True Salvation – What Is Salvation ? (Part 1)
In the Bible Jesus warns us that many people will think they are saved and have a restored relationship with God, but they are not. He even mentions people that are doing God’s kingdom work and doing ministry work. How can this be ? Today there seems to be a huge misunderstanding of what true salvation is, and especially of what is required for salvation.
Many People In Churches Are Not Saved
In Matthew 7 Jesus makes a very surprising and troubling statement. He tells us that there will be many people that believe or think they are saved and will enter into God’s eternal kingdom, but in reality they are not. He is inferring that most of these will be church people, and Jesus even talks about people that are involved in ministry work and in God’s kingdom work. Here is what Jesus says:
- “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” – Matthew 7:21-23
Well Over 50% In Churches Are Lost
A couple of years before God called us to sell my business and serve Him in full time international missions, I read an article that at first I thought “there is no way that this could be true.” This was about 16 years ago, and since then things have gotten much worse. Many things have changed since then, including in the church, and not for the better.
The article made an incredible statement… that in mainline evangelical Christian churches in the US, well over 50% of church members are not saved and are lost. I couldn’t believe this at first, but I continues to read about how some very well respected Christian leaders agreed with this statement. Men like Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’ son. Another was Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade For Christ, now know as Cru. Bill Bright stated that they did their own research and they agreed completely.
Many Churches Have Abandoned God’s Mission & The Gospel
As I said, things have changed a lot in the last 16 years, and things are a lot worse,. The US church has changed drastically since then. Many churches have abandoned God’s mission of spreading the Gospel message & reaching the lost, and making true disciples. Out of fear of offending people, many churches have gone to a different mission of trying to appeal to and attract people to church, so they can have a large church full of people. Then they can have a lot of money and resources, and then they can have programs that can attract even more people to the church. The bottom line is that the majority of churches these days never preach the Gospel message, because the Gospel has some parts in it that offend people… especially the parts that include talking about sin.
These days the problem of having lost people in our churches is much worse than it was 16 years ago. Many people do not hear the Gospel message anymore. Today more positive messages are presented, that are easier to hear and that make people feel good. So now there are far more than 50% of the people in churches that are lost. Estimates show that perhaps there are only 25% or less of people in churches today that have experienced a true salvation experience.
Before we talk about what is required for true salvation, which is where most people get off track and are misinformed, we need to talk about what is true salvation. We will find the truth of what is true salvation in God’s Word, and specifically in the Gospel message.
True Salvation & The Gospel of Jesus Christ
1: God’s Great Love For You
God loves you very much. You are God’s first love. He loves you more than anything else that He created.
You are God’s treasure, and you are more valuable and precious than to God than anything else He has created.
You are God’s passion, and He is passionate about you and about having a restored personal love relationship with you.
Because God loves you so much and you are so valuable and precious to Him, more than anything God wants you (and all people) to have true salvation, which is a reconciled and restored personal relationship and then close fellowship with Him. He wants you to have peace with Him, which is a restored personal relationship with God.
- “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1
God also wants you to have eternal life with Him in heaven when your life is done here. He wants you to be a co-heir of His eternal kingdom and spend the rest of eternity with Him.
Many people today think for them to have true salvation, a reconciled personal relationship and close fellowship with God, and peace with Him, and eternal life in heaven later, that they need to be a good moral person so that God will want to give them these things.
Many people today also think that they need to be a good member of a church or an upstanding religious person so that God will want to give them true salvation and these things.
And many others believe that they need to do more good in their life than bad, so their good will outweigh the bad things in their life. Then they will be worthy and God will give them these things.
Eternal Life Is A Gift of God
But the Bible, God’s Word, says something totally different than what most people think or believe. The Bible says that God offers a reconciled and restored relationship with Him, peace with God, and eternal life in heaven as a gift. A gift of His grace and love. Grace simply means that we do not deserve to receive these things, but God offers them anyway.
- “… the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
Even though God offers these wonderful things as a gift of His love and grace, the sad truth is that today in the world most people do not have a restored & reconciled relationship with God, or peace with God, or eternal life in heaven. And most people are very far from God today.
If they are a gift from God and He wants everyone to have them (“God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:4), why do most people today, even most people that are church members, not have them ? Why ?
2: The Problem – All of Us Have A Big Problem
The Bible tells us the reason why most people do not have true salvation, which is a restored relationship with God and peace with Him and eternal life. The Bible tells us that all of us have a very big problem, and this problem causes us to be far from God and to have a broken relationship with Him. This problem causes us to not have peace with God or eternal life in heaven later.
The Bible has a name for this problem, and it is called sin. Sin is anything we do, say, or even think that offends God or is displeasing to Him. Because God is the creator and Lord and owner of all in the heavens and earth, He alone has the right to define what is right and what is wrong. He alone has the right to say what is sin and what is not. And God alone has the right to judge everyone.
Sin Causes Us to Have A Broken Relationship With God
God’s Word clearly shows that our sins cause us to have a broken relationship with God and to be separated from Him.
- “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
The Bible also tells us that all of us have this problem of sin and separation from God. No one is perfect, and everyone sins.
- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
Sin Is Very Serious
We need to understand some things about sin in order to understand why it causes us to have a broken relationship with God, and to be far and separated from Him, and to not have peace with God and eternal life in heaven. Sin is a very serious thing:
1st: When we sin, it is not just breaking some arbitrary man made religious rule. When we sin we are sinning personally against God, and we are personally offending and displeasing God. Because God loves us so much, so intently and zealously, He takes our sins personally.
When King David sinned, he said this to God:
- “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.” – Psalm 51:4
There Must Be Punishment or A Penalty For Sin
2nd: Sin is kind of like breaking the law. For example, if you are driving your car and you decide or choose to go twice the posted maximum speed, you will be pulled over and receive a fine or a penalty for your infraction. Sin is kind of like that, only much worse.
It will be much much worse because our punishment for our sins will be forever. We will forever, for eternity, be far and separated from God and His love, and we will forever be under the punishment for our sins.
- “For the wages of sin is death (an eternal spiritual death – eternal separation from God), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
- “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – Matthew 25:46
Many people that do not want to experience this eternal death and eternal punishment for their sins try to fix this problem of sin and separation from God themselves. They try to do the things they believe will fix this big problem we all have.
Our Attempts To Reach God
- Good works
- Giving money to charity
The problem is that none of these things will work. If we want to try to fix our problem of sin and separation from God ourselves, then we will have to be perfect. No one is perfect, and none of these things will solve our problem.
- “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 14:12
So is you want to have true salvation and have a reconciled personal relationship with God, and peace with God, and eternal life in heaven, what can you do ? What does it take to be truly saved ?
3: God’s Solution To Our Problem of Sin & Separation From God:
This is the best part of the Gospel message. Because God loves us so much and so passionately, He sent the solution to our problem. The Bible tells us that God does not want eternal separation from Him and eternal punishment for anyone. He wants all people to be saved and to have a restored relationship with Him and peace with Him and eternal life in heaven.
- “God does not want anyone to perish (to die spiritually and forever be separated from God, and to have eternal punishment for their sins), but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
God’s solution is this: He sent His own Son Jesus Christ to earth in a form that we could recognize and understand… as a human person. God sent Jesus to suffer and to die on a cross. Why would God send His own son to suffer and die such a horrible and painful death ?
Someone Has To Pay For Our Sins
God is love and He is a merciful God, but He is also perfectly holy and just, and He cannot let our sins slide without a punishment. Someone has to pay the price and punishment for our sins, and if someone does not help us, we will have to pay the terrible price for our sins against God. So Jesus, out of His great love for us, sacrificed everything including His life, to help us and to pay the price for our sins.
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
Jesus is God’s one and only solution to our problem of sin and separation from God and eternal punishment.
- Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one may come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
- “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” – I Timothy 2:5
- “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” – I Peter 3:18
- “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
True Salvation – Part 2
In Part 2 of our series on True Salvation, we will look into God’s Word the Bible to find the answer to the all important question What Is Required For Salvation ? This is where most people get off track and believe they are saved when in reality they are not. Many people are misinformed as to what God’s word says about what His requirements are for salvation. God’s requirements for salvation involve far more than just simply saying a quick prayer to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, and then go on from there living your life however you want to.
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