THE STORY OF SALVATION
In the beginning was God. He created mankind, and fashioned us in His image (Genesis 1:27). Because of this, humans can not only know the Lord in a privileged capacity (Job 32:8), but we’re also called to be adopted into His family as children of the King (Ephesians 1:4-5).
In the mystical Garden of Eden, this was the reality our species knew. God walked face to face with Adam and Eve as a father, and as a friend (Genesis 3:8). We were blameless and perfect (Genesis 2:17), foreign to all evil or shame. We were fully content, because our spirit’s longing for God was satisfied (John 14:4). The Lord was with us, and we were with Him.
However, mankind no longer walks with God as we did in the Garden of Eden. Once we were together with God, but now, we’re separated from Him (Isaiah 59:2). Something must’ve happened, but what?
One day, as Adam and Eve were lounging in the Garden, a disgraced and despicable creature of hideous darkness, named Lucifer (or “Satan”) decided to tempt them (Genesis 3:1). He persuaded them to rebel against God, and lured them into eating the fruit from “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” (Genesis 3:6-7).
As he willfully ate the fruit, man’s pride and disobedient heart sprang to life, consuming his perfection. In an instant, our species fell into the horror of sin that now devours us all.
Because death comes through a man (1 Corinthians 15:21), and because Adam represented the human race in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12), we’ve inherited his evil nature and stand condemned, and separated from God (Psalm 51:5).
Our spiritual jugular’s been severed, and we’ve become slaves to sin. Once we were perfect, but now, because of our sin, we’ve lost that perfection. And, because God’s perfection means He cannot dwell with imperfection (Habakkuk 1:13), He’s separated from fallen mankind (Isaiah 59:1-2).
As a consequence of our iniquity, we’re destined to die (Hebrews 9:27), for, “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 3:23). Through our rebellion, passed to us through Adam, we’ve become slaves to sin, and everlasting destruction is our appropriate punishment (Luke 13:28).
In response to our disobedience, it would’ve been perfectly justifiable for God to administer righteous retribution immediately (Job 41:1-11). Our sin warranted, and still warrants, a wrathful, vengeful, and just, response (John 16:8). Failure to satisfy the penalty for sin means violating God’s holiness, and thus, His perfection.
However, God decided to exercise His abundant mercy (Ephesians 2:4) and save humanity, instead of destroying it (John 3:16-17). This mercy doesn’t permit sin to go unpunished (Romans 3:25), but rather, offers a path to satisfy the righteous requirement of sin without destroying mankind (Romans 8:1-4).
That path is the Truth and the Life, Jesus Christ.
Millenia after God promised to send mankind a salvation for its sin, He arrived, not as a conqueror, but as a carpenter (Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, descended from Heaven and prepared for His mission (John 6:40).
Born of the virgin Mary, Christ grew up in a humble household. He learned his earthy father’s trade, studied the Scriptures to perfection, matured in wisdom and strength, and, after reaching 30 years of age, started his ministry in Judea.
For 3.5 years, Christ proclaimed the good news of God’s final salvation, all while divinely teaching and healing those who followed Him and heard His gospel (Matthew 4:23). He lived a perfect life, totally obedient to His Father in Heaven, and fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures (John 5:39-44).
However, in jealousy and malevolence, Israel’s religious leaders seized the Lord Jesus and condemned Him to die by crucifixion (Matthew 26:59 - 27:44). Christ was not powerless, but allowed all of this to happen (John 10:18) to fulfill the prophecies of Scripture and pay for the sins of humanity (1 Corinthians 15).
On the hill called Golgotha, your sins and mine were miraculously transferred onto the beaten body of Christ Jesus. Although we deserve death for our sins, Christ took our sins upon Himself to pay for our crimes. He took our place on the cross and suffered for our evil (1 John 2:1-2).
Once Jesus’ transformation into sin was complete (2 Corinthians 5:21), the Father unleashed the full might of His wrath, reserved for we sinners, onto Christ (Matthew 27:46). At that moment, Christ endured the entire condemnation of sin, released His spirit (Matthew 27:50), died, and paid the punishment of our iniquity once for all time (Romans 5:8-9).
But He didn’t stay dead.
The Father vindicated Christ and all of His claims by raising Him to life (Romans 6:9-10). On the third day, Jesus, enveloped in power and glory, was physically resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:4). Later, He met with His followers, lived among them for 40 days, and finally, ascended into Heaven (John 20:17-31).
The resurrection of Christ is a radical claim. But it’s not like it’s one without evidence. Here are a few proofs of this miracle:
The grave of Jesus Christ was empty on the third day (John 20:1-18).
After His resurrection, Christ met with Peter, the disciples, James, the apostles, and more than 500 other witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).
These same witnesses physically interacted with the risen Christ before He ascended into Heaven (John 20:24-29, 21:12).
The life, death, and resurrection, of Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled over 300 prophecies in Scripture (Hebrews 10:7).
After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Christianity exploded and triumphed over the empire that persecuted them so severely (Acts 4:4).
Each of the four gospels are remarkably compatible with one another, even though the authors were separated and isolated from each other.
The personal, past, and present, testimony of countless millions testifies to the inward working of the Holy Spirit and salvation of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s perfect forgiveness is for everyone, but man must repent of his sin and turn to Jesus Christ in order to be saved.
The scriptures say that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). If a man confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9), if he believes in Christ for the forgiveness of his sin (Acts 10:43), and if he trusts in Jesus for his coming resurrection to eternity (1 Corinthians 15:12-19), he is saved. This is true for all men and women who’ve ever lived, and who ever will live.
Salvation means placing of one’s entire faith in the person and atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus (Romans 5:1-5). Doing so guarantees the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38) and reconciliation to God (Romans 5:8-11).
No part of this so great a salvation is from our works or deeds (Isaiah 64:6), but rather, is from the sovereign grace of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). Because our forgiveness of sin isn’t obtained by our works, our forgiveness can’t be lost by our works, either (1 John 1:9).
Christ is the captain of the believer’s soul. The Christian never needs to fear for his salvation, because, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
Therefore, the Christian is freed from all sin (Romans 8:1-4). Its debt is paid (Romans 6:23). And, because of this perfection, the believer shall be utterly sinless and live with Christ eternally, in perfection, in Heaven on Earth (Revelation 21).
As beautiful as this gospel is, it also comes with a stern and solemn warning. There is no forgiveness without Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:22). The sinner who won’t put his faith in Christ can never be with God (Exodus 33:23).
Thus, Hell hangs in a balance, waiting for the wicked who reject Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:41). The men and women - young and old, rich and poor - who refuse Christ on Earth, are sentenced to Hell’s eternal horror because of their sin
But the Christian isn’t with them. Instead, He enjoys a perfect physical resurrection and eternal life with Jesus Christ on the recreated Earth. There will be no more pain, suffering, crying, nor death (Revelation 21:4). All the trials of this life will no longer endure, and everlasting joy will reign for ever and ever.