"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Romans 5:18)

The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and the penalty of sin is death.  But the Good News, or Gospel, is that we can be saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ:

· For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

· For by grace are ye saved through faith... (Ephesians 2:8)

What is grace? Grace is undeserved kindness or mercy. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He who was without sin paid the penalty for us that we, who were yet sinners, couldn't pay for ourselves.

There is no way for us to earn our own salvation. It's impossible. Since the very first time you sinned in your life, you were condemned to perish!

BUT God has lovingly provided a way for us to escape eternal punishment that we deserve for our sins IF we choose to accept it. He offered His perfect Son Jesus as a sacrifice:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

God's Word says that without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission (or forgiveness) of sin. Jesus is the Perfect Lamb who was sacrificed, once and for all, for the remission of our sins.

This is why when John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching, he said "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

What Is a Gift?

What is a true gift? A true gift is given freely with no strings or conditions attached.

If a gift is later taken away by the giver, it wasn't really a truly free gift after all. A gift cannot be deserved or earned; otherwise it would be called a reward, right? A gift cannot be dependent some future action; otherwise it would be called an incentive or a bribe, wouldn't it?

A gift can neither be earned nor obeyed.

But no one can receive a gift until they make a choice to accept it!

They can also ignore and reject the gift. Or one can accept a gift and then abuse or neglect it. One can accept a gift and then throw it away. One can accept a gift and then carelessly leave it exposed to thieves. In other words, even though a true gift given freely will not be taken away by the giver, it can still be rejected or neglected or even thrown away after being accepted.

Can these things also be true of God's free gift of salvation to us?  Yes, they are.  God's gift of salvation is available to all of us, but we don't receive it until we first freely ask for it and choose to accept it!

Salvation Foreshadowed

A brief Old Testament event (read Numbers 21:6-9) foreshadowed Christ's redeeming sacrifice on the cross and exemplified a truly free gift from God. Jesus Himself referred to that event when He said:

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)

And here's the story: The people of Israel were plagued by fiery serpents and those who were bitten died. But God provided a simple cure for them: After being bitten, if they would merely look upon the serpent raised up on the pole, they would live!

The cure was unbelievably simple! But they did have to believe in the cure enough to accept the cure by looking upon the serpent on the pole. They had to trust in it. Once they were bitten, if they remembered and accepted the cure by merely turning and looking at the serpent on the pole, they were cured of the deadly bite once and forever. Simple!

And that was the event Jesus used in the verse above as an analogy of His free gift of salvation to us!

Also, remember the thief on the cross who was crucified with Christ:

"...(the thief said) we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:40-43)

It was that simple! The thief admitted his own guilt and being deserving of his punishment, and not only believed who Jesus was but also trusted in Him enough to ask Him for His mercy. He asked Jesus for mercy, and he received it right then and there in no uncertain terms, just for the asking!

It appears to me that Jesus' reply to that thief was an unconditional guarantee with full assurance, even with time left on the clock, and clearly without any follow-up requirements on the part of the thief. Period. No magic formula, no follow-up work to do, no trying to earn it, no trying to deserve it. No conditions, no requirements.

Accepting the Gift

Once someone makes a sincere decision to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross and rose again, and then sincerely asks Jesus for forgiveness and asks Him to be their Lord and Savior, then they have put their faith in Him.

Like the Israelites bitten by serpents and like the thief on cross, when we realize our desperate need for salvation and we decide to trust in Jesus for the cure, and we ask for His free gift of salvation, and we accept the gift and keep it and cherish it, then we have the same hope of the blessed assurance that Jesus gave the thief.

And so it appears that there is nothing else we have to do except believe in Jesus:

"That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:15)  Period.

This, however, is too simple for the natural mind of man to accept because we know that in this world, nothing is ever really free. In this life, it seems that with any "free" thing, there's almost always strings attached.

But beware of your own understanding of things where it concerns the things of God:

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him..." (1 Corinthians 2:14)

What It Means to "Believe"

What exactly does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19)

Satan knows and believes all about Christ, but his fate is sealed in the lake of fire:

"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Rev 20:10)

Therefore it must not be enough just to believe about Jesus! There are many who believe about Jesus, including Satan himself!

So what's the difference? There is a BIG difference, and that difference is faith. Faith is believing in, having hope and trust in, and having a personal relationship with Jesus, not just believing about Him.

· Now the just shall live by faith... (Hebrews 10:38)

· But without faith it is impossible to please Him... (Hebrews 11:6)

So what does it take for you to have Christ's blessed assurance of your certain salvation? You have just read the answer: Faith.  Faith IN Him. To believe IN Jesus is to put your faith and trust in Him.

What Other Requirements?

As I said, nothing in this world is ever really free. But the key phrase there is "this world". God only gives perfect gifts, and a perfect gift has no strings or requirements attached. Too hard to believe, or just too hard to understand?

We don't have to fully understand something in our own mind in order to accept it and believe it in our heart:

· Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Pr 3:5)

If it is true that salvation is a free gift offered to us by God, and that we are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus, is there anything must do to complete and ensure our salvation?

Just before Jesus died, He said, "It is finished." His blood was shed, and His death for our sins was complete.

It is a PERFECT gift, which means there are no further requirements for us to do to complete it, but just to accept it and cherish it.

Remember that a truly free gift cannot be taken away later by the giver. But also remember that if one does not value a gift he has accepted, he might forget it, or abuse it, or deliberately throw it away, or neglect it and let it be stolen by a thief.

But if one considers a gift to be priceless, he will treasure it like a "pearl of great price". He will accept it with gratitude and keep it, and treasure it, and be mindful of it, and protect it, and guard it from thieves.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto 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." (Mt 13:45-46)

Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

Now if you have sincerely asked Jesus to forgive you and be your Lord and Savior, go and learn about Him and His commandments in the New Testament. Start reading in the book of Matthew, the first of four accounts of the life of Jesus at the beginning of the New Testament.

If you have decided to put your faith in Jesus for your Salvation, then you will want to read about Him and know all about Him.

The Lord is your shepherd, but only if you are one of His sheep!

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." (Romans 8:1)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never thought of that!