When talking to people about their souls salvation sometimes the response is given that “I have sinned in such a way that God could not or would not forgive me.” Sin is a terrible thing and every one of us should order our lives in such a way as to not be servants of sin, but of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18). However, the problem for many in receiving the forgiveness of their sins is simply due to the fact that they can not forgive themselves, or that they do not understand God’s power and willingness to save.
God’s desire to save can be seen in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Christ declared to His disciples that He “came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). Paul writing to Timothy, reminded him that Christ “came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). These expressions “God sent” or “came” implies that there was a pre-existence of Christ before coming into the world. God’s desire to save was so great that God sent “His only begotten Son” to save man. In the gospel of John we read, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2). Then John tells us that “the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Indeed, this is the declaration of the fact that Jesus Christ came into the world. By the coming of Christ John declared “we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth...And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:14-17). Here we are shown God’s willingness to save man. We must understand God’s willingness to save and by the grace of God man can be saved.
As we think about being saved by grace, let us remember that it was by the coming of Christ into the world that the grace of God came into the world to bring salvation (Titus 2:11). But in order for this grace to save, man must have faith in God’s word; that God will forgive sins when man has done what He has required (Ephesians 2:8,10). Since “grace...came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), we can see that in order to avail ourselves of this grace we must come into contact with Christ. The scriptures teach that fellowship or come into contact with Christ comes when man comes into contact with the death of Christ, thereby being cleansed by His blood.
In Acts 2, a group of Jews had gathered at Jerusalem for a religious observance, Pentecost. It was on this occasion that Peter preached to them about the Christ whom they had crucified. As Peter concluded his sermon we read, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38). Imagine the feeling that these Jews felt recognizing that they were sinners and had crucified the Son of God. Their sin was terrible. The Hebrew writer speaking of those that fall away because of sin says, “they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrew 6:6). They that fall away are not actually guilty of crucifying Christ, but their sins put them in the same condition. What did Peter tell them that had actually crucified the Son of God? “Repent and be baptized “(v. 38).
As we have noticed earlier, Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners. And Paul was a man that committed many terrible sins in persecuting the church and consenting to the death of the disciples. But what was he told to do in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins? Ananias told him to “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
Again in Romans 6, Paul begins by asking the question, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” He answers saying “God forbid.” Paul then mentions that they had died to sin. Beginning in verse 3, Paul tells them “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). To the Galatians Paul wrote “For we are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). These two passages teach us a great deal about how man comes into contact with Christ and the grace that bringeth salvation. When we are baptized into Christ and into His death, we become are children of God and have put on Christ.
The grace of God is what man relies on to be saved, “For all have sins and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The scriptures teach that as men were convicted of their sins by hearing the good news preached, men responded by faith, repenting of their sins, confessing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and being baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2,8,16, 22). Christ died for the sins of all. But those that will avail themselves of the gracious gift of God’s Son and the cleansing power of His blood by humbly submitting to what God requires (the good works ordained by God - Ephesians 2:10) will receive forgiveness of sins.