GOD'S BIBLICAL PLAN OF SALVATION
In John 3:16 we see the passage, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Friend I want you to know that God loves you and that He gave His Son for you so that you and everybody in the world would have the opportunity to accept the salvation extended to you by God through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord is speaking to you in this verse, He wants you to become a son or daughter by giving you life through Jesus Christ in baptism. This is what salvation is all about. Without salvation as the inspired Paul vividly discusses in Romans chapter 5, there would be no chance or hope for mankind.
As you continue in this chapter in Romans, you will see that just as sin entered into the world through one man, so also salvation entered into the world through one man’s obedience that being our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I ask you, have you considered giving your life to Jesus? Have you considered being saved?
In Romans 10:17 the inspired Paul taught, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ." Before one can consider being saved, they must understand what faith is. Faith is a developing process of spiritual thought inside the mind of an individual. The reason why faith is considered a developing process is because through your experience as a believer and receiver of the word of God, you are constantly learning about God, Jesus, and the salvation that they offer to all whom come to believe in the message of the gospel. This gospel is the good news that is conveyed in John 3:16-17. As you learn how to become a Christian there is a process of maturing of faith that takes place, so you can confidently accept the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Hear the word
- Believe the word
- Repent of sins
- Confess Faith in Jesus Christ
- Be baptized for the remission of sins
- Live faithfully until death
You might have heard Christians refer to this as the steps to salvation. They are steps, but not in the way that you or I look at steps in the context of a check list. These steps show a progression of maturing faith that will constantly be maturing even after one is baptized. As long as we are here in this life as a Christian, we will constantly be maturing in the faith, "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby," 1st Peter 2:2.
Once you become a Christian you will continue to grow and mature in your faith. This is why the inspired Peter uses the figurative of the growth and development of a child through the partaking of milk. The word of God is our spiritual sustenance that helps our faith to grow and mature, just as physical sustenance helps our bodies grow and develop. As you can see faith is a continual process of spiritual maturity as long as we obey the call to become a baptized believer and continue to live faithfully and study God's word.
If we are to understand a message, we must first hear what the message is. We can hear physically through auditory means, or we can hear figuratively through the written word, but the first thing that must take place as we start to grow in faith is we must hear. Hear what? I am glad that you asked. In our previous section we talked about Romans 10:17. We learned that to develop faith we must hear. Notice that we can hear any message and we can believe any message, but true faith that God recognizes only comes through the hearing of the Word of Christ. One must hear the message of salvation to begin on the path toward a maturing faith in Jesus Christ.
The next stage within the development of a maturing faith is to believe the word of Christ that is being conveyed in the Bible. Notice what the inspired writer says in Hebrews 11:6, "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Faith is developed through the hearing and believing in the message of salvation also known as the gospel. Belief shows a confidence in what we are hearing and God wants you to have a confidence in the truth that He is conveying to you through His Son, Jesus Christ. That message is that Jesus came to give His life for you, so that by believing in Him you will start to grow in a maturing faith that will lead you to the salvation that God wants you to have. There is only one way to relieve us of the coming doom caused by sin, and that is by believing and acting upon the word of Christ.
Now that you have heard and believed we go to the next stage of a developing faith and that is by recognizing the fact that you are sinner and that you need Jesus so that you can be saved. In Acts chapter 2, during the inspired Peter's first gospel sermon, Peter lays down the fact that it was their fault that Jesus was put on the cross. The reason is not because they were Jews, but because of their sin; that is what put our Lord and Savior on the cross. Now friend, at this point in the development of your faith, the message becomes very personal and it really hurts, but that is not a bad thing because just as the people listening were pricked to the heart, you as well are experiencing the same realization that your sins put Jesus on the cross, don't let this discourage you because we are all at fault of putting Jesus on the cross. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23. Again, now that you have come to this realization, do not become discouraged because now that you recognize you are a sinner, God is going to tell you the cure and that is repenting of your sins, Acts 2:38. "Repent and be baptized." When one repents it is having a desire to change and no longer be conformed to the ways of this world, and when you reach this point in your faith you will show the enthusiasm that we see the people doing in Acts 2:37 and you too will want to be saved just as they were.
If one hears the Word and shows a confidence in the Word by believing what they have heard, has recognized the fact that they are a sinner; their faith at this stage of development is going to preempt them to show their confidence in what they have believed by confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the only begotten Son of God that came down from heaven and gave His life so that those who believe in Him can be saved by having their sins washed away by the blood of Christ.
If you are at this stage in your developing faith, your confession is based off of the conviction that you need Jesus because He is the only one who can take away sin. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32
Peter's answer to their plea to be saved is to, "repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and thou shalt receive the gift of the Holy Spirit;" Acts 2:38. Being baptized in the name of Jesus is how we become like Him in death as well as resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). That is why biblical baptism is immersion. Our word for baptism is a transliterated word from the Greek word baptizo, which means to immerse. When one is immersed in the waters they become entombed in the water just as Jesus was entombed in the tomb. Jesus arose out of the tomb just as one who is immersed arises out of the watery tomb and leaves their old self buried there in and arises a new being in Jesus Christ. This is what the Bible calls the new birth.
This new birth is a new start that allows you to become part of the kingdom of God; just as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5, "I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." You see baptism is not a confession of faith. In fact it is a response to the command given by Jesus in Mark 16:16, "For whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, and whosoever does not believe shall be condemned." Being baptized is your response to the faith that you have believed in and it begins for you a new life in Christ. It washes away your sins and allows you to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit as a new being in the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5-6). You see baptism is not a conclusion. It is a beginning of a new life and ever growing and maturing faith in Jesus Christ.
As Christians we do our best to continue to live a life that is worthy of the calling that we have accepted and pledged our life to. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 we read, "Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." This same message goes out to all whom have come to believe and are baptized in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we labor in our new life in Christ there will be many challenges and things that will trip us up or make us even question what we have believed in. That is why it is so important to worship with fellow Christians.
Your fellow Christians will pray for you and help by providing encouragement during these troublesome times. In return you at some point will do the same for them. That is why the inspired writer of Hebrews 10:25 writes, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching." The only way that we are going to be able to stand up to these challenges posed by the devil is by standing together and helping each other be good examples and challenging one another to be the best that we can be for the Lord until we are called home or the Lord comes back.