The Bible has much to say about salvation. Very much. The word ‘salvation‘ occurs in the KJV Bible 164 times; saved occurs 104 times; save – 233 times; saving – 12 times; Saviour – 37 times (if I’ve done my sums right).
That is a total of 550 times the word ‘save’ in its variant forms is used in the Bible. And that is not counting the times the idea of deliverance or healing is used which can also have the same root word as salvation does.
It stands to reason, that if we only look at one or two verses with the ‘save’ (ing; ed) words in it and do not examine the rest of the 550 other references having the concept of ‘save’ then we will fail in understanding what God wants us to see on this great matter….
God’s Word is like an inexhaustible treasure house. It is given to us that we may dig into its treasures. The understanding of it does not come from our rational or natural mind, but comes via our spiritual mind. But our human spirit must be made alive by the Holy Spoirit of God before we can ever hope to understand the things of God.
“But a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14
Natural man in this passage means a man who is still trying to understand God, or just the Bible with his intellect alone, or his sense knowledge alone.
Just as you cannot possibly know (though we may guess) what I am thinking, nor I you, only our own selves (inner person – soul/spirit) can know, so know one can know what God is thinking except His own Spirit. But God is able and has to a very small degree revealed some of that He thinks to mankind.
Many people think that they are ‘spiritual’ because they are aware of spiritual realities, and have spirit guides, or other entities from a different realm to show them things. But that is not what the Bible calls being spiritual. Such persons are spiritually dead towards God, though they may speak of ‘God’, or even ‘Jesus’.
The only way to become alive to God is the purpose of this series of studies. But you don’t need these studies so much as to simply call upon the name of Jesus Christ in desperation of soul, to have mercy on you and to show you the truth. That is just the beginning.
There were many physically blind folk in Jesus’ day who were healed by Him by the holy power of God resident in Jesus. There are a couple of instances where they literally cried out loudly to Jesus to get His attention – “JESUS!…..Son of David, Have mercy on me! Some discipls and the people around him to ld him to be quiet because they wanted to hear what He was saying. But the blind ones kept crying out the same thing louder. They got Jesus’ attention and were blessed with physical sight.
But we all have spiritual blindness as far as it concerns God. And that blindness can only be healed when we come to Jesus Christ in simple and humble trust (faith) crying out to Him to open our eyes that we may see Him. This is expressed in different ways in the N.T. of the Holy Bible. It is always about repentance toward God and a departure from sinful ways.
Once God grants us understanding in our spiritual mind then that will flow through to our conscious mind. And He grants it through His gift of repentance to us which produces a turn about in our minds and in our behaviour, and in our pursuits.
….However, many Bible teachers, and their congregations after them, treat the word “saved” in the following way. They take one or two verses selectively and make that the exclusive meaning for our understanding of being ‘saved’.
Take for instance the verse in Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
This is one verse. One simple and true statement.
But many Bible teachers use this verse as if it is the only important verse in our understanding of the word saved.
But when Luke was writing his record he did not use verse and chapter divisions. When see where a verse starts and where it finishes , our human understanding tells us that that verse is all we need to read to understand the use of the word believe. Because believe and saved are in the same verse and that is where the verse finishes, then that is all there is to it. I am simplifying the argument but that is essentially the outcome for many. This is false reasoning. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles was written as one letter, and it needs to be understood that way.
We MUST read the whole account, and we must measure that against the rest of Scripture in order to form a better understanding of what God was wanting us to know about the words ‘believe’ and ‘saved’.
Paul and Silas had just been urgently asked by the shocked jailor after that amazing localized earthquake had occurred in the prison ….“What must I do to be saved?”
There was terror in his voice. There was anxiety in his voice. There was desperation in his voice. God had shaken the very ground on which he a trained Roman soldier was standing, and had shaken him to the core of his soul, because he knew that he was NOT RIGHT WITH GOD! God had spoken to the spirit of that soldier in the earthquake.
As already stated, many preachers use this Acts 16:31 verse to prove that all a person has to do to be ‘saved’ is, “believe” on Jesus Christ. Just believe. It is not about works – they say. “Just believe! That is what the Bible says, and int hat verse there is no mention of this or that, so salvation does not require anything else but to believe.”
That is the kind of reasoning they employ. It is not good reasoning.
James, another apostle of Jesus Christ tells us that the devils also believe, yet they tremble (are scared to the core – terrified of God and His Christ – Jesus).
Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
The devils (a generic term for not only Satan but all those angelic creatures that fell with him, demons, evil or unclean spirits, etc) believe that there is one God, and only one. THEY KNOW!
The Greek word that James uses for tremble is “phrisso” and it means to bristle, shudder, tremble..
The following is a quote from Googles :”Helen of Troy, From Homer to Hollywood”. It shows the ancient use of this Greek word phrisso.
“Helen is someone who makes men shudder (horreo in Latin, from which we derive “abhorrent”, means “bristle” or “shudder”). A variant occcurs at the end of the poem (Iliad) when Helen says people “shrank” when they saw her (from phrisso, “shiver with fear”; 24.775)”
The devils shiver in fear or terror and shrink back from the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. They believe in Jesus Christ, that He exists, and came to earth to live in a body of flesh like all of mankind in order to die for the human race that men might be drawn near to God and be saved from sin, death, hell, the grave, AND the devil himself, every curse and all evil things.
THEY BELIEVE ALRIGHT!
They know the truth. But they cannot have faith, saving faith which comes from God and must be active for it to be pleasing to God. They have obedience without faith, obedience without love, obedience without blessing.
Every demon, evil spirit, devil, fallen angel, is totally subject to Jesus Christ. But can they get saved?
NO! Absolutely not! They will all be cast into the Lake of Fire that burns endlessly and ferociously forever. That Lake of Fire was made for them. NOT FOR YOU!
But yet those very same devils ‘believe’ that there is one God. And they certainly know who Jesus Christ is…they even confessed that He was the very Son of God; and they knew that Jesus was truly equal with God, had the very exact nature of God in His Person. And they were then and are now always and forever totally subject to Jesus Christ in every respect. The only reason that they are allowed to do what they do is that the time for punishment has not yet come.
The Greek word James (2:19) uses for believe – is the exact same word that Paul uses in Acts 16:31.
James (chapter 2) goes on to say – But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Faith without works is not God’s kind of faith. Faith to believe in Jesus Christ comes from God.
Consider Noah. Noah was told by God that judgment on the whole earth was coming because of the extreme and unimaginable wickedness that had spread across the face of the earth. Such amoral wickedness that had even polluted some of the animal world.
God had mercy and showed His favour upon Noah and his immediate family because they had not been polluted by sexual perverted filth. God was going to rescue humanity by saving the only morally clean persons left on the planet. Remember at that time the Ten Commandments had not been given. So Noah was judged to be righteous according to what God had thus far spoken to him about.
There were ONLY EIGHT souls saved. Eight souls out of possibly millions if not a few billions.
God gave Noah specific instructions on what to do and how to do it. Noah had to build an ‘Ark’, literally a box, a huge box; a coffin-like timber structure for the saving of his household.
“Dr. Seon Won Hong was principal research scientist when he headed up the Noah’s Ark investigation. In May 2005 Dr. Hong was appointed director general of MOERI (formerly KRISO). Dr. Hong earned a B.S. degree in naval architecture from Seoul National University and a Ph.D. degree in applied mechanics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.” source – https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/thinking-outside-the-box/
Dr Hong discovered that the dimensions given to Noah are perfectly suited to mammoth seas. The design could withstand 30 meter waves. If the dimensions were altered just a little it would have compromised the structure and thus the safety for all inside. God had given Noah perfect instructions.
Now let us apply the logic of some Christians regarding their teaching about Acts 16:31. Let us say for arguments sake that God only needs us to believe and not to act on what He says in order to be saved.
If Noah had only ‘believed’ in God’s word to him, but had not BUILT the Ark, would he or his family have been saved in the coming worldwide flood? Absolutely not. Noah was saved by his faith. That faith INCLUDED action. His believing God included action. Faith is action.
FAITH (BELIEVING) IS ACTION
JUST LIKE HOPE IS
AND LOVE IS
God required Noah to ACT on His word. It was only by Noah’s acting on God’s Word that God did save him and all those who were with him, and whatever entered into the Ark.
Notice in Hebrew chapter 11 how many times it says “BY FAITH”…by the means of practical active faith they were saved, and received specific blessings from God.
Noah had to do exactly what God commanded him to do in order for he and his family to be saved from that cataclysmic worldwide Flood. Obedience was necessary on Naoh’s part for the saving of humanity.
Obedience is a work.
Believing is a work.
Faith is a work.
This is why Paul says in Ephesians chapter 2 that it is “by grace THROUGH faith” that we are “saved”, that is – made whole – before God. It is NOT by grace alone – or by Faith alone. The Bible saying doesn’t asay by “Grace alone, by Faith alone”. Men say that.
Three times James raises this same idea about faith needing works to be alive or useful… that means acceptable to God. The Greek word for vain, also means empty, or useless, pointless, futile. If you say you have faith in God but do not work out that faith your faith is useless. It is dead. When your cat dies, do you still keep it and let it remain on your couch?
Your dead cat can’t meow anymore, or rub up against your leg, or prrrr gently against your neck. It’s dead….dead…dead. It is lifeless. You bury it. And if you don’t…it stinks.
You get the picture.
James in his brief letter, did not mince words. Without works…faith is dead.
Yet as a disciple – and apostle of Jesus Christ, he was filled with love for God and for his fellowman. And that love compelled him to make it plain what God was wanting the reader, us – to know.
It is one thing for a person to read one verse in the Bible like a child and accept it by faith, which pleases God very much. It is quite another for a Bible teacher with years of study and reading and studying the Bible to limit their teaching on the meaning of a word like ‘save’ (and the other forms of the word) to only two or three verses, when there are literally hundreds of occasions of its use.
Ignorance is NOT bliss.
Years ago, before the advent of phones and iPads etc, in the early years of school life, a student usually got a small dictionary with many of the more common words. That dictionary would have just a few words of explanation for each entry. But if that student wanted to go to college or university, would that childhood dictionary suffice? No. And if they had become a teacher or professor, an instructor of others, would that childhood dictionary have been suffcient? Not at all.
No man is granted a private pilot’s licence to fly even small aircraft unless he can meet certain criteria, which also requires a competent knowledge of a whole spectrum of issues concerning the plane/helicopter, and rules governing taking off and landing; it is even more exacting to obtain a commercial pilot’s licence.
How much more important is it then when dealing with the souls of men and women, that we seek a more fuller understanding of the words used in Scripture?
If a man seeks a place of leadership in a ‘church’, he ought not be given any consideration for leadership until he has read the Scriptures through at least once, if not a number of times, and, commits to continue reading them through in his daily devotional time. and commits to being a man of prayer. If that man seeks a position of teaching in that church then he must be attentive to that task with MUCH prayer.
“We will give ourselves to the Word and prayer” (Acts 6) was the decision of the apostles.
If we are going to be a student of the Bible, and to some degree all believers in Jesus ought to be (and that does not mean that we should all go to Bible College and get a certificate and seek to obtain letters after our name, and diplomas and stuff), then we must be prepared to read and examine prayerfully the whole of Scripture. Which of course takes some time. Indeed it is a life-long committment.
But our investigations of Scripture should not be made from a denominational viewpoint (though we acknowledge there will be some automatic biases owing to what we have been taught already; everybody has a bias). We must examine the Scriptures with an open and unbiased position and that prayerfully, all the while depending on the God whose Book it is.
If in examining the Scriptures we are closed minded, then we may as well read the Scriptures in a dark room with dark sun glasses on. Or just stick to the newspaper.
We can hold to a point of view on any given matter and believe that firmly, but yet be open in case we have missed something else recorded in Scripture;
(- “What ELSE does the Scripture say is always a good question to ask ourselves.)
As there are 31, 175 verses in the KJV of the Bible, it is our duty if we have a copy to search out the whole sum of the matter all the days of our life.
As Solomon said, – It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2).
It is to our honour that we search out the Scriptures, ALL OF THEM over the course of our lifetime.
Paul said that “ALL SCRIPTURE”, that is ALL SCRIPTURE, is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), and is able to make us wise UNTO SALVATION (2 Timothy 3:15)
Many preachers use the ‘saved’ word as if it is a one stop shop – “All you have to do is belieeeeve and you will be saved.”
And they say so because they have been taught and believe that we cannot be saved by works, because Paul said we can’t get saved by works but only by grace. (see Ephesians 2: 5-9)
This view is based on reactions to the Roman Catholic church and its false doctrines.
And this other one they use a lot is– “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31 )
There you go, they say, “Paul says it very plainly – belieeeeeve and be saved. That’s all you have to do.” and they add And any body who tells you otherwise is preaching ANOTHER gospel.
(But Paul did not say That is all you have to do – belieeeve. You cannot base sound doctrine on one or two verses if there are many other passages to examine on the matter.)
Well, the Devil also belieeeeves in God but he is not saved nor can he ever be ‘saved’.
What then is
Paul is talking about?
Do we simply do as the devils do – belieeeeve?
Paul says in his letter to the Romans:
“But the righteousness of faith says this: “Do not say in your heart, Who will go up into Heaven?” (that is, to bring down Christ); (6)
or, “Who will go down into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.) (7)
But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the Word of faith which we proclaim) Deuteronomy 32:12-14 (8) (Note: he uses the phrase ‘the Word of faith’.
But please understand – he is not referring to the ‘Word of Faith’ Movement – that denomination or movement in the Charismatic scene.)
Paul continues… Because if you confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (9)
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation. (10)
For the Scripture says, “Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame.” Isa. 28:16 (11)
For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him. (12)
For everyone, “whoever may call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Joel 2:32 (13)
How then may they call on One into whom they have not believed? And how may they believe One of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching? (14)
And how may they preach if they are not sent?“ (15) Romans 10:6-15.
The righteousness of faith was presented to Israel by Moses (Deut 32:12-14), which Paul refers to in verse 6 of Romans 10. But it was hidden from them, because Christ – the Prophet greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18) had not yet come.
As I said, note the phrase “Word of faith” (v8). Paul does not use in Romans 10:6-15 the word ‘gospel’ but the phrase ‘word of faith’ – (rhema pistis). This indicates that both terms gospel and word of faith can be used to describe the same message. Paul did not preach some kind of message and call it ‘word of faith’, and another kind of message and call that ‘gospel’. He only had one message.
What we have to realize is that Paul by the Holy Spirit uses various terms to describe the same action.
This in itself will be a clue for us to understand more fully God’s message of good news to mankind. Every time these two terms appear in the NT we can see how they are used and what details are described in their context. Then our understanding will enlarge about what God means by His gospel of good news to mankind through Jesus Christ.
The word ‘Gospel’ and the term ‘Word of faith’ used by Paul is talking about the same thing. These terms are interchangeable. And there are other terms which also mean ‘gospel’. They are both GOOD NEWS.
In the Romans 10 passage above, Paul is pointing out that through the preaching of God’s, i.e. – Jesus Christ’s gospel of salvation, one has the words of life near them, even in their mouth and heart if they will take hold of it, believe it, confess it, and live it.
In v12 Paul connects the action of ‘calling on Him‘ WITH ‘believing on Him‘ (v11).
Then he reverts back to calling on Him – that is on the name of the Lord. Those who do call upon the name of the Lord (in truth –Psalm 145:18) will be saved.
Now we know that those who “believe” will be saved, yet the same man who made that statement (Acts 16:31) also states that those who ‘CALL’ on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). This simply means that believing must also accompany calling on Jesus for salvation.
Paul shows that there must be a logical pattern followed in order for the process to take effect.
How can one call on a person they have not heard of?
I have a friend who only recently found out that his mother was still alive after 30 plus years of not knowing. And now he can talk to her by phone. But before that revelation came to him, he could not call her on the phone because he did not know whether she was still alive.
Australia, like many other countries, has a telephone number you can call to get help from the police, or the ambulance service, or the fire brigade etc.
If you live out in the wilderness and you are in trouble and need immediate practical help outside your own ability, but do not have any means to call on any one else, what do you do? You can’t save yourself. Nobody else knows where you are. Who is going to save you in your time of need?
You should call on Jesus…He can save you.
He can handle any circumstance.
Jesus Christ is alive.
He was raised from the dead.
And Paul saw Him as the resurrected Lord.
But Paul was not the only one to do so
as he explains in (1 Corinthians 15:8).
More than 512 persons saw Him as the resurrected Christ. So Jesus ever lives, lives for evermore. Hundreds of people saw Him alive after He was killed and buried and rose from the dead.
And quite a few were present and saw Him ascending into Heaven. They were told that Jesus will come again the same way He went…in the clouds of Heaven (Acts 1:11).
Are you ready?
“Be Ready! For in an hour you think not, the Son of Man comes” – Jesus.
But unless you call on Jesus – the name of the Lord, you will not be saved. And you must believe on Him before you can call on Him. Yet you must hear about Him before you can believe on Him. But there must be a preacher – a messenger, with God’s message to preach, before you can hear about Him. And the messsenger, must be sent before they can preach. And sometimes, that messenger can be an angel, but usually is a person.
And those who are sent with God’s beautiful message of good news have beautiful feet as far as God is concerned.
Now note the verbs Paul uses in Romans 10:
Verbs are doing words. They speak of action. Action is WORK, effort, labour. It may be easy or it may be hard, but action is work – blinking the eyelid is a work. Paul explains that these five things must be done (as a rule) in order for someone to be ‘saved’. The ‘preaching’ may be in written form, or it may be spoken, or even given in sign language.
When God the Father sent Jesus, it was a work He did.
When Jesus preached the gospel, it was a work He did.
When the people heard Jesus preach the gospel it was a work that they did.
When the people believed in Jesus, it was a work that they did.
When the people who believed called upon Jesus to heal or save them, it was work they did.
Paul tells the Ephesian assembly of believers, that they are saved not by works but by grace (Ep. 2:5).
In this statement, what does Paul mean by the word ‘works’?
Is he referring to the works that are listed in Romans 10 which we have just looked at?
If he was he would be contradicting himself, and that would make God look like a liar, which He is not. God is not a man that He should lie. Men lie. God does not. He cannot lie. He is Truth and Truth cannot lie.
The hearer must CALL on Jesus who is Lord.
To call is action – work. Faith is action.
But first they must BELIEVE in Jesus.
To believe is an action – work. Faith in action.
Before believing they must HEAR the good message about Jesus.
To hear is an action – work. Faith in action.
But someone must convey – PREACH that message first.
To preach is an action – work. Faith in action.
And lastly, the preacher must be SENT from God with a God given message.
To send is an action – work. Faith in action.
In each of these five works or actions, God is the one who is working behind the scenes.
as a work,
If we are saved by grace and not by works of any kind, then what about GOD’s work?
Can we say that salvation is not by any kind of work, including God‘s work? NO.
That statement of Paul’s in Ephesians 2:5 is not all inclusive.
Many quote Paul as saying that we cannot be saved by works.
DO NOT TELL
THE WHOLE PICTURE.
THEY DO NOT TELL
THE WHOLE PICTURE.
THEY DO NOT TELL
THE WHOLE PICTURE.
BUT what does Paul say in Galatians? Paul tells the Galatians that we are not justified by ‘works of Law’.
“knowing that a man is not justified by works of Law, (WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?)
but that it is through faith in Jesus Christ (we also believed into Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of Law, (WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?)
because all flesh will not be justified by works of Law – (WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?). (O.T. reference Psa. 123:2″) Gal. 2:16
How many times does Paul in Galatians 2:16 identify the kind of works that cannot justify a sinner? 3 times
What kind of works do not justify us before God?
Works of Law…
works of Law…
works of Law.
And he is speaking about the works of the Law of Moses, of which there are over 600.
Further on in his letter to the Galatians he asks –
“This only I desire to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of Law or by hearing of faith?” Gal 3:2.
What kind of works is he speaking about in this passage?
Works of Law.
And again he asks –
“is it by works of Law or by hearing of faith?” G 3:5.
What kind of works is Paul talking about in this statement?
Works of Law. _ What Law? The Law of Moses – 613 laws.
Here the apostle makes a statement…
– “For as many as are out of works of Law, these are under a curse.” Gal 3:10
What kind of works is he talking about in this statement?
Works of Law.
“they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” Romans 9:32
What kind of works is Paul talking about here?
Works of Law.
I ask an obvious question…Is it possible that Paul might be drawing a distinction between the works of the Law and the ‘works of faith‘, as he discusses the subject of being justified, and becoming righteous before God, being saved under the new covenant?
Paul is making it as plain as he can by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that it is absolutely certain that we ARE justified by works of faith, and that faith must be founded in Jesus Christ and His Words – His gospel.
Being saved by grace and not by works (Ephesians 2) must be understood in light of the above Scriptures; from Galations and Romans, and elsewhere too.
We are not saved by WORKS OF LAW – THAT IS OF MOSES…
…For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17.
God calls a man.
God gives that man a message.
God sends him to preach it.
God brings another person to hear the message.
God helps the person to hear the message in his spirit.
God provides the hearer with faith to believe.
God prompts the man to call out to Jesus the Lord. The man obeys.
God brings that man to a new birth in his spirit, and the hearer begins a new life.
He enters into Salvation.
AND THAT SALVATION IS
GOD – JESUS HIMSELF –
Exodus 15:2; Isaiah 12:2.
When we ‘get saved’ by God…
We enter into Salvation…into Christ Jesus
Paul speaks of being IN Christ (Jesus) – the Lord, more than twenty times in his letters. We enter into Jesus Christ at the beginning of our journey with Him, and as long as we REMAIN in Him, that is by a conscious choice which we must make or affirm daily, then we are safe in Him. Outside of Jesus Christ there is no safety, no salvation.
The salvation of God is God’s business and He has not given that business to a church denomination, nor to organized religion which includes the Roman Catholic Church.
God’s salvation has no such boundaries, for it is entirely and exclusively in Jesus Christ alone.
However we describe it, the whole saving process is GOD’S WORK.
It is much like a human birth, though there are differences.
The baby has no choice in the conception, growth, or birthing process, nor the conception process; whereas the sinner must make a choice for entering into Life in Jesus Christ. Though the Father must draw a sinner, and though the sinner must go through Jesus to get to the Father, the sinner must make a conscious decision to ‘Come’ to Jesus – Matthew 11:28-29. It is not a puppet that God saves but a person with volition which must be freely exercised.
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about doing God’s work, He replied “This is the work of God, that you believe into Him whom that One sent.” John 6:29. Believing in Jesus Christ is something we must DO. It is a matter of the heart, but it is something we are required to DO. It is a work of God.
The word translated as ‘work’ in John 6:29 is “ergon” – toil, work, labour, doing, deed. We must do the believing. We must DO that work. While it is a work of God and while that faith came from God, we must participate in that work consciously and deliberately.
To believe in Jesus Christ
as God’s Son
and as our only Saviour
is the very work of God.
So the sinner who hears God’s message must consciously and deliberately participate in the process that affects him for time and eternity. And the preacher must consciously and deliberately participate in his part of the process, just as God does in doing His part.
And then there are those that we may describe as ‘midwives’ who must pray and beseech God for a preacher (Matthew 9:35), for the spiritual conception of the implanted word of God in a human heart, and for the hearer to believe and obey the Gospel, in order to be saved.
That brings up another doing word – OBEY, which we have already mentioned. To obey is a work. Unless one “obeys” the gospel he will not be saved.
“the Lord Jesus from Heaven with angels of His power, in flaming fire giving full vengeance to those not knowing God, and to those not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will pay the penalty: everlasting destruction from the face of the Lord, “and from the glory of His strength,” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
The full vengeance of God
– everlasting destruction –
will be given as a just penalty – reward,
the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul does not use the word believe in this passage. Why? Because the Holy Spirit through Paul is making a specific point. God is broadening our understanding. He is teaching us very methodically.
Then we read “and having been perfected, He (Jesus) came to be the Author of eternal salvation to all the ones obeying Him” Hebrews 5:9.
The Holy Spirit does not use the word believe in this passage.
Because the Holy Spirit is making a specific point.
God is teaching us.
He wants us to be enlarged in our understanding,
and not remain ignorant.
If the Holy Spirit had to tell us that we only needed to “believe” in order to be saved, then He would have instructed the writer to use that word in every place where we read words like obey. For example – we would be reading, “and having been perfected, He (Jesus) came to be the Author of eternal salvation to all the ones believing Him”
Please do not quote the above sentence in brown text, out of context. What I have posed as an example – is not what the Scripture says. It is an example of what we would read IF the word ‘believe’ was the only word necessary for us to consider in God’s plan of salvation.
Eternal salvation is only to those who obey Jesus Christ.
Those who OBEY Jesus Christ.
In order to find out what the gospel of Jesus Christ is, we MUST examine all the passages in which the word is used (104 times). That is another study.
Let me simply say that the famous, and very well used passage in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
which is often used as THE Definition of what the ‘gospel’ is,
is simply not a complete definition of the ‘gospel’ of Jesus Christ. Yet it is truly the hub or pivotal theme from which all other details spread out.
The Greek behind the English ‘gospel’, means good message or news. Ask yourself every time when you read Scripture portions – Is this good news from God?
Is it good that God warns His people to flee from sin, to flee the wrath of God against all unrighteousness and run to Jesus Christ? YES.
And, also tells us what happens if we don’t? Is that good news? YES.
Those who were sick and they came or were brought to Jesus, was it good news for them that they heard they could be healed from the sickness, from that torment of the devil, as well as from that sin? YES. Of course it was.
Those who were sick or possessed of devils, did not argue with Jesus and say But it is not part of the gospel Jesus. They believed in the good news – the gospel which Jesus Christ preached and believing and doing whatever it was Jesus asked from them, they received the blessing.
The religious hypocrites were wanting to put a stop to Jesus healing such people. They did not accept God’s good news through Jesus Christ. Good news was setting people free and they were losing their grip on the populace.
What would we do without such warnings as in 2 Thessalonians 1? We would be in real trouble. Yes – Warnings from God ARE good news. The gospel is good news.
Imagine a mine field that had no signs of warning; or a power sub-station that had no warning signs; or bottles of poison that had no warning labels attached. Warnings are good news.
Let us make it plain, very plain. Paul tells us that we are not saved or justified by works of Law. But we are saved by works of faith – the law of faith.
“being justified freely by His grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
whom God set forth as a propitiation
through faith in His blood,
as a demonstration of His righteousness
through the passing over of the sins
that had taken place before,
in the forbearance of God,
for a demonstration of His righteousness
in the present time,
for His being just and justifying
the one that is of the faith of Jesus.
Then where is the boasting?
It was excluded.
Through what law?
No, but through a Law of faith.”
Romans 3:24- 27
THROUGH A LAW OF FAITH…THAT IS THE BOASTING WE HAVE.
Paul in his letter to the Galatians uses six times the phrase ‘works of Law’. He uses it once in Romans 9:32. And by Works of Law he is making a direct reference to the Law of Moses (613 Laws), either in part or in total.
That is seven times (at least) that the Holy Spirit is telling us that we cannot be justified by works of Law (the Law of Moses). Righteousness does not come to us by works of Law. Seven is the number that is used in the Bible to point to completion, perfection.
and in this we may boast.
And there is
a Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
That IS good news.
“For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death.” Rom. 8:2
So there are works and there are laws that relate to salvation and our entering into that salvation, and it all comes under the heading of God’s salvation or saving work…which comes from Him for HE IS OUR SALVATION.
Unless one believes in Jesus Christ wholeheartedly they cannot be saved. Believing requires repentance. If repentance is NOT outworked, the believing is a futile fruitless activity. Believing and repentance are both acts of obedience, and they are mutually inclusive…both are necessary.
Unbelief and continuing in sin are acts of disobedience.
There may be some who dismiss John the baptizer’s ‘baptism of repentance for remission of sins‘, as being superceded – replaced by Jesus Christ.
But have a look at what Jesus instructs His disciples concerning water baptism before His ascension.
“Then He opened up their mind to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, So it is written, and so the Christ must suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. And repentance and remission of sins must be preached on His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:45-47.
But some may point out that….
“Jesus does not mention water baptism here; He is not talking about baptism.”
True. Jesus does not mention baptism in this short passage. But Scripture is bigger than one passage. Much bigger. WE cannot build doctrine on one passage of Scripture. We must look at many passages of Scripture, at the minimum two or three, and those will happily be confirmed by, and blend with, the rest of Scripture.
While water baptism is an option in many modern denominations, it was not an option with Jesus. And it was not an option in the early church. Why?
Matthew records that Jesus said “Then having gone, disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age. Amen.” Matt, 28:19,20.
Note that in the above Matthew statement, we do not have the phrase ‘repentance and remission of sins‘.
Just as there are details that Matthew and Luke record Jesus saying but do not appear in Mark’s account post resurrection, so too, Mark records details not in the other two accounts. They are to be placed together.
But of course our old enemy the devil has made sure that ‘doubt’ has been cast on the last few verses of Mark’s account of what Jesus said before His ascension into Heaven (and that is another study). Well, many believe that lie too, so they think they can then dismiss the words that speak of baptism in Mark 16 which he included in the saving of the sinner, and also the signs that follow those who believe.
Consider the facts:
…the apostles of Jesus Christ from the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) always baptized those who would believe, as soon as possible after sinners began to believe. Their is no indication that they had counselling sessions of weeks or months for new converts on the importance of water baptism. They simply commanded those to be baptized who had BEGUN to believe.
And why so quickly?
We have the record in the Book of Acts of the apostles and others like Stephen who believed that Jesus would through His servants heal the sick and cast out devils, and that they would speak in new tongues – languages for the glory of God, and which had not been learned by human methods, and, that if they in the course of their work accidently were bitten by snakes they would not be hurt.
All these signs and many others accompanied the preaching of the gospel of good things (Romans 10:15), ….which by the way was the same gospel message that Paul preached.
Then we have Jesus Himself going “about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9:35)
In the kingdom of God there is no sin, there is no sickness, there is no disease, there are no demonized people or demon possessed people – no demons either.
Jesus was preaching and showing that His preaching was with the observable, demonstrable (dynamic) power of God. That was all part of His gospel. That good news had power.
Indeed Jesus’ gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Power over sin. Power over demons. Power over every kind of sickness and disease. Power over hatred and abuse. Power over despair and trouble. Power over secret sins in the heart. Power to bring every one who believes and continues to believe in Jesus Christ – till they die, right through every trial and tribulation they may face in this life.
That gospel which Jesus preached and displayed was the same gospel that He commanded His disciples to continue in and to teach others to continue in too – Matthew 28:19,20. It is the gospel of the kingdom. It is the gospel of good things – The Word of faith which Paul preached.
part three to follow