One of the central questions in Christianity is how can a person be saved? Of course this implies that there is something that we need to be saved from.
The Bible tells us that all human beings are born with a sinful nature, that we are born with Adam's guilt on our shoulders as well. So we come into this world with a nature that loves to sin, that loves to break God's law, that loves to do what it should not do, and that loves to avoid doing what it should do. We come into this world with a nature that is more concerned about our glory and gain than about God's glory. And we come into this world with the guilt of Adam's original sin.
Because God is a just and holy God, because his law is righteous and good, when we break his law those transgressions must be punished. So when we ask the question, "How can a person be saved?" we're really asking, "How can a person be saved from the righteous wrath of God against sin?" That's a very serious question, but praise be to God the Bible gives us a very glorious answer.
We read in the third chapter of Romans in verse 23 that God has made a righteousness available that comes apart from us working our way to that salvation. The Bible tells us that because of our sin we are in need of a savior. God provided a savior in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God who took on a human nature, born of the virgin Mary and who lived a perfectly sinles life in full obedience to the demands of God's law, loving God with all of his heart and mind, soul and strength, loving his neighbor as himself every second of every day in his heart, in his mind. In all that he was he honors the Father. In other words, he did that which we cannot do.
Yet even though Jesus lived this righteous life, he goes to the cross as a substitute for sinners, dying the death that we deserve to die for breaking God's law. With the cross we have what's called double imputation, which is that the righteousness of Christ is given to me as a gift and my sin is given to him to bear that I would be forgiven. And so, our sin is exchanged for Jesus' righteousness. That is how we are justified, how we are declared righteous by God, how we are forgiven, how that wrath that should be on us for our sins has been drunk down to the last drop by Jesus Christ in our place.
But how do we receive that righteousness? How do we receive that forgiveness, that justifcation? The Bible tells us it's by faith alone, not by our works, not by earning anything, but by trusting in the full and sufficient work of Jesus for us. So how can a person be saved? What it really comes down to is this: through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Daniel Ruben (MDiv, Midwestern Baptist) is a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Carson City, NV. He is husband to Shaelby and father of two.
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