Salvation From Sin
Within the heart of every man is a desire for salvation. It may be vague, suppressed, or ignored, but it is still there—this desire for cleansing, this longing to be better than one is. When one comes to face death, then most keenly, if never before, this desire is felt. This is true even of the atheist. As one infidel is reported to have cried out on his death-bed, "0 God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul, from hell, if there be a hell!"
This desire for salvation shows man's need for it. Although some may try to deny their sin, and may talk of how good they are, the fact is that all men are sinners. They were not born so, but became so. God made man upright, but man "sought out many inventions." (Ecc. 7:29) Man's soul is from God (Ecc. 12:7) and He is the "Father of our spirits." (Heb. 12:9) Where is the man so bold as to say that God created a sinful spirit and gave to man a depraved nature? The very opposite is true. Men are sinners, not because they are born sinners, but because they "go" astray. (Ps. 58:3) "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us an" (Isa. 53:6) And again, "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." (Isa. 59:2)
In the New Testament Paul teaches the same truth (the sinfulness of n11 mankind) and states why, "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin." (Rom. 3:9) Why are both Jews and Gentiles under sin? Because they were born that way? Not at all, for Paul again says, "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one." (Rom. 3:10-12)
As a man fails to seek God, to do good, to live as God would have him live, he departs from God, he goes astray, and is numbered with the sinners. There are many who fail to realize their sin because they think of "sin" only in terms of the ungodly, the immoral, the outcast; whereas the Bible teaches that the man who has failed to obey the gospel, even though he is a good moral man, is nevertheless a sinner and needs to be "saved." Cornelius (Acts 10 and 11) is an example of such a man. His moral character would doubtless measure up with the character of any man alive today: he was "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." But he was not saved; he was not a Christian: his sins were yet upon him. He had to send for Peter who would tell him "words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. Usually people think of such a man as Cornelius as being saved because of his character. But such is not the case. No matter how morally good a man may be, he is still a sinner until he has become obedient to the gospel of Christ.
If a man continues in sin, does not seek God, does not obey the gospel, the ultimate penalty for his sin is death. Such a man will come into the final judgment of God unprepared and not ready. He is certain to hear the words of the Lord, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matt. 25:41)
In Hell there is due punishment for all those who reject (or neglect) the great salvation which Christ makes possible.
Even though the punishment of the wicked is set forth and described in the Bible, it is not God's wish or desire that any should perish. God has spared no pains, not even to the saving of his own Son from the horrors of the crucifixion, to make salvation possible. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that who so-ever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) And Christ himself freely laid down his life that men might be saved. He committed the plan for man's redemption into the hands of his apostles and "ascended into heaven and sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high." It was on the first Pentecost after his ascension that Peter and the other apostles began to tell the lost and dying world the terms upon which Christ would release them from their sin, and save them from eternal ruin.
When Christ died on the tree of Calvary, he paid the ransom price for the sins of the world. He tasted of "death" for every man. "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Heb. 5:8, 9)
Christ paid the penalty for our sins. "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2) "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24) And again, "He died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves; but unto him who died for them and rose again." (2 Cor. 5:15)
Christ's death was an atonement and a reconciliation —it atoned for man's sins and brought man back to God. It revealed the love of God for all the race. This salvation, however, provided by God through Christ, must be accepted by man. God made man a free moral agent, and set before him the choice of doing right or doing wrong. Man can follow God's way, or he can follow his own way; he has the power either to accept or to reject the salvation God has offered. God does not rob man of his free will, but leaves him absolute power to make up his own mind. When we turn to the New Testament which contains the gospel of Christ we find that men were saved by (1) Hearing the gospel. (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 10:17) (2) Having faith in Christ. (John 8:24; Acts 8:37; Heb. 11:6) (3) Repentance of past sins. (Luke 13:3; Acts 17: 30; 2 Peter 3:9) (4) Confession of faith in Christ before men. (Matt. 10:32, 33; Rom. 10:9, 10; Acts 8:37) (5) Baptism into Christ. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-7; Gal. 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21) After one has obeyed the gospel, has been baptized into Christ, he then must continue in the things commanded by Christ; in the apostles doctrine, in fellowship and in good works. (See Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:42; Eph. 2:10; 2 Peter 1:5-11) Thus, in this way, a man's sins are forgiven; he becomes a child of God, a member of the church of Christ, and has a promise of a home in heaven "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." (1 Peter 1:4)
Will you not render obedience unto the Gospel of Christ and live, as God would have you to that you might become a partaker of the salvation which Christ died to purchase for YOU.