Thoughts about salvation

I’d like to start by stating categorically that Christ alone can take our sins upon Himself and create us anew. There is nothing we can do, by ourselves, that can save us at the day of judgment. We are only saved by the blood that Jesus shed for us, as the symbolic sin offering. The ministry of Jesus Christ on this earth was about helping people understand that the bonds of sin are breakable. God is forgiving, as long as we submit ourselves to His will. He gives each and every one of us the freedom to choose our own way. At the same time, He tells us which way is the right way, and which is the wrong way. It is up to us to choose the right way, and follow it without straying. Following the right way is our act of submission to God.

In Canada, there are thousands of laws in the Criminal Code, and as residents of this nation, we must follow its laws. The Bible states in Romans 13:1-5 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” There are many other references in God’s Word that we should strive to keep the laws of the land, and obey its rulers, as long as these laws do not contradict the law of God.

What I’m trying to say is that human legal codes tend to be quite complex, and this complexity is such a contrast to the Law of God, which is simple enough that a child may understand it. Yet, people seem to find it difficult to follow. Ten commands are the whole of God’s Law, compared to 282 in Hammurabi’s code, and who knows how many tens of thousands in the legal codes of today’s governments. Ten commands, yet we think that’s one too many. I want to segue from the discussion about laws into the question of salvation. It may not seem to have a relation, but I assure you, there is a link.

The question I’m talking about of course is, “are we saved by the grace of God, or are we saved by our works?”
I find this question very important, as I’m sure we all do, because it’s highly relevant to God’s Law. Once I am born again through baptism, do I keep on sinning? Let’s take a little detour first, and investigate what other people might say about this subject.

I have heard, in my previous church, that it is not necessary to keep the commandments of God, because the Law was “nailed to the cross”. Specifically, they were referring to Colossians 2:14: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross”
Those church members tried to convince me that this is referring to the commandments (ordinances). This was one of the main reasons I decided to leave that church, because it just didn’t make any sense. Why would Jesus tell us in John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments”, if He did not mean for us to keep all of the ten commandments?
The same pastor that said “the law was nailed to the cross” was the first to tell me that God doesn’t like liars, cheats, adulterers, idolaters, and all the others. I think that what he really meant to say was that the fourth commandment (Sabbath Law) is no longer applicable to us, but the other nine are just fine.

Let’s get back to our salvation question, now that we’ve established that the Law was not really “nailed to the cross”. Salvation really is by grace, and is freely given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. However, when we are baptized, and born anew in Jesus Christ, we must have a guide on how we should live our lives going forward, in order to bring glory to God. That guide, of course, is the Ten Commandments…all of them. As I mentioned earlier, in John 14:15, Jesus tells the disciples “if ye love me, keep my commandments”. We must keep the Law of God, which has been constant since the very first day of Creation, written down with the Finger of God, carried by the people of Israel in the Ark of the Covenant, and finally imprinted on our foreheads, our right hands, and our hearts. The Law of God is the Seal of God. The Law, and its observance, is the Mark of God upon us. The Mark means that we obey Yaweh, the Creator, that we accept the sacrifice of Jesus which made us new, and that we invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, to be an example onto the world.

Does keeping the law mean you are saved? No.
Keeping the law is a sign of obedience. We are compelled by the Holy Spirit to keep the law, but we don’t “have” to do it in order to be saved. It’s really a weird concept, not having to do something, yet doing it all the same. In that same line of thought, is it enough to declare “I believe in God”, or “I believe in Jesus” to the people around us? I don’t believe that is the case. In James 2:19, the writer states: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble”.
Satan and his angels know God, and they absolutely believe in His existence, yet do they obey His Law? Believing in something is not enough. In order to have part in the promises of God, we must also do as God commands.

In practice, this tends to have its ups and downs. How many of us are sinless? How many of us are blameless? The answer to the first question is none, yet the answer to the second question is all. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), yet we are “now reconciled in His fleshly body through death, in order to present [us] before Him holy and blameless beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:22).
So, each day, every one of us must confess our sins. This involves recognizing the sin, then presenting it to God to be burned away for ever. We must strive to never do that thing again, yet it is very unlikely we will succeed. We must find strength in this inevitability. Sin is not a measure of our weakness, but a measure of the strength of temptation. Repentance is then a measure of our power to recognize and admit to our sinful nature.
This power only comes through the blood of Christ. Please read Romans chapter 7, the whole chapter, to understand this dynamic in your own lives.

In these last days, Satan is singing a very sweet song to all believers and unbelievers alike. That song is just the same as it was in the beginning: “ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Many, including myself, listen to that sweet song of deception, and give in to temptation. People of God, don’t let that deceiver win the battle. Bring your sins to Jesus. Invite Him into your life and your home. Let him wash away the sins by His Blood, with which all our sins are absolved. Ask Him to send His angels to protect you, your family, and your house.

Furthermore, go out and preach the message of salvation to others. Talk with your friends, even those that are saved. Strengthen them by reading and studying the Word of God together. Talk with complete strangers when the Spirit moves you. “Be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The preaching of the Word of God only comes through practice, so go out and do it, follow Jesus, and He will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).

I’ll leave you with this musing regarding fishing, because I love to fish. The only way you can become fishermen (of fish) is to go out to the lake, with a rod, reel, and bait, and cast out. So go out to the waters of this world (the lake), with the Word of God (the rod), the patience of saints (the reel), and the message of salvation in Jesus Christ (bait). Cast out into the waters and make disciples of men, in the name of Jesus Christ.