This morning our study is entitled, “How am I saved?” You will notice if you are looking at the program, the topics for this camp are in some way all linked back to salvation. How to receive salvation, what does it look like, how is it played out in someone’s life, and what will a saved person live like. And so even though we are spending 8 subjects on this topic, we can only take a small amount of this topic. It’s very small compared to the exhaustiveness of what we would say is the science of salvation. So this morning we are going to endeavour to have a look a little bit. And if you know your bible well, this question already should be answered, so I’m not going to tell you exactly what it is or how, you should already know that. But we are looking at an aspect of how we are saved, and we are looking at two particular passages in the Bible. This morning we are going to be spending our time in Genesis 3 and Matthew chapter 4, and there are a few other verses we are going to be looking at before that.
So back to the question. How am I saved? By repenting and believing. How am I saved? Connected with this question is, how do I remain saved? If to believe is how I am saved, then how do I remain saved? So let’s have a look at these two verses. The first one I’m going to take you to is John 5:24, just to make sure here we are starting off on the right foot. And then we are going to look at Hebrews 10:38,39. In John 5, Jesus here is speaking. Verse 24 says, “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me [He is referring to believing on the Father here; hear the word of Christ and believe on the One that sent Christ to the earth.], hath everlasting life, and cannot come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” And that verse pretty much sums up the answer to that question.
Now how do we remain saved; or continue to remain saved, justified, the recipient of eternal life? Let’s see what Hebrews 10:38,39 says. Paul sums it up with these words. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” How is the just, the one that has been justified, to live after he has been justified? By faith. The same means by which he was justified now he continues to remain justified. He lives by the same thing that justified him. And verse 39 says, “But we are not of them that draw back.” So they have come up to a certain point, he says, but we are not of those ones that are going to draw back from that. We are going to continue on in this faith, which is what saves us. “But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
So salvation really can be summed up in the simplest form. It is to believe God, to be justified, and to continue to believe God, to remain justified. The end result is the saving of the soul to life. This thing is very simplistic. In it’s essence, just believe and one is saved. Continue to believe and one remains saved. If we were to take those two verses alone, and know no other verses, is it possible for one to be saved? Do you know now, this morning, the theology of salvation with these two verses? Do you have everything you need to know to be saved? What I want to have a look at this morning is two examples that deal particularly with what saves a person, and and what continues to save a person. Whether we use the word belief or faith, the bible uses them interchangeably. So to believe God or to continue to believe God is the same. To have faith in God or to continue to have faith in God. So why is salvation then so difficult, when the bible makes it so simple? Just the act of believing is what saves a man, and an act of continuing to remain in that belief will continue to save a man until finally the redemption of the purchased possession. I want to take this and run it by two examples to have a look at whether salvation is that simple, and the main issue is just about believing or unbelieving.
One example is a situation of someone that believed or continued to believe and the other is the example of someone that did not believe, or chose not to believe. Let’s go first to the one that chose not to believe. I want to have a look at how this idea, that this faith in God is the foundation of salvation for mankind. And it was also the foundation for mankind before he fell. Let’s go to Genesis chapter 3. I know this is a well-known story, but what I want to have a look at here, is this aspect of believing and how it was the absence of belief, choosing to be in a position of unbelief that brought about condemnation on the whole human race. Let’s read the story, here not to miss anything. Often we read them and we don’t see the details in here that have beautiful truth sitting there. Genesis 2:16 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
So the word of the Lord has been spoken to a perfect, innocent, righteous man. God gave his word in a command. Now what does the command require? It requires a response. And there are two ways you can respond to a command. One is obedience, and the other is disobedience. Only two options; you either obey or you disobey. So Adam here is placed in the midst of the garden, and he us put under command. Now Adam has a free will to choose, and he has two possibilities. To obey, or to disobey. Now let’s move down to chapter 3. Chapter 3 is the story of the fall of mankind.
Adam is the representative of mankind, and we read the story there, particularly of the words the serpent suggests to Eve. And through Eve to Adam and the decision that is made there determines the history of the race. We will just summarize some of these thoughts here. The serpent is found in the midst of the garden in the only place the serpent can be. The only place man could be tempted is upon the point where God gives him the choice to either obey or disobey. And that place where man can choose, that is where the temptation or the tempter is found. And we know Eve wanders away from Adam, she comes to the tree and the tempter begins to now tempt through subtlety, through engaging her in dialogue. But there is something more subtle here that takes place before Eve ever commits the sin of touching the fruit. There was the command of God, which was really the command that determined either their eternal life or their eternal death. The command was not to touch because you will surely die. So Eve finds herself in this place where the tempter now begins to speak to her and he makes here a suggestion to Eve. A suggestion that asks her to do something. What does the serpent ask her to do? And I’m not talking about taking the fruit. He asked her to do something that happens in the realm of the mind. He asks a question, and he wasn’t questioning anything else except for what God had commanded Adam. He asks, is what God said truly a fact? Is what God has commanded Adam really going to happen? Does God really mean what he says? Does what God says happen? Because remember, what God said would happen is that he would die. Satan suggests to Eve here the possibility of believing another option, taking the second road. But the suggestion was not for Eve to disobey God; it’s not suggested in that form. The insinuation, the proposal he is putting to Eve is, could it be possible that God is not true in what he said? The suggestion here to Eve is to disbelieve.
Now up to this point, what had Adam and Eve believed about what God had said? They had believed without questioning, that it was absolutely true. The suggestion to disbelieve God was only just a suggestion. But what was that suggestion inviting them to do? To go from believing what God says to be absolutely true, into a position where they now questioned or doubted or disbelieved what God has said to be true. The whole issue of the fall is based upon believing what God said. Is it true or is it not true?
Now, what if Adam had have remained faithfully believing God’s word to be true? What would happen to his posterity? They would have continued in the same state with the same nature that Adam had. But now Adam makes the choice here and chooses to disbelieve God. Or we could say to rebel. Because rebellion and unbelief/disbelief is the same thing. In the book of Psalms David often refers to the children of Israel and used the word “rebel” and “unbelief”; they are connected. Paul uses the word “unbelief”. The children of Israel were in unbelief, therefore they were a castoff. They were rejected, they did not enter in because of their unbelief. And when you look at the actual history and you see this unbelief is wrapped up in the story. But the word to describe their unbelief is often rebellion; they rebelled against the Lord. How did they rebel? By not believing him. So Adam comes to this choice. Eve has been tempted, she brings the fruit to Adam, and Adam has to make a choice. Am I going to rebel against what God said, or am I going to continue to remain in the position of believing what God says? And so he is at a crossroad here, and there is one choice to be made. Do I continue to believe God or do I not believe God? Now who was the only one that could make that choice for him? Could Satan the serpent make the choice for him? Absolutely not! The only one that could make that choice was the individual. Because the individual had free choice to choose whether to believe God or not to believe God.
And so in essence, the fall of man is over one issue. Whether he will believe God’s word to be true, or he will rebel and not believe God’s word to be true. And how is it seen whether Adam believed God or not? Because believing always follows with the fruit of action and the way one lives. They cannot be separated. You can’t just believe something without it being manifest. How did Adam show that he no longer believed what God says, was rebelling against what God said? How did it manifest itself? Disobedience. We call it disobedience, but where did it begin? Before the fruit was manifest, it was first begun in his mind. He chose to disbelieve God and then rebellion is revealed in his life in the form of disobedience.
Now let’s go to another example here where everything hinges on that one thing; whether one will believe or not believe. We are using these two examples because here we have the first Adam that disbelieved God and fell into sin. Or we could say that because of that unbelief, rebellion in the form of disobedience now was manifested in his life, and that was passed on to his posterity. And all that now come of the seed of Adam take of his nature. So let’s go now to the second Adam Paul talks about in Romans chapter 5. The story is taken from Matthew chapter 4. And again I want to emphasize here, the whole issue about the loss of mankind, his dominion, and the restoration of mankind is all founded on this one thing. Whether one will believe or not believe. And what are they believing? God’s word; that what God said is true. Now let’s have a look at Matthew 4:1. “Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command these stones be made bread.” Verse 4 is going to confirm the idea that we are going to look at now. The situation arises that Christ goes into the wilderness, and it says he was led there by the spirit. He was going to be engaged there in a series of temptations, and he fasted for forty days. Notice the language here: “and afterwards he hungered”. When did he hunger? After. So forty days now finishes. He had not eaten, he was fasting, and now at the position when his physical nature is at is, on one hand, it’s weakest. But the desire for food is at it’s greatest, and the tempter now comes. So these two ideas, one is we suggest that there is sometimes the weakness, but then in the same sense it is also the strength. So hes weak, he’s weak physically and mentally. But on the other hand, the desire for food is at its strongest point at that moment. After 40 days of fasting, then now he hungered. And it’s at that point when the desire, the natural desire of the human body, is at its strongest, when the devil now turns up to tempt. At the best possible opportunity to succeed in overcoming him he now turns up. What does Satan ask Christ to do? Just like he asked Eve in to take the fruit, what did he ask Christ to do here? To turn the stones into bread. Now there are two possibilities, two options here to consider what was the problem, because we know that if he had have listened and followed out, what would have been the case of humanity? We would have been lost, right, on account that he had sinned, just like Adam had sinned. Now I want you to consider here the two things so far that we have looked at. One is the strong craving for food and the other is the suggestion to turn bread stones into bread. I want to ask you, what was the sin here? What actually would have been the sin if he had have gone through with Satan’s suggestion? Was it the fact that he was starving hungry and he wanted to fulfil the need, or was it the fact that he would use divine power to make a miracle? What would have been his sin? Was it stones into bread or was it fulfilling the need to eat? What actually would have been the sin that would have brought the downfall not only of him but of the human race? What was it?
Let’s rule something out here. Was it sin in fulfilling a natural desire of the body for food? Was that the sin? Let’s think of it this way. If it was, then we sin every time we eat–unless we are not eating because we are hungry. If the need to eat is the sin, then every time we eat we also sin. And really there is no way out of this sin unless you die. You don’t have that hunger any more if you stop eating and die. But what about Jesus using the power of God to fulfill that need? Was that the sin? Can we find in the life of Christ a time that through the use of the power of God, He transformed what seemed like nothing into food, and Christ partook of that himself? When did that happen? The loaves and the fish, right? I don’t think that Christ was there on the mount and he gave to the disciples and the five thousand, they fed everyone, and he didn’t need anything. For three days the people had been listening to Jesus, and the disciples said, “The people need to eat. They are hungry, they are faint, they are going to fall by the way.” And Jesus performs the miracle. He used divine power to supply the human need to survive, to eat. Survival through taking in food. So can we rule that out as the sin? Was that sin for him to make bread into stones into bread?
Let’s look at another example. Jesus is on the mount. He has just fed the five thousand and he has sent the disciples over the water on the boat. And what happened? One of those sudden Galilean storms comes up and the boat is really having a hard time. Jesus is up on the mount and on the fourth watch, he looks out and he senses the disciples stressed in the boat, And what does he do? Now, there are two things that are happening here. One, he uses divine power that enables him to walk across the water to get to the disciples. Was that sin that he used divine power that enabled him to do something supernatural? Why couldn’t he have just stayed on the mount and looked down on the disciples and said “Peace be still”? As we look through the gospels, we can find accounts of Jesus using divine power that enabled him to do supernatural things. Not only for the sake of the people, but it was also for his benefit. He could have stayed on top of the mount and just said peace be still and the disciples rode nicely the rest of the way. Why did he need to partake of the food that was made from five barley loaves and two small fishes and made into a multitude? So what then was the sin? What can be actually labelled as the sin in this temptation?
Now remember what is happening here. Who comes to see him? Who is it that sees him there, and in what form? As an angel of light. If God came through an angel; you are in a really bad strait, and the angel says to you, “Get up and walk on the water.” How would you figure that? Would you think, “Well, the angel has told me to, therefore it is not me acting of my own providence. The angel, the messenger of God has now commanded me to do this.” It seemed as if the angel had just come from God and is now telling him how God was going to provide for his needs. Command it to be bread, and it will become bread, and you can eat. That’s how God is answering the need. It’s like if you are praying for something, and then an angel would come to you and say “Get up and command this to happen.” Would you think that you are using your own ability to do that, or because God had told you through the angel? It could very easily, to Christ, be the answer to his need. Now has God in his word told you that he will provide for the needs? Yes. So this is the answer. Coming in the form of an angel of light, telling him to turn the stone into bread to fulfil the need; that’s how God is fulfilling his word to keep you alive. So really where is the issue here? I don’t believe that it was the fact that he was fulfilling a natural desire of itself, or was the fact that he was commanded by this angel to turn the stones into bread. It comes in the two letter word found in verse 3. “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If…”
What suggestion here is being presented? It sounds very similar to the suggestion in the beginning. The suggestion is whether God really was true in what he said. Now, how did Christ know that he was the son of God? Because this is the question that is asked; the angel of light is asking Jesus to question this. How did he know that he was the son of God? Or was he actually still questioning this point? Forty days earlier, he had the direct voice of the father in heaven saying “this is my son”. He has had the prophet, the greatest prophet among all men, declare him to be the son of God. He has the witness of the entire scriptures from Moses all through the prophets declaring that in his life these events that would take place, that this is the son of God. He has the record of Gabriel himself that came to Mary declaring that she would conceive the son of God. And now with all the evidence that God had given through either His word in written form, through the angel Gabriel, or whether it be through the voice of God himself; he knew that he was the son of God. At what age did he know that definitely? At least 12. “I must be about my father’s business.” He called God his father. So he knows that. Like Adam, he knows what God has said. But the temptation was to question what God has said. Christ knows that he is the Son of God, because God has declared it. So now the suggestion is to question it. The first Adam was asked to entertain a doubt about what God says. The second Adam was asked on the first temptation that is recorded in his life, to entertain the same thing. To doubt what God’s word, what God had declared to be true. I believe the sin here was, if he had have carried out the suggestion, would he have remained in faith? It would have been to prove God’s word, which would have been to entertain the doubt and stand in a position of unbelief. And that would have been the sin. To go forward in the suggestion, to prove that it was what God said rather than to believe what God said he was. Now the reason we know that this is the heart of the temptation is because of Jesus’ own words in response to the temptation. Let’s go to verse four, and notice what is the thrust of his response to Satan’s temptation. “But he answered and said, It is written [he’s quoting Deuteronomy], man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Where does he take the emphasis in rebuking the devil? It is in questioning of the word of God. Man was not going to just live by bread, but he does live by what God says. Jesus’ response to the temptation gives us a clue here as to the issue that Satan was tempting him about, and it was disbelieving what God said. And in this case, it was disbelieving that God had declared him to be the Son. In Adam’s case it was disbelieving what God had said about him touching and dying. It didn’t matter what it was about, and we can look at many examples. Fundamentally it was about either believing or disbelieving.
We can look at Noah for example. Noah had two positions he could take after hearing the word of God that He would send a flood, and the command to build an ark. He could have made two choices. There was another alternative to the one he chose, and that was to not believe what God had said. What God says can vary, but the position one takes in regard to God’s word is only either one of two. To believe it or disbelieve it–only two positions. And so we can see why then salvation is founded upon this simple principle of either believing or not believing. Adam lost his life because of unbelief. Christ gained the life of humanity because of his belief. And so, in the same way, salvation is offered to every one of us based on that same issue. God has given his word regarding the redemption of man. He has declared that he will do what he has done, and what he is going to do in the future in your life, and the only thing that remains is a question of what position you stand in. To believe what God has declared and accomplished, or to not believe. Now, it doesn’t make any difference whether you are on this side of the cross or before the cross. It’s the same thing required, believing. Because before the cross you believed that God would send his Son to pay the penalty for sin. Now on this side of the cross we believe that God has paid the penalty of sin, which is remission of sin past. Irrespective where you stand in history of mankind, it’s one or the other position that determines where we end up in life.
Remember we mentioned earlier, your belief is always followed by your life. Adam believed the serpent rather than God, so in order to believe something else, he had to disbelieve God. So his unbelief manifests itself in his action and what he does. Christ comes along and he continues to believe, and not be shaken on his belief, and this is shown by him refusing to do something in his life. Both the position of belief and unbelief produce fruit. You can’t have them separate. What you believe is always brought about in your life, how you live and how you act. One naturally follows the other one. But the temptation is here inside. The work of salvation happens here first, before it’s ever seen on the outside. Rebellion starts inside before it starts in the outer life. And so when you see the fruit, you just know what is happening inside.
There are only two positions; you are either in faith or not in faith. Remember the Bible verse, “Whatever is not of faith is sin?” If you are not believing what God says then you are in a position of sin. You are under condemnation and you need justification. That’s why in believing you can be justified and you can be saved. Continue to believe God’s word and you will remain justified. And if you remain being justified, that’s called sanctification. How God recreates the image of Christ Jesus in you and transforms the character in you. That all depends on one thing; on what you believe, not on what you do.
So really, the question is how am I saved? It all comes back to one thing; what position you take in regard to what Christ said–in every aspect of what God said. Unbelief means that you are in rebellion against God and there are only two positions; you are either rebelling against God, or you are in belief, in harmony–reconciled to God. So how are we saved? How we remain saved? It’s believing. And the opposite is unbelief.
The question I want to leave with you is, do you believe God’s word? Do you believe God’s word for you? Because that determines where you are going. That’s what determines whether the end result is the saving of your soul or the condemnation of your soul. Do you really believe the word of God exactly as he said? That it will do and accomplish what he has said it will do and has already declared to happen? In essence, salvation is very, very simple. If you have God’s word, you have a reason by which you can believe or not believe. You have the means of salvation right before you, and it’s in one question; will you believe or will you not? Salvation is that simple. The only problem is that we’ve tied salvation more to what you do, than what you believe. And believing is always founded in one thing; believing God to do what God says.
Now, the question might be asked, “Well the devils believe?” You know, throughout the whole Bible there is no word of God given for the saving of the devils. God has never declared or given his word that he would save or rescue or redeem them. So when they turn to God’s word for their soul, for their salvation, they find no word of God that they could believe on. God has not given his word for them, but to us it has been given. In over 66 books in different ways, stories, allegories and history, God has tried to manifest himself and prove himself that he is worthy to be trusted. And salvation is really that simple. The question is, will you believe, can you believe? Because another factor that plays a part in here of one believing, is the factor of the hardness of one’s heart. That’s a subject for another time, because the harder the heart the more difficult it is for you to believe. There’s something we can look at in the future; how does one’s heart become hard? Why did the Jews for example have such hard hearts, when the word of God was there for them?
My prayer is that we can see the gospel in its simplicity. In the simpleness of what it is to be saved and to continue to be saved. And strip it from all the things that we’ve either been brought up with or just come to believe. And I’ll tell you it’s natural to try and do something to receive the reward. Whatever the case is, the gospel, if it’s taken as it’s written, is simple. It is obtainable to every human being, and it’s accessible to you at this moment, right now.