Tom: In our ongoing discussion in this segment called Understanding the Scriptures, we’ve been looking at the doctrine of salvation. One of the things I want to talk about today, or that we might discuss is the plan of salvation. Some people say, well you know you just have to give your heart to Jesus. You just have to turn your life over to him. You have to seek him. And certainly there’s some truth to that. But it’s not exactly what we’re to do, is it? Isn’t it God’s plan of salvation? Doesn’t it have content? Isn’t there a point where we in fact are saved?
Dave: Well, Paul tells us in Romans:1:16, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” I am supposed to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. He tells us what the gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15. How that Christ died for your sins according to the scriptures. If it wasn’t in fulfillment of the scriptures it wouldn’t be right. How that Christ died for your sins according to the scriptures, he was buried and he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. When he was asked by the Philippian jailer, “What must I do to be saved?” He simply said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Now a person in believing on Christ, they are trusting themselves to him for eternity and they may have a sense of submitting to him, turning their life over to him, because they are putting themselves in his hands for eternity.
But the Bible doesn’t actually use that language. The Bible says that the law was our school master to bring us to Christ. If I don’t have a sense that I have violated God’s laws, what do I need a Savior for? I think repentance definitely involves some recognition that I’m a sinner and that because I’m a sinner, as we’ve talked about, I’m under judgment. I’m under God’s wrath. It’s not that by that I’m going to turn over a new leaf and be a better person.
Dave: That’s going to save me. You know Tom, maybe we could give an example, specific example. I’ve watched many, many hours of video tapes of Steve Hill preaching at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida where they’re supposedly having a great revival. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of people go forward. I’ve never heard the gospel yet. The closest I’ve ever seen him come to the gospel—he got everyone very emotional about the physical sufferings of Christ on the cross.
Now the physical sufferings of Christ on the cross won’t save us as we’ve tried to explain a number of times. It would only add to our condemnation. Because that’s what we did. As Peter said, “You have taken the Lord of life and glory and by wicked hands you have crucified him. So that would only condemn us. Our salvation comes because Christ became the sacrifice for our sins and it says in Isaiah 53 it please Yahweh, Jehovah, it pleased God to bruise him. “Thou has put him to grief and thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” That’s where our salvation comes from.
But in this message, Steve Hill never explained that. And he got everybody teary-eyed, some of them weeping and we should over the physical sufferings of Christ. And then he said, “After what he’s done for you, what will you do for him? Will you give yourself to him?” That’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ. And people streamed forward probably several hundred of them to give themselves to Christ. Sometimes we hear, “make a decision for Christ.” I don’t want to try to split hairs. On the other hand, when the Bible says that the gospel is power of God unto salvation and that I must believe the gospel to be saved, then I think I should be very careful that I preach the gospel.
I’m not say that God can’t meet a person, you know and he’s very gracious and when I come to Christ I don’t have a perfect understanding necessarily what all of this means, and the Lord reaches you, you know, and he embraces me in his love and I open my heart to him. But I think that we should be very careful that we articulate the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And Paul condemns false gospels and there are a lot of false gospels out there. So I think we should be biblical in our presentation of the gospel.
Tom: For our listeners then let’s articulate the gospel. Somebody out there who’s listening to this says, well I can understand what they’re saying, but what am I to say? What am I to do?
Dave: You can’t do anything to save yourself.
Tom: Right. We recognize that, number one.
Dave: Right. We’ve quoted before, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him who justifies the ungodly.” So if you think you’re going to make yourself good enough to be worthy of heaven, or to be worthy of God’s forgiveness, forget it! Because Christ came to save sinners. So if you’re not a sinner, you can’t get saved. And he justifies the ungodly, so if you’re not ungodly, you can’t be justified. But I have to recognize that I have violated God’s laws, that I am under his judgment and Paul in Romans 3, he raises the question, “How can God be just and yet justify the sinner?” He can’t just look the other way. The penalty had to be paid and God—it’s not like reincarnation or karma, you know, that’s impersonal and has no sympathy. You pick somebody up out of the gutter of Calcutta and put them in a fresh bed, you know. You’ve interfered with their karma, they’re going to have to come back to that very spot you know to work out their karma. No! The God of the Bible loves us so much that he came down to where we are. He became a man through the virgin birth. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God and he took the judgment, the punishment that we deserve because he’s infinite, because he’s God. He could endure that on the cross. And because he paid the penalty we can be forgiven on a righteous basis. God can forgive the sinner because the penalty has been paid, but you have to accept that.
Tom: Well that’s what I want to ask you. You see somebody listening to this says, “I see, I understand, maybe for the first time they see clearly what the gospel is. Now, what do they do?
Dave: They believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tom: They put their trust in Him.
Dave: They believe that they are sinners, that Christ did indeed pay the penalty for their sins and that he offers them pardon as a free gift. When you believe that, you accept this gift that he offers and you are forgiven.
Tom: You have eternal life.
Dave: You have eternal life. It’s a free gift. The wages of sin is death. The Bible says the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And Jesus himself said, “He that believeth on the Son has (this is John:3:36) has everlasting life. You’re not hoping for it, you’ve got it! And shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life (John:5:24), he says. And then he says, “He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but wrath of God abideth on him. Abideth on him, because it’s already on him. And the only way you can escape the wrath of God is to accept the salvation that he offers.
You know on the one hand, it’s very simple. On the other hand, it’s very humiliating. You mean I can’t do something good? I can’t merit this?
Tom, it’s a gift. If I offer you a gift for your birthday let’s say and you insist on paying me for it, that’s an insult! You’ve robbed me of the pleasure of giving you a gift. Furthermore, you put a value on the gift which you know, we always take the tag off. But in God’s case, let’s say that I’m offering you a gift that’s worth a million dollars. Well let’s say a billion dollars and you want to give me ten bucks for it. That’s an insult! And the gift of eternal life was purchased at a price that we couldn’t pay. Infinite! And for a human being to refuse to accept this as a gift and to say well I’m going to go to church. I’ll pray or I’ll give to charity and that you are going to buy God’s gift. You are robbing him of the joy of giving you a gift. You are devaluing it down to the level of your own efforts. It’s an insult to God and in fact you are rejecting. If I give you a gift and you insist on paying it, you’re rejecting the gift, right?
Dave: Now where does the good works come from? After I’m saved, I am so grateful—
Tom: Dave, before you get into that part of it, it’s not only foolish and irrational, that aspect of it, but there’s another aspect. You quoted the scripture. “For the wages of sin is death.” That’s the penalty. Death is the penalty. The only thing that we can do is really, I mean you say well listen Jesus did that, but I’m going to do this. The only thing that I can do, is be separated from God forever. Because that’s the payment.
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: We can’t pay it partially.
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: We have to pay it completely.
Dave: Right, we can’t.
Tom: Well we can in one sense.
Tom: That is be separated from God forever, but that’s not really paying for it.
Tom: But that’s the consequences of that sin. So for anybody to say yes, there’s something that I have to do. They have to recognize the fact the only thing that they can do is be separated from God forever.
Dave: Yes, or they can accept the offer.
Tom: Right, I mean on their own. Or they can turn to Christ who’s the only one. He paid the penalty for us.
Dave: It’s a gift Tom. It’s so wonderful. It’s a gift of his grace. Why not receive it? You have to be very stubborn to insist well, I’m going to do it my way. Well, then you are lost forever. Why? Jesus paid the penalty. He died for your sins, why not be grateful to Him and thank Him? And open your heart and just say, “Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. I believe in you, I receive you as my Savior.” And the Word of God says you have passed from death to life. You have eternal life, you will never perish and no one can take it away from you.