The Bible uses the term salvation in several different senses, all of which convey the idea of rescue or deliverance and/or its results: safety, relief, blessedness. The salvation that the AMC Statement* addresses has to do with the eternal forgiveness of sins by God and its glorious results for the one so forgiven. The Statement also declares how one may attain salvation in our present church age. *(Full AMC Statement)
We will examine every detail of the Statement. Each of its five sentences will serve as a major division. The first will be addressed in this issue, and the other four in the next edition or two.
Let us examine the components of this statement.
Yeshua is the Hebrew name from which the English name Jesus is derived, and means Salvation. It was a common name in Jesus' day, but it is not without significance that the name of Messiah was, and still is, Salvation. An angel of the Lord said to Joseph, And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
Messiah is the English form of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which comes from the root mashach, meaning to rub with oil, that is, to anoint (Strong's Concordance). A mashiach is one so anointed with oil (Smith's Bible Dictionary). In the Old Testament, men were consecrated to kingship by the pouring of a special anointing oil over their heads (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:10). However, Daniel 9:25 prophesied of one particular Mashiach, Messiah the Prince, who was to come at exactly the time that Jesus came. Christos, rendered in English Christ, is the Greek equivalent of Mashiach, and also means anointed. Whereas in the Old Testament men were anointed by the pouring of oil, Messiah Yeshua was anointed by means of the measureless endowment of the Holy Spirit poured upon Him by God. John 3:34: For he whom God has sent, speaks the words of God; for God hath not given the Spirit by measure [to him].
The messiahship of Yeshua can be demonstrated beyond doubt through an examination of many detailed prophecies and their exact fulfillment in His life. Of the dozens
of such prophecies and their fulfillment in Yeshua, a few of the naturally verifiable ones are: He would be a descendant of King David (Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:1 and Luke 1:31-33); He would be
born in Bethlehem of Judah (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1); He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:1-17; Matthew 26:15); He would be pierced (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:35); His
tormentors would divide his garments between them and cast lots for his vesture (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24); He would be resurrected (Psalm 16:10 and 22:22; Matthew 28:6 and 1 Corinthians 15:6).
Statisticians have determined that it is a virtual impossibility for one man to fulfill even a handful of such prophecies by chance.
According to Dr. Norman Geisler,
There are at least forty-eight prophecies in the Old Testament about Messiah. These include where he would be born
(Mic. 5:2), how he would die (Isa. 53), when he would die (Dan. 9), that he would rise from the dead (Psa. 16), etc. The odds that 48 of these prophecies were fulfilled in one man
are about 1/10157. That’s right, a 1 with 157 zeroes after it.
(Geisler, Norman L. and Brooks, Ronald M., Come, Let us Reason, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids,
Michigan, 1990, p. 145)
The number of electrons in the universe is a "piddling" 1 followed by 80 zeroes! Surely, any honest student of the Scriptures must conclude that Yeshua is HaMashiach, the Messiah.
In the Scriptures, savior is used of earthly deliverers from earthly troubles, but also of the divine Deliverer from our sins, from the power of sin, and from all of sin's earthly and eternal penalties and curses, unto eternal salvation and the uttermost heavenly blessings. It is this latter understanding of Savior that we employ in reference to Jesus.
To redeem means to buy back. When we use this term in reference to Jesus, we mean, figuratively speaking, that He bought us back from enslavement to sin, and from judgment because of sin.
Ephesians 1:7: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins....
Romans 8:23: And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body.
These scriptures declare that:
The Greek word translated faith and belief is pistis, which Strong's defines as persuasion, moral conviction, assurance, belief. The word for trust is elpidzo, meaning to expect, to have confidence in. The three terms, then, basically mean the same thing: to be persuaded of something, to hold something to be true, to have confidence in.
What is belief? A man is drowning in the sea, and a lifeline is throw to him from a passing ship. The man grasps for and clings to that lifeline believing that it is his salvation. He has faith that it will hold him. He trusts in it.
Ephesians 2:8: For by grace you are saved through faith....
Romans 5:1: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As an inquirer's understanding of the Gospel grows, he must actively exercise faith in Messiah to be saved just as the drowning man must actively reach for, grasp and cling to the lifeline. Indeed, active reception of faith may have to be encouraged or urged by the evangelist. Jesus Himself urged, Repent, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). Though faith may be encouraged or urged, it is not something that can be forced. In 380 A.D., Emperor Theodosius commanded everyone in the Roman Empire to follow the faith which "Peter delivered to the Romans", and suppressed all other religions. (The Bible doesn't say that Peter delivered the faith to the Romans.) Such an approach is absurd whether it be personal evangelism or emperor evangelism. It tends to drive people away rather than attract them, and may bring long-lasting, devastating results as did Theodosius' decree. True Christian faith cannot be forced; it is a matter of the heart (Romans 10:9-10), of personal persuasion.
1. What, Exactly, Do We Need to Have Faith
Having faith in, trusting in, or believing in Messiah means trusting in who He is and in the work that He did to purchase our redemption. Let's look at five passages of Scripture, and then list the essentials:
2 Corinthians 5:21: For He [Father] has made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus].
9. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe
in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. 10. for with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto
(It's the belief in the heart that saves, and the confession of the lips is the fruit and evidence of the faith that saves, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks [Matthew 12:34].)
John 8:24: Jesus said to some Pharisees: For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.
1. And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand; 2. by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, 4. and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ~
2 Timothy 2:8: Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel....
These essentials for belief can be derived from these scriptures:
a. Jesus died for our sins.
b. Jesus was a man.
He was not merely a spirit as some have held, but a true flesh and blood man. How can a mere spirit be crucified and die? It is impossible for one to believe that Jesus died for our sins if He were a mere spirit.
c. Jesus was a sinless man.
If He was a sinner, His death could not suffice for even his own salvation; but Jesus was sinless in deed and, even more fundamentally and significantly, in His very nature.
d. Jesus was God.
34. Then Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, since I do not know a man? 35. And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore also that Holy One which will be born of you shall be called Son of God.
~ Luke 1:34-35 ~
It was the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit upon Mary that brought about His divine conception
(Son of God) and established the absolute holiness/sinlessness of His nature (Holy
One). Romans 10:9 states plainly, Jesus is Lord, which means that Jesus is God; specifically, the second Person of the
Triune God. If Jesus were a mere man, sinless in nature and deed (if that were possible), His death could conceivably atone for just one sinner; but because He was God as well as a man (and still
is), He was able to atone for the sins of all mankind, consistent with what John the Immerser said, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin
of the world (John 1:29).
e. Jesus was buried.
The burial of Jesus served as observable proof that He really did die, laying the groundwork for belief in His death for sin and in His resurrection. He was removed from the cross, embalmed, wrapped in winding sheets, and placed in a tomb. A large stone was rolled to seal the entrance, the official Roman seal was placed across the stone and the rim of the entrance to ensure that no one would dare steal the body, and Roman soldiers guarded his tomb for the same purpose. The burial of Jesus ensured that, by unmistakable observable benchmarks and extreme security measures, He really was dead.
f. Jesus was raised from the dead.
Why is it necessary to believe this to attain salvation? If Christ paid for our sins at the cross, then do we not have salvation whether or not He rose from the dead?
Romans 5:10 is key to rightly dividing between the work of the cross and the work of the resurrection:
For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled,
we shall be saved by His life.
According to the passage, 1. the work of the cross reconciles us to God, and 2. the work of His resurrection saves those who believe.
Let us first consider the work of reconciliation through Christ's death, and then the work of salvation by His life.
1) The Work of Reconciliation Through Christ's Death
We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. (Romans 5:10a).
2 Corinthians 5:19-20 and Ephesians 2:15b-16 bring more clarity to the work of reconciliation:
19. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not
imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us. 20. Then we are ambassadors on behalf
of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 ~
Ephesians 2:15b-16: 15b. ...in Himself He might make the two [Gentiles and Jews] into one new man, making peace between them; 16. and so that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity in Himself.
Let's focus on three statements in these passages:
a. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19a). God's work of reconciliation does not apply just to the saved, but to the world.
b. Jesus reconciled the entire world of sinners to God . . . by the cross, having slain the enmity between sinners and God in Himself (Ephesians 2:16). In doing so, He rendered the entire world of sinners savable.
c. we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19-20b). The individual has a choice as to whether to be reconciled to God, or not.
So we see that two parties need to be in agreement for mutual reconciliation to take place. God did His part: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Now, the sinner must be reconciled to God by receiving God's sacrifice through faith.
Now, Romans 5:10 again, which focuses on believers: For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Christ's death reconciled us to God, rendering us savable. Then, by faith, we grabbed on to God's work of reconciliation through Christ that we might be reconciled to God. This leads us to consider . . .
2) The Work of Salvation by Christ's Life
we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:10b).
Salvation by Christ's resurrection life entails salvation by the ascended Christ in three main areas: His sending of the Holy Spirit, His present heavenly ministries on our behalf, and His eschatological or future ministries on our behalf.
a) Messiah's Sending of the Holy Spirit
We grabbed on to God's work of reconciliation through Christ that we might be reconciled to God. At this stage, we were like that man hanging on to that lifeline to avoid drowning - but one more thing was needful for him: power exerted from above to lift him out of the sea and into the ship called Salvation. Similarly, as we hung on to the lifeline of reconciliation that God tossed us, power from above was yet needed to lift us into God's ship of Salvation and all of its blessings. That power from above is the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus sent after His resurrection and ascension (John 16:7) that we might be saved by His life. If the Lord had not attained resurrection life He would not have ascended, and the Holy Spirit would not have been given, and it is the Holy Spirit, His [Christ's] divine power that has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3); and Messiah's resurrection was prerequisite to the release of His divine power.
It was the sending of the Spirit that enabled us to become temples of God by virtue of being indwelt by the Spirit (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), to be given
a divine nature and made a new creation by means of regeneration (John 3:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 1:23; 2 Peter 1:4), to be empowered for victory over sin (Romans 8:1-4), anointed for
spiritual discernment and conviction of the essentials of the faith (1 Corinthians 2:12-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20,27), sealed for the eternal securing of our salvation (2 Corinthians
1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13), and baptized by the Spirit into the church (1 Corinthians 12:13), which itself was created by the outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 2).
b) Messiah's Present Heavenly Ministries on Our Behalf
c) Messiah's Eschatological or Future Ministries on Our Behalf
The Lord's resurrection ensures the fulfillment of these biblical promises toward His church: our resurrection or translation at the rapture, at which time we will receive our spiritual, glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:20-44; 1 Thessalonians 4:14); the reception of our rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-14); our marriage to Him in Heaven (Revelation 19:6-8); our marriage banquet with Him at the beginning of the Millennium (Revelation 19:9); His Second Coming and our return to rule and reign with Him in the Messianic Kingdom (Revelation 5:10; 19:11-21; Revelation 20:4,6; Jude 1:14; Rev. 19:14); the ushering in of the eternal ages and the creation of the new heavens, new earth and new Jerusalem, our eternal glorious abode from that time forth in the presence of the Triune God, the entire company of the holy angels and the all saints of all ages (Hebrews 12:22-23; Revelation 21:1-27).
If Messiah had not attained resurrection life, we who exercised faith would be in a strange fix, indeed - if we would have exercised faith in a dead Messiah, to begin with! - no Spirit outpouring, no heavenly ministries by Messiah on our behalf, no eschatological glory. But Christ is risen. Therefore we can say,
For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,
much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life
~ Romans 5:10 ~
To review from our previous study, sin is any spiritual condition, thought, word or deed that is contrary to the moral perfection of God. All people are born with a sin nature (Jeremiah 17:19; Romans 7:23; Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 5:19-21) and sin in thought, word and deed (Psalm 14:2-3; Roman 2:1, 3:9, 3:23; Isaiah 53:6, 64:6; 1 John 1:8). Sin estranges man from God (Romans 3:23) and man from man (Genesis 3:11), and has brought the curse upon the earth (Genesis 3:14-19). In short, sin is the root cause of every form and instance of misery and suffering in time and eternity.
The horror of sin can but begin to be fathomed by comparing the carnage and suffering and devastation and disease and death and godlessness that so characterize this planet with the idyllic and pristine environment provided our first parents in Eden as they enjoyed unblemished and full fellowship with the Lord. But the extent to which man can appreciate the horror of sin cannot begin to be compared to the depths of such appreciation by an infinitely holy and loving omniscient God. Let's not forget that it was sin that killed His Son and isolated Him for three hours from His Father as He hung on the cross (Luke 23:44-45; Matthew 27:46).
Surely, it is justifiable that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), meaning separation from God culminating in an eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15). Yes, the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).
Upon exercising faith in Messiah, one is not only forgiven of sin, but becomes a child of God. All people are children of God by virtue of being part of God's natural creation (Acts 17:29); but upon exercising faith in Messiah, one becomes a child of God in a spiritual sense by virtue of being regenerated, born again, by the Holy Spirit:
John 1:12-13: 12. But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name. 13. who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God.
3. Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4. Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born? 5. Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.
~ John 3:3-7 ~
One becomes a spiritual child of God by virtue of being born of the Spirit, Who is God; and as a child of God he is heirs of divine blessings.
15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! 16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. 17. And if
children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer [with him], that we may be also glorified together.
~ Romans 8:15-17 ~
The Statement declares that one who exercises faith in Messiah is forgiven of sin and becomes a child of God immediately. One of the thieves crucified with Jesus said to Him, 42. Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. 43. And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you shall be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:42-43). As soon as the thief believed in Jesus he was immediately forgiven of his sins and became a child of God.
The Statement also declares that this salvation is available to anyone:
John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Indeed, The Lord does... not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In Revelation 3:20, Jesus offers salvation to the many apostates in the visible Laodicean church of our day: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me. (An apostate is one who has departed from the faith he professed to have, but never really did have.) "Whosoever", "any", "anyone".
No matter how horrible our sins, simply having faith or belief or trust in Messiah moves God to forgive us of our sins and to absolve us of all of its penalties. Three murderers were eternally forgiven of their sins because, at some point in their lives, they exercised saving faith in Messiah: Moses (Exodus 2:12), David (2 Samuel 11:14-17) and Saul of Tarsus (Acts 7:58-8:1).
"What must I do to be saved?" was the cry of the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:30).
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved," was the reply of Paul and
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but
have everlasting life". (John 3:16)
"And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel.... that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures". (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Jesus implored His listeners, "Believe the Gospel". So we humbly implore you.
Please let me know if you've just begun to believe.
God bless you!