Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 11, 1951

Salvation In Fact

Hoyt H. Houchen, Amarillo, Texas

The great theme of the Bible is salvation. It runs like a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation. Prophecies are given in the Old Testament that point forward to the coming of the Messiah who was to save the world from sin and then in the New Testament we see the fulfillment of these things in the coming of Jesus Christ who lived and died upon the cross. The giving of Jesus Christ was the supreme sacrifice of love by God and it was by that gift that the provision of salvation was made possible for man. In the book of Acts we have the examples of how people accepted God's terms of pardon and how they were saved from sin. The epistles to the various congregations and individuals teach us how to live the Christian life and the book of Revelation describes heaven the home of the soul. That salvation points both forward and backward—forward for those who from Adam on lived before the cross of Christ and backward for those of us who live on this side of the cross. Jesus died for all men; he died for those who lived before the cross and he died for those who live on this side of the cross. God has only one way of saving man and that is through Jesus Christ. There was no salvation before Jesus came and there has been no way since by which man can save himself. Men must be saved through Jesus Christ by submitting to the terms of his gospel. Paul said in Rom. 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

Very often, too often, we think of salvation in a smaller way than the Lord intended; therefore, we wish to present this lesson for your consideration. I wish to mention five facts of salvation and these should be viewed as must facts.

First, one must know something in order to be saved. There are two classes of people who are represented in the world today: those who do not know enough to be saved, and some who do not know enough to be lost. Those of Adam's race who do not know enough to be lost include all the irresponsible. Those who are mentally incapable of knowing what to do to be saved are those who are not responsible for salvation. We read back in Ezek. 18:20, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." This verse teaches that each person is responsible for his own sin. Since the infant, for example, has not sinned, he comes in the class of the irresponsible and is not therefore lost. The infant as well as all other mentally incapable persons is safe in the eyes of God. Jesus said in Matt. 18:3, "Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven." But this lesson is concerned with those who are mentally capable and therefore are responsible for sin. Responsible people must know the truth. Jesus said to the people of his day, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." And then over in John 17:3 Jesus prayed to the Father, "And this is life eternal, that they should know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." And again, over in John 14:5, we read where Thomas saith unto him, "Lord we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." Responsible people, then, must know the truth. But what else must they know? They must also know the Lord. Speaking of those living under the new covenant, the inspired writer of the Hebrew letter writes in chapter 8, verse 11: "And they shall not teach every man his fellow-citizen, And every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: For all shall know me, From the least to the greatest of them." But we are not only to know the truth and know the Lord, but we must also know the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Paul in writing to Timothy, 1 Tim. 4:1-4 says: "But the Spirit saith expressly that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." The doctrine which we must know is the gospel. We are told that it is the power of God unto salvation. (Rom. 1:16) There are things, then, that we must know: we must know the truth, we must know the Lord, and we must know the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And now the second fact of salvation is that one must feel. The Bible certainly does not teach that feeling is an evidence of pardon. The idea that many people have that pardon depends upon how they feel is the teaching of men but it is not the word of God. Nowhere in all of the scripture can we find that feeling is an evidence of pardon. There is, however, a way in which feeling does have a part in one being saved. For instance, one must in coming to God feel that he is a sinner. He must feel the weight and the burden of sin and so feel it that he wants to get rid of sin and enjoy freedom in Christ. The publican in Luke 18:13 felt that he was a sinner and it was that disposition of heart that led him to say, as he smote his breast, "God, be merciful to me a sinner." One must not only feel that he is a sinner but he must also feel sorrowful for his sins. Such was the feeling of Peter when he realized that he had denied his Lord three times. We read in Matt. 26:75, "And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said. Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out and wept bitterly." One must feel that he is a sinner, he must feel sorrowful for his sins and he must also feel determined that he is going to quit sin and live the Christian life. Too many today do not feel badly enough for their sins, but rather they feel that the church should be honored because of them becoming a member. The realization of sin should cause each one of us to readily submit to the terms of pardon and be saved. We should become like the prodigal son in the 15th chapter of Luke who in verses 18 and 19 said, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants." It is only when we have this attitude that we truly feel the burden of sin and that we are sinners before God. The person who has no intention of turning to God does not fully realize his state of sin and the terrible consequences of sin.

Another fact of salvation is that we must also believe. What must one believe in order to be saved? A general idea is that one may believe anything and that it does not make any difference what one believes. But the Bible teaches that in order for us to be saved there are specific things which we must believe. We must believe in God, in Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible. We read in Heb. 11:6, "and without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him." One must also believe the gospel. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:1-3, "Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain." And not only must one believe in God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, and the gospel but he must also believe in his own ability to believe. Paul said in Phil. 4:13, "I can do all things in him that strengthen me."

But the fourth fact of salvation is that one must do something. In order to be saved, one must know, one must feel, one must believe, and then one must do something. Many people hold to the idea that there is not anything that man can do to be saved. Of course it is true that man cannot be saved by any system which he himself has devised but he must do what God has told him to do. For example Jesus said in John 9:4, "We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." If man is wholly a passive recipient in salvation and is to do absolutely nothing, then when those Jews on the day of Pentecost asked, "What shall we do?" Peter would have said, "There is not anything that you can do. You must wait until you have received a direct operation of the Holy Spirit." But Peter did not tell them that. He gave them the terms of God's pardon and told them what they had to do. He said in Acts 2:38, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." How different was the answer that Peter gave and what denominational preachers give! Yes, there is something for man to do in order to acquire salvation. He must believe. John 20:30, 31 reads: "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." Man must not only believe but he must also repent. Paul said in Acts 17:30, "The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent." Repentance is an act of man but it is a command of God. Whenever we do anything that God has commanded us to do, we are doing something. Man must not only believe and repent, but he must also confess Christ. He is not to confess that "God for Christ's sake has pardoned his sins," but he is to confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We read in Rom. 10:10, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." And then man must be buried with Christ in baptism. Peter commanded, "Repent ye, and be baptized." (Acts 2:38) We read in Col. 2:12, "having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." Paul says in Rom. 6:4, "We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life." And then concerning the salvation of the eunuch in Acts the 8th chapter, we read in verse 38: "And he commanded the chariot to stand still and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." As to what one must do to become a child of God, one must believe, repent, confess, and be buried with Christ in baptism.

And now the fifth fact of salvation is that one must live the Christian life. Being baptized into Christ, we are the new creatures in Christ. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature." Being new and cleansed we should endeavor to stay that way. It is disappointing to the mother when the child whom she has cleansed turns to the filth and dirt again. It is more disappointing to God when His children, those who have become such by the cleansing power of Christ's blood turn again to sinful living. No plainer statement can be found in the New Testament which teaches the certainty of apostasy on the part of a child of God than what is given in 2 Peter 2:20-22. Notice: "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are again entangled and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the way of the righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. It has happened unto them according to the true proverb. The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire." It is imperative then, that the child of God remain faithful to the Lord if he is to someday receive his inheritance. The Christian who is faithful to the Lord can smile when things go wrong, he can love when others hate, he works while others sleep, he is willing to suffer for well-doing, and he is a real helper of the Lord. Why not become a Christian by doing the will of the Lord?