Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 13, 1956
NUMBER 19, PAGE 6-7b

The Church Today And The Plan Of Salvation

Ford Carpenter, Long Beach, California

The writer of the Hebrew letter says in chapter 5 verses 8 and 9, "Though he was a son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation." Thus we have definitely stated that God's plan is salvation for the obedient. The question that naturally follows is, "Obedient to what?" In Romans 6:17, 18, we have the answer of inspiration, "But thanks be to God that whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; and being then made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness." Here the writer states that these had been made free from sin by obedience to, "that form of teaching"; which is equivalent to saying they have salvation. In view of the fact that man is separated from God by sin, Isaiah 59:1,2, the thing necessary for salvation is to be freed from the guilt of sin.

In the prophecy of Joel, in which he relates many things that are to take place in the "last days" which prophecy the apostle Peter quoted in Acts 2 identifying the time, he said, among other things, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lard shall be saved." But we know that he did not mean all that is necessary to be saved is to cry, "Lord, Lord," because that would be in direct contrast to Christ's statement in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven." The apostle Paul quotes this statement of Joel in Romans 10:13 and then raises these questions in verse 14, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him in whom they have not heard?" And in verse 17, "So then faith cometh of hearing and hearing by the word of Christ." This truth is also stated in Hebrews 1:1,2, "God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son."

The thing to determine, then is what has God taught, through Christ with reference to the salvation of man. In the prayer that Christ prayed just before his betrayal and crucifixion he said, "The words which thou gayest me I have given them." (John 17:0.) And again in John 16:13, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all truth." We notice one more passage along this line, (John 14:26) "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." From these quotations it is evident that when the apostles spoke or wrote they were speaking God's word that came through Christ.

What did Christ, either in his personal ministry or through his apostles, teach concerning our salvation? We have already observed in this study, that it is necessary to hear the words of Christ, also that the apostles spoke the word of Christ. This then is the first thing necessary.

We then turn to Hebrews 11:6 where the writer says, "And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him." Christ to Nicodemus said, "that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16.) To a group of unbelieving Jews on another occasion he said, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." This shows conclusively that the second thing necessary is faith in Christ, based upon the word, in which we find ample evidence to convince anyone really interested in knowing the truth.

At this point many today would stop, and say, "We now have salvation." But James said, "Thou believest there is one God, thou doest well: the demons also believe and shudder. But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith apart from works is barren?" With this thought as a basis we continue our study. We find in Christ's personal teaching another command to which we now give attention. This statement we find in Luke 13:5, "I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Christ here laid down a fundamental truth that all sinners must repent. And that all men are sinners we find from Paul's statement in Romans 3:23. Therefore all must repent. Notice Acts 17:30. "The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent." The apostle Peter in Acts 3:19 says, "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out." This shows us that repentance is a change of will which of necessity results in a change of life. Thus the third step in our obedience is "Repentance unto life" as stated in Acts 11:18.

Christ said, "Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32.) Paul tells us in Romans 10:10, that this confession is with the mouth and is unto salvation. The fourth step then is confession with the mouth of our faith in Christ.

When Christ sent his apostles into all the world he said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." As the apostles began to preach the gospel as commanded by Christ, we find such statements from them as, "Repent, ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." (Acts 2:38.) "Which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism." (1 Peter 3:21.) "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27.) We also learn from such passages as Romans 6:3, 4, and Colossians 2:12, that the baptism about which the apostles spoke was a burial in water and from Ephesians 4:4 that there is one baptism.

The plan of God for the salvation of man as we find it in His word is, HEAR His word, which in turn will produce FAITH in the heart, acting upon this faith, REPENT and turn from sin, CONFESS this faith before men and be buried in BAPTISM. We find those who met these conditions in Acts 2 were referred to as saved and added by the Lord to his church. (Verse 47.)

Today we find a growing tendency in many places to minimize or as someone has said to `de-emphasize' these commands of God. We read such statements as,

"I wouldn't be one to say that God would condemn one just for a failure to obey one of His commands, or for a fault in its administration, if the proper spirit can be obtained without it." This statement is made, evidently, for the purpose of emphasizing the necessity of attaining the proper spirit or attitude toward God. But I would like to raise this question, can the proper spirit be attained while one continues to reject God's commands? Samuel to Saul said, "Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to harken than the fat of rams." (1 Sam. 15:22.) We are told, "He became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation." (Heb. 5:9.) We are not in any sense limiting the power of God, nor would we say God couldn't save one without obedience to His commands; but we have absolutely no reason for believing that He will. Just as we would say God could not have suspended Noah and his family in space above the clouds to save them from the waters of the flood; but it is significant that Noah didn't try that method but did exactly what God said.

If one is to suppose he can be saved while ignoring one of God's commands, who is to say which? And if one can be overlooked why not two, or ten or by this same reasoning can we not eliminate all of them? If not, why?

We plead with men not to try to get around God's plan, but to study diligently, to know God's will, then do all within our power to bring our lives into conformity therewith and remember Christ's statement recorded in Luke 6:46, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say." And again, "When ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do."

And remember, the obedient are saved by the grace of God.