ECWA Weekly Spiritual Digest: The Church is Full of Hypocrites, So Why Should I Go to Church?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | We are saved by grace through faith and not because we earned it through our own righteous efforts.

We need to define what the Church is before we can answer this question correctly. The Church is not a building, not a place and not a program or liturgy. The Church is called Ecclesiathe called-out ones. This means that the believer is the Church and not the stained glass building with a cross at the corner of the street. Jesus Christ was accused of associating with sinners and His classic answer is an all-time response to questions like the one we are addressing. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mk 2:17. All those who come to Christ the Great Physician are sick people – sinners: hypocrites, adulterers, liars, murderers, thieves, etc. (1Co. 6:9-11) They are forgiven on account of Christ’s death on the cross for their sins and are legally in right standing with God.

ECWA Weekly Spiritual Digest: The Church is Full of Hypocrites, So Why Should I Go to Church

The Church is Full of Hypocrites, So Why Should I Go to Church

We are saved by grace through faith and not because we earned it through our own righteous efforts. Isaiah 64:6 says that ‘all our righteousness is like filthy rags.’ Christians are a work in progress for if we “claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” 1 John 1:8. So, if someone does not want to go to church because there are hypocrites, then that “righteous” person ought to go and help the sinners as Jesus did.

There is no perfect church on earth until Christ returns. For now, the Church is a hospital where sick people are being treated and prepared for heaven. Welcome in!

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



Sacrifice and the Death of Christ

by John Goldingay | When Christians think about sacrifice, they commonly make two assumptions. One is that sacrifice is essentially a way of dealing with the problem of sin. The other is that it deals with sin by causing God to stop being angry with us. Neither Old Testament nor New Testament supports these two assumptions. Sacrifice does sometimes have something to do with sin, but dealing with sin is not its main object. God does get angry, but sacrifice does not relate to God’s anger (image, Falco – Church Painted Glass – Pixabay).

The Meaning of Sacrifice

The New Testament speaks of sacrifice in a number of connections apart from seeing Jesus’ death as a sacrifice that deals with sin. For instance, when we give ourselves to God in response to God’s giving himself to us, it is an act of sacrifice (Romans 12). Paul talks about being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of the Philippians’ faith and of the Philippians’ gifts to him as an offering to God (Phil 2:17; 4:18). When we testify to what God has done, it is a sacrifice of praise (Heb 13:15).

The New Testament’s way of thinking coheres with the Old Testament’s way of thinking in this respect. In the Old Testament there are a number of reasons for offering a sacrifice; the most systematic account of them comes in Leviticus 1–7. First, there is the whole burnt offering, when people sacrifice a whole animal to God. They give up the entire animal. It really is a sacrifice. Second, there is the grain offering, which accompanies other sacrifices. Third, there is a sacrifice that the New International Version (NIV) calls a “fellowship offering,” the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) calls a “sacrifice of well-being” and the Common English Bible (CEB) calls a “communal sacrifice of well-being.” While it is hard to find the right title in English, in general terms the sacrifice’s significance is clear. Its distinctive feature is that God and the offerers share the sacrifice. Some is burnt and given directly to God; some is eaten by the family that makes the offering. There are three slightly different reasons why people might offer this sacrifice. One is that God has done something for them and they want to express their gratitude—maybe (for instance) they have a new baby in the family. Another is that they had promised to bring an offering in connection with asking God to do something, and God has done it—again, maybe they had prayed for a baby and they now have one. Another is simply that they want to be able to give something to God—a freewill offering (that expression comes from the name of this sacrifice).

These first three sacrifices are expressions of worship and fellowship between people and God and one another. After these, Leviticus comes to two other forms of sacrifice that do have to do with solving problems (as one might put it). The CEB uses the terms “purification offering” and “compensation offering,” which bring out their significance. The purification offering deals with situations when people have become “unclean” or “taboo.” They may have had to bury a family member and thus have been in contact with death, or they may have made a promise that they accidentally failed to keep. The purification offering puts one aspect of that problem right. The compensation offering puts the other aspect right, in making some restitution for what they did wrong. In addition, once a year on the Day of Atonement there were special purification offerings to deal with the various ways in which the people might have been affected by uncleanness of which they might be unaware. These special purification offerings made it possible for the community to clean its slate for the new year.

So none of these sacrifices dealt with real sin. Sacrifice was not designed to deal with real sin. If you had worshiped another God or set fire to someone’s grain, you could not solve the problem by offering a sacrifice. You simply had to repent and cast yourself on God’s mercy. You knew that God was a God of love and compassion and you just had to plead for God’s forgiveness. You would offer the appropriate purification offering and compensation offering as well, but the more basic resolution of the problem lay in repentance and forgiveness. As the Old Testament sometimes puts it, you would ask God to make expiation for your wrongdoing. That idea is paradoxical—expiation is, by nature, something an offender is responsible for. But the only person who can put the situation right when you have done wrong is God. It is God who pays the price for keeping the relationship going by being willing to forgive. And this is what God does in Jesus.

The New Testament uses the practice of sacrifice as a metaphor to help people understand what Christ was doing in being willing to sacrifice himself for us, but that is what it is doing—using a metaphor, using the imagery of sacrifice in a way that does not correspond to its original meaning. As is often the case with the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament, it is adapting as well as adopting its way of speaking.

Anger and Sacrifice

Christians often assume there is a link between sacrifice and the assuaging of God’s anger. It is certainly the case that the Old Testament and New Testament talk a lot about God’s anger as well as about sacrifice. But they never bring these two together. Leviticus, the book that tells us most about sacrifice, never mentions God’s anger in this connection. Insofar as sacrifice deals with problems, the problems are the need to be made clean and the need to make compensation for wrongdoing. No doubt God might be annoyed if people fail to make these sacrifices (though Leviticus does not say so), but the mere fact of needing to find purification or to make up for wrongdoing does not mean there is any anger around.

In the Old Testament God does get really angry from time to time, and that anger relates to actions such as the ones we have noted—worshiping other gods or stealing someone’s land. But what you have to do when you are guilty of such actions is stop what you are doing, put right what needs putting right, and plead with God for mercy. The story of the making of the gold bullock at Sinai is a classic illustration of these dynamics. When the people make this image and make offerings before it, God gets very angry and threatens to annihilate the people. Moses’ reaction is not to offer a sacrifice but to urge God to have a change of mind, and God does so. It fits with this reaction that God later describes himself to Moses as one who is characterized by compassion and forgiveness even while also being one who will punish people.

It fits with the Old Testament data that while the New Testament describes Jesus’ death as a sacrifice dealing with sin, passages such as Romans 3:25; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 2:17; 9:26; 10:12; and 1 John 2:2; 4:10 do not see this sacrifice as operating by assuaging God’s anger, but rather a means of cleansing that makes it possible for us to be in the presence of the holy God. Conversely, while the New Testament emphatically declares that God is angry at human sin and that Jesus’ death saves us from God’s wrath, in passages such as John 3:36; Romans 1:18; 2:5–6; 5:9; and Revelation 6:16–17, it does not link this with the idea of Jesus’ death as a sacrifice.

Jesus and His Compensation Offering

There is one other Old Testament passage about sacrifice that has been especially influential on Christian thinking about Christ’s death. Isaiah 53 speaks of God’s servant offering his life as a compensation offering to God, and also of his bearing our punishment. Oddly enough, neither of these two lines is quoted in the New Testament, unlike much of the rest of Isaiah 53. Karl Barth comments that the New Testament does not speak of Christ’s death as his taking on the punishment for our sin, but that Isaiah 53 does do so (Church Dogmatics IV/1, p. 253). Actually Isaiah 53 does not do so, in the sense usually understood. In Isaiah 53 the word for punishment is one that usually means “discipline” or “instruction”; most of the occurrences come in Proverbs to describe teaching or correction by a parent or teacher. Thus in Isaiah 53 the King James Version (KJV) translates it “chastisement.” When Christians think of Christ bearing the punishment for our sin, they are thinking of the punishment meted out by a law court for wrongdoing, but this is not the regular connotation of this word, nor the connotation suggested by the context in Isaiah 53. The servant of God in Isaiah 53 is going through chastisement all right, going through ill-treatment at the hands of his own people and/or at the hands of the imperial authorities, but he is not going through a judicial punishment that other people thereby escape.

If you go through persecution at the hands of your own people and at the hands of others, what do you do with that experience? The possibility raised by Isaiah 53 is that you can turn it into a compensation offering. The people among whom this servant ministers have failed in their relationship with God; they have deliberately gone their own way. At the moment they have no inclination to throw themselves on God’s mercy in the way I have described above. The servant himself is someone who has not gone their way. He is someone committed to walking God’s way. So the vision raises a daring theological possibility. Supposing he asks God to take his life and commitment and ministry, which look likely to end in death, as a kind of sacrifice, one that could compensate for the rebelliousness of his people? (Of course by normal reckoning there is no way in which one person’s obedience to death could balance the rebellion of thousands, but sacrifice never works by that kind of weighing and mathematics.)

It is that possibility that is picked up in applying this vision to Jesus. He offers his life and death as a kind of counterweight to the sin of the world; obviously the person he was opens up bigger possibilities than might apply in the case of anyone else. So Jesus’ death is a sacrifice, but not in a sense that has anything to do with God’s anger or with his being punished in our place.

The Chasm

According to a common understanding, human beings are on one side of a chasm and God is on the other side. The chasm is caused by human sin. Alongside that understanding is the implication that God relates to humanity chiefly as a judge, with judges and justice understood in a Western sense: the key point about justice is treating everyone the same, and a judge’s key role is to safeguard standards of justice. God therefore cannot relate to us because of our legal guilt, which makes it necessary for us to be punished. In terms of the picture, human beings cannot cross the chasm except by means of Christ as bridge. This works within the legal image because he bears the legal punishment for sin, thereby making it possible for God the judge to relate to us.

From an Old Testament perspective this looks unscriptural, as well as being unlikely to aid the proper preaching of the gospel. It emphasizes the image of God as lawgiver and judge, and God is both of those, but the Old Testament does not draw the same inferences. As lawgiver, God is entirely free to pardon people if they repent. As judge, God is committed to taking the side of people in the context of relationship, even when they are in the wrong. This understanding emphasizes a more relational understanding of God than the Christian one. Thus Jewish theologians contrast faith within Judaism, which is a matter of a relationship of trust, and faith within Christianity, which is a matter of believing correct doctrine.

Although Christians link sacrifice and atonement with law and punishment, as if an animal (or a person) that is sacrificed is being punished in someone else’s place, the Old Testament does not link sacrifice with legal categories. And although a price has to be paid before someone is forgiven, this need not be understood in a legal way. A more relational understanding of God fits Scripture better.

The Old Testament has a number of relational pictures of God, as friend of Abraham, as husband of Jerusalem, as restorer of a needy relative, or as mother or father in relation to son or daughter. Those images may help us understand what Christ achieved on the cross.

  1. In 1969, Eric Clapton fell in love with the wife of his best friend, George Harrison, wrote the song “Layla” about her, and eventually stole her from Harrison. Whereas one would have expected Harrison at the very least never to want to talk to Clapton again, they actually stayed friends. That implies that Harrison absorbed within himself the pain of what Clapton did and the anger it surely aroused. Their friendship could therefore survive the wrong. (I do not know whether this is actually what Harrison did, but the story nevertheless illustrates the point.)
  2. Imagine a professor coming home after a faculty meeting. It has reinforced her feelings of being powerless, underpaid, undervalued, and put down. She thus acts “crabby” in relation to her husband, who has been cooking dinner and looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine with her. She complains that the curry is too hot and the wine isn’t properly chilled. He has two choices. He can respond in kind, “I’ve been here slaving over your dinner and all you do is complain.” Or he can lean into the wind and absorb the bitterness that he did not earn. He can wait untill it is used up, and thus look for the moment when they can relate to each other because it is gone.
  3. The year I went to university, my sister married a man who my parents thought was no good. He abandoned her just after their first baby was born. Our parents had enjoyed the opportunity to begin a new life after their children had left home, but they welcomed her and her baby back into their home. Without a murmur they reshaped their life again so my sister could go to work while my mother looked after the baby, and they helped her gradually to get back to independence as a single parent. They acted as parents and next-of-kin to her, paying the price to redeem or restore her.
  4. The ordinary meaning of the Hebrew word most commonly translated “forgive” is “carry.” It is what parents do for their children’s wrongdoing and what God was doing with Israel through Old Testament times. It was a process that came to its climax with the cross, which is the logical end to the Old Testament story. Seeing the way the relationship between God and Israel worked helps us see why the cross was necessary. Through God’s life with Israel God was paying the price for that relationship, making the sacrifices to keep it going. God’s people keep doing their worst to God, so eventually God paid the ultimate price for them. God showed that even killing God cannot put God off from relating to them. God will just come back from the dead.

That is the nature of sacrifice and the nature of what Christ did for us in making atonement.

This article was published in Theology, News & Notes, Fall 2012, “No Cross, No Christianity: The Biblical Shape of Atonement Theology.”

John Goldingay is the David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament in the School of Theology. His most recent publications include the 17-volume “Old Testament For Everyone” series (WJK/SPCK, 2010–15), which provides clear, concise comment on all the Old Testament Scriptures, and “The Theology of the Book of Isaiah” (InterVarsity Press, 2014).



How to Share Your Faith This Week

by Chris Russell | Research indicates that the majority of unchurched people would attend a church if they were simply invited. Don’t be bashful. Send a few text messages out to some friends right now to invite them to church!

Jesus said in the John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” If you are a follower of Christ, I hope you realize how important it is for us to actively be a part of the harvest of souls in our generation. It is absolutely essential that we put our finest efforts into rescuing lives from destruction.

But as I mention this subject, I realize many readers begin to tremble with fear. We worry about rejection or not being able to give an answer for those tough questions. Some do not even know where to begin with this mission.

Let me suggest five simple ways you can begin to share your faith this week:

1. Begin by living your life consistently with what God has said in His Word.

Many people get tripped up in sharing their faith because they know their lifestyle is not what it needs to be. The solution to this is very simple: turn your entire life over to God completely. Do it now.

2. Begin to publicly identify yourself with Christ through social media.

Social media can provide a subtle approach to sharing your faith. Change your “religious views” on your profile to “Christian.” Once or twice a week consider posting a Bible verse on your timeline. Link to your church’s website or to other Christian websites on your timeline. Let friends know you are praying for them when they express a need.

3. Volunteer to serve in a ministry at your church on Sunday mornings.

God’s strategic plan for evangelizing this generation is through His Church. When you serve in any of the weekend church ministries, you are becoming a part of the evangelistic machine that changes lives forever. Don’t underestimate the value of changing diapers in the nursery at your church. By serving you are opening up opportunities for people to hear the Word and surrender to Christ. That is a big deal!

4. Keep something on your desk or counter at work that identifies you as a Christian.

I had a dear friend (who has now gone on to be with the Lord in Heaven) who kept his Bible on his desk even though he never read it during business hours. And he told me often of how that symbol brought many people to his office asking questions about his faith and asking for prayer for needs in their lives. I would suggest you do something like this to identify yourself in your office as a follower of Christ. This could mean putting a Bible on your desk or something as simple as setting a coffee mug with your church’s logo in some visible part of your office. Better yet, put candy in the mug for coworkers to swipe when they stop in to talk to you!

5. Invite someone to church this Sunday.

Research indicates that the majority of unchurched people would attend a church if they were simply invited. Don’t be bashful. Send a few text messages out to some friends right now to invite them to church! Then you can allow the entire church body to be a part of bringing them to Christ! I would suggest that you invite them to church and lunch right afterward. This will turn it into more of a relational event, and you can have a chance to see how they felt about the church service.

Some of Jesus’s last words are found in Matthew 28:19-20. In this passage we are commanded to go out and make disciples. And in Acts 1:8, Jesus promises us the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit to help us in that mission.

So then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s tell the world of the joy we have in knowing Christ!

Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special speaking around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about communicating the truths of God’s Word in a creative, highly-relevant way.

Chris has three kids and happens to be married to his best friend, Leigh. He currently pastors a church on the north side of Cincinnati. For more, visit Sensible Faith



Weekly Spiritual Digest: Is There a God?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | When a tragedy occurs even atheists cry out or get angry with the God they do not to believe in. Ps. 14:1.

The first time I saw the ocean, I was awestruck and the words that came out of my mouth were: “How can anybody say there is no God?” There are some who do not believe in God and even mock the idea of a God. God is real and He has revealed Himself. Our experiences of unanswered prayers and why disasters or evil happen are not conclusions that God does not exist.

Is There a God

Is There a God?  (image: Pixabay, Ascension)

So, How Has God Revealed Himself?

  1. Through His creation – the size, beauty and orderliness of it. PS. 19:1-2; Rom 1:19-20.
  2. Morality – the sense of right and wrong. Rom. 2:14-15. Fyodor D. said: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted”
  3. The Bible. This is where God revealed what He has done, what He is currently doing and what He will do in the future. The Bible is authentic, and it is about a real God and real people.
  4. God chose Israel and gave them a land and promises only God can give.
  5. False gods. The only reason there are false gods is because there is a genuine God.
  6. When a tragedy occurs even atheists cry out or get angry with the God they do not to believe in. Ps. 14:1.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” While there is no risk in believing in God, there is colossal loss if we reject Him only to discover too late that we were wrong. “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds it’s rest in thee.” ― Augustine of Hippo. If you truly believe there is God, how are you living out that conviction?

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



What Does It Mean To Be Saved?

by Cecil Maranville | Many believe that if you just say the words “I accept Jesus as my Savior,” you will be immediately and permanently saved. Is that what the Bible teaches?

Some religious people ask others, “Are you saved?

If the answer is no, the suggested solution might be to recite a short statement: “I accept Jesus as my Savior.

Such advice about being saved implies that a simple, albeit sincere, declaration explains both the howand the when of salvation. Yet Jesus Himself counseled, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, emphasis added throughout).

Wait! Have you been told that you do not have to do anything to be saved? If that is what you have read or been told, how does it square with what the Bible says?

According to Jesus Christ, just words alone are not enough. You have to conduct your day-to-day life according to God’s will. And implied in Jesus’ statement is that complete salvation is not now, but in the future (He said, “shall enter the kingdom of heaven,” not “has entered the kingdom of heaven”).

Unconditional love does not equal unconditional benefits

We must not confuse unconditional love with unconditional benefits. An argument commonly used against what Christ said above is that God’s love is unconditional. The reasoning is that since God’s love is unconditional, His free gift of salvation is also unconditional.

It is true that God loves us unconditionally. He loves male and female, wealthy and poor, highly educated and illiterate, people of any and every racial background. His love is without discrimination or prejudice.

Does the fact that He has unconditional love for humankind mean that He gives His benefits unconditionally? That is comparing apples and oranges—two completely different issues. Unconditional love by God does not equate to unconditional benefits from God.

Of course, nothing anyone can do earns salvation. Even so, there are requirements, according to what Christ said above—and what the Bible says in numerous other scriptures.

Requirements do not mean earning salvation

Some assume that saying Christians are required to do anything in order to be saved teaches that salvation can be earned. That reasoning is false.

Can you inherit a gift you have not earned and yet be required by your benefactor to do certain things before receiving your inheritance? Sure! It happens all the time. For example, a wealthy benefactor may leave an heir a million dollars, but the benefactor can stipulate in his will that the heir must complete a college education and reach age 21 before receiving the money. Does the heir “earn” the million dollars by fulfilling the will’s requirements? No, fulfilling requirements to receive the inheritance is not the same as earning the inheritance.

If we tried to understand the doctrine of salvation by human debate, the arguing would be endless. God alone determines the parameters of salvation. And He declares it is a gift! That means God says salvation cannot be earned. It is, by analogy, an inheritance. We are heirs of salvation (Romans 8:17) by faith, not by works (Romans 4:14).

Salvation is the single greatest benefit that any human being could receive. As we explain in thorough detail in our other articles about salvation, being saved is a process that begins with the human mind turning away from living and thinking the way that comes naturally to living and thinking the way God expects.But, as in the human inheritance analogy above, God also declares unambiguously that the inheritors of salvation must fulfill certain requirements to receive it.

You would think Jesus’ words would have settled the matter, but this debate continues even today. We will come back to this, but we first need to consider what salvation is.

What does it mean to be saved?

Salvation is the single greatest benefit that any human being could receive. As we explain in thorough detail in our other articles about salvation, being saved is a process that begins with the human mind turning away from living and thinking the way that comes naturally to living and thinking the way God expects.

To draw an analogy with a race, the starting line is baptism, at which time a person’s sins are forgiven and God gives the gift of His Holy Spirit.

Some would have you think that the starting line and the finish line are one and the same.

However, the Bible teaches that the finish line, when salvation is complete, is when God changes a person from physical existence to spirit existence. Then the person is “saved” from perishing. It is no longer possible for one who is completely saved to suffer an injury, to contract a disease, to age or to die.

In everyday language, “to be saved” means to be spared or rescued from something undesirable. One might be saved from drowning by being rescued from a body of water. A person can be saved from asphyxiation by being pulled from a burning building by a firefighter. Someone could be saved from death by the successful medical treatment of an injury or disease.

What are we saved from?

The concept of salvation in the Bible is similar. A person is saved from something undesirable. In the case of spiritual salvation, the undesirable condition from which one is saved is eternal death—death from which there is no resurrection.

What did Jesus say to the woman of Samaria at the well? “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).

“Everlasting life” is another way of saying “saved.” After receiving everlasting life, a person will no longer be subject to those elements that cause pain, suffering and death to a human being.

The spiritual water Jesus was speaking of is the Holy Spirit, the divine nature that is given to a person at the “the starting line” of the process of salvation.

When is a person saved?

But did not Jesus also say that a person who believes in Him has everlasting life? Yes, He did: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

The question is, when is a person saved? Well, in one sense, as soon as the conversion process begins, a Christian has within his or her mind some of God’s nature—that is, divine essence (2 Peter 1:4). God’s Spirit is the down payment (earnest) one must have for ultimate salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:11).

That does not mean that every Christian is completely divine upon conversion! It means the process has begun. That is what Jesus meant.

Reinforcing the truth that there are requirements

Now that we’ve looked at what salvation is, let’s continue our study of God’s expectations. Consider what Jesus said to a young Jewish ruler. This young man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16).

Jesus told him, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). We know from the scriptures we have been reading that “life” means everlasting life, which means the same as eternal life, which means the same as salvation. Again, we find there is a requirement of believers in order to receive salvation. Nothing we can do earns salvation, and yet we are required to keep the 10 Commandments or we will not be saved!

If you study this story, you will learn the young man already kept the letter of the 10 Commandments. And you will see that Jesus did not deter the man from doing so, but rather, that Christ steered the man deeper into the intent and spirit of the law. Measuring oneself by the law alone would be legalism. But searching out and living by the 10 Commandments and the spiritual intent for which God gave each one is the pathway to salvation.

The finish line

We have enough background information that we can now understand a difficult scripture, which will help bring the points of this article to a conclusion.

Four days after Martha’s brother Lazarus had died and been buried, Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

Now, we can understand Jesus’ words. The believer has the promise of eternal life. But until the process is complete, the person is still subject to injury, disease, aging and death. He or she therefore is not “saved” from perishing yet.

When does the believer cross the finish line? Christ inspired the apostle Paul to relate the answer:

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).

Of course, these verses concern all who become believers before Christ returns. Many more will become believers during and after the Millennium. Their salvation will be the same; it will begin with repentance and baptism; it will be complete when God changes them to spirit beings.

Saved through a process

In summary, salvation is a process. It begins with repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. It continues with a Christian, out of love and appreciation, striving with God’s help to live a life pleasing to God by obeying His laws and doing His will. It concludes when God changes a physical being into a spirit being, a being that can never be injured, become sick, age or die.

Do not go by what you may have always thought or by what other people say. Look at what the Bible says by reading the Scriptures. Plus, we encourage you to read the accompanying biblically based articles on salvation and conversion on this website. Also, you may use the search box at the top of any page of the website to look for information you cannot find on any topic. And, if you need help, feel free to ask us!

 



God’s plan of salvation

by GotQuestions.org | “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The way to follow God’s plan of salvation is to believe. That is the only requirement (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9) (image: Jiñi xucʼul bʌ Job miʼ yʌl i wocol Job 6-10).
Salvation is deliverance. All the world religions teach that we need to be delivered, but each has a different understanding of what we need to be delivered from, why we need to be delivered, and how that deliverance can be received or achieved. The Bible makes it abundantly clear, however, that there is only one plan of salvation.

The most important thing to understand about the plan of salvation is that it is God’s plan, not humanity’s plan. Humanity’s plan of salvation would be observing religious rituals or obeying certain commands or achieving certain levels of spiritual enlightenment. But none of these things are part of God’s plan of salvation.

God’s plan of salvation – The Why
In God’s plan of salvation, first we must understand why we need to be saved. Simply put, we need to be saved because we have sinned. The Bible declares that everyone has sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). Sin is rebellion against God. We all choose to actively do things that are wrong. Sin harms others, damages us, and, most importantly, dishonors God. The Bible also teaches that, because God is holy and just, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and eternal separation from God (Revelation 20:11–15). Without God’s plan of salvation, eternal death is the destiny of every human being.

God’s plan of salvation – The What
In God’s plan of salvation, God Himself is the only one who can provide for our salvation. We are utterly unable to save ourselves because of our sin and its consequences. God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14). Jesus lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5) and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice on our behalf (1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:10). Since Jesus is God, His death was of infinite and eternal value. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross fully paid for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). His resurrection from the dead demonstrated that His sacrifice was indeed sufficient and that salvation is now available.

God’s plan of salvation – The How
In Acts 16:31, a man asked the apostle Paul how to be saved. Paul’s response was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The way to follow God’s plan of salvation is to believe. That is the only requirement (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9). God has provided for our salvation through Jesus Christ. All we must do is receive it, by faith, fully trusting in Jesus alone as Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). That is God’s plan of salvation.

God’s plan of salvation – Will you receive it?
If you are ready to follow God’s plan of salvation, place your faith in Jesus as your Savior. Change your mind from embracing sin and rejecting God to rejecting sin and embracing God through Jesus Christ. Fully trust in the sacrifice of Jesus as the perfect and complete payment for your sins. If you do this, God’s Word promises that you will be saved, your sins will be forgiven, and you will spend eternity in heaven. There is no more important decision. Place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior today!

We pray you’ve made the decision for Christ to be one of his followers and accepted Christ into your heart today.

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