If you have stage 4 pancreatic cancer, then with current medical technology you have likely not been given any hope for getting better. Your cancer is terminal. In fact, with many diseases, there is nothing that humanity can do to fix the problem.
However, believers know that there is still hope for a miraculous healing from God. But as it turns out, miraculous healings perfectly explain how God's salvation actually works.
When a company comes out with a treatment for an incurable illness, the cost of the treatment is often astronomical. However, many treatments do not actually heal the patient. In the case of many cancers, the goal is to poison you (via radiation or chemotherapy) in hopes that the cancer dies before you do.
However, in the case of genetic disorders and many other diseases, there is absolutely no hope of healing by human means.
When there is nothing humanly possible that can be done about one of these permanent and sometimes terminal illnesses, then the value of healing is much higher than money can buy. If a drug that poisons you, and your cancer (and only slightly increases your chances of survival), can cost over $300,000 per year, then how much do you think a miraculous 100% recovery drug (with no side-effects) would cost?
The value of receiving something impossible is infinite.
Let me say that again: If something is impossible to obtain, then the value of that impossibility is infinite.
For example, if someone has lost an arm or leg, which of course will always be impossible to restore – a mechanical arm is not the same thing as actually having your arm back, then the fact that it is impossible to restore such a thing gives it infinite value.
But let’s say it didn’t have infinite value. Let’s put a monetary figure on it.
Imagine that someone makes you a deal: You can be healed of your terminal illness (or have your arm back) for $900,000,000,000,000 ($900 Trillion), OR you can serve them with absolute obedience for the rest of your life.
By the way, all the money in the entire world combined is less than $100 Trillion. Which really only leaves you with one of two options:
Which would you choose?
You would be giving up your life in order to restore your life...but at least you would be alive.
According to scripture, this is exactly how salvation works. Jesus says, "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39 NIV)
In the Bible, Jesus never said, “Believe and be saved.”
Jesus said, “Repent.” (Matthew 4:17)
John the Baptist said, “Repent.” (Matthew 3:2,8)
Peter said, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19 WEB)
And even Paul (who is one of the most misunderstood of all) said:
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? …You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:15-16,18 NIV)
Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34 NIV)
Sin is a terminal illness that results in death, and becoming a slave to righteousness is your “acceptance” of the cure.
Repentance is not simply saying, “I’m sorry.”
If someone hit you, said sorry, then hit you again the next day and said sorry again, then hit you again over and over…are they really sorry?
Repentance is discontinuing all sin forever. The author of Hebrews says, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries…How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29 WEB)
Just like healing an incurable disease, salvation has infinite value: “‘Who then can be saved?’ Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:25-26 WEB)
Except that the way to accept salvation has little value: “Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:9-10 NIV)
This is why salvation cannot be earned. (Ephesians 2:9) Doing something that you should have been doing all along (completely obeying God) does not earn something of infinite value. This is also why Paul calls salvation “the free gift of God” (Romans 6:23) because the only requirement to be saved is repentance.
Really, God could require anything of us, and it would still not earn this gift with infinite value. And in fact, according to Jesus, God does require everything of us to be saved: "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39 NIV)
But not sinning is impossible…Not true.
Sin is a product of loving yourself more than you love God.
James says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God can't be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15 WEB)
Sin is a self-seeking act. (Romans 2:8)
You can’t blame the devil for being tempted. Except in rare cases, it’s our own selfish desires that tempt us.
And what does Jesus say we are expected to do?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 WEB)
If you truly love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, then it would be impossible for you to sin. If you can sin, then it means you still love yourself more than God.
Why does no one believe John when he says, “Whoever is born of God doesn't commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can't sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn't do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn't love his brother.” (1 John 3:9-10 WEB)
John is not speaking metaphorically. John is being as literal and as clear as possible. He is writing a very direct letter to “believers.”
To prove that salvation is based on true repentance, complete obedience to God, and never sinning again, let’s look at what Jesus tells believers in Revelation:
“Wake up, and establish the things that remain, which were ready to die, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won't watch, I will come as a thief, and you won't know what hour I will come on you. Nevertheless you have a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will be arrayed like this in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:2-5 WEB)
Jesus is speaking to believers, warning them that they risk having their name removed from the book of life if they do not truly repent. Obedience is the deciding factor on whether or not our names are in the book of life. This is also Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats.
Jesus also says, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy by your name, by your name cast out demons, and by your name do many mighty works?' Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Have you prophesied? Have you cast out demons? Have you done many mighty works in Jesus name? Yet even these will not enter the kingdom of God, because of their failure to truly repent.
Remember that it is Jesus, our savior, who says, “How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.” (Matthew 7:14 WEB)
Why would Jesus make this statement about salvation if it was actually super easy to be saved?
We are instructed to live as Jesus lived. (1 John 2:3-6) And how did Jesus live? In complete obedience to God, even to the point of death. (Philippians 2:8)
The author of Hebrews says, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (Hebrews 12:4 NIV)
Jesus modeled what it really means to be a Christian when he said to the Father just before his death, “Nevertheless, not what I want, but what you want.” (Matthew 26:39 WEB)
This is truly loving God more than you love yourself: Not what I want, but what you want.
By definition, such a person cannot sin because sin is a self-seeking act.
Jesus is very clear about obeying God and salvation: “He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38 WEB)
This is the truth. This is God’s truth.
This is what God’s word says about his salvation.
So how are we saved?
The answer lies in obedience to the greatest commandment of all: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 WEB)
And this is exactly what Jesus says in scripture, “Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, ‘Teacher, what will I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ He said to him, ‘You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.’” (Luke 10:25-28 WEB)
The truth is right here, right in front of our eyes, yet most of us do not see what is plainly written.
It is just as Jesus said, regarding his parables: “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don't see, and hearing, they don't hear, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13 WEB)
What about belief? What about what Paul says in Romans 10:9-10?
"That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10 WEB)
One of the reasons why Paul is so misunderstood is because he has written long letters with lengthy thoughts. You cannot truly understand a letter like Romans unless you read it all the way through in one sitting (and that is not difficult to do - this article that you are almost done reading is about 4,000 words whereas Romans is only about 7,000 words1).
In Romans, Paul has spend most of his letter talking about the importance of not sinning:
And in other letters, Paul makes statements like:
So Paul is actually very clear on the role of sin in a Christian's life: there should be no sin.
When Paul gets to this statement about being saved in Romans 10:9-10, he has already stated, restated, and rehashed the importance of not sinning. Thus, he obviously does not feel that it is necessary to further elaborate on a subject he has already thoroughly covered.
Meaning, this statement in Romans 10:9-10 was never intended to be a "How You Are Saved in One Passage" kind of statement. When Paul wrote this statement, he probably never even dreamed that one day believers would insert numbers and divide his words into chapters.
These numbers and chapters are great for making references to particular passages, but they can be detrimental to understanding an author like Paul.
Now, certainly faith is an element of being saved. The author of Hebrews says, "Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6 WEB)
However, this same author also says:
Furthermore, James is very clear that faith without actions is worthless.
Can that faith save him? What an interesting statement to make if we are saved by faith alone.
So as Paul says in Titus 1:16, we can proclaim that we believe in Jesus and are saved, but then deny Jesus with our actions.
And Jesus says, "Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree can't bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that doesn't grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:17-21 WEB)
This statement that Jesus makes is similar to what John says:
The reality is that Our Actions Reveal the Truth.
Now you know the truth of what the Bible really says about the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Now you know that those who are truly saved do not sin, according to scripture, because they love God more than they love themselves. This love for God is proven by their actions. They do what God wants them to do, not what they want to do.
Their mantra is the same as Jesus: Not what I want, but what you want God.
While it is clear that not making this change, of loving God more than we love ourselves, will result in us not being saved, we should also heed the words of Jesus regarding those who know what God wants and still disobey:
"That servant, who knew his lord's will, and didn't prepare, nor do what he wanted, will be beaten with many stripes..." (Luke 12:47 WEB)
Instead, be the one who overcomes their love of self. Be the one who truly repents of all sin.
"He who overcomes will be arrayed like this in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:2-5 WEB)
Love God more than you love yourself.
Make your mantra the same as Jesus: Not what I want, but what you want God.
Do this, and the power of God will heal you and those you pray for.
"The effective, earnest prayer of a righteous man is powerfully effective." (James 5:16 WEB)
Jesus says, "For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." (Matthew 13:15 NIV)
What is love? It's a call to action. Guest post by Ben Byrum.
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