Questions About Salvation: The TOP 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Salvation
Have Questions, Find Answers on Otakada.org – Plan of Salvation – Daily, people turn to the Internet to find answers to their questions about spiritual matters. Topics related to spirituality are the second-most searched subjects online. Sadly, websites that present false teachings far outnumber those that proclaim the truth of God’s Word. We will provide answers as the Holy Spirit leads us from a biblical perspective. You will also need to pray to secure answers to any question you may have because one of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth – John 16:13. Today, we look at Questions About Plan of Salvation and questions that relate to this with biblical answers.. Enjoy
Before we begin to outline those questions with answers, we would like to explore the ultimate question on salvation as follows:
Questions About Salvation: The 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Salvation
Question: How can I be saved?
Answer: This simple yet profound question is the most important one you can ask. “How can I be saved?” deals with where we will spend eternity after our lives in this world are over. There is no more important issue than our eternal destiny. Thankfully, the Bible is abundantly clear on how a person can be saved. The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Paul and Silas responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
How can I be saved? Why do I need to be saved?
We are all infected with sin (Romans 3:23). We are born with sin (Psalm 51:5), and we each choose to sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). Sin is what separates us from God. Sin is what makes us unsaved. Sin is what has us on the path to eternal destruction.
How can I be saved? Saved from what?
Because of our sin, we all deserve death (Romans 6:23). While the physical consequence of sin is physical death, that is not the only kind of death that results from sin. All sin is ultimately committed against an eternal and infinite God (Psalm 51:4). Because of that, the just penalty for our sin is also eternal and infinite. What we need to be saved from is eternal destruction (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15).
How can I be saved? How did God provide salvation?
In His love, God chose to pay the eternal penalty that we deserve. But God, in His divine nature, cannot die. So God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. God took on human flesh, lived among us, and taught us. When the people rejected Him and His message and sought to kill Him, He willingly sacrificed Himself for us and allowed Himself to be crucified (John 10:15). Because Jesus Christ was human, He could die; and because Jesus Christ was
God, His death had an eternal and infinite value. Jesus’ death on the cross was the perfect and complete payment for our sin (1 John 2:2). He took the consequences we deserved. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrated that His death was indeed the perfectly sufficient sacrifice for sin.
How can I be saved? What do I need to do?
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). God has already done all of the work. All you must do is receive, in faith, the salvation God offers (Ephesians 2:8-9). Fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sins. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). God is offering you salvation as a gift. All you have to do is accept it. Jesus is the way of salvation (John 14:6).
Now lets look at the questions on the plan of salvation highlighted here:
Questions About Salvation: The 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Salvation
What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?
What is the plan of salvation?
What are the steps to salvation?
What is the true gospel?
What are the essentials of the gospel message?
What is the Romans Road to salvation?
What is the relationship between salvation and forgiveness?
How do God’s mercy and justice work together in salvation?
Is public confession necessary for salvation (Romans 10:9-10)?
Is baptism necessary for salvation? What is baptismal regeneration? Just how narrow is the narrow gate?
What does it mean that God draws us to salvation?
Question: What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?
Answer: Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation.
Sometimes the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19 KJV). More often, however, the word salvation concerns an eternal, spiritual deliverance. When Paul told the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, he was referring to the jailer’s eternal destiny (Acts 16:30-31). Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-25).
What are we saved from ? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, we are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the eternal consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.
Who does the saving? Only God can remove sin and deliver us from sin’s penalty (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).
How does God save? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued us through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). Scripture is clear that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:8-12).
How do we receive salvation? We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel—the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe—fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
A definition of the Christian doctrine of salvation would be “the deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin, which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.” Salvation is available in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and is dependent on God alone for provision, assurance, and security.
Question: What is the plan of salvation?
Answer: Do you have a hunger for something more in life? Is there something deep inside of you that never seems to be satisfied? If so, Jesus is the way! Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
Are you confused? Are you unable to find a path or purpose in life? Does it seem like someone has turned out the lights and you cannot find the switch? If so, Jesus is the way! Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Do you ever feel like you are locked out of life? Have you tried many doors only to find that what is behind them is empty and meaningless? Are you looking for an entrance into a fulfilling life? If so, Jesus is the way! Jesus declared, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).
Do other people always let you down? Have your relationships been shallow and empty? Does it seem like everyone is trying to take advantage of you? If so, Jesus is the way! Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays
down his life for the sheep. … I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:11, 14).
Do you wonder what happens
for things that only rot or rust?
meaning? Do you want to live
declared, “I am the resurrection
even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
after this life? Are you tired of living your life Do you sometimes doubt whether life has any after you die? If so, Jesus is the way! Jesus
and the life. He who believes in me will live,
What is the way? What is the truth? What is the life? Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The hunger you feel is a spiritual hunger, and can only be filled by Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can lift the darkness. Jesus is the door to a satisfying life. Jesus is the friend and shepherd you have been looking for. Jesus is the life —in this world and the next. Jesus is the way of salvation!
The reason you feel hungry, the reason you seem to be lost in darkness, and the reason you cannot find meaning in life is that you are separated from God. The Bible tells us that we have all sinned, and are therefore separated from God (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). The void you feel in your heart is God missing from your life. We were created to have a relationship with God. Because of our sin, we are separated from that relationship. Even worse, our sin will cause us to be separated from God for all of eternity, in this life and the next (Romans 6:23; John 3:36).
How can this problem be solved? Jesus is the way! Jesus took our sin upon Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died in our place (Romans 5:8), taking the punishment we deserve. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, proving His victory over sin and death (Romans 6:4-5). Why did He do it? Jesus answered that question Himself: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus died so that we could live. If we place our faith in Jesus, trusting His death as the payment for our sins, all of our sins are forgiven and washed away. We will then have our spiritual hunger satisfied. The lights will be turned on. We will have access to a fulfilling life. We will know our true best friend and good shepherd. We will know that we will have life after we die—a resurrected life in heaven for eternity with Jesus!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Question: What are the steps to salvation?
Answer: People like the idea of an instruction manual with five steps that, if followed, will result in salvation. An example of this is Islam with its Five Pillars. According to Islam, if the Five Pillars are obeyed, salvation will be granted. Because the idea of a step-by-step process to salvation is appealing, many in the Christian community make the mistake of presenting salvation as a result of a step-by-step process. Roman Catholicism has seven sacraments. Various Christian denominations add baptism, public confession, turning from sin, speaking in tongues, etc., as steps to salvation. But the Bible only presents one step to salvation. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).
Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only “step” to salvation. The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 5:24).
Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation. Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God. However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation. Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation. We could follow 1,000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of cleansing ourselves from sin. Only God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did (Isaiah 63:5). God Himself completed the “steps” and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.
Obtaining forgiveness of sins is not about following steps. It is about receiving Christ as Savior and recognizing that He has done all the work for us. God requires one step of us—receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, fully trusting in Him alone as the way of salvation (John 1:12). That is what distinguishes the Christian faith from all other world religions, each of which has a list of steps that must be followed in order for salvation to be accomplished. The Christian faith recognizes that God has already completed the steps and that now He simply calls on us to receive Him in faith.
Question: What is the true gospel?
Answer: The true gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. Man is by nature sinful and separated from God, with no hope of remedying that situation. But God has provided the means of man’s redemption in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
The word gospel literally means “good news.” But to truly comprehend how good this news is, we must first understand the bad news. As a result of the fall of man in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6), every part of man—his mind, will, emotions, and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. Because of man’s sinful nature, he does not and cannot seek God (Romans 3:11). He has no desire to come to God, and, in fact, his mind is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7). God has declared that man’s sin dooms him to an eternity in hell, separated from God. It is in hell that man pays the penalty for sin against a holy and righteous God. This would be bad news indeed if there were no remedy.
But the gospel says that God, in His mercy, has provided that remedy in the form of a substitute for us—Jesus Christ—who came to pay the penalty for our sin by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the essence of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15:2-4, Paul explains the elements of the gospel—the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on our behalf. Our old nature died with Christ on the cross and was buried with Him. Then we were resurrected with Him to a new life (Romans 6:4-8). Paul tells us to “hold firmly” to this true gospel, the only one that saves. Believing in any other gospel is to believe in vain. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul also declares that the true gospel is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” By saying this, he means that salvation is not achieved by man’s efforts but by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Because of the gospel, the power of God saves those who believe in Christ (Romans 10:9). But salvation involves more than just escaping hell. We are, in fact, given a completely new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a changed heart and a new desire, will, and attitude that are manifested in good works. This is the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us by His power. Works are never the means of salvation, but they are the proof of it (Ephesians 2:10). Those who are saved by the power of God will always show the evidence of salvation by a changed life.
Question: What are the essentials of the gospel message?
Answer: The word gospel means “good news,” and it is best defined as the message of forgiveness for sin through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. It is
essentially God’s rescue plan for those who trust in His Son in order to reconcile them to a just and holy God. The essential content of this saving message is clearly laid out for us in the Bible.
The apostle Paul summarizes the gospel message: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
In this passage, we see four essential elements of the gospel message. First, the phrase “died for our sins” is very important. As Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All who approach the throne of God for salvation need to recognize the reality of sin. A sinner must acknowledge the hopelessness of his guilt before God in order for forgiveness to take place, and he must understand that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Without this foundational truth, no gospel presentation is complete.
Second, the person and work of Christ are indispensable components of the gospel. Jesus is both God (Colossians 2:9) and man (John 1:14). Jesus lived the sinless life we could never live (1 Peter 2:22), and He is the only one who could die a substitutionary death for the sinner. Sin against an infinite God requires an infinite payment. Therefore, man, who is finite, must pay the penalty for an infinite length of time in hell, or the infinite Christ must pay for it once. Jesus went to the cross to pay the debt we owe to God for our sin, and those who accept His sacrifice will inherit the kingdom of God as sons of the king (John 1:12).
Third, the resurrection of Christ is an essential element of the gospel. The resurrection is the proof of the power of God. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death, only He can reverse the hideousness that is death itself, and only He can remove the sting of death and the victory of the grave (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Further, unlike all other religions, Christianity possesses a Founder who transcends death and who promises that His followers will do the same. All other religions were founded by men and prophets whose end was the grave.
Fourth, Christ offers His salvation as a free gift (Romans 5:15; 6:23) that can only be received by faith, apart from any works or merit on our part (Ephesians 2:8-9). As the apostle Paul tells us, the gospel is “… the power of
God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). What God requires of us is faith: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
These, then, are the essential elements of the gospel: the sin of all men, the death of Christ on the cross to pay for those sins, and the resurrection of Christ to provide life everlasting for those who follow Him. God offers the free gift of salvation to all.
Question: What is the Romans Road to salvation?
Answer: The Romans Road to salvation is a way of explaining the good news of salvation using verses from the book of Romans. It is a simple yet powerful method of explaining why we need salvation, how God provided salvation, how we can receive salvation, and the results of salvation.
The first verse on the Romans Road to salvation is Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have all sinned. We have all done things that are displeasing to God. There is no one who is innocent. Romans 3:10-18 gives a detailed picture of what this sin looks like in our lives.
The second Scripture on the Romans Road, Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death!
The third verse on the Romans Road to salvation picks up where Romans 6:23 left off. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus Christ died for us! Jesus’ death paid the price of our sins. And Jesus’ resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus’ death as the payment for our sins.
The fourth stop on the Romans Road is Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins, and we will be saved! Romans 10:13 says it again: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rescue us from eternal death. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The final aspect of the Romans Road to salvation is the results of salvation. Romans 5:1 has this wonderful message: “Therefore, since we have been
justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God. Romans 8:1 teaches us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, we will never be condemned for our sins. Finally, we have this precious promise of God from Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Would you like to follow the Romans Road to salvation? If so, here is a simple prayer you can pray to God. Saying this prayer is a way to declare to God that you are relying on Jesus Christ for your salvation. The words themselves will not save you. Only faith in Jesus Christ can provide salvation! “God, I know that I have sinned against You and deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. With Your help, I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life!”
Question: What is the relationship between salvation and forgiveness?
Answer: When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we receive salvation and forgiveness. But that’s not all. The Bible says we also receive justification, redemption, reconciliation, atonement, propitiation, and regeneration. Each of these theological terms expresses wonderful truths about the blessing we receive when Jesus becomes our Savior. Salvation and forgiveness, while related, are not exactly the same.
The term save, in Greek, is sozo, which means “to deliver, rescue.” Salvation is deliverance from the penalty of sin; that is, eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:46). Salvation is God’s rescuing us from our deserved fate. Salvation also includes a more immediate deliverance from the power of sin in this life. Sin has lost its dominion over the saved ones (Romans 6:14). Faith in Jesus Christ rescues us from an empty and meaningless life and provides us with a life that is abundant and fruitful (John 10:10; Galatians 5:22-23).
The term forgive is a translation of the Greek word aphiemi, which means “to let go, to give up, to keep no longer.” When Jesus forgives us, our sins, trespasses, iniquities, and transgressions are erased, wiped off the record. Forgiveness of sin is analogous to financial debt being erased. When God
forgives us of our sins, we are free. Our sins are wiped out. God will never hold them against us (Psalm 103:12).
Salvation and forgiveness are closely related. There is no salvation without forgiveness. Salvation is God’s delivering us from the consequences of sin. Forgiveness is God’s erasing our sin debt. To use a financial illustration, forgiveness is God’s shredding the documents that list our debt, and salvation is God’s letting us out of debtors’ prison. Praise God for the wonderful salvation and forgiveness He has provided. May our lives reflect gratitude for all He has done for us (Romans 12:1).
Question: How do God’s mercy and justice work together in salvation?
Answer: God’s justice and mercy are seemingly incompatible. After all, justice involves the dispensing of deserved punishment for wrongdoing, and mercy is all about pardon and compassion for an offender. However, these two attributes of God do in fact form a unity within His character.
The Bible contains many references to God’s mercy. Over 290 verses in the Old Testament and 70 in the New Testament contain direct statements of the mercy of God toward His people.
God was merciful to the Ninevites who repented at the preaching of Jonah, who described God as “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2). David said God is “gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:8- 9 NASB).
But the Bible also speaks of God’s justice and His wrath over sin. In fact, God’s perfect justice is a defining characteristic: “There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior” (Isaiah 45:21 NKJV). “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
In the New Testament, Paul details why God’s judgment is coming: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5-6).
So the Bible showcases the fact that God is merciful, but it also reveals that He is just and will one day dispense justice on the sin of the world.
In every other religion that holds to the idea of a supreme deity, that deity’s
mercy is always exercised at the expense of justice. For example, in Islam, Allah may grant mercy to an individual, but it is done by dismissing the penalties of whatever law has been broken. In other words, the offender’s punishment that was properly due him is brushed aside so that mercy can be extended. Islam’s Allah and every other deity in the non-Christian religions set aside the requirements of moral law in order to be merciful. Mercy is seen as at odds with justice. If any human judge acted in such a fashion, most people would lodge a major complaint. It is a judge’s responsibility to see that the law is followed and that justice is provided. A judge who ignores the law is betraying his office.
Christianity is unique in that God’s mercy is shown through His justice. There is no setting aside of justice to make room for mercy. The Christian doctrine of penal substitution states that sin and injustice were punished at the cross of Christ, and that only because the penalty of sin was satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice does God extend His mercy to undeserving sinners who look to Him for salvation.
While Christ did indeed die for sinners, He also died as a demonstration of God’s righteousness, to showcase His justice. This is exactly what the apostle Paul says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).
In other words, God didn’t immediately punish sin before the time of Christ; rather, He extended mercy. But He did not pass over justice. His righteousness (i.e., His justice) was demonstrated by Christ’s death on the cross. At the cross, God’s justice was meted out in full (upon Christ), and God’s mercy was extended in full (to all who believe). So God’s perfect mercy was and is exercised through His perfect justice.
The end result is that, by the sacrificial death of Jesus, everyone who trusts in Him is saved from God’s wrath and instead experiences His grace and mercy (Romans 8:1). As Paul says, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9).
Question: Is public confession necessary for salvation (Romans 10:9-10)?
Answer: Romans 10:9-10 is a passage that is often used by many a well- meaning Christian in his or her endeavor to bring someone to a profession of faith in Christ: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
This passage is not to be understood to mean that one is brought to salvation by an audible profession. We know that salvation is by grace through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), not by confession. Therefore, as with all Scripture, it is of critical importance to compare Scripture with Scripture.
At the time of the writing of the book of Romans, the Jews, as a nation, had rejected Jesus as their Messiah. For an individual to accept Christ and confess that He was the Messiah would typically result in persecution and ultimately death. At that time, for a Jew to embrace Christ and subsequently confess Him as Lord, knowing the persecution to come, was an indication of true salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit. Outward professions of faith are rare when one’s life is at stake, and no more so than in the early church. The promise of salvation in Romans 10:9-10 is not the result of public confession; rather, it is a confirmation that no one facing death would dare confess Jesus as Messiah unless he or she was indeed saved. True faith is not concealed.
The verbal confession that Jesus is Lord has the effect of confirming faith in the heart, not producing it. In an age of persecution, such verbal confirmation of a changed heart was an indispensable test of true faith. Someone who laid his life on the line for Christ received the promise of Jesus Himself: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
To conclude, Romans 10:9-10 is not establishing public confession as a prerequisite for salvation. Rather, it is asserting that when a Jew embraced Christ and subsequently confessed Him as Lord in the face of persecution, he was giving proof that he was indeed saved. For us today, the passage is equally true. Those who are saved will confess Christ as Lord. A believer will gladly claim Christ as his own. As with baptism and all other good works, public confession is not the means of salvation; it is the evidence of salvation.
Question: Is baptism necessary for salvation? What is baptismal regeneration?
Answer: Baptismal regeneration is the belief that a person must be baptized in order to be saved. It is our contention that baptism is an important step of
obedience for a Christian, but we adamantly reject baptism as being required for salvation. We do strongly believe that every Christian should be water baptized by immersion. Water baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Romans 6:3-4 declares, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” The action of being immersed in the water illustrates dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection.
Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is a works based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. To say we must be baptized in order to be saved is to say we must add our own good works to Christ’s death in order to make it sufficient for salvation. The Bible says that no amount of religious activity can save a person (Hosea 6:6; Titus 3:5); Jesus’ death alone paid for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus’ payment for our sins is appropriated to our “account” by faith alone (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, water baptism is an important step of obedience after salvation but not a requirement for salvation.
Yes, there are some verses that seem to include baptism as a requirement for salvation (some of which are discussed in more detail in this book). However, since the Bible so clearly says that salvation is received by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), there must be a different interpretation of those verses. Scripture does not contradict Scripture. In Bible times, a person who converted from one religion to another was often baptized to identify conversion. Baptism was the means of making a decision public. Those who refused to be baptized were saying they did not truly believe. So, in the minds of the apostles and early disciples, the idea of an un-baptized believer was unheard of. When a person claimed to believe in Christ, yet was ashamed to proclaim his faith in public, it indicated that he did not have true faith. In this way, baptism was closely associated with the decision to trust Christ.
If baptism is necessary for salvation, why would Paul say, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17)? How could Paul possibly say that he wasn’t sent to baptize if no one can be saved without baptism? If baptism is required, Paul would literally be saying, “Christ did not send me to help you be saved….” That, of course, would have been a ridiculous
statement, especially for Paul. Further, when Paul lists the elements of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), why does he neglect to mention baptism?
If baptism is a requirement for salvation, how could any presentation of the gospel lack a mention of baptism? Yet we find many invitations to be saved that never allude to baptism: the Philippian jailer (Acts 16), Cornelius (Acts 10), and the thief on the cross (Luke 23) were all saved before being baptized—the thief never was baptized!
Baptismal regeneration is not a biblical concept. Water baptism is the symbol of what has already occurred in the heart of one who has trusted Christ as Savior (Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12). Baptism is an important step of obedience that every Christian should take, but it is not a requirement for salvation. To make it such is to question the sufficiency of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Question: Just how narrow is the narrow gate?
Answer: The narrow gate, also called the narrow door, is referred to by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:23-24. He compares the narrow gate to the “wide gate” which leads to destruction (hell) and says that “many” will be on the broad road. Jesus says that “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). What exactly does He mean by this? Just how many are the “many,” and how few are the “few”?
First, we need to understand that Jesus is the Door through which all must enter to gain eternal life. There is no other way, because He alone is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In this sense, the way is narrow because it is the only way, and relatively few people will go through the narrow gate. Many more will attempt to find an alternate route to God. They will try to get there through manmade rules and regulations, through false religion, or through self effort. These who are the “many” will follow the broad road that leads to eternal destruction, while God’s sheep hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him along the narrow way to eternal life (John 10:7-11).
Even though there will be relatively few who go through the narrow gate, compared to the many on the broad road, there will still be multitudes who will follow the Good Shepherd. The apostle John saw this multitude in his vision in the book of Revelation: “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10).
Entering the narrow gate is not easy. Jesus made this clear when He instructed His followers to “strive” to do so. The Greek word translated “strive” is agonizomai, from which we get the English word agonize. The implication is that those who seek to enter the narrow gate must do so by struggle and strain, like a runner straining toward the finish line, every muscle taut and giving his all. But we must be clear here. No amount of effort saves us; salvation is by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). No one will ever earn heaven by striving for it. But entering the narrow gate is still difficult because of the opposition of human pride, our natural love of sin, and the opposition of Satan and the world in his control, all of which battle against us in the pursuit of eternity.
The exhortation to strive to enter is a command to repent and enter the gate and not to just stand and look at it, think about it, complain that it’s too small or too difficult or unjustly narrow. We are not to ask why others are not entering; we are not to make excuses or delay. We are not to be concerned with the number who will or will not enter. We are to plow ahead and enter! Then we are to exhort others to strive to enter before it’s too late.
Question: What does it mean that God draws us to salvation?
Answer: The clearest verse on God’s drawing to salvation is John 6:44, where Jesus declares that “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” The Greek word translated “draw” is helkuo, which means “to drag” (literally or figuratively). Clearly, this drawing is a one-sided affair. God does the drawing to salvation; we who are drawn have a passive role in the process. There is no doubt that we respond to His drawing us, but the drawing itself is all on His part.
Helkuo is used in John 21:6 to refer to a heavy net full of fish being dragged to the shore. In John 18:10, we see Peter drawing his sword, and in Acts 16:19, helkuo is used to describe Paul and Silas’s being dragged into the marketplace before the rulers. The net had no part in its being drawn to the shore, Peter’s sword had no part in being drawn from its scabbard, and Paul and Silas did not drag themselves to the marketplace. The same is true of our salvation in that God is the one who “drags,” or calls, us to salvation.
Why does God need to draw us to salvation? Simply put, if He didn’t, we
would never come. The natural man has no ability to come to God, nor does he
have the desire to come
(Romans 3:10-11). Because his heart is hard and his mind is darkened, the unregenerate person not only does not desire God, but is actually an enemy of
God (Romans 5:10). Jesus’ statement that no man can come without God’s drawing him conveys the teaching of total depravity and the universality of that condition. So darkened is the unsaved person that he doesn’t even realize it: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, it is only by the merciful drawing of God that we are saved.
That being said, there is a sense in which God draws all men. This is known as the “general call” and is distinguished from the “effectual call” of God’s elect. Passages such as Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 attest to the fact that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood from what has been made,” and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. But men still do deny God, and those who acknowledge His existence still do not come to a saving knowledge of Him outside of His drawing them. Only those who have been drawn through special revelation—by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God—will come to Christ.
There are tangible ways a sinner experiences God’s drawing him to faith. First, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sinful state and our need for a Savior (John 16:8). Second, He awakens in us a previously unknown interest in spiritual things and creates a desire for them that was never there before. Suddenly, our ears are open, our hearts are inclined toward Him, and His Word begins to hold a new and exciting fascination for us. Our spirits begin to discern spiritual truth that never made sense to us before in our sinful state (1 Corinthians 2:14). Finally, we begin to have new desires that God creates within us. He gives us a new heart that inclines toward Him—a heart that desires to know Him, to obey Him, and to walk in the “new life” (Romans 6:4) that He has promised.
Links to Other Q and A on Salvation
Top Questions About the Plan of Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Jesus and Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Who Can Be Saved with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Assurance of Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Salvation and Works with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Salvation Terminology with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Life After Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Election and Predestination with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Salvation and the Old Testament with Biblical Answers
Top Miscellaneous Questions About Salvation with Biblical Answers