Sin is the breaking of God’s moral law (which reaches back to Creation and is embodied in the spirit and letter of the Ten Commandments).
Everyone has broken God’s law.
The penalty ("wages") of sin is death.
This is not the death that happens when our life ends.
This is the "second death" which will happen to the lost when they cease to exist in any form, forever.
Salvation is God’s act of saving us from the penalty of sin.
God makes it perfectly clear that there is only one way to be saved.
There is only one way to Heaven.
Jesus is the Way.
We are saved solely by God’s grace, through faith (belief) in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for our sins.
We are saved the moment we are justified (made righteous in God’s eyes and fitted for Heaven).
When we confess and repent of our sins, and in sincerity ask God for forgiveness in Jesus’ name, God attributes to us Christ’s righteousness.
(To repent means to regret, to be sorry for).
There is absolutely nothing that we can do of ourselves to earn our salvation.
It is not a reward, it is a gift.
You don’t earn a gift. If you did earn a gift in any way, it wouldn’t be a gift.
You might ask: what about all those people who lived before Jesus and all those who have never heard His name?
Since Creation, salvation has always been a matter of faith; faith that confession of and repentance for sins will result in God’s forgiveness.
This forgiveness has been available through the confessor’s sins being borne by a Messiah (promised to Adam and Eve), a literal sacrificial lamb and finally the Lamb of God (Jesus).
God gives everyone a chance to respond to the Holy Spirit’s call on their heart, on their conscience, to confess, repent and turn away from sin.
We all know right from wrong, and salvation is available to us all until we die, unless we continue in committing the "unpardonable sin".
Those who respond to the call of God’s Spirit, and live up to the "light" they have received from God, will be saved.
Those who reject God’s call will be lost.
We don’t have all the answers as to how God will judge everyone who has ever existed.
We must simply trust God as the perfect judge.
The audio sermon below is worth listening to; or download here.
To avoid spoiling the beautiful message, the music towards the end (~mins 53-59) can to be skipped.
A popular misconception is that once we are "saved" that’s it; we are guaranteed a place in Heaven.
This "once saved, always saved" doctrine is not Biblical and is extremely dangerous; it is eternal life-threatening.
If we willingly choose to continue to sin after once being justified, then the sacrifice of Jesus is to no effect and we will again be lost. Rom 6:15-16; Heb 10:26-27
"Why should I bother with religion? I’m a good person.
I haven’t robbed a bank or killed anyone.
I’m honest on my tax return and I don’t cheat on my wife.
I donate to charity, in fact I sponsor an orphan in India.
If there’s a heaven then I’ll be there, because I deserve to be."
Something along these lines could be in the minds of many people you and I know.
Sadly, but of necessity, Heaven is not automatic.
Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
If we reject God’s call to make Jesus the Lord of our life, we will be lost.
That’s the plain fact.
There will be many tears for God to "wipe away".
God will rid the universe of sin, and sinners, at some time in the future, when Jesus returns.
Sin results in suffering and God doesn’t want anyone to suffer, because He loves us all so much.
He has given us a way out through His infinite Sacrifice on the Cross.
He offers us an eternity of perfect peace, joy and wonders beyond imagination..all for free.
Why would anyone reject God’s gift?
God’s justice is tempered with mercy. His plan of salvation shows that mercy which, like His justice, results from His love for us.
God, in the person of the Word (Jesus), the Creator of the universe, became one of His own creations.
He identified with our humanity by becoming human. Incredible.
He took on all our sins and paid the price for them.
He faced eternal death, and chose to risk ceasing to exist so that we might live.
On the Cross, Jesus could not see past the grave.
He did not have assurance of His resurrection at that point.
He was totally cut of from the Father and all of Heaven.
Despite the complete darkness within Him, He went through this agony of separation, for us.
He chose our eternal life ahead of His own.
I believe that the Bible tells us that Jesus will retain for eternity our human nature, even His physical human form, while relinquishing His personal pre-incarnate divine attributes such as omnipresence and omnipotence.
The verses are there: Acts 1:9-11; Phil 2:5-11; Phil 3:20-21 and perhaps others.
Jesus will return as He left, as Jesus. There won't be a second incarnation. He won't be doing a quick-change act.
Jesus was perfect, hence His sacrifice was perfect and sufficient.
His sacrifice, however, is not limited to 33 years on this planet and risking His eternity on the Cross.
That, in itself, would be much, much more than we deserve.
Jesus’ sacrifice is eternal, infinite.
He gave up a portion of His divine power and presence forever! ...for us!
He knew exactly what was to happen, and He went ahead with it. He agreed to the plan.
That’s how closely He relates to us.
That’s how much He cares about us...every single person.
Yes, that’s how much He loves us, but that’s also how much He likes us!
He wants to be our friend and our brother.
As simple and as beautiful as that.
Think about it.
What sort of God do we have?
The best God imaginable.
His plan of salvation fits perfectly.