Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
The Bible teaching about Christian salvation is matchless! The experience energizes the core of our spiritual life. Really! I start with a bizarre story that occurred centuries ago in a bustling town, named Philippi, located in Northern Greece. You can find the story in Acts 16:6-40.
The Example of Paul
The Apostle Paul and his team had just crossed the salty waters of the Aegean Sea, and stepped foot on the soil of Europe to spread Christian salvation. Evidently, they had too much success, because they soon found themselves in the local jail with their bruised legs in stocks.
Then, an outlandish twist in the story occurred. As Paul and Silas, his companion, were praying and singing hymns, a sudden earthquake violently shook the prison. The bars fell off the doors and the chains fell off the prisoners. The terrified jailer started to commit suicide, because that was the penalty if any prisoners escaped his watch.
Paul quickly intervened and got the frightened jailer’s attention. In trembling words, he begged of Paul, “Sir, what must I do to be saved?” Since none of the prisoners had escaped, he was not concerned with his physical safety, so it must have been about his spiritual life.
At least, that is how Paul answered without hesitation, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:30, 31). What did Paul mean? Let me break it down for you. It’s an exciting story.
God Loves Us
In light of the world’s pain and wickedness, this may seem strange – but it is true. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
But, there looms a grave problem in these words. We see in John 3:36 that “perish” has something to do with God’s “wrath” abiding on those don’t believe. Ouch! A serious dilemma emerges.
The Problem of Sin
Paul mentioned this enormous crisis, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He went on to say, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of god is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We can see there is both bad news, yet some hope is beginning to emerge.
The bad news is that evidently “perish…wrath of God…death” all refer to the penalty of our sins. If we add Jesus words in Matthew 25:46, we soberly realize that this penalty is “eternal punishment.”
Maybe the question crosses your mind, “Just what is sin?” Good question. A key point: whatever sin is, we all have it! We all inherited a diseased sin nature from Adam (Romans 5:12ff.). Our corrupted human nature rebels and refuses to conform to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition, or state. We are all liable and guilty of breaking God’s law.
Here are some verses you can check out that catalogue some sins: Mark 7:20-23; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Romans 3:9-20. I show you these verses, not to insult you, but to document our desperate need for Christian salvation.
The Beginning of Hope
“Gospel” means good news, and that is next. Jesus Christ became our substitute for the penalty of our sin, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21; cf. 1 Peter 1:18, 19).
One famous verse that explains this “substitution” by Jesus states, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6). Our deserved guilt and punishment was transferred to Jesus Christ when He suffered on the cross.
You see, it all boils down to this: someone must pay the eternal penalty for our guilt and sin. It is either us, individually, or someone else. That someone else is Jesus. God made provision for us. Don’t you think that is good news? That is what grace is: undeserved favor to guilty subjects who already stand condemned! Wow!
What this means is that Christ paid the full penalty for all time for all the sins for all those who receive Him as personal Savior (Hebrews 10-14). Double Wow!!
Received by Faith
Now the story turns us back to what Paul told the jailer (Acts 16:31). This awesome provision is received by faith alone. Again from Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
Believe means to cast, or commit, your trust for salvation totally and only on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to personally receive Him into our lives (John 1:12, 13).
It is like getting on an airplane. When we strap ourselves in the seat, and the jet hurls into the sky, we have placed our trust in the plane and pilot to land us safely back on earth. It is not faith plus works, but faith plus nothing. Salvation is a free gift (Romans 6:23). We cannot work for a gift, we can only gratefully receive it.
Two astounding things happen to when we receive Christ as our Savior. First, we are spiritually born again into eternal life, which is in Christ. We become children of God. We are transferred from the domain of darkness and death to the kingdom of life and forgiveness (Colossians 1:13, 14).
Secondly, not only was our guilt transferred to Christ, but His righteousness was transferred to us (Romans 3:20-28; 5:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21)!! We can actually claim that if Christ has a right to be in heaven, so do we, because we have been given the righteousness of Christ. We have been declared, and are treated, righteous by the judge of the universe, God Himself. Again, our salvation is not based on our good works or fine intentions, but on the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Like the jailer, does this Bible teaching about Christian salvation seem like something you would be interested in? Truthfully, there is no other avenue of salvation in the universe that can extract us from our sin problem and get us to heaven (Acts 4:12). Below is a suggested prayer, that if expressed in genuine sincerity, will be your entrance into the Christian Faith with its great benefit of salvation. The actual prayer does not save you, but the earnest, honest expression of faith from your heart.
Heavenly Father, I admit to you that I am a sinner in need of your salvation. I believe that Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sins and to give me eternal life. I believe that only through Christ can I be saved. I turn from my sin. I ask for and accept by faith your free gift of salvation. Please come into my heart and be my Savior and Lord. Thank you for doing so. In Jesus’ name, amen.
BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS
1. What did the jailer want when he said, “Sir, what must I do to be saved?”
2. In your own words, what appeals most to you in John 3:16?
3. In John 3:16, what do you suppose “perish” means?
4. Based on Romans 3:9-18, how many times is the word, “all,” or “none” mentioned?
5. How would you describe the Bible teaching about sin?
6. Based on Romans 3:23, have you sinned? Describe what the eventual outcome will be like.
7. Based on 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Isaiah 53:6, explain in your own words what happened.
8. How would you define the Bible teaching about grace?
9. According to Acts 4:12, how many ways of salvation are there?
10. Explain in your own words what John 1:12, 13; 3:16; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 6:23 mean.
11. Have you personally received Christ as your Savior? YES NO When? How? If not, why not now?
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