I heard an independent Baptist preacher say that Peyton Manning (who planned to drink lots of beer after winning the Super Bowl) needs to grow as a Christian. In the same week, another preacher expressed his concern that carnal and worldly Christians might use marijuana. Both preachers need to study the Scriptures concerning the doctrine of salvation and sanctification.
According to the Bible, we are living in perilous times. Baptists have bought into all sorts of fables about salvation, the New Testament church, missions, prophecy, etc. My point in this first article is to remind us what the Bible teaches concerning conversion. We must not settle for professions, but only for Biblical conversion—the very same pattern we see in the New Testament. For one to be converted, the sinner must:
A. Accept his condition before God, that he is a sinner, a transgressor, and a lawbreaker—he has broken God’s law (Romans 3:9). Man is separated from God (Ephesians 2:12). Man is without God, without hope, and without Christ. His righteousness is as filthy rags. The Scriptures declare that man, in his natural state, is lost and condemned already, and has God’s wrath upon him.
This is the problem with today’s evangelism is that the sinner doesn’t get lost. The modern-day soul-winner doesn’t give the sinner time to get lost. Many people think that somehow, some way, they have a part in securing their salvation. They don’t understand their separation from God nor do they comprehend the grace of God.
B. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is what the Apostle Paul said in response to the Philippian jailor’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” Belief is the thought and teaching that encompasses repentance and faith (Luke 13:3, 5 and Acts 3:19). Some people don’t believe that Biblical repentance is turning away from sin. But what does the Word of God say? “…in turning every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26). “How ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (Thessalonians 1:9).
Romans 6:22 describes conversion, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Repentance is simply being sorry for what we are: sinners and lawbreakers who are at enmity against God. Repentance is deep sorrow for our insubordination towards God through our sins and transgressions against Him.
C. Call on the Lord. Romans 10:13 always works when the sinner acknowledges his condition and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting of his sin and believing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as his only help and hope for salvation.
The result of these three points in action is Biblical salvation—not a change of denomination (although one may leave an unscriptural denomination for a Baptist church or scriptural assembly). Salvation is not a religious experience, but a spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is not a reformation, but a conversion. Salvation is not a work of man, but a supernatural work of God, His Word, His Spirit, and His Son. If it is not supernatural, it is superficial.
Bible salvation caused Saul of Tarsus to yield himself in repentance and faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not continue in his pharisaical faith, but rather he became a repentant follower of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:9, “…things that accompany salvation”). This is conversion—a 180-degree turn that results in continuous change. (II Corinthians 7:14). “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Salvation isn’t any less than a supernatural work of God which brings the work of the Spirit and the Word into a repentant sinner’s life with the goal of conforming unto the likeness of Christ. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).