“Meditation and contemplation both take time and stillness away from distractions. Jesus practiced going to lonely places. This is difficult in our busy electronic culture and requires discipline motivated by a strong thirst after God. Without meditation and contemplation we will have Christian information without transformation, and we will make the terrible mistake of thinking we are what we know. Transformation requires the Holy Spirit working in the deep hidden recesses of our souls as we soak in God’s truth and gaze upon His beauty. This is the way for us to be transfigured from the inside out so we reflect His glory. The Bible offers no other way, and this way appears to be lost in our “instant grits,” quick fix generation. Those believers who love the Lord supremely and long for Him more than anything else travel this ancient path to transformation and by doing so find peace and rest others suspect must exist but sadly miss.” —Author Jerry White
May this week’s study greatly bless you,
Still another great insight into knowing Jesus and traveling the highway of spiritual growth is captured by this unknown author:
When a believer emphasizes the Word of God at the expense of the personal presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, he will dry up. When a believer emphasizes the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Word of God, he will blow up. But when the believer emphasizes both, he will grow up.
Hopefully these kinds of summarizing thoughts will aid you in your spiritual pilgrimage. Now, let us examine this week’s topic related to the basics of salvation. In this week’s study, we will learn how He saves those who believe. How is Jesus’ redeeming work applied to man? How do we know if someone is a Christian? God has decreed or ordained a plan of salvation that He has revealed to us in the Bible.
I. GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN SALVATION
A. GOD’S SOVEREIGN PLAN OF SALVATION
2. Look at Romans 8:29–30: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
Write out the progression of how God brings someone to salvation:
Verse 29: whom He _________________________________________
Verse 30: whom He _________________________________________
2. Read Ephesians 1:4–7: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace”
Answer the following:
a. What has been God’s plan before the foundation of the world (verse 4)?
b. What is the purpose of His plan of salvation relative to individuals (verse 4)?
c. What is the purpose of His plan of salvation relative to Himself (verse 2:7)?
J.I. Packer in his classic book, Knowing God provides us with a great definition of Grace:
In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven. ‘(God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
B. GOD IMPLEMENTS HIS PLAN OF SALVATION
- What does God (the Holy Spirit) do concerning sin?
“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” ( John 16:8)
2. Why is the conviction of sin necessary?
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” ( Jeremiah 17:9)
“As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.” (Romans 3:10–19)
3. What is needed before someone can know the truth?
“With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:25)
4. Who grants it?
5. Read John 1:12–13: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Who grants us the right to become children of God (verse 12)?
6. How do you synthesize all of the above passages heretofore with verse 12— which teaches that every individual must receive Christ?
Answer: God is the author of the desire and will in everyone, every individual who eventually receives Christ. This way God gets the glory when someone comes to Christ for salvation.
7. Who causes growth in a believer?
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)
8. Who will cause the resurrection of the believer to occur?
“Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)
C. GOD CULMINATES HIS PLAN OF SALVATION
- Look again at Romans 8:29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Into whose image will we be ultimately conformed?
2. Who will transform every believer?
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20–21)
3. Who delivers the believer to heaven?
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” ( John 17:24)
In Numbers 21:5–9, it is recorded how the children of Israel sinned against God, so God sent deadly snakes that bit them and caused death. The people realized their sin and asked to be delivered. God instructed Moses to put a fiery bronze serpent on a pole and when someone was bit, they could look on it and be saved. In a way, that illustrates conversion; however, instead of a snake on a pole, we have the Son of God on a cross.
A. CONVICTION OF SIN IN SALVATION
- What has God given to man to reveal man’s sinfulness?
“Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
2. When the people realized the mistake they made in crucifying Christ, how did they feel in their hearts?
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:36–37)
B. REPENTANCE FROM SIN IN SALVATION
1. Why did the tax-collector cry out to God in the temple?
“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” (Luke 18:13)
2. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9–10: “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
a. What does godly sorrow over sin produce (verse 10)?
b. What does it lead to (verse 10)?
Repentance means a turning away from sin and turning to God.
C. TURNING TO CHRIST IN SALVATION
When a person who had been bitten by a deadly snake looked at the serpent on the pole, he or she was exercising faith in what God said.
- What promise is given to those who call upon the name of the Lord?
“For ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:13)
2. Read Romans 10:8-10
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Faith is required for salvation.
a. What must you confess (verse 9)?
b. What must you believe (verse 9)?
Faith means trusting in, clinging to, or embracing Jesus Christ who is the object of our faith.
D. BECOMING SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS IN SALVATION
- Read Romans 8:1–2: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” a. For the believer in Christ, what is the penalty for sin (verse 1)?____________________________________________________b. From what is the believer free (verse 2)? ____________________________________________________And… ___________________________________________________
2. When freed from sin, what does a believer become? “And having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:18)
“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22)
3. What benefit results?
Sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
III. EVIDENCE OF SALVATION
Three important evidences of a true believer are: faith that works, love that labors, and hope that endures.
“Constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3–4)
A. TRUE SALVATION CREATES A FAITH THAT WORKS
- What reveals genuine faith?
“But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’” ( James 2:18)
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6–7)
2. For what did God prepare believers?
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
3. According to Hebrews 10:39: “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
Those with “true faith” will…
B. TRUE SALVATION CREATES A LOVE THAT LABORS
- Besides faith, what else does God take note of in the believer?
“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Hebrews 6:10)
2. Who is the source and how is it manifest in the life of a believer?
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
3. What is true of a person who is born of God?
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8)
4. How does a true believer show love?
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him.” (1 John 3:18–19)
C. TRUE SALVATION CREATES A HOPE THAT ENDURES
- Who does Jesus say will be saved?
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
2. What gives us our motivation to endure?
“For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
3. Describe the hope that a Christian has:
“For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” (Galatians 5:5)
“But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
“So that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)
D. TRUE SALVATION CREATES THREE THINGS THAT ABIDE
What three things did Paul notice about the Colossians?
“Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel.” (Colossians 1:4–5)
God is sovereign in salvation. The believer is not called to salvation because of his or her own worthiness but because of God’s purposes and grace.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:3–14)
- Realizing that God has chosen you for salvation, how should you respond?
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to god, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1–2)
2. What is the wrong response?
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1–2)
Those three qualities are present in every true believer and continually shape the direction of his or her life. Accordingly, look at Psalm 116:16–17: “O Lord, surely I am Your servant, I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid, You have loosed my bonds. To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving And call upon the name of the Lord.”
Starting today, what application can you make?
Many people in our culture are deceived into thinking they are Christians when, in light of this lesson, it is obvious they are not. Examine your heart and ask yourself if the biblical characteristics of true conversion are evident in your life. If not, come to Christ today on His terms.