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Let us pray.
Holy Spirit, we say thank you for this opportunity, privilege, and grace to gather and learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ask you to open our eyes to see beyond the words and letters and open our ears to fully hear what you are saying to us and soften our hearts to receive and understand your teachings. We ask that we will not just understand it but we will abide in it, practice it and run swiftly with it and believe in it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
What is salvation?
Salvation simply means the process of being saved. Being delivered or redeemed.
Specifically, salvation in regards to a Christian refers to being saved from sin and its penalty of death by faith/belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Why is salvation important? Why should I get saved?
Roll with me as we find out.
All have sinned
The book of Romans is a must-read for every Christian. The whole Bible is a must-read. But I want to appeal to you to read the book of Romans. You will thank me later.
Romans 1: 1-5 (NLT)
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News (gospel). 2 God promised this Good News (gospel) long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. 3 The Good News (gospel) is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul began the book of Romans by letting us know that the good news is about Jesus Christ, God’s son (Romans 1: 2-3). He tells us that the good news is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1: 16). He tells us that the good news also reveals God’s faithful righteousness (Romans 1:17). God always does what is right and Just and he is faithful to fulfill all his promises. The gospel shows how God has been faithful and righteous.
You see God is all faithful, righteous and awesome but we humans haven’t been. We’ve been bad. So bad. We have sinned. All sorts of sin such as idolatry, gossips, homosexuality, adultery, lying, ungratefulness, etc. We have dishonored God and exchanged the truth about him for a lie (Romans 1:25). All of mankind was trapped by sin and guilty before the righteous judge. All of mankind, both Jews and gentiles alike were sinful.
The Jews thought they were perfect. They thought by obeying God’s written law they were sinless. The considered the gentiles to be sinful people and they judged them. But no, the Jews were just as bad as the gentiles despite having the law and the gentiles didn’t. But not having the law does not give the gentiles an excuse for sinning or not knowing any better.
Romans 2: 12-29 emphasis added
“The gentiles who sin without the law will perish without the law. The Jews who sin within the law will perish under/within the law. For it is not by hearing that someone becomes righteous, it is by doing what the law commands. So even the gentiles that do not have the law naturally obey the law sometimes because the law is written in their hearts. They might not have the written law, but they have a conscience. And their conscience lets them know right from wrong. So, no excuses. Whether a Jew or a gentile. All have sinned. With or without the law and will perish with or without it.
If the Jews still think they are better off than the gentiles, they ought to know that they are not. The Jews who rely on the law and boast in God because they have his laws and consider themselves a guide for the blind (gentiles) and instructor for the foolish, actually preach what they do not live. The Jews continue to scream and preach about circumcision, but it is useless. For circumcision is only useful and has value if only we truly observe the law. But when the Jews break the law, what exactly is there a difference between you and the uncircumcised gentiles? Nothing! Just some unkept laws and cut flesh.
So tell me, if the uncircumcised gentiles keep the law requirements unknowingly, is that not enough to treat them like they are circumcised? I think you can agree with me that it is okay that someone who is not circumcised (physically) but keeps the law will condemn the Jew who has both the law and are circumcised but yet, a lawbreaker.
So, let’s make this clear. You are not a true Jew just because you are born as one or you were circumcised physically. A true Jew is a Jew inwardly. And he is circumcised at heart by the Holy Spirit, not by the law. A CONTRITE HEART. Not a cut flesh. Is what God desires.”
The point I am trying to make with all that scripture is that all have sinned. Paul is telling us that whether you are a Jew (a direct descendant of Abraham) or a Gentile (not from the descendant of Abraham) all are trapped and under the power of sin. All are sinners. The Jews had the law and the gentiles didn’t (but had their conscience), ALL are sinners regardless. No excuses.
As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3: 10:18).
The law magnifies our sins and unrighteousness.
“So now you see that no one can ever be righteous before GOD by keeping the law. Because no one can fully keep the law. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them. The law serves only to make us see that we are sinners. It makes us ever conscious of our sins (Romans 3:20 emphasis added).
A New Way
Again, why is this significant? Why is it significant that you know that all have sinned?
Because sin makes us unrighteous in God’s sight, drives us apart from God and withholds us from all the good things and plans that he has for us. And having God’s written law is not a solution. It cannot restore us to God. The law cannot make us right.
But God knew that.
So, he has predestined and shown us a new way of being right before him. Even the law and prophets testified about this “new” way long ago in the old testaments. So we can’t really say its totally new.
It’s a new way to God that is not achieved by “being good enough” or trying to keep his laws.
This new way of righteousness is given through FAITH in Jesus Christ to ALL who BELIEVES.
This new way makes no difference between the JEW and the GENTILE
Because all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
So all are equally and freely justified by God’s GRACE through the REDEMPTION that came by Jesus Christ.
God gave Jesus as the atonement sacrifice through the shedding of his blood which we must receive by FAITH (Romans 3:21-25 emphasis added).
Before we talk even more about this new way which by now if you can tell is the Gospel. The gospel is about Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the good news.
Again, before we dive deeper into what the gospel is all about. I will like to share with you a very iconic conversation Jesus had with a significant man in John chapter 3.
When salvation is mentioned, many stories, scenarios, and statements in the scriptures (especially in the new testament) come to mind. But John chapter 3: 1-21, I believe has the greatest impact. Jesus Christ himself explains salvation to us in this chapter in his conversation with Nicodemus.
Let’s read John 3 together and I will be making a few commentaries as we read.
“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Jesus’s response to this man was unexpected but extremely necessary. Jesus did not give him the response he wanted but the response he needed. Jesus told him that he must be born again to see the kingdom of God. We can also say it this way, “Except a man is saved he cannot see the kingdom of God, or unless a man is a Christian, he cannot see the kingdom of God, or except a man is a believer of Christ Jesus, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was a pharisee, a strict observer of the law of Moses. Jesus is telling this man who is supposedly “righteous” that he must be born again to see the kingdom of God. This is a message to us also. Our obedience of the law does not make us righteous neither will we see the kingdom of God because we obey the law as aforementioned. Our “self-righteousness or association or membership of a religious gathering” does not guarantee that we will see the kingdom of God. The only thing that GUARANTEES us to see and be in the kingdom of God is being BORN AGAN, BEING SAVED, BEING A BELIEVER, BEING A CHRISTIAN.
So you must be wondering, how then do I get born again? How do I get saved? How do I become a believer or a Christian? Nicodemus asked the same question to Jesus.
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
I can really relate to Nicodemus in his response. He asked Jesus, “I am an old man, so how on earth do I become born again, do I enter my mama’s tummy again?”
But Jesus told him that, “No, you don’t need to enter into mama’s womb again because mama is flesh and blood. To be born of her again is simply to be flesh again with a dead spirit again. I need you to be born of the spirit. People who are born of the Spirit are submitted and led by the Spirit and people who are born of the flesh are hostile to God, they do not submit (Romans 8:7). So, Nicodemus, you need to be born again of the Spirit. You need to be saved to enter into the kingdom of God.”
This shows us that salvation (us being saved, born again, being believers or Christians) is deeply connected to our eternal life. We can’t be citizens of heaven without being saved/born again in the spirit.
Your salvation is deeply connected to your eternal life.
The first time you were born, you were born of flesh and blood with a dead spirit into a spiritually dead world filled with sin. This is why you must become born of the Spirit so your spirit can be alive. The new birth is required for you to be made ALIVE in Christ.
Ephesians 2: 1 – 6 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, … But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.”
What an Amazing Grace!
The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15: 50 (AMP), “ Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal).”
Our flesh is perishable, it has a limited time and cannot inherit the kingdom of God which will last forever. So, to inherit the kingdom of God you must have something imperishable, which is your Spirit. Your spirit must be awakened from its dead state in sin and made alive in Christ Jesus.
Let’s continue reading John 3
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Jesus chastised Nicodemus about his ignorance despite being a Jew (one who has the written laws of God), an Israelites, a pharisee and a teacher. He ought to be familiar with the prophecies regarding Jesus that was made by the old prophets but he isn’t. Also, as a teacher, he appears to seriously be lacking in understanding.
“We speak of what we know, we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.”
Here Jesus could either be speaking about his witness of the Father.
John 3: 13 says, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”
John 6:46 says the same, “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.”
Only Jesus has seen the Father and bears witness of what he knows and has seen about the Father. Yet, many did not accept his testimony.
Jesus could also be speaking about what was going to happen as his disciples would go around witnessing the good news after his death, resurrection, and ascension. Being a witness simply means saying what we’ve heard and seen. But many will still not believe even as many have refused to believe till today.
John 3:14 – Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Just as Moses lifted up a bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness when the Israelites were beaten by snakes because they spoke against God and Moses despite how he delivered them from slavery. The Israelites cried out unto God for forgiveness and God told Moses to create a snake and lift it up on a pole and when the snake-beaten Israelites looked up to the lifted snake, they were healed and lived (See Numbers 21: 1-8). The lifted bronze snake was a shadow of the reality of Jesus being lifted up on the cross. We as sinners have been beaten and deceived by the serpent, we have fallen short of God’s glory and are dead in sin. For our sake, Jesus must and was lifted up on the cross so that everyone who looks to him and believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.
Jesus was using stories in the scriptures (old testament), shadows to explain true realities to Nicodemus.
This encounter with Nicodemus on that faithful night was recorded in the Bible for us because many of us have questions just like Nicodemus. The Lord has been doing some tugging on our hearts and we have questions about being born again (Salvation) and why it is important.
We will continue and conclude the reading of John 3 from vs 16-21 in the later in the series.
But again, why is salvation important?
Based on Jesus’s response to Nicodemus, salvation is important because “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” No one can have a true and eternal relationship with God unless they are born again. And we must be born again because we are dead in sin. A man who is not born again is spiritually dead and perishable.
And what is dead cannot inherit the kingdom of God because he is the God of the living.
Our dead spirit in sin must be awakened and made alive in Christ Jesus, who is the NEW & ONLY WAY to be made right with God.
Your salvation is important for your eternal life.
Everybody in this world must be born again in Christ Jesus to see the kingdom of heaven.
So as Jesus said to Nicodemus on that day, he is saying the same to you, “Truly I tell you, unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God.”
In the next part, we will look at, “What is the gospel and subsequently, how to be born again (saved).”
God bless you.
You are eternally loved.