So last time, we discussed the problem: Sin. Sin keeps us from earning our own salvation. Like I explained in the last blog, there are two ways to receive salvation: 1) Live a sinless, perfect life, or 2) Place your faith in Jesus. But, the question is, how does that work? How can simply believing in Jesus save us?
It’s important to understand that God provided the perfect solution for sin. In John 3:16-18, Jesus explains how this works:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
Let’s break this down. We already know that sin eternally separates us from God. However, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” What does that mean, He gave his only Son? It means that he allowed Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins by living a sinless, perfect life, dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and then conquering death by rising from the dead three days later.
“Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Remember, Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin are death.” John 3:16 is saying the same thing. So because the penalty for our sins is eternal death in hell separated from God (yes, that is what each one of us deserve!), God provided a way for us to have our sins paid for and forgiven. But a sacrifice had to be made in order for that to happen, and Jesus made that sacrifice on the cross.
The only requirement to receive salvation, to allow the penalty of our sins to be paid for so that we might escape eternal punishment, is to repent & place our faith in Jesus Christ. But we’ll get more into that in the next post.
But, back to the passage in John, Jesus tells us, “Whoever believe in him is not condemned…” See? The way to salvation is to believe in Jesus… and then we will no longer be condemned! Salvation is not earned. Salvation is not given to us because of something that we achieved. Salvation is given to us because of what Jesus did on the cross… in spite of us! This means that in spite of the fact that we are sinners deserving hell, God loved us so much that His very own son became the sacrifice for our sins… He paid the ultimate price for you and I - EVEN THOUGH WE DON’T DESERVE IT! This is extremely humbling.
And finally, we must remember that Jesus is the only way to salvation. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is referring to the exclusivity of Christ. Jesus is the only way to receive eternal salvation. You can’t find it in any other religion, by following another god, or by living a “good” life. No, Jesus is the only way. And the correct Jesus is the only way. You won’t find salvation through the false Jesus in Mormonism. You won’t find salvation in the false Jesus in the Catholic Church. You won’t find salvation in the false Jesus in Islam. It’s just not there. Why? Because they change who Jesus is. They change the message that He preached. It’s no longer the one true Jesus that you and I believe in.
This idea of the exclusivity of Christ is vital to the Christian faith. A lack of understanding this can lead to serious error, easy believism, and universalism. God provided the ONE AND ONLY WAY to salvation, and that is by placing your faith in Jesus Christ and following after Him. Only then will your sins be eternally paid for, allowing you to receive eternal life.