God’s Plan For Salvation

God wishes for all of His children to know Him and to be saved. This page will show you the path God has intended for His children to follow to be saved. It includes: Hear, Believe, Confess, Repent, be Baptized, and Obey and Develop. Let us discuss each point, and please feel free to follow the links in each section to see lessons on God’s plan for salvation.

1. Hear the Word of God.

In order to obey and follow God, you must hear about Him.

How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

2. Believe in Jesus Christ and the good news.

In order to be saved and in good standing in the eyes of the Lord, you must believe in Him and His Son.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Will Belief Alone Save?

And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house,” (Acts 16:31).

The Bible teaches us very clearly that belief is a very important and foundational aspect of our walk with God. There are many, however, who hold to the position that all one needs to do is believe and they will be saved. Maybe you hold to this, or perhaps you have heard it spoken at a church you’ve attended or from your friends. But is it true? Does one need only to believe to be saved?

It is important to first consider what is meant by “belief”. To many, belief is simply giving mental approval to a statement being true. To many people, saying “I believe in Jesus Christ” means as much to them as saying “I believe that 2+2=4”. They accept that the statement is true, but go no further than that.

According to the Bible, even demons believe, and shudder (James 2:19). Demons surely know that Jesus is the Christ, and yet no one believes that they will be saved by that belief!

Be not deceived: Jesus demands more than simple mental agreement to the proposition that He is the Christ.

Another definition of belief is to have confidence in the object of the belief. We use this idea frequently: “I believe in his ability,” for instance. Our belief in Jesus as the Christ requires us to have confidence in the person of Jesus and His claim of being the Savior of mankind (John 3:16). Therefore, we are to not only accept the proposition that Jesus is the Christ, but also have full confidence in Him.

But is that all that is necessary to be saved? As we explore the New Testament, we can see quickly that this is not the case. People who come to faith– to have belief– in Jesus Christ change their lives. This is the demand of repentance (Acts 2:38): to make a change of mind and to act upon it. In Romans 6:17-18, we see that those who believe in Jesus Christ by necessity become obedient to His standard of teaching. We see the changes in people like Peter, Paul, Apollos, and many others, and the changes begin with believing and then acting on that belief.

Indeed, we must believe that Jesus is the Christ, and place our confidence in Him. Without that belief we cannot be saved. Nevertheless, there is more to belief than simple acceptance of a proposition and confidence in the one believed upon; Christ calls upon those who believe in Him to change their lives. Those who believe are called upon to be obedient servants of God (cf. Romans 1:5, 6:17-18), and that obedience begins with confessing Jesus as Christ, repenting of sin, and being immersed in water for the remission of past sin (Romans 10:9-10, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21). Obedience continues through life, growing and developing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18).

What does God say about the fate of those who believe but do not obey? 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 characterizes those who do not obey the Gospel of Jesus in the same category as those who do not even know God! Furthermore, Jesus says that He does not know such people, and that on the last day they will be cast out (Matthew 7:21-23). We do not want that fate for anyone, and we especially do not want that fate for you. We encourage you to consider becoming obedient to Christ Jesus and to gain the salvation that flows from Him!

3. Confess before men that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

If you confess Him, He will confess you before the Father:

“Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will confess him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32)

Confessing Christ

As you drive down the road, you are often confronted with cars that have a fish symbol on the back or a sticker saying “Jesus is Lord” on it. Such things show that the inhabitant of the vehicle, more likely than not, believes that Jesus is Lord in some way or another, and probably believes that indicating so on the back of his car partly indicates his salvation per 1 Corinthians 12:3. What, however, is involved in confessing Jesus as the Christ?

Indeed, a major part of confession is the verbal confirmation before witnesses that one believes that Jesus is the Christ, as seen in Romans 10:9:

Because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Examples of confession include Jesus’ own confession before Pilate and the confession of Timothy before witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12-13).

Nevertheless, confession is not simply something done in a comfortable environment around God’s people, but also to be done even in difficult circumstances. Peter’s great sin in Matthew 26:69-79 is denying that he was with Christ and was a disciple of Him when faced with accusers, having beforehand sworn that he would never do such a thing (Matthew 26:33). As it is written,

“Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 10:32-33).

Confession, however, is not just about what one says. If we confess Jesus as Lord only by mouth, and not by how we live our lives, our testimony is hypocritical and false and leads to blaspheming and reviling, and not as is written in 1 Peter 2:11-12:

Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

A Christian who does not obey from the heart the standard of teaching to which he is committed (cf. Romans 6:16-18) is not pleasing to God. In many ways, a life lived represents a far greater witness and testimony than mere words spoken. Anyone can recognize a hypocrite; one who lives as he professes, however, will at least be heard and respected. So it is in spiritual matters: confessing Christ by mouth alone is vanity, but confession in word and deed is most pleasing in the sight of God (cf. 1 John 4:15).

Confession of Christ should be far more than a bumper sticker or a fish icon on the back of a car, but a constant part of one’s life, both in word and deed. The life that confesses Christ will remain for all eternity. Are you willing to truly confess Jesus as Lord, and make Him the Lord of your life, and serve Him only and always?

4. Repent of the sins you have committed.

God will forgive you only if you feel truly sorry for the sins you have committed, determine to sin no more, and follow through with your commitment!

And Peter said, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Godly Repentance

From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (Matthew 4:17).

The Scriptures make it very clear that God has called all persons everywhere to repent (cf. Acts 17:30). What does it mean to repent? Why is repentance so important in Christianity? Let us explore these questions now.

In English, “to repent” is “to feel sorrow, regret,” according to Webster’s dictionary. When one has an attitude of repentance, one expresses great sorrow for what one has done. This is certainly one aspect of Biblical repentance, but the idea of repentance in the Bible goes further than simple sorrow.

The Greek term that is often translated as “to repent” is metanoeo, defined by Thayer’s Greek Lexicon as “to change one’s mind, to change one’s mind for the better”. Sorrow, then, will certainly be part of repentance, but the Bible demands not just a display of sorrow but the mental determination to do better.

The importance of true and godly repentance can be seen in the contrasting examples of Acts 2 and Acts 7. In both Acts 2 and Acts 7, the Gospel is preached to a group of Jews (Acts 2:16-36, Acts 7:2-53). In both Acts 2 and Acts 7, the Jews were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37, Acts 7:54). In Acts 2, however, the Jews responded by asking what they were to do because of what they had done, and therefore became obedient servants of God (Acts 2:37-47), while in Acts 7, the Jews responded in great anger and ended up stoning Stephen (Acts 7:53-60). The Jews in Acts 2 were repentant; the Jews in Acts 7 were just angry. Paul contrasts this “godly repentance” from “worldly sorrow” in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11:

For though I made you sorry with my epistle, I do not regret it: though I did regret it (for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season), I now rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly sort, that ye might suffer loss by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold, this selfsame thing, that ye were made sorry after a godly sort, what earnest care it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what longing, yea what zeal, yea what avenging! In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter.

When we repent in a godly way, we realize that we have done wrong and we need to humble ourselves and seek God’s path (Romans 6:16-18). We realize that following our own way leads to death (Romans 6:23, Proverbs 14:12). When we repent, we determine to change the way we think, with the goal of taking every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We cannot think that we can just change our actions and such is enough; if we do not change our mind, our actions will not truly change. When we change how we think, our actions will follow (cf. Matthew 12:34).

Repentance is a major part of ceasing to serve sin and self and turning to serve Christ and gain eternal life. Repentance is critical if we are going to be “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). Let us repent and bear fruit keeping with repentance!

6. Be baptized in Christ to walk in newness of life.

You must immerse the body in sin so that it may rise, clothed in Christ.

‘And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).

What the Bible Says About Baptism

And Peter said unto them,” Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38).

While the Bible’s teachings regarding baptism are not difficult to understand, many times the doctrines of men have confused the issue and have left many people in the dark. Let us consider what the Bible says about baptism.

Baptism is immersion. The Greek word transliterated into English as “baptism” is baptizo, and it means quite literally “to immerse”. This is made manifest in Acts 8:38-39, where Philip and the eunuch “go down” into the water and “come up” from the water. The Bible makes no mention of baptism as sprinkling or pouring, and the idea of “modes” of baptism makes no sense; how can there be “modes” of immersion?

Baptisms in the New Testament are for the purpose of the remission of sin. Not only does baptism mean immersion, the Greek word does not only refer to a religious event: any kind of immersion is a “baptism” of sorts. This is important to recognize, for it means that there can be many purposes for immersion. One can be immersed to be physically cleansed (cf. 1 Peter 3:21), or to join a church, or to make a public profession. The Bible gives one clear purpose for baptism: the remission of sin (Acts 2:38). If we are immersed for a different reason, we should not expect that immersion to have the result of cleansing from sin.

Baptism is in water, but is not about the water. It is manifest from Acts 8:36-39, Acts 10:47-48, and Acts 19:1-9 that baptism was done in water. The “baptism of the Spirit” occurred on two occasions, the day of Pentecost and when Peter preached to Cornelius (Acts 1:4-5, Acts 2:1-15; Acts 10:43-46, Acts 11:15-17), and is not seen at any other occasion. The “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5, therefore, is manifestly immersion in water for the remission of sin. Nevertheless, baptism is not about water: it is about the one being baptized submitting to God and appealing for cleansing through the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 3:21). As we have seen previously, to be immersed in water for any other reason than the remission of sin is just getting wet!

Baptism is the only means described in the New Testament of obtaining the remission of sin, and is necessary for salvation. While the Bible speaks often regarding the believer receiving forgiveness of sins on account of Jesus’ blood (Romans 5:9, Ephesians 1:7, etc.), the Bible only describes in one place exactly how we come into contact with that blood: baptism (Acts 2:38). Without baptism, there is no guarantee of remission of past sin, and it is that sin that separates us from God in the first place (Isaiah 59:1, Romans 3:23). When seen in this way, it is easy to understand why baptism is necessary for salvation, as established in Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-7, and 1 Peter 3:21.

Baptism is a type of death and resurrection. Paul, in Romans 6:3-7, establishes that baptism parallels the death and resurrection of Christ. As Jesus died and was raised on the third day, so we are baptized into His death, putting to death the man of sin, and rising from the waters of baptism a new creature, walking now in newness of life. If the Bible ever mentions a clear point of delineation between the life in sin and death and the life in righteousness and eternity, it is here and it is the point of baptism!

Baptism is the “antitype” to the Flood. In 1 Peter 3:20-21, Peter establishes that baptism is the “antitype,” a contrary or parallel type, to Noah and the flood in Genesis 6-9. We can establish the nature of the contrast: as Noah and his family were preserved by remaining on top of the water, and all who were underneath perished, so now those who go under the waters of baptism are saved, while those who would “remain dry” will be condemned.

I hope that you can now see what the Bible teaches about baptism. Please consider yourself in light of this message: were you immersed in water for the remission of your sins? If you were sprinkled as a baby, or if you were dipped or had water poured on you to join a church or to make a public profession, you have not been immersed in water for the remission of your sins. Consider the following Scriptures; are you willing to risk your soul on your “baptism,” if indeed you had anything so called? We are always open to studying with you and helping you be right with God!

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned,” (Mark 16:16).

Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?, (Romans 6:3).

And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus, (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

7. Obey from the heart the true teachings of God and develop in the faith, enduring to the end.

God wants us to obey what He has told us.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed (Romans 6:17).

The previous steps are only the beginning; salvation is only possible with faithfulness to God until death.

The Obedient Servant of Christ

When you think of salvation, what do you think about? Many times salvation is seen in terms of an instantaneous event, obtained at the point of conversion. While one enters into a saved state when they believe in the Lord Jesus, confess His name, repent of their sins, and are immersed in water for the remission of sin (Acts 16:31, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21), is that all? What comes after these things?

The plan of salvation does not end with baptism; if anything, that is when the plan of salvation begins. As Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3-5:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

While we obtain initial salvation at the point of conversion, we ought not think that salvation is complete at that point: our final salvation is waiting for us, to be revealed on the last day. How, then, shall we move from our initial salvation toward our final salvation? The Bible indicates that such is only possible by being an obedient servant of Christ.

It is not popular in American society to be described as an “obedient servant”. Americans pride themselves on being independent and mastered by no king or other such earthly ruler. While we may be free in terms of earthly authority, we are never truly free in spiritual matters. Paul indicates as much in Romans 6:16:

Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

The only choice we have in the matter is to whom we shall pledge ourselves: to God and His righteousness, and be saved, or to Satan and sin, and perish.

Salvation, then, is not gained in one moment and then held in perpetuity no matter what (cf. 2 Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26-31, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Salvation, indeed, is a process, the development of a man coming out of sin and heading toward maturity in Christ. Paul describes this process in terms of a race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain. And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating the air: but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

Whether we seek to look at it in terms of a growing relationship with God through Christ (1 John 1:3), a race to run (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), a path to walk (Matthew 7:13-14), or in some other way, the reality remains the same: if we desire to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10), we need to be obedient servants of Christ our Lord. Such was Paul’s goal for mankind (Romans 1:5), and we always seek to have in our association those who desire to serve God. Let us always remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:22:

“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”

ELDV

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