Lord and Savior (John 1:12).

Neither knowledge nor assent is true faith; true faith or saving faith involves appropriation. Saving faith is not just belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save us. Because saving faith as defined by the Word of God involves personal trust. The word “trust” is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word “faith” or “belief.”

Acts 16:31 says, “And they said, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ … “; “on” not “in”. If we are to use an illustration, let’s say a sick man has a bottle of medicine. He believes in the medicine, that if taken he would recover. But if he believes on the medicine, he will act on his belief and actually take the medicine.

Faith is not the blind act of the soul. Instead, faith in God rests upon the best evidence, the infallible Word of God. Faith is trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ whom He has sent, which receives Him as Savior and Lord and impels loving obedience and good works. The faith that saves is a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Works as Evidence of a Genuine Faith

So how can we say that our faith is real or genuine? James, the Lord’s brother, says works are the evidence of a genuine faith (James 2:14). We do not add works to faith in order to be saved but genuine faith results in good works because faith without works is dead.

No, James is not in any way contradicting the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith. While Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians places emphasis on justification by faith in order to be saved, James on the other hand while not denying the necessity of faith in order to be saved, was insisting that genuine faith must produce works.

It should be noted that Paul’s focus were Gentile believers being influenced by Judaizers (Jews who have converted to Christianity) telling them they had to keep the O.T. Law to be justified, while James was addressing believers who claim to have faith but are not displaying the characteristics of genuine faith. James is protesting the hypocrisy of pretending to have faith without demonstrating it in works (James 2:18).

Genuine Faith: The faith that saves

James is not saying that works is at odds with faith. There can be no “justification by works” because no one can do good works unless he has already faith (trust) in God. James doesn’t mean that faith can exist without works, but any faith that doesn’t lead to works is dead; in other words, it is no faith at all (James 2:26).

Christians are not commanded to work for the benefit of others in need instead of trusting in Christ, or in addition to placing faith in Christ. Christians are expected to work for the benefit of others in need as a result of their faith in Christ.

Conclusion

What kind of faith saves? Faith that is genuine, faith that is living and produces good works. James 2:15-16 talks about the futility of words without deeds. Like faith without works, words without deeds are empty and meaningless. Faith and works are inseparable.

Faith alone saves us but it must be a living, genuine faith. Genuine faith will produce good works; it will be accompanied by action. James 2:17 says we can tell if faith is alive by seeing if it is accompanied by works, and if it does not have works it is dead, for dead faith produces nothing!

Genuine faith always leads to practical action. We cannot divide the world into practical and spiritual, for the spiritual is practical. James 2:22 says that Abraham’s faith was active along with his works. Therefore, we can never say, “I believe in Jesus and I go to church, but I keep my personal faith out of my works.” James 2:24 challenges us to work out our commitment to Christ in our daily activities.

Every day, we have opportunities to meet the needs of people we work for and among. It can be as simple as making sure a confused customer finds the right item for their need or noticing that a new co-worker needs help but is afraid to ask. James urges us to take special concern for those who are vulnerable or marginalized, and we may need to practice noticing who these people are at our places of work.

 

 


Recommended Resource: A Deeper Look at James: Faith That Works

For a complete list of Bible translations, Christian books, Study guides and materials, music, DVDs, toys and gift items, visit Christian Book Distributors. 

 

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

With all the uncertainty surrounding us and the depressing events that we hear and read about every day, good news would be a breath of fresh air. And what better news could there be than the good news of Jesus’ coming to provide forgiveness and salvation to all who believe? This good news is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The term “gospel” is the translation of the Greek noun “evangelion” which occurs 76 times in the Greek New Testament; it means good news! The apostle Paul gives us the basic ingredients of the gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 namely: the death, burial, resurrection and the appearances of the risen Christ. These verses are widely recognized by New Testament scholars as an early creed or statement of faith that was systematized long before Paul quoted it.

The Power of the Gospel to Save

In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul reminds them about the gospel that he has preached to them, which they in turn received and firmly stood for. He tells them further that it is through the gospel that they are saved for as long as they will hold firmly to it, otherwise they have believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15:1-2. See also Romans 1:16).

Paul was concerned that after he was gone, the Corinthian believers might have forgotten everything he taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. So he emphasized in his letter the importance of holding firmly to it because their salvation depended on it. Paul described it as “of first importance,” stressing priority and that is why upon receiving it, he immediately wanted to pass it on to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:3a).

Paul must have received this “good news” from the apostles Peter and James (the brother of Jesus) when he went to Jerusalem 3 years after he came back from Arabia. It should be noted that when Paul encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he did not meet right away with the apostles in Jerusalem. Instead, he went away to Arabia and then returned to Damascus where he ministered to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15-18).

The Death of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3)

The death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is one of the best attested facts in history that is almost impossible to doubt or deny. It is attested and recorded by several independent, non-Christian sources and historians such as Josephus (Jewish historian), Tacitus (Roman historian), Thallus (Samaritan-born historian), etc.

But why did Christ have to die? Because ever since the first Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been under the condemnation of sin. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and spending eternity in a place of torment away from God. Everyone is guilty of sin and deserving of punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46).

But God loved the world so much that He made a way for man to be forgiven of their sins and receive eternal life in heaven (John 3:16). God sent His Son Jesus Christ to take on the penalty upon Himself through death on the cross to satisfy God’s justice and to guarantee the salvation of everyone who believes (John 3:15).

The Burial of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:4a)

Jesus’ burial is an integral part of the gospel because it was an assurance of the reality of His death and resurrection. The fact that He was buried verified His death. How do we know that Jesus actually died? We know it because He was buried. Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Jewish Sanhedrin who is said to be a secret follower of Jesus Christ, buried him in his own tomb (Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-53 & John 19:38-42).

The testimony of the actual death of Jesus is so important because if there was any doubt Jesus really died, there would be doubt as to whether the Father actually had meted out His wrath on Christ. Death is the penalty pronounced on sinners (Romans 6:23) and death is required for atonement (Hebrews 9:22).

So if Jesus had not died we would have no assurance that God’s justice was satisfied and no foundation for believing that our broken relationship with the Father was restored.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:4b)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in human life which led to our great salvation. It gives credence, reality and authenticity to the Christian faith. The resurrection is the core foundation by which the Christianity stands or falls. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17-18 that if Christ has not been raised from the dead then our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. Moreover, those who have died believing in Christ have perished.

The resurrection is victory over sin; it has destroyed sin and the grave and set humanity free from the bondage of sin and disease. This means that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead sets the believer free to live a new life that destroys sin in his life and has gained victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

The Appearances of the Risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)

The appearances of the risen Christ to His disciples and to a group of people are as important as His death, burial and resurrection because it not only verified His resurrection but more importantly, it has become the driving force for His disciples and followers to start proclaiming His resurrection. Without the postmortem appearances of Jesus Christ, the disciples would not have believed that He was alive.

You see, the disciples felt devastated and defeated after the crucifixion. But after their encounter with the resurrected Christ, they were transformed from being frightened, discouraged and despondent to being bold, courageous and outspoken.

*** In summary, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the message of the good news of salvation offered to mankind by grace through faith in the finished works of Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a message not only of eternal life but one that encompasses the total plan of God to redeem mankind from the ravages of sin and death, from Satan and the curse that is upon all the earth.

Although God does not want anyone to perish but for everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), in the end not all people will be saved but only those who place their faith in Jesus will go to heaven (Acts 4:12). The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news anyone will ever hear, but how each person will respond to this news determines where he or she will spend eternity. The gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes, for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).

You’ve heard the gospel, the good news of salvation. What are you going to do about it?


Recommended Resource: The Case for Christ (Pack of six) by Lee Strobel
A seasoned journalist chases down the biggest story on record in The Case for Christ. Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, former Chicago Tribune legal editor Lee Strobel cross-examines a dozen experts with tough, point-blank questions in search of credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was positively the Son of God. This riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure reads like a captivating, fast-paced novel, yet it’s anything but fiction!

The Three Phases of Salvation

The Three Phases of Salvation

As Christians, we understand that to be saved we need to come to Christ, repent of our sins and receive Him as Lord and Savior of our life.

In my last article “What is salvation in Christianity,” we defined salvation as God’s act of reaching out to man to rescue him from the power of sin and eternal punishment in hell.

But biblically speaking, salvation in Christ is often spoken of in three phases or tenses: salvation past (justification), salvation present (sanctification) and salvation future (glorification). The Bible undoubtedly teaches that:

  • We have been saved (past) – Ephesians 2:8
  • We are being saved (present) – 1 Corinthians 1:18
  • We will be saved (future) – 1 Peter 1:5

In this article, we define salvation as a process by which an unsaved sinner separated from God by sin and destined for hell, is redeemed from hell, reunited with God and destined for heaven. This threefold process of salvation begins in justification, proceeds through sanctification and ends in glorification.

I – Justification

“A right understanding of justification is crucial to the whole Christian faith. And if we are to safeguard the truth about the gospel for future generations, we must understand the truth of justification because a true view of justification is the dividing line between the biblical gospel of salvation by faith alone and all false gospels of salvation based on good works.” – Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology, Justification)

Justification is the judicial act of God whereby He forgives the sinner of all his sins – past, present and future – and declares him righteous in His eyes and free from guilt and punishment. It is an immediate and instantaneous act of God upon the sinner’s confession and his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9).

One of the modern errors of today is to identify justification with pardon. Justification is more than just pardon; to justify means to declare righteous. When God justifies the sinner, He does not acquit him of his sins. Instead, God restores him back to a state of innocence.

It’s also important to note that the sinner is not made righteous but declared righteous and justified by God the Father based on the works and merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sinner puts on the righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Henceforth, God sees the sinner righteous and perfect in the righteousness of Christ. The sinner is justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works (Romans 5:1; Romans 3:28).

For a more detailed study on the doctrine of Justification by Faith, I highly recommend you get the e-book “God Who Justifies” by James R. White.

God Who Justifies, The – eBook By James R. White

The author of The King James Only Controversy calls believers to a fresh appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith. White, a Reformed Baptist, offers an in-depth study that focuses on the pivotal place of this often-ignored principle in church history; and an exegetical defense of key biblical passages in Romans and James.

II – Sanctification

Perhaps you’ve heard somebody referred to salvation as a continuous process in the life of a believer and not just a one-shot deal. That’s true because of sanctification – the second phase of salvation.

The basic meaning of sanctification is “separation” or “to be set apart.” In the spiritual sense of a believer’s life, sanctification means to be set apart: 1) by God 2) for God 3) from sin 4) unto a holy life and 5) to be made more holy through conforming to the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29).

Sanctification differs from justification in several ways. In justification our standing in the Lord is changed while in sanctification our character is changed. Justification occurs at the moment of salvation; it is a one-time work of God that results in a declaration of “not guilty” before Him because of the work of Christ on the cross.

Sanctification on the other hand is a process. It is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life (2 Thessalonians 2:13), beginning with justification and continuing throughout life, whereby the believer moves from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity over time as he learns God’s Word (2 Peter 2:2) and chooses to live under God’s will. In short, sanctification means spiritual growth (2 Peter 3:18).

We have to reiterate that good works cannot save us. What does Paul mean when he says in Philippians 2:12-13 that “we must work out our salvation…?” To “work out” means to bring to completion or to accomplish. We need to work out our salvation because though our past sins have been removed and we have been justified, the present is still here. We are still living and every day we face a world full of sin and temptations.

Paul goes on to say in Philippians 3:13-14 that he’s not perfect but he presses on to achieve all the purposes for which Christ has saved him. This should be our goal as believers in Christ. To keep pressing on until the day we will meet face to face with the Lord. But until then let us retain a sanctified walk by living a life of implicit obedience to God, (if we fail, we immediately confess it to God and He will restore us), resisting the devil and by faithful regular Bible reading, prayer, witnessing and living for others.

Sanctification is not instantaneous but is ongoing until the believer leaves this world and goes to heaven.

III – Glorification

Glorification is the final phase of the saved sinner’s salvation experience wherein he leaves this world, either by death or by rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17), and is reunited with the Lord Jesus in heaven. The believer never achieves sinless perfection until he is glorified in heaven; his sin nature removed and is given a perfect glorified body.

Philippians 3:20-21 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven from which we wait for our Savior to transform our lowly body to be conformed to His glorious body…”

Jesus died on the cross to save us from eternal death and to grant us eternal life. He will come again to complete our salvation by transforming our bodies into immortal glorified bodies to live with Him for all eternity.

IN CLOSING, I challenge each one of us to maintain a sanctified walk with Jesus, just as the apostle Paul did. Let us deal with the present and allow God daily to work in us for His purpose and glory. Let us grow in holiness by completely submitting to the lordship of Jesus in every area of our lives and continuously leave past behind all the things that are not right in the sight of God.

Let us live as Jesus wants us to live, allow Him to work in us, have His way in us and let us be always open and sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

What is Salvation in Christianity?

What is Salvation in Christianity?

When talking about salvation, people make it sound so complex when in fact it really isn’t. Many Christians who claim they’re saved do not really understand what it means to be saved. What is salvation in Christianity?

In our evangelism we often quote Romans 10:9 which says, “that if you confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Saved from what? Why do we need to be saved? Some also use Matthew 24:13 which talks about standing firm to the end in order to be saved. Again, saved from what? And why do we need to be saved?

The Definition of Salvation

Just a quick glance at the world we live in reveals man’s sinful condition and the awful and sad reality that man will never be able to save himself all on his own. Man’s condition is one which is completely helpless and despite all his efforts to bring about peace and prosperity in a supposedly new society, the world remains in chaos, shattered and torn as a result of sin.

It all started in the Garden of Eden when Adam sinned by disobeying God. As a result, man’s fellowship with God was cut off and he was bound to suffer eternally in hell as punishment for his sin. There is hope, however, as the Bible speaks of God’s gracious plan to provide a solution to man’s problem and we call that “salvation.”

The word salvation is from the Greek word “soteria” which is derived from the word “soter” meaning savior. It is personal and universal and is centered on the life and works of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As used in Scriptures in its broadest sense, the word salvation includes comprehensively the total work of God by which He seeks to rescue man from the power of sin and bestows upon him the abundance of His grace, eternal life and eternal glory.

In theology, however, the major use of the word salvation is to denote a work of God on behalf of men which includes redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, conviction, repentance, faith, regeneration, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, preservation, and glorification.

In simpler terms, salvation is God reaching out to man to rescue him from the power of sin and the eternal punishment for that sin in hell.

Why do We Need to be Saved?

In order for us to really come to terms with our need of salvation, we first need to realize that we are sinners in need of saving; we’re all fallen. We need salvation as a result of the sin of rebellion as recorded in Genesis 3 and also our own personal rebellion against God and rejection of Him. We need salvation to escape the penalty and punishment that hangs over all mankind. We need to be saved from eternal destruction and punishment. Man’s offense was against God, and God being holy and just demands justice. The Bible tells us that “we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and the penalty for that sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Secondly, we need to be saved from our state of being alienated or separated from God. Isaiah 59:2 says, “our sin has separated us from God.” If we are separated from God then we will not able to enjoy His presence, His fellowship, His grace, mercy and blessings. In other words, we will not be with God in heaven for eternity because hell means “separation from God.” Heaven is God’s throne, His dwelling place (Acts 66:1; Acts 7:49), and if we will not be with God in heaven, then we will be spending eternity in hell.

How did God Save Us?

God saved us by sending His only Son to die on the cross for us. On the cross, Jesus made the once-for-all sacrifice for man’s sin and its penalty which is death. Since the just penalty for sin and death is finite and eternal, only God Himself could pay for it because only He is finite and eternal. But God being divine could not die so He had to become human in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who is God, took on human flesh, lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, even to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).

The Bible says that we are spiritually dead because of sin (Ephesians 2:1) and are cut off from the presence of God, making it impossible for us to make contact with God by our own efforts. It is for this reason that Jesus Christ came; He came to redeem us and to bridge the gap that separated us from God. Jesus came to restore the broken relationship between man and God.

How do We get Saved?

In Acts 16:29-31 we read how the jailer asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved. And in response, Paul and Silas told him to believe in the Lord Jesus and he and his household will be saved.

God has already done the work for us. All we need to do is receive the gift of salvation that He is offering for free. Salvation is received by grace through faith alone in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is what makes Biblical Christianity different from all the other world religions, sects and cults. We are saved by putting our trust in something that God has done for us and not in something we can do.

It is because of God’s great love that He Himself made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him. God had to bear the pain of seeing His Son suffer and die so that we will not perish in hell but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Conclusion

This is what salvation means in Christianity; God coming in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life of obedience and set an example for us to follow, to suffer and die on the cross for our sins and to rise again to conquer death and hell, in order set us free from the power of sin and death and to rescue and deliver us from the wrath of God and the judgment that is to be poured out upon all flesh on the earth in a future event known as the Great Tribulation.

Question is: Have you acknowledged your need of a Savior? Have you trusted Jesus for your salvation? If not, trust Him today. Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. It’s not yet too late, for God is patient with you because He does not want anyone to perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).


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Born Again: A New Religion?

Born Again: A New Religion?

When I tell my friends and acquaintances that I’m a born again Christian, they quickly assume that I belong to another sect of Christianity, and I get that. I completely understand why. That is because the term born again” is often misunderstood. Is born again a new religion?

Most people think that it is another religion or denomination of Christianity. Before I came into a covenant relationship with God, I also thought the same thing and that is why I struggled to come out from where I used to belong. That although I have already received Christ in my life as Lord and Savior, I still thought that leaving my traditional belief was big deal.

What is Born again Christianity?

So what is born again Christianity, where did it come from and how did it start? Is born again a religion? Is the term even biblical?

The classic passage where we read the words “born again” is in the Gospel of John 3:1-8 in a scene where Nicodemus, a Pharisee and leader of the Jewish Sanhedrin during Jesus’ time, came to Jesus one night.

John 3:1-8

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

When Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again (verse 3), Nicodemus thought that He was referring to physical birth so he asked how a man can be born twice (John 3:4). Correcting Nicodemus’ misunderstanding, Jesus explained it in verse 5-8 that people must be reborn spiritually.

The term in the original Greek text is “gennao” (born) which means to regenerate and “anothen” (again) meaning from above. So the phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he needed to be born spiritually; he needed spiritual transformation — a change of heart.

What is Regeneration or the New Birth?

Born again is not a religion or sect of Christianity. Regeneration is a spiritual quickening, a new birth, a new creation. We cannot alter the old nature, or reform it or re-invigorate it but we need a new birth, the impartation of a different “kind” – God’s holy nature.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he becomes a new creation and old things have passed away.”

Regeneration is a change from death to life – this is a spiritual resurrection. We were born the first time physically and the second birth is a spiritual birth. We were dead in our trespasses and sins but were made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1).

Regeneration is not baptism. Baptism is a Church ordinance signifying that one is a Christian and had died with Christ, been buried, has risen, and is now living with Christ, daily (Romans 6:4). It is not reformation. Reformation is the act of the old nature of turning from certain evils while regeneration is the supernatural act of God; it is a spiritual crisis; it is a revolution; it is a complete right-about-face.

Why do we need to be Born Again?

Spiritual rebirth is necessary in order to enter God’s kingdom. And this process of regeneration or spiritual rebirth is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Like the first birth (physical) it is an event and not a process, though from the first conviction of sin to regeneration may cover many days, weeks, months or even years. Yet, the actual birth takes place in a second, as one passes from darkness to light. The person has a second birthday and begins a new life.

In Ephesians 2:1 Paul said that we were  “dead in trespasses and sins.” And when Paul wrote to the Romans he said that “we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The apostle Paul isn’t talking of physical death. We maybe alive and well physically but spiritually dead. As sinners, we are spiritually dead and a spiritually dead person cannot approach God nor connect with God. A spiritually dead person cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). We receive spiritual life by faith in the Lord Jesus. And only when we are born again that we receive forgiveness of our sins and we enter into a relationship with God.

Who Needs to be Born Again?

The Scriptures plainly teach that all need to be born again; the language of the Savior is imperative (John 3:3; John 3:7). There are no exceptions to this rule (outside of the Savior); neither sex, age position nor condition exempts anyone from the necessity of the new birth (Galatians 6:15). There is no substitute for the new birth; to fail to be born again is to be lost.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” – Galatians 6:15

Like with Nicodemus, being born again is not based on your nationality or ethnicity; it is personal. God’s gift of rebirth is not through our human effort or merit, but comes through God’s mercy alone. To become a new creature is to be born again. The universal sinful condition of man demands a change, the new birth for salvation.

What must I do to be Born Again?

To be born again, first you need to acknowledge that you’re a sinner, confess your sins and ask for His forgiveness and cleansing. Then you need to place your trust in Jesus who paid the penalty for your sins by dying on the cross, receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior.

When you receive Christ, God will give you the right to become a His child (John 1:12-13). You also must confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

The Sinner’s Prayer

If you have never trusted in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, would you consider receiving Him today and trusting Him for your salvation? Would you listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit that you are in need of a Savior who has paid the price for you through His suffering and death on the cross? Would you accept God’s gift of eternal life by praying this prayer of repentance and acceptance?

Is born again a new religion

Dear God,

I thank you for your gift of eternal life. I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness and salvation because I cannot save myself. I repent of all my sins and I put my complete trust in you alone, Lord Jesus, as my Savior. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for my sins on the cross, and that He rose from the dead to redeem me. I invite you now Lord Jesus to come into my heart and life. Thank you for your wonderful grace and forgiveness. I ask that you write my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

This is my prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen!

Now what?

If you have repented of your sins and believed in the Gospel in response to God’s invitation, welcome to the family of God! So now what, you may ask. You may wonder what comes next now that you are a Christian. First, God’s Word instructs you to find a church that teaches the Bible where you can learn the Word of God and fellowship with other Christians.

The author of Hebrews in Hebrews 10:23-25 exhorts us to hold fast to our confession of hope without wavering because God is faithful. We must not forsake our assembly or gathering together like some are doing, rather we must continue to encourage one another all the more because the return of the Lord is near.

Also, you should be baptized in obedience to Jesus Christ and as a testimony to your faith. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commissioned His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 to go and make disciples of all nations, to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and to instruct them to observe all His commandments.

*Related Article: Do you need to be baptized in order to be saved?

This commission is not only for the disciples during Jesus’ time but it is also for the followers of Jesus Christ today. To be a disciple of Jesus is to live the kind of life that He lived and to obey all His commands and teachings.

Are you willing to follow Christ and become His disciple today? When you do, you are not entering into a new religion or denomination. Instead, you will be entering into a new covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son, be forgiven of your sins and receive God’s promise of eternal life with Him in His kingdom.


*Recommended Resource: Experiencing the New Birth: Studies in John 3; Book Club Edition
By Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Over the course of his career, Lloyd-Jones preached 28 sermons on John 3. Reflecting on the powerful story of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus and what it means to be “born again,” this collection of biblical expositions highlights God’s stunning love for the world—as expressed through his unique Son, Jesus Christ. 393 pages, hardcover from Crossway.