What Is God’s Way to Salvation?
Salvation from what? Why can no one ignore it?
IF A doctor were tell you that you were going to die in a certain number of weeks, would you leap for joy? Would you have a celebration? Would the arrival of your last day of life be the happiest one in your life? Of course not! It would be the unhappiest one for you and your loved ones. No person in his right mind would be happy about dying. It is only natural that you should want to keep living.
It is because of your love for life that God’s provision for salvation is of utmost importance to you. It is the means by which your life be extended indefinitely. It is the means by which you can be made free from the curse of death, which, at this time, comes inevitably to all humans. Surely, something that can do so much for you is worth your consideration. It is worth the time it takes to learn about it.
Since the time when the first man willfully violated God’s law and brought death upon himself, death has been the conqueror of mankind. As weaknesses that make one particularly susceptible to certain diseases are passed on by parents to their offspring, so death has been passed down to us by our first parents. The Holy Bible points this out when it says: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12.
There has been no way for man to free himself from inherited death or to release those already taken by it. Only Jehovah God, man’s Creator, could save him from this predicament. Since he has provided the means for salvation, it would be foolish to ignore it or refuse to get the benefits of it.
Not only can the living benefit from God’s provision for salvation, but even the dead can. They can be rescued from death’s grip and be brought back to life, not by man’s power, but by God’s. Regarding this, Jesus Christ, who plays an important role in God’s provision for salvation, said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29) This occurs at Jehovah God’s appointed time.
That eternal life is possible is shown by these words: “Furthermore, this is the promised thing which he himself promised us, the life everlasting.” (1 John 2:25) The Supreme Sovereign does not make promises that are not kept. His promise of salvation from death will be fulfilled for those that love and obey him. He certainly cannot be expected to give eternal life to persons that rebelliously refuse to obey him or that ignore his provision for salvation. “Jehovah is guarding all those loving him, but all the wicked ones he will annihilate.”—Ps. 145:20.
SOURCE OF SALVATION
Although some political governments want people to look to them for salvation, there is actually only one source, Jehovah God, to whom man must look for it. He is man’s Savior. He saved the human race from complete destruction during the great Flood, and he saved the nation of Israel from enslavement time and time again. King David viewed him as the source of salvation when he said: “Jehovah is my crag and my stronghold and the Provider of escape for me. My God is my rock. I shall take refuge in him, my shield and my horn of salvation, my secure height.”—2 Sam. 22:2, 3.
As he saved righteous persons from the Flood and from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, so will he save such ones from the destruction of this present wicked world. But he will do more than that. He will save them from Adamic death. This was made possible by his providing the means for canceling out the effects of Adam’s sin.
Since Adam was a perfect man before he sinned, only the life of another perfect man could ransom or bring release to his descendants. It was impossible for the human race to produce this perfect human of itself, for all have been born imperfect because of having received their life force through sinner Adam. “Who can produce someone clean out of someone unclean? There is not one.”—Job 14:4.
As mankind’s source of salvation Jehovah God provided the perfect man, whose life could ransom the human race, by transferring the life force of his chief angelic Son in the heavens to the womb of a virgin. Because the child that was born did not receive its life through Adam’s line of descent but from God, it was perfect. Thus Jesus Christ became equal to Adam and able to ransom mankind by laying down his perfect human life. “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul [or life] a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matt. 20:28.
DIFFERENT VIEWS OF SALVATION
As might be expected in a world that thinks too highly of human philosophy, there are many views regarding human salvation. There are, for example, religious persons that think belief in Jesus Christ is practically all that is necessary for salvation. Some of their preachers can be heard from time to time urging people, in a highly emotional manner, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Once a person is thus “saved” he is thought to be always “saved.” He is considered as having gained salvation and need never fear about losing it. What he is thought to have been saved from is the fiery hell that the unsaved or lost ones are thought to be headed for. Regarding this the evangelist Billy Graham said: “It was the awfulness of hell that caused God to contrive the marvelous atonement of Christ on the cross. . . . It was man’s utter lostness that inspired God’s uttermost salvation. . . . We should certainly shun hell because of the price God paid to save us from it.”
Another view of salvation is that held by those who believe in universal salvation. Persons that hold to this view believe that it is incredible that God would torture unsaved ones eternally. They believe in the ultimate restoration of all sinners to God’s favor. One of the early believers in universal salvation, a bishop by the name of Titus, said, A.D. 364, that the severity of the torments of hell would “lead the wicked to repentance and so to salvation.”
Those persons that become a bit confused by the different views on salvation often develop a theory of their own. They conclude that as long as a person leads a good life and does not harm his neighbor, that is all that is required for salvation. They think that God expects nothing more from them.
Finally we come to those persons that reject man’s need for salvation. In their eyes the shedding of Christ’s blood as a ransom sacrifice had no value. Not only is this view held by atheists but also by persons that claim to be Christians. The Christian Science textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures states: “The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon the accursed tree, than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business.”
The various views on salvation may appear valid to the persons holding them, but that does not mean they are correct. There is only one place where authoritative information can be found on the subject and that is the Holy Bible.
WHAT MUST BE DONE TO BE SAVED
God’s written Word reveals that more than profession of belief in Jesus is required for salvation. Just saying that one believes is not enough. When Paul and Silas told the Macedonian jailer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved,” (Acts 16:31) they were not limiting salvation to belief that Christ is the Redeemer. They knew that more was involved. Besides believing that Christ is God’s Son and mankind’s Redeemer, knowledge of the Scriptures is necessary as well as a willingness to follow Christ’s example. His faith in the heavenly Father was shown by his works of public teaching of spiritual truths that brought honor to his Father and comfort to the people. This fine example must be followed by those who say they believe in Christ. Their faith must be accompanied by similar works. This is pointed out by the Bible writer James, who said: “Show me your faith apart from the works, and I shall show you my faith by my works.”—Jas. 2:18.
When a person, on the basis of the Scriptural knowledge he has gained, has belief in Christ as the Savior whom God provided and shows that faith by his works, he can consider himself as being on the way to salvation. It would be a mistake for him to think that he is now saved and cannot fall. He must show by his endurance in the Christian faith that he is worthy of salvation. “Let him that thinks he has a firm position beware that he does not fall.”—1 Cor. 10:12.
What he is on the way to being saved from is not the torments of a fiery hell, for such a place exists only in the imagination of misinformed persons. God’s Word says nothing about eternal torment of lost souls in a fiery hell as being the punishment for wickedness. Instead, it simply says: “The wages sin pays is death.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “All the wicked ones he will annihilate.” (Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4, AS; Ps. 145:20) God’s loving provision is salvation from eternal death. It means freedom from the curse of death that comes because of Adam’s sin.
Salvation from death is a gift from God to those that obey him, not to those that disobey. It does not go to the wicked, which fact means that not all humans will benefit from it. The Bible limits it to persons of all kinds that exercise faith. “For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.” Regarding those that do not have faith, the apostle Peter says that God will “reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” That is, they will be cut off from life. He goes on to say that they will “suffer destruction in their own course of destruction.”—Rom. 1:16; 2 Pet. 2:9, 12.
PRINCIPAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SALVATION
For a person to gain salvation God requires that he exercise faith in Him and Christ Jesus. A person cannot expect God’s favor when he refuses to exercise faith in the Father as a Savior and in the One whom the Father sent to make salvation possible. It is written: “For ‘anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved.’” (Rom. 10:13) This has to be done by faith, not only in Jehovah and his Son, but also in the truthfulness of his Word. “Moreover, without faith it is impossible to win his good pleasure, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Heb. 11:6.
The faithless person does not change reality by his denying the existence of sin and the need for salvation. Although he may refuse to recognize it, he is still a sinner. “If we make the statement, ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) When a person exercises faith in God’s written Word as being true he will acknowledge that he is in a sinful state because of Adamic sin and is in need of a Redeemer. He will show repentance for his sins against God because of his imperfection. “True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent.”—Acts 17:30.
It is only right that the Creator should require obedience from man. In times past those that obeyed him were the ones that he favored. It is no different today. Salvation through the coming war of Armageddon and from death depends upon obedience to Jehovah God and to Jesus Christ, whom he has anointed to be earth’s ruler. This is shown at Hebrews 5:9, which says regarding Christ: “After he had been made perfect he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.” Here again the Scriptures show that salvation is limited and not universal.
Endurance in the way to life is also a requirement for salvation. It does no good if a person starts out on a faithful course of obedience to God but fails to continue on it. He must remain faithful as long as he lives, even when his faithfulness brings the threat of death. “But he that has endured to the finish is the one that will be saved.”—Matt. 24:13.
A person must manifest his faith in the manner Christ did by dedicating himself to Jehovah God, symbolizing that dedication by water immersion, and making public proclamation of the truth. He must be a teacher of God’s Word and purposes. He cannot remain silent, thinking that belief alone is sufficient for salvation. Silence is not God’s way to it. “For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—Rom. 10:10.
For the select few that have been chosen to rule with Christ in the heavens salvation comes by resurrection from the condition of death. But for the great multitude of people of all kinds that anticipate eternal life on earth salvation will come during Christ’s thousand-year reign. Christ will at that time apply toward them the benefits of his ransom sacrifice, that they may be released from Adamic sin, made free from death and lifted to human perfection in an earthly paradise. This is the certain result of following God’s way to salvation.
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THERE IS NO SIN
GOD’S WAY TO SALVATION
ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED
DOING NO HARM TO OTHERS