Salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is explained by the authors of the New Testament. All of these authors agree on how salvation is obtained, and all of these authors teach similar teachings on how to live as Christians.
However, some confusion can arise when scripture is taken out of context to mean what it does not mean, and it is sometimes used to teach wrong teachings. For these reasons, the following is an explanation of how salvation is obtained through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, using the words of the authors of the New Testament in order to support each statement.
Every single statement is supported plainly by the scripture listed, so if there is any statement that appears doubtful or unbelievable, look at the scripture listed to see if the statement is true.
All people have sinned and are in need of being forgiven for their sins in order to avoid the righteous judgment of God (Romans 3:23).
God has provided salvation, available to all people, through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-25; John 3:16; John 14:6). This salvation is a gift, because it is impossible for humans to ever obtain forgiveness of their sins by their own strength (Matthew 19:25-26).
As these verses show, salvation can only be provided by God, and this fact gives salvation infinite value.
In order to receive salvation, we must first believe that God has provided the only way for salvation through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:9). Upon believing this fact, we must:
(1) Deny ourselves (not for the sake of self-denial, but for the sake of loving God above ourselves),
(2) Repent of all sin,
(3) and Obey God from that point on (Matthew 16:24; Matthew 10:38; Luke 24:47; John 5:14; Acts 26:20).
It is made clear in the Bible that the only condition for being saved is doing the will of God and obeying him (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:17; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Hebrews 5:9; Acts 10:34-35; 1 John 5:3-5; Luke 11:28; Luke 13:3).
We are instructed to live as Jesus lived, which is in self-denial and in perfect obedience to God, even to the point of death on a cross (1 John 2:3-6; Matthew 26:39; Philippians 2:8). Jesus tells us that the value of "obeying God" is doing only what we ought to have done all along (Luke 17:9-10).
Obedience to God can never earn us salvation (Ephesians 2:9), because doing only what we should have been doing all along does not earn something of infinite value. In fact, God could require anything of us to accept this gift, and it would still never earn the gift. However, repentance of all sin and obedience to God is the requirement to accept his gift of salvation.
Sin occurs due to our own selfishness, which is the Root Cause of All Sin. God does not tempt us with sin, but we are tempted by our own evil desires, making sin a self-seeking act (James 1:13-15; Romans 2:8)
Therefore, a person who is saved, and filled with God's Spirit, cannot sin because a person who permanently denies themselves, in favor of God, will never sin since they are self-denying (1 John 3:7-10) Likewise, those who abide in Jesus Christ do not sin, and those who do not abide in Jesus, by sinning, will be condemned (1 John 3:6; John 15:6).
Those who permanently repent
of sin, and instead deny themselves and obey God, will receive God's
Spirit and have their previously committed sins forgiven (Romans
3:25; 2 Peter 1:9). Those who are self-seeking, and refuse to follow Jesus, will
not receive salvation and are not worthy of being saved (Romans
2:6,8; Matthew 10:38). Jesus himself says this in Matthew 10:38.
Those who continue to sin are not saved (Hebrews 10:26-29). They may profess to be saved, but their actions prove otherwise, because their is no true faith without obedience to God (Titus 1:16; James 2:17-18; James 2:26; 1 Corinthians 6:8-9). We are told to be perfect and holy, like God, and it is true that without this holiness, we will not be saved (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:14).
No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). They are either a slave of sin or a slave of God (Romans 6:15-18). Their is no in-between. Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin (John 8:34).
The Bible makes it absolutely clear that there are requirements, beyond "belief-only," in order to be saved. One such requirement is forgiveness of others. Jesus makes it clear that those who refuse to forgive anyone will not be saved (Matthew 18:33-35).
In Revelation 3:2-5, Jesus tells believers that if they do not repent and return to obeying God, then they will not be saved. Jesus is prepared to blot their names from the book of life if these "believers" do not repent, making obedience to God the deciding factor.
In addition, why would Jesus tell us "the road is hard that leads to life" (Matthew 7:13-14) if it was actually easy to accept salvation and required only mediocre effort?
Every author of the New Testament supports this view of salvation being obtained through belief and repentance.
The opposition to this view of salvation is likely due to the opposition of the idea that salvation can be earned. However, this idea is misunderstood because doing what we should have been doing all along (obeying God) can never earn salvation, because it can not earn something of infinite value.
When the disciples asked Jesus, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus responds with "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:25-26)
Jesus also says, "Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'" (Luke 17:9-10)
Salvation cannot be earned. Repentance from sin and returning to obeying God is just the requirement to accept God's gift of salvation. Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'"
John explains in 1 John 3:7-10 "Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil...The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters."
Whether or not be obey God matters, because Our Actions Reveal the Truth.
The following is a list of the scripture referenced above, so that you can read what the bible has to say about the meaning of repentance and salvation. If you have ever read scripture that appears to oppose this view of salvation, it is almost guaranteed to be because it was taken out of context to mean what it does not mean.
The letter of Romans, in particular, falls victim to its verses being taken out of context to teach what Paul himself opposes.
Scriptural Evidence That All Have Sinned
Romans 3:22-25 "...For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed;"
Forgiveness of Past Sins After Repentance
Romans 3:25 "...because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed."
2 Peter 1:9 "For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins."
Salvation is Through Jesus Christ Only
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
John 14:6 "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
Salvation is Impossible for Humans to Achieve Alone
Matthew 19:25-26 "When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, 'Then who can be saved?' But Jesus looked at them and said, 'For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.'"
Salvation Begins with Faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus
Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
Romans 10:9 "because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
It is important to mention that Romans 10:9-10 was never meant to be a summary of how to be saved in a sentence. Paul spends the first half of Romans explaining that, "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." (Romans 3:31) And in 1 Corinthians 7:19, Paul says, "obeying the commandments of God is everything."
Salvation Requires Denying Self
Matthew 16:24 "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."
Matthew 10:38 "And whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
Salvation Requires Repentance and Obedience
Luke 24:47 "and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
John 5:14 "...Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you."
Acts 26:20 "...and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance."
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'"
Luke 13:3 "...but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. "
1 John 2:17 "And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever."
1 Corinthians 7:19 "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything."
Hebrews 5:9 "and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,"
Acts 10:34-35 "Then Peter began to speak to them: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."
1 John 5:3-5 "For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"
Luke 11:28 "But he said, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!'"
1 John 2:3-6 "Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, "I have come to know him," but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, "I abide in him," ought to walk just as he walked."
Jesus Modeled Self-Denial by Loving God First
Matthew 26:39 "My
Father...not what I want but what you want."
Philippians 2:8 "he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross."
Salvation is Returning to Do What We Should Have Done
Luke 17:9-10 "Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, "We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'"
Salvation Cannot Be Earned
Ephesians 2:9 "Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Sin is Caused by Selfishness
James 1:13-15 "No one, when tempted, should say, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death."
Children of God Do Not Sin
1 John 3:7-10 "Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God's seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters."
1 John 3:6 "No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him."
John 15:6 "Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."
Romans 2:6,8 "For he will repay according to each one's deeds...for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury."
Hebrews 10:26-29 "For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy "on the testimony of two or three witnesses." How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?"
Faith is Dead Without Obedience
Titus 1:16 "They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions."
James 2:17-18, "So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith."
James 2:26 "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead."
1 Corinthians 6:8-9 "But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that. Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?"
We Are Commanded to be Perfect and Holy
Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Hebrews 12:14 "Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
We Are to be Slaves of God Alone
Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13 "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."
Romans 6:15-18 "What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness."
John 8:34 "Jesus answered them, 'Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.'"
Matthew 18:33-35 "Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."
"Believers" who Sin Will Not be Saved
Revelation 3:2-5 "Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels."
Narrow and Hard is the Road to Eternal Life
Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
Christians Called to Obey the Law of Righteousness
Romans 3:31 "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law."
Warnings from Jesus Christ
Luke 12:47 "That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating."
It is Possible to Never Stumble
2 Peter 1:10 "Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble."