“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ALWAYS READY to give an ANSWER to every man that asketh you a REASON of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”–1 Peter 3:15
This is a verse that every Christian should have memorized and highlighted and underlined in their Bible. The phrase “Always ready to give and answer”, is the heart of Apologetics and the defense of the Christian faith. I’m starting a new series as I begin doing in-depth study on some of the core doctrines, or teachings of the Christian church and really uncovering not only what we believe, but also why. This will be a great resource for you to begin your foundation on HUGE doctrinal issues. And I hope it will also be a launching pad for you to ask questions and study to find out more about these topics.
At the heart of the Christian faith is the doctrine of Salvation. It is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world. For, while some have teachings of redemption, only this one believes that their Messiah came to die to purchase salvation for mankind. Why does Man need to be saved? What is grace? How can we obtain salvation? What is the purpose of the Law? These are all questions that we should know the answers to, especially if we plan on explaining salvation to someone. So let me walk you through Scripture and help you find the answers.
Why Does Man Need to be Saved?
Every since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, Man has been separated from God by sin. What is sin?
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” –Isaiah 59:2
Because mankind sinned, we have been alienated from God(1 John 3:6). And you might say, “I didn’t sin, Adam and Eve did. Why am I being punished because they disobeyed God?”, God has an answer to that, and it’s found in the fact that sin did not exist in His perfect world before Adam and Eve disobeyed. The world was perfect and sin is not, God cannot even look upon sin, and when He created the world the Bible says, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good”. If God cannot look upon sin, it could not have been part of His “very good” creation. No, Adam and Eve brought sin into the world and now we live under sin.
“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
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” –Romans 3:23
Now, God is the Creator and giver of life; without Him there is no life, only continual and everlasting death and torment. So, we have a problem. We, being apart from God because of sin, now deserve and will eventually receive death. Death is not only the effect of sin, it is an enemy of God because it was not part of His perfect plan.
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” –1 Corinthians 15:26
The Law of God was given to the Children of Israel by Moses as they wandered in the desert after the exodus from Egyptian bondage. The Ten Commandments were God’s ten written laws for His people to follow and obey. But if man was already condemned by Adam’s sin, why did God give us the law? Could the law redeem us from our sins?
- THE POWER OF THE LAW
“(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” –Romans 5:13
“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” –1 Corinthians 15:56
“Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” –Romans 4:15
The power of the law is the revealing of sin to mankind. If there is no law to disobey, there is no disobedience. The power of the law is to impute sin to them who transgress the law. And we, who are sinners, only know that we sin by the law. But, if the law is just to condemn us, and we’ve been condemned already, what is it’s purpose?
- THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” –Galatians 3:24
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.“–Galatians 2:21
The law was made to reveal our sins and to impute them to us for the judgement to be served for our transgressions, but the purpose of the law is to contrast grace. It was always God’s plan that the law would condemn us, show us our humanity and helplessness, then that it would be replaced by grace: His free gift of pardon from sins(John 1:17). The law is God’s standard of righteousness, but only Jesus Christ ever fully kept the law and the spirit behind it. Therefore, righteousness doesn’t come by the law, but rather by grace.
- THE PROMISE OF THE LAW
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” –Romans 6:14
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” –Matthew 5:17
“Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” –Romans 5:20
Jesus came to fulfill the law and in doing so, appease God’s judgement against all mankind who had failed to do so. In fulfilling the law, God’s criteria for righteousness, Jesus Christ could live sinless–because He was virgin born, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and there was no sin of Adam in Him– and die the death we deserved to purchase our pardon from sin.
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”–Matthew 20:28
What is Grace?
Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Grace is when God says that we are no longer condemned by what we have done and that He has paid the price of our forgiveness and redemption by the blood of His Son.
- PENALTY VS PARDON
“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” –Romans 4:4
“But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” –Romans 5:15
In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus tells the story of a debtor who cannot pay what he owes his master. When the man begs for more time and promises to pay the full sum, the master forgives him of his debt. The same man goes then and finds a man who owes him money and demands it be paid. The forgiven debtor’s debtor then begs for more time, but the man refuses and has him thrown in prison.
When the forgiven debtor’s master finds out what he has done he asks him why, after he had been forgiven a great sum, would he not forgive also his fellow servant a small sum. The evil servant is then given up to his creditors to pay his great debts: for those who do not show forgiveness to their fellow man will not receive forgiveness from the Father(Matthew 18:23-35).
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” –Ephesians 1:7
“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” –Acts 26:18
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:“ –Colossians 1:14
Forgiveness comes through the blood of Jesus which was shed for all mankind on the cross. But it is not something we achieve or merit, it is something we receive by accepting the gift of God’s grace by faith. By grace, through faith, in Christ.
What About Works?
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9
“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.“ –Galatians 2:16
“But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;” –Romans 9:31-32
In these three verses we find that there are at least three parts of redemption and the Christian life that are not attainable by works: Salvation, Justification, and Righteousness. Salvation is deliverance from sin: Christ saves us from the penalty of sin and we are no longer bound for death and Hell. Justification is the removal of sins: Christ’s blood cleans us and makes it just as if we had never sinned in the eyes of God. Righteousness is the rejection of sin and a turning from it to follow after Christ. Christians should pursue righteousness for God is righteous and holy and we should strive to be like Him.
Yet, by works can none of this be accomplished. Works are the evidence of salvation and not the means to attain it. The Scriptures clearly say, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” –Titus 3:5
Is it working? No, its faith in the blood of Jesus, through the grace of God. We are not under the law, and by our works we could not fulfill the law; so Christ came to fulfill the law for us and to forgive us of our sin debt to God.
I’m really getting into this and there is so much more to study and learn. But, it’ll have to wait for another time. For now, take these verses and concepts and search them out, study them, meditate on them, explore the context. Salvation is the core belief of the Christian faith and it is important to believe it, to know why, and to be able to clearly give an answer to any man who asketh of you a reason for the hope that is in you.
As always, thanks for reading.
—the anonymous novelist