“Receiving the Free Gift of Salvation”
Hello, and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. When talking about salvation, one of the first questions some people ask is this, what do I need to do to get it? Well in asking that question, they think salvation can be earned, deserved, or perhaps even purchased. They may also believe salvation can be added to one's life in order to make one's life just a little bit better. Well, nowhere in the Bible do we find such statements. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we can earn salvation or it is something we deserve if we do enough good deeds here on the Earth. In fact, the Bible teaches something quite different. It teaches that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, and if we believe in Him we can receive not only His salvation but all of the blessings and promises that come with it. And perhaps the best part is this, God's salvation is free and He makes available to everyone. In today's lesson, on "Key to the Kingdom," our focus will be on identifying this free gift and how we can receive it. We will notice the great sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and how through His death, burial, and resurrection we are set free from sin. If you are seeking a new or better relationship with God, or if you want to know more about what the Bible says in regards to salvation, I hope you will stay tuned to this station. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together.
Throughout history, there have been many important and significant events that have changed our lives. Depending upon who we are, depending upon where we live, those things still affect us. We might be talking about presidential elections in a country, or natural disasters that have reshaped the landscape, perhaps the lives of prominent people, or even the death of one of our loved ones. And yet, there is one event in history that surpasses them all. It affects every single person on the face of this Earth, and that is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The primary message of the Bible revolves around that one single event, and there is nothing that is more important. Listen to these words from the apostle Paul, because that is exactly what he said. In 1st Corinthians chapter 15, beginning with verse 1, we read his words. <"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..."> The apostle Paul makes it very plain that this is an important message. There is nothing more important that he could share with the Christians in the city of Corinth than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes, this message was at the top of his list. It was of primary importance. It was his number one priority. And the reason why that message is so important is because of sin. Yes, sin has entered into this world, and it affects all of us. Paul also wrote these words in Romans chapter 5, verses 12 and 13. <"Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned..."> Now even though his name is not mentioned here, sin came into the world through Adam. Sin originated with Adam because he disobeyed God. He sinned against God. And now, as a result of that, we have to deal with the problem of sin. Sin produces death. It separates us from God. And that is the problem with which we have to deal, every single day. And the issue is we have no solution for that sin problem. There is no way for us to come up with a solution or an answer to get rid of our sin. That is one reason why Jesus came to this Earth. He came to do that for us. He came to take away the curse of sin and the sting of death so that we can be pure and right in the sight of God, and have a relationship with Him. Yes, Jesus came to this Earth to provide a way for our sin to be forgiven. And perhaps the most amazing thing about that is Jesus himself was sinless. He was innocent. There was no sin in His life. And yet, He took your sin and my sin with Him when He went to the cross and He died for every single person. Yes, Jesus died physically so that we can live spiritually and eternally. And, His death paid the price for our sin. That price was un-payable. In fact, there is absolutely nothing that we can do to pay for the debt of sin that we have. Jesus did that for us when He went to the cross and when He purchased our salvation. He purchased eternal life for us when He gave His life for us. One of the greatest passages of Scripture, in my mind, that identifies that, is found in Romans chapter 5. Listen to these words from Paul in verses 6 through 8. <You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.> Now that is an amazing statement; that, in the midst of my sin Jesus died for me. In the midst of my rebellion toward God, God still loved me, even to the point He sent His son to die on my behalf. What a wonderful thought; that God, in His immense love, not only for me but for you and for everyone else, sent His son to die. And, that was not a way to punish His son, but rather it was an example of His love for all of us. We also notice that our salvation is not purchased by the good deeds or the good works that we might do. Our salvation has already been purchased by what God has done through Jesus Christ. Salvation is not received when we make a number of sacrifices to idols or to images, when we give lots of money or say many prayers. That doesn't secure our salvation any more than if we didn't do any of that. Yes, salvation is received when we humbly accept what God has already done through His son Jesus Christ. And so we might ask ourselves the question, how then do we humbly accept, how then do we humbly receive what God has done for us through His son, and obtain that salvation? Well, there are many places in the New Testament that tell us of our response, and all of these things are important. All of them are significant. One is not more important than the rest, but all of these things work together in order to bring salvation into our life. I want to highlight a few of these that are mentioned here in the New Testament part of the Bible. First of all, we believe in Jesus. We believe that He is God's son. We believe that He did die upon a cross, was buried in a tomb, and then rose again from the grave. In His public ministry, a group of people came to Jesus one day and they asked Him a very important question about what they needed to do to be right with God. And Jesus gave them an answer that perhaps surprised them. And that conversation is recorded in John chapter 6, verses 28 and 29. <Then they asked Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”> Well, there's a very simple answer. What does God require? He requires that we believe in the one He has sent, Jesus himself. We put our faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that He is God's representative here upon this Earth. And those words still apply to us today! We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe He is God's son. In fact, faith is at the heart of our salvation. And, if we don't believe in Jesus then anything else that we might do, anything else that we might think or believe is not worth anything. It all begins with believing in Jesus Christ. There's a story that's recorded for us in the book of Acts, chapter 16. Paul and Silas, two followers of Jesus, were persecuted and thrown into prison because they were proclaiming the Good News message of Jesus Christ, but that did not prevent them from continuing to do so. Late into the night as they were singing and rejoicing, an earthquake shook the ground and the prison cells were opened up. And the guard came running in, knowing that he was responsible and if these prisoners escaped then he would be punished, perhaps even put to death. And so he asks a very important question. He said, "What must I do to be saved?" And Paul responded, in chapter 16 and verse 31, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." This man, perhaps, did not know much anything else, except what perhaps he heard from Paul and Silas and their proclamation of the message. And so Paul told him, the first thing you do; you believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Believe in the one and only Son of God. Well, not only do we put our faith in Jesus, not only do we believe that He is God's one and only son, we also confess Jesus as the Lord. And, what does that mean? Well, it simply means that we are not afraid to stand up for Jesus. We are not afraid to represent Jesus in this world. We are not afraid if someone asks us "do you know Jesus?" or "do you belong to Jesus?" We immediately say, "Yes I do. He is my Lord and my Savior." Oh, the apostle Paul was not ashamed of Jesus. Listen to these words from Roman's 1:16. <" I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."> The gospel he refers to there is that same Good News message we noticed at the very beginning of our lesson from 1st Corinthians chapter 15. The gospel, or the Good News, revolves around the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's one and only son. We see a little glimpse there of believing in Jesus and confessing Jesus is Lord. He takes that to further depths in chapter 10 of Romans. Notice how he ties those two things together in verses 9 and 10. <"If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."> Paul says both things are important. Believe in your heart, you will be saved. Confess Jesus as Lord, you be saved. Both believing and confessing in Jesus Christ work hand-in-hand in order to bring about one's salvation. And as we think about confessing Jesus as Lord, we recognize that it goes far beyond simply saying the words "Jesus is Lord." It goes far beyond simply stating the fact that Jesus died upon the cross and was raised up from the dead. Confessing Jesus as Lord involves the totality of our life. It involves everything that we say and everything that we do as we represent Him, as we recognize that it is through Jesus that God brings salvation to us. And so, by confessing Jesus as Lord it means that we submit to Him. He indeed is the Lord of our life, and we walk with Him and in submission to Him each and every day. There is something else the people did once they understood the importance and significance of His death, burial, and resurrection. Not only did they believe in Jesus and confess Him as Lord, they were also baptized into Jesus. Now baptism, or immersion, is the outward expression of what has already taken place in one's heart. It is clothing ourselves with Jesus. We put Jesus on in baptism, as we turn away from the things of this world and we begin to devote ourselves to the things and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We identify with Him in baptism. He becomes part of us and we become part of Him. And it is the outward demonstration of our belief in Jesus, that He is powerful to save us from the sin in our life. Yes, baptism is all of those things and more. But basically, baptism is the end of a life in the past and the beginning of a brand-new life that lies ahead. The story is told, in Acts chapter 2, about thousands of people assembling in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Many of Jesus' followers were there, and one of them was named Peter, one of His apostles. And on behalf of the rest of them, he got up and he shared the story of Jesus Christ. He told the people about who Jesus was, and what He had done, and the impact that He had upon society. He also said, "You are guilty of crucifying the Son of God, but God raised Him up from the dead, anyway." And with powerful words, he shared the story of Jesus Christ. And at the end of it the people asked, "What do we need to do in regards to that?" And Peter told them these words, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Oh, there are many things in that passage we could talk about for a few moments, but I want us to notice one important ingredient there, that's found. He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and when they did that they would receive the forgiveness of their sin. They were not be baptized in the name of some other person. They were not baptized into some church, or religious group, or on behalf of somebody else, but they themselves were immersed, or baptized into Jesus Christ, and when that happened, they received the forgiveness of their sin. It is true for us, still today. We are baptized into Jesus and we not only receive the forgiveness of sin but we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And that is God's mark of approval upon us, His acceptance of us; that, we belong to Him and He belongs to us. It is through that process that we receive salvation, understanding that Jesus is the originator and the source and the foundation of our salvation. Here's one more passage I want us to think about in regards to baptism. We find these words in 1st Peter 3:21. <"This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also —not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ..."> Once again, we find that water baptism is the outward expression, or the outward symbol, of a pledge that we make to God to honor Him, because of our belief in Jesus and His resurrection. And so, we are baptized into Jesus to let the world know that we now belong to Him. As I said a moment ago, all of those things are important. All of those things are necessary in order to receive the Lord's salvation. They all work together in order to receive the free gift that God offers to each and every one of us. And yet as important as all of those things are, we recognize the fact that it is still by God's grace we are saved. And so, we receive God's grace, and that too is a part of our salvation process. Notice these words from the apostle Paul which are found in Ephesians chapter 2, beginning with verse 4. He writes, <"Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God —not by works, so that no one can boast."> Three times in those verses we find the word grace. We also find the words love and kindness and mercy. And yes, that plays a very significant role in our salvation, because without God's grace and through our faith in Jesus Christ we have no salvation. Oh, there are no amount of works that we can do. In fact, that's the way, Paul concludes that passage. It is not by our own efforts or our good deeds, but it is by what God has already done. Never can we say to the Lord, "Look at how good I am. Look at what I have done. Certainly I am worthy and deserve this free gift." Oh, God has already provided through His son, Jesus Christ. By His amazing grace, and our faith in Jesus and obedience to Him, it is then that we can receive it. Here's another passage that says basically the same thing, in 2nd Timothy 1:8-9. <"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or ashamed of me His prisoner. But, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace."> Yes, God is so in love with each and every one of us that He has put together a plan. He has a purpose and a plan to set us free from sin. And all of it is because of His love. It's because of His amazing grace. It revolves around the gift that He has already given through His son Jesus Christ. Receiving this free gift of salvation, as Paul points out over and over again, does not depend on our own efforts. It doesn't depend on our good deeds or our works. We simply respond to what God has done, through faith, and through confessing Jesus as Christ, and then by being immersed into Him. Oh, salvation is a matter of humbly responding to what God has already done. When I think about that, I realize that He is the one who came up with the plan. God is the one who first loved us. God is the one who offered His son as a free gift, upon the cross, so that we might live with Him eternally. And when we understand that, we have the natural response of believing in Jesus Christ as God's one and only son, knowing that what He did for us through His death, burial, and resurrection brings us into eternal life. We also confess Jesus as our Lord, not ashamed to represent Him in all of our living. And then, we are baptized, or immersed, into Jesus Christ, into His name alone, where we receive the forgiveness of our sin and the promise of eternal life. Oh, the free gift of salvation can never be underestimated, as we recognize the great sacrifice God made for us, and the sacrifice His son made by dying upon the cross. With those things in mind, let's go now to our Father in prayer. <<Holy God in heaven, we thank You so very much for Your love for us. That even in the midst of our sin, transgression, and rebellion, You sent Your son Jesus to die on our behalf. We thank You for that. We thank You for sending Your son Jesus, and then raising Him up from the dead after He died upon the cross, so now we have the opportunity to believe in Him, to be identified with Him, and through that have an eternal home with You. Thank You Father for Your great love, for Your amazing grace. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.>> My hope and my prayer, my encouragement for everyone watching this program today, is that you have received God's most precious gift; that you recognize who Jesus is and what He has done, the free gift of salvation that God offers to you; and, that you are willing to respond, as so many did throughout the stories that we find here in the Bible, and allow your response to impact your life from this day forward as you give your life to Jesus in belief, and confession, and baptism. I pray that you will receive that free gift of salvation, today.
Thank you for being with us today on "Key to the Kingdom." I hope this salvation message encouraged you to think very carefully about how God demonstrates His great love. If you want to know more about His free gift of salvation, perhaps we can help. Part of our ministry involves offering free Bible studies to those who request them. There are two ways you can do that. You can call the number on the screen, leave your name and address, and will be happy to send a study to you in just a few short days. It contains six separate lessons and it will guide you into a closer walk with the Lord. Through our website, you can also download and work through the same Bible study. In addition to that, there is a link to previous messages and a link to short devotional thoughts. Perhaps both of them will bless you in your study of God's Word. All of these studies and lessons, both through the website and through mail, are absolutely free and require no commitment of any kind. Something else we added not long ago is a free channel on Roku television. You might be interested in viewing "Key to the Kingdom" through that means, as well. Please know that through all of these avenues we simply want to assist you in growing closer to the Lord and in receiving His free gift of salvation. Please let me say again, thank you for tuning in to today's broadcast. I do hope the message was a blessing to you. I also hope you will want to join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."