Salvation in Christianity is based upon the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day to be our high priest before God the Father. The Bible teaches that salvation is a gift based upon grace through faith. Christ paid the price for our sins, but we must individually accept that grace by repenting from our sins and allowing Christ to be our Lord and Saviour.

However, our rewards and status in heaven will be based upon our Holy Spirit-led works which we do while we are here on earth. No rewards will be awarded based on works done before our salvation or after if the works were not spirit led through faith. The Christian life involves a living relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Key Scripture (ESV):

  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
  • “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom:6:23).
  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
  • “But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3b).
  • Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 13:6).
  • For 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. 2:8-9).
  • But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
  • “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Rom. 10:9-10b).
  • In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

To receive God’s salvation, we must repent of our sins through prayer, ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, and come into our hearts as Lord and Savior. We must then believe that God has saved us and step out on faith and tell others that God has saved us.

The following is a sample prayer. You may pray it wherever you are. If you sincerely mean it, you will be saved; if you don’t, you will not be saved. After God saves, you will begin praying, reading your Bible, starting with the Gospel of John, going to church, and fellowshipping with other believers. Also, find a Bible-believing church and ask to be baptized as a testimony of your salvation experience.

Sinner’s Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am sinful, and I need Your forgiveness; I believe that You died for my sins. I confess my sins and ask for your forgiveness. I want to turn from my sin nature and follow You instead. I invite You to come into my heart and life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Sin Problem

Paul, in most of his letters to the local churches, presents doctrine in three parts. He states our status before God when we were lost, our current status before God, and then the practical application of how to be of service and live an abundant life. Perhaps the book of Romans is the most complete as to the doctrine of the Church, and I believe it was Paul’s master sermon, which he delivered when he went to a new location.

In the first eight chapters of Romans, Paul writes about our state and status before God. In these first eight chapters, we are only told to believe in the Lord Jesus as our savior and God will do the rest. In chapters nine, ten, and eleven Paul writes about the Jews, and why they are slow to believe. Beginning with chapter twelve, Paul says we have been equipped for service and have a job to perform. We are never asked to work for God until we have been saved and spiritually equipped.

Paul begins the book of Romans by stating that we have a sin problem. In the first chapter, he addresses the Gentiles and says that they are without excuse. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:18-22, NKJV).

In the second chapter, Paul addresses the sins of the Jews who condemned the Gentiles. “Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, ‘who will render to each one according to his deeds’”(Romans 2:1-6, NKJV).

In order to understand the sin problem, we have to understand who God is. He is the Sovereign Creator of all things and therefore has absolute authority over His creation. We are His creation and do not have the authority to act contrary to the revealed will of God. God is spirit, holy, love, light, truth, just, righteousness, infinite, eternal, changeless, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us, yet his justice demands that transgressions against Him will be dealt with. He gave us free will to make our own decisions. Only on this basis are we free to choose to love and have fellowship with Him.

Paul writes that we have inherited the sin problem from Adam. Since Adam rebelled against God, and we are the children of Adam, we are born with a sin nature. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned – (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many)” (Rom. 5:12-15, NKJV).

“So, through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Rom. 5:18a).

Because of the sin of Adam, not only have we inherited a sin nature, but sin has also been imputed to our account. The idea is that we are born into sin, and we can’t work our way out of it. We can understand the idea of imputation because of our citizenship. We are born with a citizenship that has been imputed to us. In the same way, we are born in a depraved condition because we are children of Adam. This concept is called original sin and we must have a Savior to redeem us.

Not only have we inherited sin, but also, we have all sinned against God. Personal sins can be defined as the manifestations of man’s struggle for independence from God. We all have rebelled against God’s will for our lives and chose to live our lives as we see best. Paul says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’ ‘Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit’; ‘The poison of asps is under their lips’”(Rom. 3:11-13, NKJV).

Because of God’s love for us, there is hope. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:2, NKJV).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).

Paul tells us that we don’t have to work for our salvation because it is a free gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, NKJV).

We must confess our sins, turn from them, and believe that Jesus died and paid for our sins. “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10, NKJV).

We must individually receive Him. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NKJV). Saving faith requires us to act on our faith. We must believe that Jesus died for our sins, and we must accept that gift. We must believe in our heart that God has saved us and act on that faith. Four times it is written in the Bible that: “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4, Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:38, KJV). The Bible also reads: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6, KJV) and “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23, KJV).

As Christians, at times we will continue to rebel and sin against God, but we can have fellowship with Him by confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

Riches of His Grace

In the opening verses of the letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:3-7, NKJV).

When we accept Christ, our position and status in heaven change immediately and completely. In the eyes of God, we have become mature Christians with all privileges and blessings. He sees us as adopted sons with all the privileges of adoption. He knew us and knew what we would do before the foundation of the world. In no way does His foreknowledge interfere with our choice of free will – we make the choice to become His children, or we reject Him. If we reject Him, we will go into eternity separated from Him.

The Bible says that Jesus became a propitiation for our sins. “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26, NKJV). The idea of propitiation is that God’s justice has been satisfied and that we have come into His good will.

Through faith, we have vicariously entered into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in the newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:3-7).

The water baptism of believers is an outward testimony indicating that we have become identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The word “baptize” not only means to dip into the water, but it is also used for identification (1 Cor. 10:2). The death of Christ was a substitutionary death, and we became identified with it. Through His death, we have been redeemed from the bondage of sin. Paul writing to Titus wrote: “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14, NKJV).

Also, through the death of Jesus, we have been reconciled to God. “And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Col. 1:20-22). Through the process of being reconciled to God, we have become justified (Romans 5:1) and have received imputed righteousness (Romans 4:18-21, NKJV).

Just as sin was imputed to our account through the sin of Adam, now the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to our account. We might think of this as a ledger sheet. Recorded on one side of the ledger sheet are all the sins that we have ever committed and that we will ever commit. Recorded on the other side is the righteousness of Christ. God takes all our sins and moves them to Christ’s side of the sheet where His shed blood washes them away. Then the righteousness of Christ is moved to our side of the ledger, and we become the righteousness of Christ.

In most of Paul’s letters to the churches, he begins by addressing the saints. Today, we don’t like to be called saints because of the sin in our lives. However, God has declared all of His children to be saints. The word saint is translated from the Greek word “hagios” and also means holy. God has declared us to be both saints and holy before Him, which is closely related to the Greek word “hagiazo” which is translated sanctified. In the process of saving us, God has also sanctified us for service.

The word sanctification means to be “set apart” or “being separated from that which is unholy”. The Bible speaks of three stages of sanctification. First, we have been sanctified by position, which means we are free from sin in God’s eyes. The second stage is progressive sanctification where we slowly, through spiritual growth, become more like God has declared us to be. Finally, we will shed this fleshly, earthly body and become glorified thus becoming sin free.

We have also been chosen to be priests. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9. NASB).

“For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18, NASB). Christ is our high priest, and we have direct access to the Father.

God has also promised that we will not lose our salvation, we are secure in Him not because of what we may do, but because of what He has done. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13-14, NKJV).

The giving of the Holy Spirit has become God’s pledge of greater expectations awaiting us in heaven. Paul writes: “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. The things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9, NKJV).

We are also given assurance of our salvation because we can feel the Holy Spirit guiding our lives. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom. 8:14-17).

The Abundant Life

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b, NJV). Why is it that many born-again Christians are not experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised? One of the problems is that our old sinful nature continues to war against our new nature. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”(2 Cor. 5:17). We have been given a new spiritual nature, but many times we continue to live under the control of our fleshly bodies, which are sinful by nature.

When Paul was writing to the Romans, he spoke about his own problems. “So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me” (Romans 7:17-20, HCSB).

Paul also said: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, NASB). “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, NASB).

Although our position and blessing in heaven are secured, we cannot live an abundant life without surrendering our will to God and asking the Holy Spirit to guide us into service for Him. After Paul wrote eight chapters in Romans describing our position in heaven, he then commanded us to go to work. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2, NKJV).

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5, NKJV).

The reason many of us do not bear fruit is that we are not letting the Holy Spirit guide our lives. We are admonished: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18, NKJV). “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal. 5:16-18, NKJV).

The filling of the Holy Spirit is a continuous process. When we take control of our lives and sin against God, we quench and grieve the Spirit of God. We are admonished to confess our sins and God will forgive them and fill us with His Spirit. We must ask and believe that God will fill us with His Spirit. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38, NKJV).

The Christian walk is a growth process. It is often called progressive or experimental sanctification by which we become closer to our position in heaven. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1-5, NKJV).

The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts for service. As we use those gifts they are enhanced, just as our physical body is enhanced by exercise. However, many of us are not using our gifts to further the Kingdom of God, and therefore we are missing out on the blessings of God. There is a story about a man who was met at heaven’s gate by Saint Peter. Peter was showing him around heaven when they came to a locked warehouse. The man wanted to know what was in there, but Peter was reluctant to tell him. After the man insisted, Peter unlocked the door, and it was filled with beautiful, wrapped gifts. Soon the man found some gifts with his name on them. “What are these?” he asked. Peter replied, “they were blessings that God had prepared for you on earth, but you never received them because you chose to do your own will.“

We are most happy when we are serving the Lord. It is at this time when we appropriate and reflect the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23, NKJV). It is then, that we live an abundant life and living waters will flow out of our hearts. When the Holy Spirit lives through us, we will reflect the glory of the Son of God.

The Bible tells us that we are saved by faith, but our works will be judged. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10, NKJV). This is not the great white throne judgment where God will judge those who have not been saved. Our works will be judged in heaven to determine the crowns and rewards that we will receive. Our positions of service during the reign of Christ on the throne of David will be based upon those rewards.

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:12-15, NKJV).

Only those works done through love, faith, and humility will survive, but those done to gratify our own egos will be burned up. Our rewards will not necessarily be based upon our visual services, but they will be based upon what God sees in our hearts, and what motivates us to service. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48b, NKJV), and “many who are first will be last; and the last, first” (Matt. 19:30b, NKJV).

Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.