GOD’S GOOD NEWS
SALVATION! What is it? What is one saved from? How does one get saved? Is salvation really necessary? These questions seldom, if ever, receive answers that are compatible with God’s Word. Many people take the following approach to things ‘religious’: ‘I believe that religion is ok for some people, but personally I don’t have a need for it. I don’t see anything that wrong with my life. I work hard, I’m good to my wife/husband and the children. I’m not perfect but I’ve never killed anyone. I give to charity, and try my best to always be there when people need help. I’m quite content with my life and happy within myself, and to be honest, I think I’m just as moral as the next person—even a religious one’. Religion, far from offering salvation, weighs a person down with duties and ceremonies one must perform, along with a rigid set of rules one must conform to, in order to ‘get into God’s good books’. Religion places an impossible burden on people to change their lives, become moral, etc., so that one day they might become acceptable to God. But anybody can change their lifestyle, reform and become a ‘new person’ whether they get involved in religion or not! The true Christian Faith is not a religion, nor is it primarily a lifestyle. True Christianity is all about a message—God’s Message: the Gospel. This Gospel reveals the spiritual condition of man, and God’s only way of salvation. This chapter will briefly explain what salvation is, what a person needs to be saved from, how a person is saved and why salvation is so necessary—why YOU need it. In essence, we shall present the reader with God’s only Gospel: God’s Good News.
Salvation is deliverance. It means to be rescued or freed from a place of danger and brought to a place of safety. It also means to be preserved, to be kept. Salvation is God saving, or rescuing, a sinner from the eternal punishment due unto them, and transferring them to a state of eternal safety and security.
To find out why salvation is necessary, we need to familiarize ourselves with what God says about the spiritual condition of man. In the Book of Genesis we see the account of Adam and Eve. God made Adam and Eve perfect, free of sin, and gave them a beautiful garden to live in and enjoy, with wonderful trees providing succulent fruits. Their life was one of tranquil days of love, happiness, contentment and of peace with God. God said they could eat from any tree in the Garden, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Death, previously unknown, would enter their lives—not merely physical death, but also spiritual death. Adam and Eve did eat of the forbidden fruit, and death did enter their lives that very day, just as God had promised. Physically, they did not die immediately but the ageing process of decay and corruption, the breakdown of their physical bodies, did begin that day. However, they did immediately die spiritually. They were no longer acceptable to God, for they had become sinners and were unclean in His sight. This death, both physical and spiritual, has passed on to every person ever since: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men..." (Romans 5:12). This is because Adam, the first man, was made the representative of all mankind by God. As their representative, Adam’s sin was imputed (charged) to them, his descendants, the entire human race: "...by one man’s disobedience (the) many (that he represented) were made sinners..." (Romans 5:19). The fact that both you and I sin offers undeniable proof that we are sinners, and shows that we come from the sin seed which began with Adam. Just as a grass seed will only produce grass, so too, the sin seed will only ever produce sinners.
Most people readily admit that they are not perfect, but a source of comfort for many is that they see themselves as only ‘minor’ sinners. Most people’s assessment of themselves is, ‘I am basically a good person. I know I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not as bad as that person’. They judge themselves by comparing themselves with others, and according to this standard they judge themselves to be basically good people. But the reality of the situation is that we have all sinned against God: "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Man has missed the mark, or target, and as far as registering points with God goes—man isn’t even on the scoreboard! Almost everyone is under the impression that if they do their best then God will accept them, for what more can a person do than his best? But God says "...every man AT HIS BEST STATE is altogether vanity (unsatisfactory)" (Psalm 39:5). The best a man can do to recommend himself to God falls far short of the perfection which God demands: "...we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses (good deeds) are as filthy rags..." (Isaiah 64:6). Despite all of mans’ enthusiastic religious efforts, God says "...There is NONE righteous, no, not one: there is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God. They are ALL gone out of the way, they are together become UNPROFITABLE; there is NONE that doeth good, no, NOT ONE" (Romans 3:10-12). Quite a predicament isn’t it?
The standard by which we are to judge ourselves is the one that God has set: perfection—and, if we are honest, we will readily admit that we are imperfect. The Lord Jesus says: "...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law..." (Matthew 22:37-40). No one, not even the most religious person around, would dare say he has loved God perfectly, or his fellow man as himself. So we see then that, far from being guilty of only ‘minor sins’, we all stand guilty of the greatest sins. The concept of ‘minor’ sins is a false one in any case, for to break even one of God’s laws is to break the law as a whole: "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10), and God has made clear the penalty for sin: "…the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23).
Society often gets into an uproar when a judge lets a criminal off with just a warning, or hands down a light sentence. The judge that does this is perverting justice, he is not a just judge. When someone commits a crime, they should pay the full penalty that the law requires. While it is true that God is a God of love and mercy, it is of the utmost importance to note that He is also a Just God, a Just Judge. God declares of Himself: "...The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...WILL BY NO MEANS CLEAR THE GUILTY..." (Exodus 34:6,7) and "...there is no God else beside Me; a Just God and a Saviour..." (Isaiah 45:21). In order for God to save a sinner (someone who has broken His law) without perverting His justice, His law must be obeyed perfectly and His justice, which demands full payment for sin, must be satisfied. How was this accomplished?
God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. He was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the agency of God the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, did not carry within him the seed of sin. He did not descend from Adam and was, therefore, without sin and wholly acceptable to God. Just as Adam is a representative, so too is Christ. But while Adam is the representative of all mankind, Jesus Christ is the Representative of all those God gave Him—those whom God chose to save—through faith in His Gospel: "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto He called you by our Gospel..." (2 Thessalonians 2:13); "As Thou (the Father) hast given Him (the Son) power over all flesh, that He (the Son) should give eternal life to as many as Thou (the Father) hast given Him" (John 17:2). Being chosen by God for salvation was not something that was to be earned or could be merited, it was not to be a reward, but was solely according to God’s Will: "(God) hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9); "...He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world...Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Ephesians 1:4,5). Faith, like everything else pertaining to salvation, is a gift given by God, it does not originate within ourselves: "For by grace (unmerited favor) are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9), and this faith ALWAYS believes THE TRUE Gospel, never a false one (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13,14).
Jesus Christ is the Substitute of all those God chose to save. As their Substitute, He lived the life of perfect obedience to God’s law that none of them ever could, thus providing the obedience they needed to become right with God: "...by the obedience of ONE (Jesus) shall (the) many (those He represented) be made Righteous" (Romans 5:19). As their Substitute, He died and was resurrected, thus paying the penalty in full for their sins: "(Jesus) was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (acquittal)" (Romans 4:25). Jesus blotted out "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (those He represented)...and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross" (Colossians 2:13,14). God’s Word says that all the sins of those for whom Christ died were transferred to Him, and that His Righteousness would be charged to them: "For He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The imputation of Christ’s Righteousness is the only way that God can remain Just, and at the same time be the Justifier of sinners: "To declare, I say, at this time HIS Righteousness: that He might be Just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).
The belief that there are many religious paths one can travel, but that all lead to the same God, is a lie which deceives many, for not only do the various religions differ greatly in what they say about God and salvation, they often totally contradict each other. As there are many wrong answers that can be given to 2 + 2, there is only one correct answer, so too, there are many false gods and many false christs in religion’s supermarket, but there is only ONE TRUE God, there is only ONE TRUE Christ, and what you believe about God and about Jesus Christ will show whether you believe in the True, or in one of the many counterfeits which cannot save. God warns that many "...pray unto a god that CANNOT save" (Isaiah 45:20). Only ONE road leads to God: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). Religion, even that which professes to be Christian, claims to know what it is that man can do to ‘get right with God’. But we can tell you right now that their teachings about salvation are false, for they all teach that man must do something in order to get saved and/or stay saved. This is the identifying mark of religion’s false gospel. The word religion comes from the Latin word religare meaning to tie up, or to bind. Religion binds you to a system of laws and duties which must be obeyed if you are to see Heaven, and if disobeyed will condemn you to Hell. God declares in His Holy Word that man cannot do anything to get saved, that salvation is 100% God’s work from start to finish and that no one is saved who believes contrary to this. What better news could there possibly be for man than to learn that God, Who demands perfection, does not save sinners based on their imperfect efforts, but on the perfect obedience unto death (the Righteousness) of Jesus Christ. Please do not misunderstand. The Bible does not say that obedience is not necessary, that one can simply believe in Christ, and then live as one pleases. Obedience is very important in the life of a saved sinner, but that obedience is not what saved him, or keeps him saved!
What we have shared with you is, in a nutshell, the Gospel—God’s Good News. Only those who believe the Gospel, which reveals Christ’s Righteousness alone as that which saves sinners, and keeps them saved, will enter into Heaven with nothing to fear. Those who do not believe the Gospel shall be damned—condemned to Hell forever (see Mark 16:16), for their sins remain charged to them.
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth....for therein is the Righteousness of God revealed..." (Romans 1:16,17).
This article is also available in leaflet form. Also, the article is on the website in Italian. It is also available on request in the Philippino 'Tagalog' language.