Chapter 2 Continued from Chapter 1
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
A series of Bible studies on
SALVATION IN CHRIST
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART A: – SALVATION IN CHRIST (#2)
Conditions for our salvation (#2)
As we continue speaking about the salvation, which were offered to us by Jesus Christ, I consider necessary to add the following points:
1. Celebration of the sacrifice and the resurrection of Christ: Easter!
During Easter, the sacrifice and the resurrection of Christ are celebrated. The Easter message is one of hope and victory over death, for it recalls that Christ rose from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion. There is no Easter without Jesus raised from the dead! Unbelievers consider Jesus’ death and resurrection as foolishness; believers accept it as truth – because it is a truth – and receive salvation by God’s mercy and grace. And let us never forget what is written in the Bible in a very solemn way: “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him” (John 3:36).
The news that Jesus was alive should not have surprised the apostles. He had foretold them repeatedly about His crucifixion and resurrection. In fact, time and again, He told them that He would go to Jerusalem, would be killed and would rise again but His disciples had not understood it well… Jesus “was delivered into death for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom.4:25). Through His death, the penalty was paid for our sins:
- “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” (Gal.3:13), and
- “For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Cor.5:21).
Through His resurrection, we are given a living hope, the proof that His promises are true (1Pet.1:3-5). Without a living Savior, there is no hope: “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain…” (1Cor.15:17). He lives! “…I am the first and the last: I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen” (Rev.1:17-18).
2. Jesus’ resurrection has taken place! Believers are waiting for their resurrection!
Easter symbolizes the love of God and the promise that men will also be raised from the dead. “And these shall go away into eternal punishment and the righteous into life eternal” (Mat.25:46). The importance of His resurrection is as great as that of His death. However, He lives! “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev.1:18). What incomparable victory for Him but also for all true believers! We will live forever with Him! Alleluia! Those that have died in Christ are happier than we are! He has wiped away their tears! They rest from their labors and their labors follow them: Not so much their religious activities but their Christian character: Their sincere repentance, their unfeigned faith, their humble and forgiving spirit, the uprightness and the purity of their heart, the love for the truth and for the checks of the Holy Spirit, their heart’s consecration to the Lordship of Jesus, their patience without murmuring, their invincible spirit and above all if they have not lived for themselves but for Christ and their fellow human beings.
3. Our salvation is not due to an angel or to an Archangel but only to Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is above all angels and archangels (Heb.1:4-5)! Jesus has defeated Satan. The victor is Christ, and the defeated are Satan and death. His victory was not for HIMSELF but for us… For you and me! For you and me so that our sins might be blotted out and that we may have everlasting life! And this was done in order to restore us to our previous state before the fall of the human race into sin. His victory became our victory! The resurrection day is waiting! « Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life;and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation » (John 5:28-29).
Our Lord Jesus Christ assured us that the ruler of this world, that is Satan, had nothing in Him (John 14:30). In the days of His death and resurrection the judgment of this world took place and the ruler of this world was cast out (John 12:31), something which will also take its final form: The Holy Spirit confirms through the pen of the Apostle Paul in 2Thess.2:8 that, “[…] then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”
4. Jesus Christ is the ONLY Mediator between God and man
Jesus, in order to achieve His goal, partook of flesh and blood so that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, Satan, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb.2:14-15). And again we were informed through the lips of John the Apostle that the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil, the devil who has sinned from the beginning (1John 3:8). Again, the same apostle informed us prophetically that Satan, who deceived men, will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone together with the beast and the false prophet and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev.20:10).
Conclusion: No angel, no man or woman died for us! The only Mediator is, therefore, Jesus Christ! NOT His mother Mary according to the flesh, NOT any angelic agent, NOT any saint, NOT any icon, etc.! All those who pray God through the name of the blessed Mother of Jesus or through the intercession of dead saints or through some so-called “miracle icon” are in terrible error and dishonor Jesus Christ, who is the only Mediator between us and our heavenly Father (1Tim:2:5)!
Let me repeat, in part, what I mentioned before: Jesus Christ “[…]who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross […]” (Php.2:6-11). What a spirit of humility and of self-sacrifice! Notice, please, how the apostle Paul exhorts the believers to be equipped with the same spirit: “Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Php.2:2-5).
5. Christ’s triumph was achieved by the shedding of His blood
Yes! By His blood that He shed on the cross, in which there was no sin circulating… This is the reason why death and Satan could not retain Him. Men reviled Him, bruised Him, spit upon Him, despised Him but He did not consider all these as a hindrance. And He went out as a victor and to conquer. HE partook of our flesh, He was found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Php.2:8). We, in turn, can become victors and overcomers if we make proper use of His blood, if we use properly His Holy Word, if we proclaim His Word, if we imitate Him in His decision to do God’s will “whatever the cost might be”… There is no other way for us to become overcomers, unless we learn to resist to bloodshed, striving against sin (Heb.12:4). Those who have ears hear… If gone astray, come back to the first love.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed; it shall break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms and it shall stand forever (Dan.2:44). All peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away (Dan.7:14).
6. The way of salvation and spiritual edification, par excellence!
In the previous pages we have referred to the way a man can be saved: By repentance and faith! I would like, now, to put the emphasis on this point and make it a bit clearer. It is written: “… The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The apostle Peter, in his first speech to the crowd after Christ’s resurrection, said among many other things, “… Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). In his second speech, as recorded in the book of Acts, he said, “Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began […] To you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away (GR:Present continuous) every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:19-26). In other words: When repentance is there, blessings follow. And, on another occasion, he said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
This is the only and the best way to be saved and make spiritual progress, to honor God and do justice towards Him! In reality, injustice towards God is but the lack of trust or faith towards Him: “… he that does not believe God (that is in His words) has made him a liar…” He dishonors God! He commits an act of injustice concerning His veracity, His goodness and His love for man! Unbelief in God is equal to injustice, and faith or trust in Him is equal to justice. Faith in God’s commandments or promises and trust in His character are imputed as justice. If we believe in His words, then we do an act of justice and we honor Him! This is the spirit of the words of the Bible: “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen.15:6). In addition, we do justice by telling the truth to God in our heart as well as to ourselves about our sins and our sinful nature.
7. Conditions for our salvation (in broad outline):
a) “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. For the scripture said, Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom.10:9-11).
b) “ … And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). The first and greatest commandment indicates that Christ must have all the priorities… MAMON AND CHRIST ARE NOT COMPATIBLE!
c) “Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Mat.16:24-27).
d) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Mat.13:45-46).
e) “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mat.10:37). Who are, therefore, not worthy of Him? Who are excluded?
8. A very short part of my personal testimony
My conversion to God was based on the issue of Christ’s death and resurrection. God guided me in such a way that my faith be based on the most basic points of Christian faith: Jesus Christ’s miraculous birth from the Virgin Mary, and His death and resurrection! It was too difficult for me to accept Christ’s birth from a virgin! Another major difficulty for me was to accept both the authenticity of the Bible and the resurrection of Christ, because it is written: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain… And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1Cor.15:14, 17). When I was finally convinced about:
- The authenticity of the Bible (especially by the Messianic prophecies but also by undeniable historic extra-biblical facts concerning Jesus’ life and the life of the people of Israel); and
- The resurrection of Jesus;
my soul was seized with admiration, awe, fear and trembling. The historical proofs, joined with the “bona fide” (good faith) of a man of a simple and good will, helped me to seize the object of faith, which is Jesus Himself. My research turned into certainties… and into works of faith!
All my life was changed! Darkness was replaced by the light of the Gospel. I realized that it took more “faith” to be a silly unbeliever and an atheist, such as I was, than to be a serious believer. Then, I fell on my knees, beginning of November 1952 and asked God for the forgiveness of my sins and for the salvation of my soul, on the basis of the verse: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom.10:9).
I know for sure that God did not pay attention both to the extremely limited knowledge I had about Himself and His will, and to the very limited knowledge I had about myself, but He accepted my “commitment” to Him just as I was. He knew that I had given Him, in a childish simplicity, sincerity and honesty all what I was and had. I had not kept “a key” for myself “just in case” … He forgave me and saved me for now and for eternity! Since that day, He “organized” a lot of testing and afflictions I could never have imagined, but He also planned and accomplished such blessings, both material and spiritual, far beyond my imagination! I was humbled not so much from my many failures as from the blessings He bestowed on me in His mercy and grace that I did not deserve! The only thing I have done since the day of my conversion was to study His Word and try wholeheartedly and sincerely to apply it in my life in the fear of God. My key words were: “John, repent truly in your heart for your sins, failures and shortcomings.” Now, I wish I knew how He sees me, but, irrespective of this wish of mine, I have not stopped trying to do my best in deep gratitude.
My prayer is for us all to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph.3:19).
To be continued…