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Salvation:- 7 (1 | 2 | 3|4 |5 |6 )


By Nelson Thomas Mumbai

Summary: - The only condition for salvation is by faith. True saving faith involves
conviction, confession and conversion.

Introduction:- By the death and resurrection of Christ, the work of salvation is complete, yet not all are saved automatically. How can an individual experience salvation? There are certain conditions to be fulfilled.


      Actually there is only one condition for salvation: that is faith. Cf. Eph 2:8; Act 16:30 , 31.Rom 10:10. Salvation is God's work for man, not man's work for God. No amount of work, however good it may be, bring salvation for man. No effort to improve man is suffice.

      As we have already seen man is blind, dead, and enemy, away from God and heading towards the eternal hellfire. He is incapable of doing anything good to be saved. God alone can deal with this issue. God has done it and calls upon men and women to believe it. Jn 3:16; Mark 16:16; Act 8:13 . Unsaved person is condemned for not believing the gospel, because believing is the only condition for salvation. Cf. Jn 3:18.

      God condemns a sinner primarily because of what Christ has done on the cross. cf. 2Cori 5:14 , 19 Notice that the facts and conditions of salvation are based on divine estimate rather than upon the estimate of man. So there is nothing more man needs to / can do, but believe.

      However, a close study of the New Testament teaches us that there are certain things involved in faith. Not all faith saves. Faith is one of the most commonly misunderstood biblical terms. There are different ideas behind this same word. If we are not sure about the true faith that saves us, we may end up in deception.

Faith: - Four ideas:-

a. The creed.

      “Faith that was once for all delivered unto the saints”. Jude.v.3. Cp. V.20; 2 Pet 1:1. Here Jude & Peter refer to the body of truth, the doctrine revealed in the Bible. Saying yes to such creed or belief will not transform any body. It's not saving faith.

b. Intellectual belief. Jam. 2:19.

      Mere mental knowledge of anything, even things concerning the Lord has no regenerative value. Many Christians have the mental knowledge about the story of Christ and even they acknowledge those facts but that is not saving faith. Cf. Jn 2:22 ; 3:12 ; 6:69; 8:24 , 25; 1Jn 5:20 ; Heb 11:6b. That's only knowledge of a historical Christ, not a Saviour Christ. Even devil has such knowledge. James says emphatically that faith that doesn't affect our life is dead. Jam.2:26.

Illustration: - Crossing over Niagara Falls . People watch with wonder, believe he can walk, carry chair on the rope over the falls, but reluctant to sit on the chair. It's only mental knowledge, not true faith that affects will and heart.

c. Secular faith. John 2:23-25.

      Every one believes something or some body in his everyday life. One believes a doctor and quietly lies before him for a surgery! A passenger believes a driver and sits in the vehicle to reach the destination. Such every day practical faith is very much temporary in nature and it has nothing to do with spiritual life or salvation.

      The Lord knows the merit of such faith. That's why though they believed Him, He did not believe them. Still many misunderstand their secular faith as a spiritual faith. As the days go by either they will show their reality or the Lord will make it public. 1The.3:2; 1Jn. 2:19 . Mtt.7:22, 23.

d. Spiritual / saving faith Eph.2:8. Ro. 5:1; Rom 3:22 —25.

      Then what is true, biblical faith? It is the God given ability to trust God's word as true and yield fully at His disposal. Faith is God's gift implanted in us by the Lord. Eph.2:8; Ro. 12:3. According to the Hebrew writer, the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who fixed faith in us and it is He who shall perfect faith in our heart. Heb.12:1

      It is this faith that saves us. By such supernatural faith we see things that are unseen to the normal man. Faith substantiates the invisible things as true. Heb.11:1. It is by faith we accept all what is said about the Lord Jesus Christ and accept the salvation and other blessings He offers.

      Make no mistake; faith in itself is having no merit. Faith is not our effort. Salvation is not a reward for our faith. God gives it freely, but we receive it by faith. Cf. Eph 2:8; Rom 3:25. All the merit goes to God who accomplished the work of salvation. Cf. Jn 3:16 , 18; 7:31 ; Act 20: 21 ; 1Jn 5:12 , 13.

Illustration: - Some one gives a gift. Receiving by faith is not a work, gift is not a reward for his faith, gift is always free gift. Or someone in a sinking ship jumps to a life boat. Merit doesn't go to his faith in jumping but to the boat which is the object of his faith. It is the boat that takes him to safety.

      Saving faith is not our doing but relying, trusting on what Christ has done. Act 16:30, 31; Gal 2:16; Heb 11:6a. - Wholly committing upon Christ in complete dependence. Jn 14:6; 5:24 ; 1Jn 2:23 .

What to believe?

•  The existence of God. Heb 11:6

•  God's promises Jn 5:24

•  The Son Jn 6:40

•  The uniqueness of Christ in saving. Act 4:12 (no other name- abandon all other ground of hope)

•  His name Jn 1:12

•  God's power to save. Col 2:12.

      In short, all what the Bible says about Christ and His finished work on the cross. Believe the all-sufficiency of His saving grace. Even if a little in measurement faith is precious. Cf. 2Pet 1:11 ; Eph 1:19

Living by faith

      Such trust in the finished work of Christ is needed not only for salvation, even for our every day life. Cf. 2Cor 5:6, 7; Heb 10:38; Col 1:23; 2:7; Heb 11:1.Faith that saves us also sustains us. We must continue to trust and take God for His word. We need to grow in our faith and keep it till the end. 2Tim 4:7. cf. Roma 8:24. Faith is closely related to hope – trusting Christ for the work He will do in future.

      Only as we keep on trusting in His power we can experience peace, joy and victory that salvation has brought in our life. Gal 2:20; 5:6; Eph 1:19. Our spiritual strength and effectiveness depend upon our continuous relationship with Christ in trusting and abiding in Him. Cf. Roma 14:1; 2Thes 1:3; 2Pet 1:5—8; 3:18 ; Gal 5:6; 1The 5:8; Jam 5:18 --26

Three things involved in saving faith

      Even though the only condition for salvation is faith; a close study of the New Testament teaches us that true saving faith consists of at least three important elements. With out the involvement of these three, salvation is not possible; such faith can not be saving faith. It is very hard to say which comes first, we classify in to three just to make it easy for us to understand. In true saving faith all these elements are found.

1. Conviction John 16: 8; Act 2:37.

      It is the result of hearing the word of God. Cf. Eph 1:13; Roma 10:17. As an individual listens to the message of salvation the Spirit of God convinces him of sin, righteousness and judgment. He / she begin to understand very firmly about his / her sin and how the Lord views it. They will see the ugliness of it and how it deserves to be dealt with. (Observe - ‘conviction' translated in Hindi ‘niruthar' – make them speechless! –yes this is the work of the Holy Spirit.) cf. Acts 8:35 —38; Gal 3:2. Notice the role of the word of God- reading, hearing etc in bringing conviction in the hearts of people by the Holy Spirit.

2. Confession. Act 2:37; 1Jn 1:9                 (top)

      Recognition of our sin, God's view of it, and His provision for our salvation should lead us to the next logical step? --ignore? – hide? - Many do that!

Pro.28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes t hem will have mercy.:”

Psa.32: 3, 4. “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.”

      No use in hiding or ignoring the truth. Burden of sin will only grow-sins will be accumulated. If a man ignores illness like T.B or cancer etc what will be his condition?

      The Lord knows exactly our state. Sin will be found, and punished-dealt with. But C onfess it. Notice what Psalmist had experienced. Psa.32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and You forgave the iniquity of my sin”. Covering only worsens the condition. Dryness, weakness, groaning etc, but confession brought peace of mind-through forgiveness. True conviction always leads to confession.

What is confession? Confession means - ‘to say the same thing' - as God says -we say ‘Amen' with God. Agree with God. What ever God says about us, about our sins, His righteousness, we ought to agree, acknowledge.

Confession by an unbeliever vs. Christian

      Nevertheless we should not consider that a confession by an unbeliever will be a doctrinal statement in every aspect. It should be considered as a voice of a new-born child. We should not forget that while an unbeliever being convicted of his sins will not be able to make a confession like a matured Christian. Notice the confession made in Act 2:37; 8:37 ; 16:30 . Etc and see the difference.

      Confession should be made by every Christian whenever they come to God's presence. Especially if one is backslidden and broken fellowship with the Lord confession is the way to come back and be restored. Their salvation is of course secured, but joy of fellowship and peace of heart will depend upon confessing sins. In fact John in his epistle writes to believers in this aspect. Cf. 1Jn 1:9.

      At the same time, a sinner should openly confess with their mouth to get saved, even if it is not a perfect statement as such. Cf. Rom 10:9. The Lord can not forgive a person who does not confess his / her sins. They must see their sins as rebellion against God; confess it as deserving His punishment. Cf. Psa 32:5; 51:3, 4; 66:18. They must acknowledge their need and the work of Christ on their behalf. (More)

3. Conversion / Repentance. Act 2:38 ; 11:18 ; 17:30                 (top)

      Conviction and confession with out conversion is not part of saving faith. Merely being aware of their sins and say about it does not bring salvation. They must consciously and purposely chose to turn from evil to God. Cf. Luke 16:30; Ezek 18:32; Zech 1:3; Act 20:21; 1Thessalonians 1:9. With out repentance there can be no salvation. Matt 3:2; Luke 13:3; 24:47. In fact it's a commandment. Cf. Isa 4522; Act 17:30 . Not only for saving faith, but to sustain our faith too repentance is needed. 2Cori. 7:9. The Lord calls upon the local Churches also to repent. Cf. Reve 2:5, 16; 3:3, 9.

What is repentance?

a. Negative : - what it is not.

i. Not regret : - Mere remorse considering the outcome of an evil is not true repentance. By the work of conscience or fear of punishment one may feel sorry for their mistakes. Such ‘repentance' is not linked with saving faith, they will return to the same sin again. Cf. Matt 12:43 —45. Remorse of Jude had no effect in his life. Matt 27:3. Such sorrow may even lead to self-pity and despair.

      Disciples of John the Baptist had such ‘repentance' but some of them were worthy for ‘baptism of fire'. Matt 3:1, 2; Luke 3:3—17. Some of them got saved later. Act 19:1—7.
Of course, repentance begins with sorrow, but that is produced by the work of God. Such Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Cf. 2Cori 7:9, 10

ii. Not penance: - An act of rendering payment or any other form of fine for sin. Gospel message contains no such point. Mark 1:15 ; Act 2:38 ; 17:30 etc. If penance is repentance then salvation is not free.

iii. Not reformation : - A change by self-effort is not what meant by repentance. It is for self-glory. Matt 12:43 . Salvation is not just giving up one bad habit to take up another less harmful one!

b. Positive : - What ii is? It's a change evidenced in threefold elements -

i. Intellectual element – change of mind. Recognizes the character of sin as God sees as well as deserving God's judgment. Psa 51:1—17; Job 42: 5, 76; Luke 18:13

ii. Emotional element – change of heart. Feels sorry for the sin, hate it sin as God hates. 2Cori 7:9, 10; Luke 10:13 ; 18:13 . Joel 2:13

iii. Volitional element - change of will. Determines to turn to God for forgiveness and turn from evil. 1The 1:9; Pro 28:13; Isa 55: 7; Matt 3:8; 12:41.

Illus: Prodigal son:-

“He came to himself” – intellectual.

“I have sinned” – Emotional.

“I will arise and go” – Volitional.

      Notice, the above threefold change are connected to each other. No one can be saved with out such an experience. So repentance is a change of mind, heart and of will. Mind changed the perception regarding sin, God etc; Heart finds no joy in sin but in the things of God, and will takes to a new path, to God. Repentance to salvation is turning to God by faith as they listen to the gospel. 1The 1:9. Saving faith is impossible as long as a person cling on to any sin. Unless he turns from it, he can not be forgiven. Cf. Act 11:21; 20:21 ; 26:18. So, true repentance involves a complete change in the mind, will and behaviour. Luk 3:8—14; 19:8; 2cor 5:17 ; 1Jn 2:4—6; Matt 21:28 —32.

      Many repented people will be in hell, but no saved one will be in hell. Yet without repentance no saving faith takes place. Cf. Mk: 1:5; Act 20:21; Luk: 13:5. Faith and repentance are two things but closely related like the land is being prepared to sow the seed. Faith involves repentance, and repentance involves faith. Both are used interchangeably as means to forgiveness. Cf. Act 10:43 ; 13:38 , 39; Luke 24:47; Act 3:19 , 26. In repentance sinner turns from sin, in faith he turns to Christ. “Repentance is faith in action and faith is repentance at rest.”

Who should repent? As mentioned above repentance is required not just from unbelievers.

1.  The lost – sinners. Matt 9:13 ; Luke 13:3, 5

2. The religious. Heb 6:1; Matt 5:16 ; Col 1:20, 21

3.   Believers. Rom 12:2. Need to be transformed daily!

4.   Backslidden believers. 2 Cori 7:9 – carnal Christians. Cf. Luke 17:3, 4.

5.   Local churches. Reve 2: 5, 16; 3:3, 19. Five out of seven churches in Asia Minor were admonished to repent.

•  Lost – repent or perish.

•  Religious (Legalist) – repent or perish.

•  Backslidden – repent or be disciplined.

•  Local churches – repent or removed.

The evidence of repentance . As mentioned above a total change in mind, heart and will. Specifically:-

•  Turning from transgression. Ezek 18:30

•  Turning to God. Act 26:20; 30:21; 1Th 1:9

•  Changed life & work. Act 26:20 – fruit according to repentance. Cf. Matt 3:8

      Some Bible scholars consider that turning from sins is not a requirement to be saved, not even a confession. It seems they over-emphasize faith and neglect these vital aspects very much involved with saving faith. They say if one is saved by turning from evil, then it is self-effort. So they want to say that it is our turning to God that helps us to turn from evil.

      Actually it's very hard to say which is first and which is second. It is the work of God. It is He, the Holy Spirit who leads us to conviction of sin and judgment. Once we are enlightened of the gospel truth and our desperate state we do wish to leave sinful life and turn to God. None of the above referred conditions are fulfilled in us by our own merit or effort. Cf. Act 5:31 ; 11:18 ; Jn 6:65; 16:7—11.

The result of repentance & faith:-                 (top)

•  Salvation. Act 2:41

•  Joy in heaven. Luk 15:, 10

•  Spirit begins to dwell / work. Act 2:38

Conclusion: - God has graciously accomplished the work of salvation for our souls thought the Lord Jesus Christ. Only one thing He demands us, ‘believe and be saved'. We have seen the meaning of true saving faith.
      What does it hinder you to come to Him by faith and receive this salvation as a free gift. If you are convinced of it, delay not, confess it and be converted to Christ. The moment we call upon Him by faith, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and we shall begin to experience the new life in Jesus Christ.


Next:- VIII. Salvation in different ages


More:- An index for all studies

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