“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” (John 3:16).
It has been noted that the three most difficult words in the English language are, “I was wrong.” The two most delightful words are, “check enclosed.” However, the most dynamic single word is “salvation”. The three best words are, “I love you.”
Salvation means to effect successfully the delivery of someone, or something, from impending danger. It means to rescue, or to save from destruction. The very word salvation carries with it the idea that someone, or something, is in need of being rescued, or saved. As a religious term, it is the testimony of Scripture that every man, woman, and child needs help, for the plight of the soul is desperate, as various illustrations make plain.
The Bible says that souls are sick with sin, and need a Great Physician to deliver them from sin’s fatal disease, which is death. “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isa. 1:6). Every person needs a Saviour.
The Bible says that everyone is guilty of breaking the Law of God, and stands condemned in a court of Law. He needs an Advocate. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom. 3:10-17).
The Bible says that the waters of a sinful life flood hearts. “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me” (Psa. 69:1).
There is a reason why individuals are in such a terrible plight. There are several reasons why souls are sick, guilty, and laden with guilt: they have lost their way from God. There are several contributing factors to this state.
Souls are lost because the conscience is violated. “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)(Phil. 3:19).
Souls are lost because of their relationship to the world. There is something very appealing about the flash and glamour, the laughter and the sensuality that the world has to offer. It is all very luring—at first. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” (Eph. 2:2).
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15).
Souls are lost because of their relationship to Satan. To some, Satan offers the kingdom of this world, provided they will sell their soul to him for power and fame. Those who believe that the end justify the means will bow down and worship the god of this world. Even Jesus was tempted to do this very thing. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:8). What Christ was not willing to do, others are.
To others, Satan offers not political authority, but religious authority. In the name of God, men can do terrible things to other people, and it is all legitimized. The Pharisees and the Sadducees of Christ’s day were very religious. They had great authority over people, and respect from them. Nevertheless, they were really the sons of Satan. In John 8:42-44 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. There are many ways to have a relationship with the devil without being “evil” according to conventional terms. Religion itself can be a form of evil when miss-used.
Souls are lost because of their relationship to sin. “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20). “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” (Rom. 5:12).
A person may not be as bad a sinner as possible outwardly; nevertheless, they are always as bad off as they can possibly be.
Souls are lost because of their relationship to God. Those who do not believe in Christ are under the wrath of God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Souls are not coming under the wrath of God; they are already under divine displeasure until they repent of sins and find the Savior. Being without Christ, such souls have no hope. “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).
If the plight of man is ever to be resolved, He needs a Divine Savior, for he cannot save himself. If he could, he would. In fact, he has tried—and many are still trying to save themselves and make themselves acceptable to God. The end results are false hopes of salvation. The Bible says that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12) The following are among the false ways of salvation.
Education will not save. The apostle Paul warned Timothy about depending upon education as a means of salvation. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20). “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). While educators have a vital role in society, as a class they have not been able to enlighten anyone with regard to true truth.
Church membership does not save. Christianity is based upon a relationship with the living Lord, not membership in a religious denomination—as important as church membership is.
Good works do no save. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8).
Baptism does not save. “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Cor. 1:17).
Keeping the Law does not save. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
Living by the Golden Rule does not save. That is simply a moral obligation for humanity.
Sincerity does not save. Being a member of a Lodge that does good deeds does not save. Secular organizations such as the Peace Corps, Amway, the United Nations, etc. will not save.
If good deeds, good thoughts, and good organizations do not save, than what does? The gospel answer is this. Since the beginning of time salvation has come to souls by blood. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). The blood is that of the person of Jesus Christ. When faith in placed in Christ by grace, there is a divine peace that comes to the soul. Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7). “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:3).