By Roland W. Keith
What is God’s plan to save man? And, why bother saving him at all, considering his attitude and actions? The answer to the second question is answered by Jesus in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (also, Romans 5:8, ESV). The Father sent His Son to earth to redeem mankind, and the Son came to do His Fathers bidding, of His Own free will. He came to earth to fulfill the Law and Prophets, to live a life of perfect obedience to His Father and then at the appropriate time to lay His perfect life down in propitiation for the sins of imperfect man.
When Christ rose from the grave in victory He made it possible for man to be reconciled to God through His blood. As Paul told the Colossians, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14; also, Acts 20:28). His victory over death made it possible for God to put into action the rest of His plan to save man. A plan that is based on the gospel.
Paul told the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16; also, James 1:21). The power of God’s plan is based on the truth of the gospel, which is the story of Jesus— Who He is, what He accomplished, and what must be done for man to find reconciliation with God. In the gospel accounts Jesus made it clear that the offer of salvation has been extended to all men, saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30; also Romans 1:16; Revelation 22:17). To be saved we must believe the gospel and come to Christ.
As Paul explained to the Romans:
For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10: 13-15, 17).
To ensure that men everywhere would hear the gospel and be given a chance to accept Christ Jesus gave His followers directions that have become known as the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16). We, as Christians, have been tasked with carrying God’s word out into the world and giving our fellow man the opportunity of knowing Jesus Christ. Those who hear the word and accept it are likened to a wise man, those who reject God’s word are likened to a foolish man (Matthew 7:24-27). When we hear the word of God each of us must decide for ourselves what we will do with it.
Many will believe, but many others will reject the truth. However, even among those who believe, not all will have the faith they need to do the will of God. Under Moses the Israelites knew God existed, but demonstrated unbelief in not trusting Him to fulfill His promises (Hebrews 3:7-15). To receive the reward of heaven we must trust God. As Paul wrote, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6; also, John 20:30-31). Once we have determined that the gospel is true we must be willing to confess Christ as Savior: “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10; also Matthew 10:32-33).
After we have confessed Christ we must also repent of, or turn away from, our sins, as Jesus said, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3; also Acts 3:19; 17:30). Upon confession we must then submit to baptism. This step is a point of contention for many who seek God, however, in response to the crowd’s question on the Day of Pentecost: “Brothers what shall we do?” Peter response is definitive: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This is the same instruction that Ananias gave to Paul, who had sat and prayed for three days without having his sins forgiven or being saved: “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16; also Mark 16:16; I Peter 3:21). So, what is the result of both believing and being baptized? Luke wrote, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41, also 2:47).
To be saved we must hear the word of God. We must believe it and respond to it by coming forward to confess Christ before man (Matthew 10:32-33). We must repent of our sins and turn from our sinful lives. We must submit to baptism to have our sins forgiven. At this point we are added to the body of Christ (Acts 2:41; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; I Corinthians 12:13). After all this there is something more we must do— we must remain faithful to the end (Matthew 10:22; also, Revelation 2:10). For those who are faithful throughout life there is the reward of a place in heaven (Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 10:35; II Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.