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Doctrinal Matters: Salvation

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Finding the Right Answer to the Right Question

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

How should a sinner react to the gift of salvation freely offered by Jesus? What is man’s appropriate response to learning about the crucified Creator and Savior of the world?

Man’s sin, along with God’s grace and sovereignty, should drive every person to ask a most foundational (and logical) question: “What does God want me to do?” If Jesus is my Creator; if He has all authority in heaven and on Earth; and if He is the only Savior of mankind, what does He want me to do?

While Jesus was still living, a young man once recognized the Son of God’s authority, knelt before Him, and asked, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17, emp. added). After the first recorded gospel message following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, the convicted hearers asked: “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). When Jesus revealed Himself to Saul on the road to Damascus, the persecutor of Christians immediately asked, “What shall I do?” (Acts 22:10). A heathen Philippian jailor, who found himself in dire circumstances, all the while in the presence of a singing-and-praying Paul and Silas, was likewise compelled to ask, “What must I do to be saved?”(Acts 16:30, emp. added).

What is the answer to this question? What is a person to do to be saved? Through the years I have heard and read a number of professed Christians say things like, “God loves you. There’s nothing for you to do.” “We do nothing to become righteous.” “We do nothing to get salvation.” “Salvation is from nothing we do ourselves.”

Interestingly, not one of those in the New Testament was told these sorts of things—that he did not need to do anything. The very opposite is true, in fact. Though all are saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), each time the question, “What shall I/we do?” was asked in the New Testament, the hearers were always told to do something. While the Law of Moses was still in effect, Jesus told the rich young ruler, in essence, to repent (Mark 10:21-22). [Jesus instructed the young man to get rid of the “one” thing in his life (his great possessions) that was keeping him from committing his life to Christ.] The Philippian jailor was told to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31). The thousands in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost were told to “repent…and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). When Saul asked what he needed to do, Jesus told him what he had to do. Saul had to go wait for the word of the Lord in Damascus where Jesus sent Ananias to tell Saul what he “must do” in order to have his sins cleansed by the blood of Christ (Acts 9:6). And what was it Saul had “to do”? By the authority of Christ, Ananias told Saul, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

Friend, don’t buy the lie that so many false teachers in the 21st century are selling: there is something for you to do in order to become a Christian and live the Christian life. No, it is not any kind of meritorious work (Titus 3:5). We could no more earn salvation than I could earn $999 quadrillion in my lifetime. But, we must submit ourselves to God and do what He says in order to receive the free, gracious gift of salvation, which comes only through Jesus Christ.

[NOTE: To learn more about becoming a follower of Christ, read our free e-book, Receiving the Gift of Salvation.]




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