“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This famous quote by Benjamin Franklin would be accepted by men of all religions. Death is a certainty that we witness before our eyes every day. We all know it will one day be our turn to die.
But is death the end? If it is not and we indeed have eternal souls that live on then what becomes of them? Is there a heaven and a hell? If there is how can we be saved from going to hell?
The only way to answer our questions about what happens after death is to first answer the question of our existence? How did the world come to be? How did man come to be?
The Bible answers all these deep questions of life and many more questions.
Before we proceed I want to talk about why I am addressing this subject. This is a gender roles blog. I talk about gender roles, dating, marriage and sexuality for the most part. I plan on keeping those focuses as there are many good Christian websites that talk about the God, salvation, the Bible and a host of other important topics to Christians.
There are much fewer sites that talk about gender roles, dating, marriage and sexuality and a tiny fraction of them talk about these subjects the way I do. So I do feel this is where the Lord has called me to focus the majority of my time and energy as true Biblical teaching in these areas is so badly need in our modern feminist world.
But lately I have felt the Lord leading me to speak on salvation as I have had many emails from people asking about salvation and even my own teens were asking some questions about salvation after attending a church teen conference. It is not as though I have not talked about salvation before on this site. I have mentioned salvation several times amongst many of my posts. But here I wanted to dedicate an entire article completely to the subject of salvation.
Some people might think only non-Christians have questions about salvation but in truth many professing believers have questions about salvation. I am going to try and answer some of the most common questions people have about salvation from a Biblical perspective.
The most important question we must first answer
“Is there a God?” This is the question that every person must answer for themselves before they can answer any of the other deep questions of life.
The Bible tells us that creation itself is a testimony to the existence of God:
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” – Romans 1:20 (KJV)
So what the Bible is telling us is that all we have to do is look around us at the perfection and beauty of the earth and all the life in it as well as the universe and we will see evidence for the existence of God. Contrary to what evolutionists teach – creation itself is the greatest rebuttal to evolution without a person ever having to crack open a Bible.
But if there really is a God why does he allow bad things to happen?
This is a question that causes many people to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the evidence of the existence of God from creation. “Why would God allow people to die from the most horrific diseases when he could save them and cure them instantly?” “Why does God allow wars, genocide, murder and rape? He could stop all these things and yet he does not.”
The Bible answers this question:
“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” – Psalm 15:3 (KJV)
The answer to the question of why if there is a God does he allow bad things to happen is that God is not obligated to intervene in the affairs of this world – he does as he pleases.
Yes God has in times past directly intervened in his creation either to punish some men or assist some others. But it is always in accordance with his plan.
I realize that is not an answer that many people like. But just because you don’t like the answer to a question does not mean it is not true. And just because you don’t like how God chooses to intervene or not intervene does not make him exist any less. As he said to Moses “I Am That I Am” (Exodus 3:14).
Ok so there is a God but did he only speak through one people?
The Bible answers this question as well:
“19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord.” – Psalm 147:19-20 (KJV)
God revealed his Word through one nation of this world and one nation alone – Israel. He preserved it for us in written form in the Bible.
So does the Bible tell us there is a heaven and a hell?
The Bible tells us there is indeed a heaven and it the place from which God sites on his throne and oversees the affairs of his creation.
“And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.” – I Kings 22:19 (KJV)
“The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” – Psalm 11: 4(KJV)
The Bible also tells us there is a place called hell:
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28 (KJV)
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” – Luke 16:23 (KJV)
This is what in store for those who enter God’s presence in heaven:
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – Revelation 21:4 (KJV)
There is no more crying, death, sorrow or pain in heaven. Only the sheer joy of being in the presence of God himself.
But hell is described in very much the opposite terms:
“But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 8:12 (KJV)
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8 (KJV)
The Bible describes hell as a place of weeping, sorrow and pain. It is a place of fire and burning – it is the second death.
Why would God send anyone to hell? Why does he not just bring everyone to heaven?
The reason that God sends people to hell is the same reason that a judge sentences people to prison and sometimes even to death.
It is because God is just.
“12 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 (KJV)
“For the wages of sin is death…” – Romans 6:23a (KJV)
The Bible tells us that Adam, the first man broke God’s law and his sin nature was passed to all his descendants. Because all of us sin by breaking God’s law we deserve the second death – we deserve to go to hell when we die in this life.
So how can we be saved from hell and the second death?
God knew even before he made man that man would eventually sin against him and would need a way to be saved from the second death. So even before God created gave life to Adam he already had a plan in place to offer salvation to mankind.
The Bible says that Christ’s death was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” in I Peter 1:20 and Christ is called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” in Revelation 13:8.
700 years before Christ died on the cross the prophet Isaiah spoke about why he would do this:
“4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6 (KJV)
Christ himself before he died and rose again told the Jewish teachers the way to salvation:
“28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” – John 6:28-29 (KJV)
John tells us that when we receive Jesus Christ we become children of God:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” – John 1:12 (KJV)
Paul tells us we specifically what we must believe about Jesus Christ:
“9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)
We must believe that just Christ was not just a man, and he was not just a lord, but THE Lord of all creation. We must believe it when Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am.”(John 8:58) We must believe that we have broken God’s law and are in need of salvation and that Christ’s death on the cross paid for our salvation. We must believe he died and was buried and rose again for us. If we truly believe these things in our heart then we become children of God and are saved from the second death in hell and later the lake of fire.
Do true Christians still sin after they are saved?
Absolutely true Christians still sin after they are saved. Many passages of Scripture show that this is the case. In fact this struggle, AFTER we are saved is pictured as war within ourselves between the new man and the old or between the flesh and spirit.
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” – Galatians 5:17 (KJV)
This is Paul speaking to Christians – those who have believed and are saved:
“28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:28-30 (KJV)
Paul had just spoked in this same letter to the Ephesians about how we are sealed with the Holy Spirit – by our faith and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then he tells Christians to stop the doing the sinful habits they did before they believed the Gospel. Paul says it is indeed possible for Christians to grieve the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within them by sinning.
Paul even admits that he himself as one the chosen few to write the very Word of God still struggled with sin:
“14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I…
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” – Romans 7:14-15 & 23(KJV)
Certainly God does not want us to sin after we are saved but if we sin we have and advocate with the father – Jesus Christ who intercedes on our behalf.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” – I John 2:1 (KJV)
Can Christians lose their salvation?
The moment we believe we have passed from death to life and we no longer stand under the threat of God’s condemnation:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” – John 5:24 (KJV)
Contrary to what some Christian teachers teach today – salvation is not a lifelong process but rather a moment in time event. In that moment God adopts us as his children and leaves us with a deposit guaranteeing that one day we will receive glorified bodies and dwell with him forever:
“12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:12-14 (KJV)
Ephesians 1:12-14 is one of many passages that teaches the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer or “Once saved always saved”.
Some Christians have taught that we can indeed be saved and then lose our salvation because of sins we do after we are saved. But Christ makes it clear here that if a person is not saved it is not because they lost it but that he NEVER knew them:
“22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:22-23 (KJV)
Jesus did not say “I knew you and then you fell away because of sin” he says “I never knew you”.
The fact is that if salvation is something that could be lost because of a person not doing enough good works or because of a person doing too many sins than it is no longer a free gift and it is no longer all of Christ.
The distinction between our being children of God and our being Disciples of Christ
Many Christian teachers throughout the centuries have confused our becoming children of God with our being Disciples of Christ.
Some preachers and Christian teachers have wrongly used passages like the one below to say that we must warn those we give the Gospel to of the “cost” of coming to Christ for salvation:
“27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:27-33 (KJV)
The cost Christ is talking about is NOT of salvation. The scriptures are abundantly clear that salvation is the gift of God.
“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)
“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” – Romans 5:18 (KJV)
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” – Romans 3:28 (KJV)
The Bible could not be any clearer on the distinction between salvation and discipleship.
The gift of God is salvation by grace through faith – it has absolutely nothing to do with us. We simply reach out in faith and receive it. There are no costs to consider before accepting this precious gift.
But there is indeed a cost to being a disciple of Christ. If we are to set out to be like Christ (which is what discipleship is) then we must count the cost and be prepared for everything that may happen to us for emulating our Lord and following his commands.
So how do we become Disciples of Christ?
We do not become a disciple of Christ to become a child of God – in other words to be saved. We must FIRST become a child of God before we can become a disciple of Christ. Now does this mean being a disciple of Christ is optional for a child of God? The answer is no it is not optional – God commands all his children to become disciples of Christ.
But Christ did not die for us just to make us his children and save us from hell. He died for us so that we might live for him to the glory of God.
“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” – II Corinthians 5:15 (KJV)
When we become children of God he then wants us to follow his commands and his will for our lives. Jesus Christ was our perfect example of how to follow God. That is what discipleship is about – it is about following Christ’s example, walking as he walked.
Jesus tells us what it takes to be his disciple:
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23 (KJV)
Discipleship means to be like someone. In the case of us being Disciples of Christ it means if we are to be like him then on a daily basis we must decide to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow the commands of God.
What does it mean to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily?
Denying ourselves does not mean we don’t eat and don’t take care of our body. In fact the Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of God:
“19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – I Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)
God wants us to care for our bodies and even acknowledges that he has given us natural instincts to do so:
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” – Ephesians 5:29 (KJV)
Denying ourselves does not mean that we are not allowed to enjoy the things in this world that God has given us for our enjoyment:
God wants us to find companionship in marriage
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” – Genesis 2:18 (KJV)
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22 (KJV)
God wants us to enjoy sex in marriage
“18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” – Proverbs 5:18-19 (KJV)
God wants us to enjoy our children
“3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)
“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.” – Psalm 113:9 (KJV)
God wants us to enjoy the fruit our labor
“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.” – Ecclesiastes 5:18 (KJV)
Denying ourselves DOES mean putting the will of God first and carrying for the needs of others:
“36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (KJV)
Denying ourselves DOES mean denying our sinful desires (as opposed to our God given desires):
“11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” – Titus 2:11-12 (KJV)
Take up our cross means being will to suffer loss and being willing to be persecuted for being like Christ and following God’s will for our lives:
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37 (KJV)
“8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” – Philippians 3:8-9 (KJV)
The Gospel is so simple that a child could believe it. We must believe that we have sinned against God and are in need of his salvation. We must believe that God came in the flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and that lived a perfect and spotless life and died on the cross for our sins and then rose again for our sins. If we truly believe these things in our heart we are saved and the Holy Spirit of God indwells, makes us a new creature and is our guarantee of glory with God to come.
Our salvation is not a life long process but a moment in time event when we become a child of God. But our discipleship or our progressive sanctification as it is sometimes called is indeed a life long event. It is a daily dying to the sinful nature and daily walking with the Spirit of God.
All true Christians will change and grow, but we will not all change and grow to the same extent. In fact some of us may only grow to a certain point and remain immature Christians for the remainder of our lives. As Christians we may have blind spots where we do not see or obey the will of God in certain areas of our lives due to our own selfishness and pride.
But we must never forget that our salvation does not rest in our own strength or good works – but it rests in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
I did not address the debate that has raged within Christianity about faith and works in this post – but I did discuss in more detail in another article I wrote called “What is the relationship between faith and works?”