God's Plan of Salvation
and Mankind's Response to the Plan
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1.1). During the first creation week God created all things. On the sixth day God formed from the dust of the ground one who was made in the image of Him (Genesis 1.26). The pinnacle of all creation was manifested in the formation of man. "And the LORD formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2.7).
Upon creating man, and then woman from the rib of man, God placed them in the garden of Eden and provided them with certain commands and instructions. To Adam and Eve God commanded, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2.16,17). Being tempted by the devil Adam and Eve disregarded the commandment of God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This transgression of Gods law was called sin. 1 John 3.4: "Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God's law, for sin is the breaking of the law.
Since then man has continued to break God laws. Whether ignorantly or purposefully, man has violated the will of God and sinned. That no one has lived in perfect obedience with God's instructions was brought out by the apostle Paul, "for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3.23).
The consequence of sin is severe. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6.23). As Adam and Eve were separated from God having been cast out of the garden (Genesis 3:23-24) so also is the sinner cast away from the presence of God. "Your sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59.2).
God, from before the foundation of the world, had a plan in mind to bring sinful man back into a right relationship with Him (1 Peter 1.20). God is just, and therefore cannot allow sin to go unpunished. To do so would be to go against His own nature. On the other hand God is also merciful. To pass judgment without showing mercy is also against His nature. The plan was that at the appointed time God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Though He was without sin (2 Corinthians 5.21), Christ took on the sins of man. Dying a painful and cruel death on the cross Christ satisfied God's requirement for justice (Isaiah 53.4-6).
It is through the blood of Christ that redemption is found, "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by the tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb of God without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1.18,19). This is God's grace, His gift to man -- the redeeming blood of Christ (Ephesians 2.1-9). We can do nothing to deserve, nor earn this grace. Instead God offers it to undeserving man. Yet God has not made this grace available without condition. He has made salvation through Christ obtainable through a set of conditions which He has established. These conditions are outlined within the Bible and is mans response to Gods Plan of Salvation:
We have learned the first step in man's salvation. We must believe. Jesus told some unbelievers: "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). Because of the teaching of this verse, and others, some have concluded that we are saved by faith alone. This is not true for - "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). The word of God says: "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9). We must obey Christ to be saved. We must have an obedient faith: "And the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).
"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Repentance is a universal command. Jesus said: "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). We must repent in order to have the remission of sins. "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:38).
So, just as we shall die in our sins if we do not believe, we shall die in our sins if we do not repent.
Repentance is a two-fold action. We must turn from our sins as did the people of Nineveh (Matthew 12:41). We must resolve to do the Father's will as did the young man we read about in Matthew 21:28,29.
The Lord has said that those who sin must be punished. Why is the punishment so long delayed? "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation" (Romans 10:9,10).
We must confess our faith in Christ in order to be saved (Matthew 10:32).
Our Lord said: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15,16). Many people will not accept what the Lord says here. Many people put salvation before baptism. But Jesus put salvation after baptism. Do you accept the teaching of Jesus or of men? The doctrines of men will not save the soul.
Peter commanded baptism for forgiveness of sins: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Although Paul had been praying and fasting for three days, his sins were not forgiven until he was baptized. Ananias told him: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).
Baptism saves us through the resurrection of Christ: "There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21).
Baptism is a burial (Romans 6:4). Sprinkling or pouring are only human substitutions.
The Lord says: "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10b).
Are you saved?
What is your response to God's Plan of Salvation?
If you would like to discuss this further please contact the minister at firstname.lastname@example.org
J. C. Bailey
The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ?1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers. Permission for reference use has been granted.
Excerpts also taken from Northside Church of Christ, Las Vegas, NV, Plan of Salvation website.