How Are We Saved?
by Bob Simpson
There are a lot of answers out there to this question. Problem is these "answers" seem to vary from one denomination to another, or even one church to another within the same denomination. Is there a different way for Baptists than for, say Catholics? Then is there another way for Pentecostals and yet another for, say Methodists?
Don't we all read the same Bible?
Was there one way in Abraham's time, another in Moses' day, and yet another NOW? If so, then what about Hebrews
13.8 - "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.", or Malachi
3:6 - "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."?
Many people think there was a dividing line between the old testament and the new testament, that there was one road to heaven for the patriarchs - Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and so on. And then, Christ came along and changed things.
Christ said, "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." - John
3.13. And he was clearly speaking of himself.
For those who believe that you go to either heaven or hell at the instant of death, there must be a great uncertainty about the status of all those who lived and died before the human birth of Christ. Was there a different method of salvation in old testament times as opposed to new testament times, or today? Is there one way for Jews and another way for Gentiles?
Think about this for a moment. Does it make any sense at all that God would make one set of rules for people on the west side of the Mississippi River and a completely different set of rules for those on the east side of the Mississippi River? I recently moved from the west side to the east. Do I now have to change?
Did not God make us all?
There are many opinions that divide the christian world on this question, but the most debated has to be the controversy between Faith versus Works. Let's look at these two doctrines and see if we can find the errors...and there are errors.
Faith doctrine says that you are saved by faith in Jesus the Christ (Galatians
3.26) and that there is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved (Acts
4.1-12). That's straight out of the Bible and I believe it is as correct as a one liner can be.
Works doctrine says that by meticulous obedience to the law (the ten commandments), salvation can be earned and you cannot be saved without keeping the law. What did Christ say about this? See Luke
There is no reason to believe that the Pharisee didn't do
just as he said and he did thank God that he was the way he
was. While the publican had certainly broken the law and come
short of perfection, the Pharisee was proud, but the publican
was repentant before God. The publican went home justified
(forgiven) while the proud Pharisee did not. Just keep this
Now go to Exodus 12.43-49. Here are orders straight from God; one law for natives and strangers alike. No matter who you were, there was one way to worship God. Everyone was equal and there was one set of rules for all.
Few people have trouble with this universal equality before God concept...as long as it remains a concept. The trouble comes in putting it into practice. Peter had a little trouble in this area - Acts
I have heard these scriptures quoted to show that the food laws were no longer in force, but I would remind you that God went through this exercise to teach Peter a lesson about the equality of man before God. Peter learned this lesson - Acts
As for the food laws, medical science is now, after many years, just getting around to admitting that God's food laws, or what I like to call the manufacturers instructions for the care and feeding of the human body, can be depended on to add both health and longevity.
So we see that God forcefully showed Peter that before God, all men are equal.
Let's look now at another manmade complication of simple instructions.
Acts 15.1-29 - These new converts were told that they must abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication. Were these different orders for the converts? Could the old converts do all of these things? Of course not.
These new converts were coming out of various pagan religions where these practices were part of the worship of their pagan gods. They were to be instructed that they could not mix paganism with the worship of God. Paul explains this process in his letter to the Ephesians, a gentile church - Ephesians
What was this dividing wall, this enmity or bitter feeling of enemies that Christ abolished in his flesh, this law of commandments contained in ordinances that separated the Jew and gentile and when once abolished would allow them both to be reconciled in one body to God? Acts 10.28-29
Now back to Ephesians 2.17-22.
Paul in Romans 3.9 explains it again. When he asks, "What then, are we (the Jews) better than they (the Greeks)?"
Romans 3.9-31 - Paul says that he is not trying to nullify the law. He is trying to show us the laws place (the law in question here is the 10 commandments). He is trying to get us to understand the difference between the law being required for salvation as opposed to being saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
Must we then still obey God's law? Yes, of course. Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" - Luke
If you actually believe that there is a God, that Jesus Christ is his son, that He was dead and is now alive, and that He has the power to resurrect you to eternal life, then you will have no objection to obeying God's commandments as best you can. Can you do it perfectly? NO. That is where grace comes in. Through grace, God gives forgiveness when we believe and ask for it.