God's Plan Of Salvation
Larry V. Smith, Ph.D.
It was through Jesus that God reconciled the conflicting demands of justice
and mercy. A story is told of a young man who had put out both eyes of a
fellow citizen. Justice according to their law required that the young man
lose both of his eyes. When he was brought to trial the judge was none
other than his own father. (1)
In the heart of the judge there were the unyielding pulls of justice and
mercy. Justice must be assessed but mercy must find a way. The father
judge thought for a while and then lifted his head saying, "As your judge, I
can do no less than assess the full penalty of the law. Two eyes must be
taken. But as your father, I offer one of my eyes to help meet the demands
As we learn from the illustration. The whole accountable world was guilty
of sin (Rom 3:23). Sin is wrong. It separates man from God (Isa. 59:2).
Justice cries out for sin to be punished (Rom. 6:23). But mercy cries out
for man's pardon.
So God sent His Son to resolve the discordant claims of justice and grace.
We understand that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,
not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word
of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:19).
The word gives a way of reconciliation, the word gives a plan to obey, a
plan of salvation.
That plan of Salvation says you must:
Hear the Gospel. (John 20:30-31, Rom. 10:17)
Believe the Gospel. (Heb. 11:6, Rom. 1:16)
Repent of your sins. (Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30-31)
Confess Christ is the Son of God. (Matt. 10:32, Rom. 10:10)
Be Baptized. (Rom. 6:1-6, Col. 2:12, Acts 2:38)
Continue Faithful unto death. (II Pet. 1:1-11)
Salvation is conditional and that condition can only be met through
obedience. For God "will have all men to be saved, and come unto the
knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:3-4). If any are lost, it is not God's
fault, but theirs.
The Gospel of Christ saves who believe it and obey it: The Gospel of Christ
is the "power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" (Rom 1:16).
To obey the death, burial and resurrection Paul tells us to obey the form of
it:(Rom. 6:17-18). We obey from the heart the form of it by dying to sin
(repentance) and by being buried in a watery grave (immersion) and by being
raised to walk in the newness of life. Thus God planned for the baptism to
be something declarative and meaningful.
There is no surer way to learn what one must do to be saved than to go to
each place the question is asked and read the answer. The question "what
must I do to be saved" is only asked four times in the New Testament and one
of them was under the law of Moses.
It was asked of Christ by the rich young man. (Mk. 10:17) Jesus referred
him to the Ten Commandments because the Mosaic law was in force at that
time, for Christ had not yet died and been nailed to the cross. The young
man was told to sell his riches and give it to the poor, for his riches were
in heaven and to come take up the cross and follow him. The riches in this
case were a stumbling block. To follow Christ he needed to free himself of
the thing that held him back.
Under the New Testament:
The question was first asked "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts
2:37) The answer "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins." (Acts 2:38). They were not
told to hear or believe because they had already heard and believed to have
asked the question of what to do.
Question two: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). The
Answer: "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou
must do." (Acts 9:6) In the city he was told: "Arise, and be baptized, and
wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) He was
not told to believe and repent because he had already done this.
Question three: "Sirs what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30) The
answer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy
house." (Acts 16:31) This question was asked by a man who had never heard
the gospel and thus did not believe.
So he was told to believe, but not to believe only. (When Paul spoke of
salvation by faith, as he did here and in Rom. 5:1, he meant an obedient
faith. He said, "obedience to the faith," Rom 1:5 and "the obedience of
faith", Rom 16:26. Then Paul preached to the man that he might believe and
he repented and was baptized the same hour of the night (Acts 16:33).
Hence, he believed, repented and was baptized, as each did in every case.
All did exactly the same thing.
The example frequently used to explain this process is a gentleman asks how
far is it to Chicago. The answer is nine hundred miles. He drives three
hundred miles and asks the same question. Now he is told six hundred. He
drives three hundred miles further and asks the same question. This time
the answer is three hundred.
He was given three different answers to the same question, because he was at
different places on the road to Chicago. Now when you apply the same common
sense to the question of salvation. The inquirers were at different places
on the road to forgiveness.
The first had believed, so they were told to repent and be baptized.
The second had believed and repented, and was told to be baptized.
The third had never started on the road, so in a blanket way he was
told to believe (meaning an obedient belief) and then they preached to him
that he might and he repented and was baptized. All traveled over the same
road. All did the same things. There is no contradiction here.
The saved person -born again- can sin. John said, "If we say that we have
no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (I Jn. 1:8).
We are told to remain faithful unto death, however when we stumble we are to
go back to God and ask for his forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, he is
faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness." (I Jn. 1:9)
God has truly provided us with a way of salvation for life everlasting.
1.) God the Bible and Common Sense Leroy Brownlow, 1978 Brownlow Publishing
Co. Fort Worth, TX