Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes With Your Salvation

One of the core teachings of Christianity is that we need to have faith in order to be saved. But what kind of faith saves us?

In a previous study we discussed what it is we’re saved from. In this study we’re going to discuss how we know we’re saved.

To do this, we’re going to look at three examples of people in the Bible who mistakenly thought they were saved, see why they were wrong, and from that learn how we can know we’re saved.

Mistake #1 – Believing you’re saved because of your tradition

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.'” – John 8:42-44

Our first example comes from a heated exchange between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees — the religious leaders of their day. Jesus tells them that He speaks the words of His Father, while they speak the words of their father, the devil.

These religious people felt they were saved because of their bloodline and because of the traditions they followed. They felt these things made God their Father. Many people believe this today. They feel because they were raised in a Christian home, or because they attend a church, they’re saved.

But Jesus refutes this by saying, “If God were your Father, you would love me…” The requirement for being a child of God is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Notice two things:

1) Notice that Jesus says “you”. Not your parents, or friends or your church but “you”. No one can have a relationship on our behalf. You alone must put your trust in Him to be saved.

2) Notice that Jesus says “me”. It’s not where you were born, or what church you attend that makes you a child of God. It’s a belief and a trust that Christ came from the Father to pay for your sins (John 3:16). John 1:12 tells us that “all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Let’s look at our second example.

Mistake #2 – Believing you’re saved because of your behavior

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”- Luke 18:10-14

Our next example comes from a parable Jesus told. Here we find that the Pharisee thinks he’s saved because of his good behavior. This is probably the reason most people today believe they’re saved. Most people feel that they’ve lived good lives.

But Jesus refutes this by telling us that it’s not the Pharisee who is justified (declare innocent from sin), but the tax collector. To be justified Jesus tells us we must be humble about our condition. We must realize we’ve sinned and call on God to forgive us.

Notice two things:

1) Notice that the Pharisee compared his behavior to the tax collector.

2) Notice that the tax collector compared his behavior to God.

The tax collector did the right thing because Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It’s “the glory of God” that we fall short of. Our behavior is compared to God — not other people — and all of us fall short when held to this standard. But Romans 3:24 tells us that we can be saved because we’re “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s look at one final example.

Mistake #3 – Believing you’re saved because of your works or deeds

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matthew 7:21-23

In our final example we find Jesus talking about who will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Here we find people who believe they’re saved because of good works they do. Again this is something many people do today.

Jesus refutes this by saying that He won’t accept their works. As we mentioned in our last example, God’s glory is the standard we’re held to, and it’s perfect. So unless our offering is perfect, it falls short of His glory. When we try to offer good deeds to atone for our sins, God rejects that because the sacrifice is stained with sin, and falls short of His glory.

Jesus says that only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom. What is His will? “He commands all people everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30) What does it mean to repent? It means to turn from sin, to Christ.

Where our works are stained with sin and rejected, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is perfect and is accepted. When we repent and come to Christ to be our Savior it means we’re relying on His sacrifice to make peace with God on our behalf. When we do this God credits Christ’s perfection to us and we are justified.

How are we saved?

In this study we’ve looked at people who mistakenly thought they were saved because of their tradition, behavior or good works. Each example had one thing in common: Each tried to obtain salvation through their own strength and fell short.

God gives us salvation through His Son. Our salvation isn’t based on what we’ve done, it’s based on what Christ has done. We know we’re saved when we know we trust in Christ completely for our salvation.

Verses to remember

– “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8)

– “This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13)

– He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Heb 7:25)

The Death and Life of Jesus

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
– Isaiah 53:5

Pay attention, all families of the nations, and observe! An extraordinary murder has taken place in the center of Jerusalem, in the city devoted to God’s law, in the city of the Hebrews, in the city of the prophets, in the city thought of as just. And who has been murdered? And who is the murderer? I am ashamed to give the answer, but give it I must. For if this murder had taken place at night, or if he had been slain in a desert place, it would be well to keep silent; but it was in the middle of the main street, even in the center of the city, while all were looking on, that the unjust murder of this just person took place.

And thus he was lifted up upon the tree, and an inscription was affixed identifying the one who had been murdered. Who was he? It is painful to tell, but it is more dreadful not to tell. Therefore, hear and tremble because of him for whom the earth trembled.

The one who hung the earth in space, is himself hanged; the one who fixed the heavens in place, is himself impaled; the one who firmly fixed all things, is himself firmly fixed to the tree. The Lord is insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel has been destroyed by the right hand of Israel.

O frightful murder! O unheard of injustice! The Lord is disfigured and he is not deemed worthy of a cloak for his naked body, so that he might not be seen exposed. For this reason the stars turned and fled, and the day grew quite dark, in order to hide the naked person hanging on the tree, darkening not the body of the Lord, but the eyes of men.

Yes, even though the people did not tremble, the earth trembled instead; although the people were not afraid, the heavens grew frightened; although the people did not tear their garments, the angels tore theirs; although the people did not lament, the Lord thundered from heaven, and the most high uttered his voice.

But the Lord arose from the dead and mounted up to the heights of heaven. When the Lord had clothed himself with humanity, and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer, and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned, and had been judged for the sake of the condemned, and buried for the sake of the one who was buried,

He rose up from the dead, and cried aloud with this voice, “Who is he who contends with me? Let him stand in opposition to me. I set the condemned man free; I gave the dead man life; I raised up the one who had been entombed.”

“Who is my opponent? I,” he says, “am the Christ. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven, I,” he says, “am the Christ.”

“Therefore, come, all families of men, you who have been befouled with sins, and receive forgiveness for your sins. I am your forgiveness, I am the passover of your salvation, I am the lamb which was sacrificed for you, I am your ransom, I am your light, I am your saviour, I am your resurrection, I am your king, I am leading you up to the heights of heaven, I will show you the eternal Father, I will raise you up by my right hand.”

This is the one who made the heavens and the earth, and who in the beginning created man, who was proclaimed through the law and prophets, who became human via the virgin, who was hanged upon a tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from the dead, and who ascended to the heights of heaven, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who has authority to judge and to save everything, through whom the Father created everything from the beginning of the world to the end of the age.

This is the alpha and the omega. This is the beginning and the end–an indescribable beginning and an incomprehensible end. This is the Christ. This is the king. This is Jesus. This is the general. This is the Lord. This is the one who rose up from the dead. This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father, to whom be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

– Melito of Sardis

Is It Fair For Christ To Pay For Our Sins?

Is it fair for Christ, who was innocent, to be punished for our sins? Isn’t it unjust to punish someone who is innocent, even if he’s willing to be punished?

In order to understand how Christ’s atonement can be fair and just, we must first understand our relationship with Him.

We’re one with Christ. We’re united with Him. He willingly takes our sin and gives us His righteousness.

Imagine two companies. Company A agrees to purchase Company B, which has great debt that it can’t pay. When Company A buys Company B, they willingly agree to absorb their debt and pay it. Company B’s debt is legally transferred to Company A.

In the same way, Revelation 5:9 teaches that Christ has bought us…

“With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

And again in 1 Corinthians 7:23…

“You were bought at a price.”

When Christ purchases us, we become one with Him, and He willingly agrees to have our sin debt legally transferred to Himself. This is taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21…

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We’re so closely united to Christ that His death is our death and His resurrection is our resurrection. This beautiful promise is made in Romans 6:5…

“If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

If You Died Today

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:23-24

If you died today, and God asked you why He should let you into heaven, how would you answer Him?

If you answered “Because I went to church”, or “Because I did good deeds”, He would not let you in.

But if you answered “Because I have trusted in Jesus Christ to pay for my sins“, He would say “Welcome”.

Why?

It’s not that going to church or doing good deeds are bad. It’s just that they don’t have any ability to remove sin from our lives.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… (Rom 3:23)

God’s glory is perfect, and unless our sin offering is perfect, it falls short of His glory.

So when we try to offer going to church or our good deeds or anything else as payment for our sins God rejects them because the offering is corrupted by sin and falls short of His glory.

Then How Are We Saved?

…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Rom 3:24)

Where our sin offering is corrupted and rejected Christ’s sin offering on the cross was perfect and is accepted by God the Father.

When we call on Christ to be our Savior it means we’re relying on His sacrifice to make peace with God on our behalf.

When we do this God credits Christ’s perfection to us and we are justified, or declared innocent.

The Gospel Described In Two Words

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). (Eph 2:4-5)

“But God.”

With these two words we come to the introduction to the Christian message, the peculiar, specific message which the Christian faith has to offer to us.

These two words, in and of themselves, in a sense contain the whole of the gospel.

The gospel tells of what God has done, God’s intervention; it is something that comes entirely from outside us and displays to us that wondrous and amazing and astonishing work of God.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

And again:

Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:13)

– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Would You Drink From A Dirty Glass?

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
– Romans 3:23

Many people believe that they can work their way to heaven. But no amount of good deeds can ever save us from God’s judgment because our hearts are corrupted by sin. Unless God gives us a new heart we cannot be saved.

Think of it this way…let’s say I offer you a glass of water. You look at the glass and notice that it looks dirty.

You say: “You know, this glass looks dirty.”

I respond: “Oh, the glass is contaminated with deadly bacteria, but don’t worry, it’s filled with spring water.”

Would you drink it? Of course not, because it doesn’t matter how pure the water is, the glass has contaminated everything within it.

Think of the glass as our hearts and our deeds as the water which fills the glass. Some people lead very bad lives — they fill their glass with ditch water. Others lead average lives — they fill their glass with tap water. Still others lead, by human standards, wonderful lives — they fill their glass with spring water. But it doesn’t matter whether your glass is filled with ditch water, tap water, or spring water, the glass is dirty. In the same way, the good deeds you offer God to earn your salvation are contaminated by sin and He cannot accept them.

But God will give a new glass to any one who asks.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
– Ezek 36:26

What did our Romans 3:23 say? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But Romans 3:24 offers us hope because God offers to “justify us freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

While our hearts are contaminated with sin, Christ’s heart is pure, and His work is pure. He has lived the life we could not. To those who call on Him, He offers to credit His life to their account. They are now “justified by His blood” and “saved from wrath through Him.” (Rom 5:9)

Our good deeds, then, are not done to earn our salvation but done out of appreciation of our salvation.

God doesn’t take good people and make them better, nor does He leave bad people without hope. God, through Jesus Christ, takes sinners and makes them a new creation, forgiven, able to stand blameless, able to be called children of God.

A Look At The Gospel (And How It Works)

The word gospel means “good news”. The best description of the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

“I declare to you the gospel…by which you are saved, if you hold fast that which I preach to you – unless you believed in vain. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Let’s break these verses down and see what we discover.

“I declare to you the gospel…by which you are saved, if you hold fast that which I preach to you – unless you believed in vain.”

The first thing we learn about the gospel is that it’s the message by which people are saved from God’s judgment.

God has chosen to save us – not because of any work or deed we’ve done – but by His grace, through faith in Christ. Salvation is God’s gift to us. (Eph 2:8, Rom 6:23)

Now let’s take a look at how the gospel works.

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried…”

God is perfect and we aren’t. We sin and are separated from God when we fail to live up to His standard. (Rom 3:23) We do this by either by not doing what He requires of us or by doing what He has forbidden us to do. Sin can occur in thought, word, or deed.

So before we go to heaven something needs to change. Our sin needs to be paid for.

To do this God became a man – Jesus Christ – lived the perfect life you and I couldn’t, and died on the cross as a payment for our sins. We find this taught in Romans 8:1,3:

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

If we call on Christ to save us from our sins, are sins are charged to His account and He pays for them (1 John 2:2). We are then “born again” (1 Peter 1:23) and able to enter heaven (John 3:16).

“…He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

After Christ died for our sins He didn’t stay in the grave. After three days He rose again.

When Christ was raised from the grave, it showed that the sacrifice He made was sufficient and accepted by God the Father.

If we put our trust Christ to pay for our sin we too can look forward to God raising us one day.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9)

What good news that is!

Learn More: How Do We Know We’re Saved?

By Grace, Through Faith

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

God is gracious…

Because God is gracious, sinful people are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It’s not because of anything in them, or anything that ever can be in them, that they are saved; it’s because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God.

It’s because “his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:41) that we are not destroyed. It’s because “his compassions never fail” (Lamentations 3:22) that sinners are brought to Him and forgiven.

Remember these things or you may fall into error by focusing so much on your faith that you forget that grace is the source of faith itself.

Faith is the work of God’s grace in us…

Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. No one can say that Jesus is the Christ except by the Holy Ghost. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

So faith is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last cause of salvation while faith acts as an important part of the machinery which grace employs.

It’s important to remember that we’re saved “through faith,” but salvation is “by grace.”

Faith occupies the position of a channel. Grace is the fountain and the stream; faith is the along which the flood of grace flows down to refresh the thirsty.

But faith is only the channel and not the fountainhead, and we must not place it above the grace of God. Our life is found in “fixing our eyes on Jesus,” (Hebrews 12:2) not in fixing our eyes on our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies.

Encouragment for those whose faith is weak…

So you see, the weakness of your faith will not destroy you. A trembling hand may receive a golden gift. The Lord’s salvation can come to us though we have only faith as a grain of mustard seed because the power lies in the grace of God, and not in our faith.

Great messages can be sent along slender wires, and the peace-giving witness of the Holy Spirit can reach the heart by means of a thread-like faith which seems almost unable to sustain its own weight.

Think more of Him to whom you look than of the look itself. You must look away even from your own looking, and see nothing but Jesus, and the grace of God revealed in Him.

– Charles Spurgeon

What Are Saved From?

As Christians we tend to speak our own language. For example, we’re always asking people if they’re saved, and we assume they know what that means. But what does it mean to be saved? What are being saved from?

“Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. – Rom 5:9

We’re saved from the penalty of sin. We sin when we disobey God. Romans 3:23 describes sin as falling “short of the glory of God,” while 1 John 3:4 refers to it as “lawlessness”. We sin in three ways:

1) In Thought (1 Jhn 3:15, Matt 5:28)
2) In Word (Matt 5:22)
3) In Deed (Rom 1:32)

Acts 17:31 teaches that He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. This judgment is separation from Him in hell.

But our text tells us we’ve been “saved from God’s wrath through Christ” This means we aren’t judged for our sins, we’re pardoned from them. This is possible because our text also tells us we’re “justified by His blood.” 2Corinthians 5:21 explains that Christ “became sin” for us so that we might become “righteous in Him.”

Christ paid for our sins on the cross and, as a result, when God looks at us He sees us “in Christ”. In other words He sees that Christ has paid for our sins and Christ’s perfection is credited to us. We are saved from wrath through Christ.

How Much Faith Do We Need?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” – Eph 2:8

How much faith do we need to be saved? As an old bible teacher once said, “If you can grip Christ ever so weakly, he will not let you perish.”

A little faith can save just as well as great faith. This is because we aren’t saved by faith, we’re saved by grace. Faith is simply the means by which grace enters our lives. As our text teaches we’re saved by grace through faith. Grace is undeserved favor. Faith is trusting in grace to save us.

Maybe an example will help illustrate this point. Let’s say you and I get on an airplane. You have great faith that the plane will bring us to our destination safely. But my faith is weak. I have just e nough to get on the plane. I’m scared and full of doubt the entire time.

We both arrive safely, because reaching our destination doesn’t depend on the amount of faith we have in the plane, it depends on the plane’s ability to fly. We only need enough faith to get on board. The plane does all the work.

In the same way, we aren’t saved by the amount of faith we have, we’re saved by Christ’s ability to save us. Hebrews 7:25 tells us “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Your faith may be weak. But as Charles Spurgeon once said, “A trembling hand can receive a golden gift.” You simply need enough faith to trust Him to save you. He does all the work.

Of course we don’t want to remain in a place where we have such little faith. In our example my ride was much harder than it needed to be because of my lack of faith. And the one whose faith in Christ is weak will needlessly doubt the work He does in their life. They’ll always be anxious for one thing or another.

That’s not the way Jesus wants us to live our lives. In Matthew 11:28 He invites us to come to Him to find rest for our souls. Be still and trust Him. Know that He is God.