Over 25 years ago, when our youngest son still lived at home, he and I had a discussion about salvation. We really did.
Now salvation is a huge subject. We didn’t adequately cover it that day—bit of irony there, in case you didn’t catch it—but we did come to one conclusion: salvation requires trusting God because He alone is able to save. People must not think they can earn salvation.
After that day I pondered what the essentials of salvation would be—and discovered some defining Scripture passages. Monday’s video reminded me of the search, and here are a few passages and thoughts.
[I]f you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God has 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.
Wow. Pretty straightforward, don’t you think? I would suggest that believing God raised Jesus from the dead includes not only his resurrection but also His sacrificial death—simply because a resurrection is impossible without a death. So the verse tells us that accepting and confessing the reality of Jesus finished work on the cross are the essentials. If we truly believe, we will tell others what Jesus accomplished.
They overcame him [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Another straightforward statement. By faith these people had received and accepted the completed work of Christ because they were covered by the Blood Jesus shed on the cross. And their word or testimony means they told others what God had done for them.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…
This verse has a different context. Jesus is speaking to His disciples and He emphasizes faith in Himself as a person—perhaps because the disciples hadn’t had time to absorb prior events and because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit.
He also identifies baptism as the second component. To bring this together with the statements above, remember that baptism was a public event. Submitting to baptism was, in essence, a public confession or testimony. The important thing is that faith and a testimony are identified as the core of salvation.
I Corinthians 2:3
I resolved to know nothing when I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
This statement by Paul emphasizes how the early apostles built their ministry (their testimony) on what Jesus accomplished. Their faith and confession were the core realities of salvation.
Likewise, our faith in Jesus and our confession of that faith are central to our identify in Christ—and the core realities of our salvation.