What the Bible Teaches About Salvation

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The Bible’s Most Important Theme

One of the most important themes of the entire Bible is the doctrine (teaching) about salvation.

  • Just three chapters into the Bible, men and women are in need of a Saviour to deliver them from the curse and the consequences of sin.
  • Shortly after the first sin, God gave a wonderful promise to send a Saviour, “the seed of the woman” to come and bruise the head of the serpent that tempted man to sin.
  • And from the time up until the birth of Christ, man was waiting and looking for one who would rescue (save) him from the curse and the effect of sin.
  • Even now, there is hard-wired in all of us the desire for a Saviour. This is seen in everything from the latest political movement to so many films and movie plot lines. 
  • Everyone is “preaching” the latest means of “salvation” whether it be education, healthy eating, space exploration, socialism, etc.
  • As we look into the Bible, we see that all of man’s attempts to save himself have never worked (kinda self-defeating logic), but that God who is both able and willing designed a plan of salvation even before the problem came about whereby he could deliver man from.

In this post, we will look briefly about what the Bible teaches about this important doctrine as summed up in Romans 3:21-31.

  • This really is no more important subject for us to consider.
  • Salvation is about rescue and deliverance from the power and effect of sin.
  • It is important because it is how people who are lost, who are perishing, who cannot help themselves, can escape from the consequences and curse of their sin.
  • It is also very important because there is only one means of salvation – not many. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
  • So, we need to make sure that we understand 1) why we need salvation, 2) what salvation is, and 3) how we can be saved as well.

I. God’s salvation is for the unrighteous (v.21). [The Who of Salvation]

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

“But now” 

  • Romans is written almost as a legal defence of God’s dealings with men.
  • It show the righteousness of God in allowing “the just to live by faith” (1:17)
  • From Romans 1:18-3:20, God shows that no one is righteous based on their own merit, their own goodness.
  • Romans 8:9-20 sums up this argument. 9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
  • v.19-20 The whole purpose of God’s law (summed up in 10 commandments) was:
    • to show those who have the law that they have broken God’s law
    • to stop their mouths from protesting about their goodness
    • to show that all the world is guilty before God
    • to show that no flesh (no person) is going to be able to stand before God righteously based on keeping the law
    • all the law does is help us know that we are sinners

“the righteousness of God without the law”

  • When measured up to God’s personal infinite righteousness, man falls far short and the law points this out very clearly.
  • So, now we get to a different kind of righteousness – a righteousness that comes without the law.
  • This is a type of righteousness that man can have even though he has not and cannot keep the law.
  • It is a type of righteousness that we can have even though we have done wrong and broken many, many laws and stand completely guilt before God.

“is manifest”

  • Manifested = to make clear or to reveal
  • No doubt this is a reference to Jesus Christ who came into the world
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-11 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who 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, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 

“being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”

  • “the law and the prophets” is a way to refer to the entire Old Testament.
  • All through the Old Testament there are many pictures and prophecies that point to the one who will come and take the sins of the world.
  • In Romans 4 give us a couple OT examples: Abraham (v.3), David (v.6).
  • John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

APPLICATION – NOT FOR “GOOD” PEOPLE

  • What we need to understand that this whole plan of salvation is not for the good people, because no such creature exists. There are no good people by God’s standards.
  • This salvation is for those who know they don’t measure up, who stand guilty before God.
  • I don’t know about you, but I know my own life, my own heart.
  • I would not anyone prying too deeply into my thoughts or into my past.
  • I am not righteous by any standards, certainly not by God’s standards.
  • So I am very glad that there is way to be saved apart from deserving it.

ILLUSTRATION: FIRE BRIGADE

  • Imagine the fire brigade showed up and tried to rescue us from a fire we did not know about. We’d have to be informed of the fire first before we’d let them drench the building.
  • Finding out about the fire, we would beg them to come and put it out.
  • In the same way, we have to first understand we are in trouble, we need help before we will accept the help of a Saviour, a rescuer, a deliverer.

II. God’s salvation makes righteous all who believe on Jesus (v.22). [The Goal of Salvation]

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

“Even the righteousness of God”

  • Righteousness = “the state or condition of perfectly conforming to God’s perfect law and holy character.”
  • What is so great is that this righteous which is without the law is given to the unrighteous person and it makes them righteous.
  • God does not just overlook man’s unrighteousness; rather He transforms the unrighteous person – making them legally, practically, and eventually totally free rom sin.

“which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”

  • The way we can receive this gift of righteousness from God is by faith of Jesus Christ.
  • When we accept Jesus Christ as God’s chosen Saviour and Deliverer who came from God and was God and we trust in Him and what He did on the cross, we are made righteous in the sight of God.
  • Anyone and everyone who believes will have this righteousness come unto and upon them. 
  • There is no difference. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, you too can have this great righteousness given to you if you will just accept Jesus Christ and believe on Him!

APPLICATION – COMPLETELY NEW IN EVERY WAY

  • Religion only dresses man up and helps him to look and act a bit better.
  • Man’s salvation only try to reform man and help him live not quite so bad.
  • God’s salvation totally changes us. It give us a new legal standing before God. It gives us a new inner power to change the way we live. And it promises to take us out of this world, to give us a new body, and to take us to a place where will be no more unrighteousness.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

III. God’s salvation is essential because none of us are good enough (v.23). [The Why of Salvation]

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

  • The reason we need this type of salvation, this type of righteousness given to us is because we can’t earn it.

We are sinners by nature – we have all sinned by virtue of being human.

  • It is our nature to sin. It was given to us by our father, who got it from his father, who ultimately got it from Adam.
  • Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
  • Ps 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.

We are sinners by choice – we keep on falling short of God’s righteous standards.

  • We have sinned in the past, but we continue to sin in the present.
  • We continue to “come short” of the glory (splendour) of God
  • We are not judged based on man’s standards; we are judged based on God’s standards.
  • EXAMPLE: Cooking show – big difference between normal people’s standards and Michelin chef’s standards.

APPLICATION – The reason God offers righteous that comes to us through faith is because we are all sinners who can’t earn it any other way.

IV. God’s salvation is free because Jesus died on the cross (v.24-26).  [The How of Salvation]

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

  • Justified = a legal declaration of righteousness as a result of God’s imputing (giving) to believer’s Christ’s righteousness, provided by God’s grace and received through faith.
  • This justification (declared righteousness) is free! Nothing we have or can do or pay for it. Can’t live for it. Can’t pray for it. Can’t work for it. Can’t go to church for it. Can’t give money for it. Can change for it. Nothing!

How can it be free? 

  • It is not that it is of no value or don’t cost anything.
  • It is just that it has already been paid for it.
  • It was pay for by Jesus Christ on the cross.
  • Redemption = paying the price of freedom
  • On the cross Jesus died and shed His blood to pay for our sin and to purchase our salvation. 1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

By his grace”

  • This is how salvation can be offered freely – because it is already paid.
  • It does not need paid for twice – Christ already paid for all your sins.

Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

  • Jesus Christ, the One who is both the eternal Son of God and fully man, was publicly “set forth” by God as a propitiation.
  • Propitiation = atoning sacrifice, also translated as “mercy seat” (Heb 9:25)
  • Jesus is the eternal atoning sacrificial lamb that God provided who satisfied God’s righteous demand and makes atonement for us.
  • When we trust in Him and His shed blood, God can righteously forgive our sins and God is shown to be righteous in how He forgave the sins and was patient with sinners in the past.
  • All other sacrifices pointed to this one sacrifice on the cross. And based on that one sacrifice, all people past, present, and future can and will be forgiven. Hebrews 10:10-14 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

  • Again, we find the emphasis on God’s righteousness.
  • God is not unrighteous (corrupt) when he justified the unrighteous person – because their sin was already paid for through the death of Jesus, an eternal, infinite, innocent man.
  • The cross is how God can be just when He justifies all those unrighteous people who believe on Jesus!
  • God’s salvation is an amazing plan that both just (satisfied the payment for man’s sin) and gracious (allows guilty sinners to be justified).

V. God’ salvation has nothing to do with anything that we do (v.27-28). [The Wrong Way to Accept Salvation]

Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

  • So the questions is then, if God’s salvation is 1) for the unrighteous, 2) makes unrighteous men who believe Him righteous, 3) because we are all sinners, and 4) based on Christ’s death on the cross, then…
  • There is nothing that we can boast about.
    • We are unrighteous sinners who cannot save ourselves.
    • We cannot add one ounce of goodness or merit to our salvation.
    • We just accept it freely through believing on Jesus.
  • God’s plan of salvation excludes (shuts out) all boasting.
    • Does law keeping or works help? No
    • Only the law of faith – that we must believe and must trust Him.

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

  • The conclusion is that all men are justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Stop thinking you can save yourself or right your wrongs with some kind of good living.
  • Luke 18:9–14  9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
  • Humble yourself and realise that you are not good, will never been good on your own, and ask for help.
  • As long as you think you are good, that you are okay, that you don’t need salvation, you will not be saved (abased). But if you humbly cry out to God in faith, He will save (exalt) you.

VI. God’s salvation is freely given to all who believe on Jesus (v.29-31). [The Right Way to Accept Salvation]

Romans 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

  • The self-righteous Jews though they had a corner on God, that they were the only ones whom God loved and whom God was impressed with.
  • No, God is not just the God of the Jews. He is the God of the Gentiles.
  • This one God (that all Jews claimed to believe in – “Here, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord”) is the same one God who justified (makes righteous) the circumcision (Jews) by faith and the uncircumcision (non-Jews) by faith.
  • And this whole plan of God does not make the law void (invalid); on the contrary (God forbid!), it establishes the entire purpose of the law – to cause men to see that they are sinners and their only hope is to cry out to God in faith and to believe on Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
  • Salvation can be yours. This righteous can be yours. God can be your God. Just believe!
  • Acts 16:30-31 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

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