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God's Plan of Salvation

God's Plan of Salvation
By Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
February  2006

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Why did the apostle Paul write, in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”?  He wrote it because God “in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:21).  There is no power within us to become righteous before God.  So in order to save us from destruction which we actually deserve our Creator devised a plan to give us the opportunity to be saved.  We must hear that message!
The Word of God says that we have been separated and alienated from God because we have sinned.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”....“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”  (Romans 3:23; 5:12).  We have willfully turned our backs on Him and are intent on running our own lives without Him.  This is what the Bible means by sin–we choose our own way instead of God’s way and we do not give Him His rightful place in our lives.
The evidence of this is all around us, in the moral chaos and heartache of our world.  Every day the news cries out that we live in a wrecked, sin-driven world. 
Beside this, the Gospel declares that God still loves us.  He yearns to forgive us and bring us back to Himself.  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  He wants to forgive us, fill our lives with meaning and purpose right now.  Then He wants us to spend all eternity with Him in Heaven, free forever from the pain and sorrow, suffering and death of this world.
What is more, God has done everything possible to reconcile us to Himself.  He did this in a way which boggles our minds.  In God’s plan, by His death on the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty due to be paid by us for our sins, taking upon Himself the judgment of God.
In prophecy Isaiah foretold how that, in His death, He would take upon Him our sins to satisfy the penalty that we deserved.  “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all....  for the transgression of my people was he stricken.... Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.... and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:3–12).
Now, by His resurrection from the dead, Christ has broken the bonds of death and opened the way to eternal life for us.   He is “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 3:4).  And again, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.  For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings....  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:9–15)
Probably the best known passages in the New Testament makes the connection between the death of Jesus and our salvation.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved”  (John 3:16,17).  We must believe the message!
It is clear that the resurrection also confirms for all time that Jesus was in fact who He said He was: the only begotten Son of God, sent from Heaven to save us from our sins.  The message to us is, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4).
Now God freely offers us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.    We are now assured, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5).
Finally, the Bible message is about our response.  Like any other gift, God’s gift of salvation does not become ours until we accept it and make it our own.  God has done everything possible to provide salvation.  But we must reach out in faith and accept it.  God has done what we could not do for ourselves, now we must do our part to receive salvation.
The Bible tells us, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”  (Romans 10:13,14).  The message of salvation must be preached.  Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Initially we must hear and believe the Gospel.  In that message, those who believe are told what more to do.  “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).  Jesus said that the message should go out to all, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
We must turn from serving sin, self and Satan to serve the Lord.  Our decision to do this is called “repentance” in the Bible.  Jesus said that we must repent or perish (Luke 13:3, 5).   In the first two sermons after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead we hear the inspired Apostle Peter preach (Acts 2:38).  Then Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38), and again, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Jesus wants us all to own Him and live for Him.  We are to confess, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God” (Acts 8:37).  That is just what the Savior wants of us.  He said, “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:  But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8,9).
We must believe and be baptized for the remission of our sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).  In the eighth chapter of Acts there is a case of a man who was returning home after traveling to Jerusalem to worship.  Since the death of Christ on the cross, the worship conducted at that city according to the Law of Moses, was no longer valid.  This man traveling from the city was a, “eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians.”   While he rode he read from  Isaiah 53 (which is sited above).  A preacher, Philip, was directed by the Holy Spirit, to go near and join the man.  He was asked to come up and ride, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:35–39).
The story above tells us of a man who heard the Gospel, believed it, confessed his belief in Christ as being the Son of God, was baptized (immersed in water), and went on his way rejoicing.  Why rejoice?  Saul was told, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).  When we go through these steps it becomes the great occasion, in which we too can rejoice; it’s the “washing away (of our) sins,” “the remission of (our) sins.”  This step of baptism is to “save us” (1 Peter 3:21).  It is here we are “baptized into Christ and put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27), and “arise to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6).
Earlier we saw that we have all sinned and are therefore under condemnation, but that God wants us to be saved.  This becomes possible because of the death of Christ who suffered the penalty in the place of all who will believe.  Through His death God can attribute the sinlessness and sacrifice of Jesus to us and remain just in Himself.  Paul recounts our deserving to be punished and then writes, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [a covering] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith” (Romans 3:24–27).
Being saved from our sin, how does God now view us?  By Christ’s submitting to crucifixion, we who trust and obey are considered righteous.  Adam’s disobedience introduced mankind to sin “so by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
When we are saved we are added to the church of Christ.  “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47 NKJ).  Each day all who are being saved are added to His church, therefore the church of Christ is composed of all those who are saved.  After Peter’s confession of his belief–“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” 
Those of us who become saved from our sins by the blood of Christ are now God’s spiritual family; He is called “our Father” and we are called “His children.”  We are known as, “The general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven... the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23).  We are known in the world as “the church of Christ.”
Knowing God promises, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17), allows us to be free to serve Him.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The Bible says, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness”  (Romans 6:17,18).
When you take these steps, you become a child of God, adopted into His family forever.  He also comes to live within you and will begin to change you from within.  No one who truly gives his or her life to Christ will ever be the same.  You are a new creation and can walk in the Light and as you do so the blood of Christ cleanses you from all sin (1 John 1:7).
We have seen this happen countless times and it can happen in your life as well.  Open your heart to Jesus today, become a Christian, and He promises, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).