The Doctrine Of Salvation
By J. Mark Jordan
“Are you saved?”
Countless times people have asked this question. It has addressed the hearts of untold millions. Brush arbors, makeshift tabernacles, homely log cabins, white clapboard meeting halls, contemporary worship centers and ornate cathedrals have echoed its words. School children, street people, wings, primitive natives, professionals, wealthy people, princes, kings and presidents have heard it. Missionaries have spent their lives in faraway places for the privilege of asking it. Martyrs have accepted death rather than renounce it. True believers rank it as the number one question in the world.
If one question holds this much significance for us today, it deserves a thorough examination. What stands behind this powerful question? What does the Bible really have to say about it? Why should each person make absolutely sure that his or her answer is an emphatic, unqualified yes? Why should each one who answers affirmatively then be interested in asking others the same question? In the following pages we will explore these questions about the question!
Salvation is the most basic, important and urgent need of man. It is the very heart of Christ’s mission to earth; He came to save lost men. In the final moments prior to His ascension, He appointed the church as bearer of the gospel. The church now relays this call to salvation to the world today, showing men how they can receive pardon for their sins and find the way to eternal life.
Before a man can understand how he must be saved however, it is vital that he first understand why he must be saved. Once a person fully realizes his overwhelming need for salvation, he can easily follow the actual steps to obtain it.
A convincing case for the absolute necessity of salvation is critical to our understanding the Bible as a whole. Without this understanding, we would not know the central reason for the entrance of Jesus Christ into the world. Let us now look at several important points which demonstrate this need.
All men, regardless of name or pedigree are sinners in the sight of God. Paul wrote to the Romans, “We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). Romans 3:23 states, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. ” It does not matter who or what a person is–beggar or millionaire, famous or unknown, white or black, born into a religious family or an atheistic family–sin is still present. God recognizes no caste system. Every person except Adam and Eve has been born in sin. (See also Psalm 14, Isaiah 53:6.)
This universal sinful condition stems directly from the sin of Adam. “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 5:12). This concept may be hard for us to grasp because we live in a world populated with billions of people, but Adam was the human race! As Adam went, so went the world’s population. This progenitor of all people carried in his loins the destinies of us all. Therefore, when he fell from innocence, the entire race of man fell in him, inheriting the nature of sin. This Scripture states, “All have sinned.”
Adam’s circumstances were imputed to us by inheritance at our birth. For example, during the days of slavery, a child born to slave parents was a slave, too. The child inherited the position of the parents at birth. In the same manner, every child of Adam, whether he was of the first generation or of the fiftieth generation, has inherited the sinful nature of the father. Adam’s sin still courses its way through the human race.
Condemnation, wrath, and the curse of death now blanket the whole world. God’s attitude toward Adam’s sin is multiplied to all of Adam’s sinful offspring. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The consequences of sin encompass the whole world: “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God ” (Romans 3:19). Sin has no geographical limits.
No sin-free fortresses exist on the face of the earth. God’s curse and God’s wrath abide on all men who are stained with sin. (See Galatians 3:10; Ephesians 2:3.)
Sin and Satan hold the entire human race in helpless captivity. Those who commit sin may resent this charge, but Jesus stated bluntly, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). A sinner has no real independence. He obeys the voice of his master, Satan. “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23). Today’s self-assertive, independent people prize their presumed right to make their own choices. Actually, they are only marching to the beat of sin and Satan.
Sin touches every aspect of man’s nature: mental, moral, spiritual, and physical. His understanding is darkened (Ephesians 4:18). His heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9-10). His mind and conscience is defiled (Titus 1:15). His flesh and spirit is troubled (II Corinthians 7:5). His will is neutralized
(Romans 7:18). From every point of view, man’s whole being is fatally contaminated by sin. No redeeming quality originates from within him. Scripturally speaking, man is in desperate need of salvation.
History and experience confirm this scriptural position. Our world staggers from one bloody war to another. Political chaos splinters both developed and underdeveloped nations alike, despite all efforts of superpower diplomacy. Perplexing social problems continue to mount, debauched morals threaten any vestige of wholesome living, and the very planet we occupy faces frightening ecological problems. The immense irony of it all is that man has never accumulated as much scientific knowledge in all of his history as he possesses today.
Technological feats such as the laser beam, the microprocessor, and atomic energy have swelled him with pride–unwarranted pride that conveniently ignores the violence, selfishness, and perversion that seethe around him. Man may be getting smarter, but he is not getting better. His genius is besmirched with gutter tripe.
This doctrine of man’s depravity causes a major clash between Christianity and false religions. Humanism, for example, embraces the idea that man is inherently good. It holds that sin is nonexistent, and all society needs is to be freed from the social and religious taboos of the past. This will supposedly set mankind on the road to Utopia. (Given the domination of humanistic philosophy in America for years, one wonders why this Utopia still eludes us.) Eastern religions talk of the discovery of an “inner self” through discipline and meditation. Man purportedly has an intrinsic element waiting to be set in harmony with some universal cosmic force. Other “progressive revelation” religions speak of man’s sins as only “upward stumbles” in an ever-ascending spiral of improvement. One prominent religious group, in fact, believes, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” All of these systems of religions see man as evolving toward a perfect state. The only question is how long will he take to arrive.
Man-made systems such as these are backward according to the Bible. Actually, man started out in perfection. Sin cast him down to corruption and curse and now permeates his entire nature. His destiny is eternal destruction unless a Savior mercifully extends to him the arm of salvation.
The foregoing arguments comprise the basic need for man’s salvation. The obvious question that follows is how to obtain that salvation. The answer is that Jesus Christ is the only means for salvation. To accept this fact is to reject all other means for ultimate salvation. It is to embrace Christ fully: His life, teachings, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and second return. It is to surrender completely to His will. It is to deny oneself, and become His devoted disciple. It is to fall in love with Him in mind, soul, body and spirit.
A person cannot save himself. Through supreme will power he may reform, change directions in life, adapt to new environments, and become a different person. Even so, he still cannot save himself eternally. Let us suppose, for example, that three men start out from the California coast to swim to Hawaii. The first man, not being a swimmer, goes no farther than a few yards from the ocean’s edge. The second man, an average swimmer, lasts for a mile out into the Pacific. The third man, a world class swimmer, churns the waters for twenty miles. But Hawaii is 2500 miles distant from the mainland. Even the very best endurance swimmer cannot hope to make it without help. This analogy describes our hope of deliverance from sin and entrance into heaven. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? ” (Romans 7:24). Only power from an external Source will suffice.
Christ alone can save a person. No one or nothing else will do. When two cars slide into a ditch, neither one can lend much help to the other. Likewise one sinner cannot save another. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). A man-made doctrine or philosophy cannot undertake the job of salvation either. Such doctrines have sinful men as their creators; therefore they are inherently corrupt.
At one time, blood sacrifices under the law of Moses temporarily atoned for sin. But when Christ came, He fulfilled the law and thereby abolished animal sacrifices, which were only types of His supreme sacrifice. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins ” (Hebrews 10:4).
The Bible emphatically declares that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior! There is only one Door. Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:9). There is only one Savior. “A just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me” (Isaiah 45:21). There is only one Name. “For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved ” (Acts 4:12). There is only one Redeemer. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13). There is only one sin offering. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). There is only one source of eternal life. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Mankind is a sinner in need of a Savior; Christ is the Savior in search of a sinner. With this truth as a foundation, we will now begin to study saving faith, the plan of salvation, and other fundamental tenets of the apostolic message.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. Mark Jordan, raised in Jackson, Michigan attended Texas Bible College Later he received a B.S. in Human Relations from the University of Toledo. He and his wife Sandy evangelized several years before he became Associate Pastor to First Apostolic Church, Toledo, OH. In 1978 he founded Apostolic Christian Academy. He served the Ohio District as Youth President, UPCI, from 1977 to 1983. Since 1983 he has pastored First Apostolic Church, Toledo, OH. He has written numerous articles for Pentecostal publications. He now resides with his wife Sandy and three children in suburban Toledo.
The Above Material Was Taken From Measures Of Our Faith, Published By Word Aflame Press, 1987, Pages 11-17. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.