Christian Biblical Counsel: SALVATION


Sharing Christ with Confidence

by June Hunt

History was changed in 1912 by the sinking of a British luxury liner, the Titanic. This horrific tragedy resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people. Previous to its launch, maritime experts believed that its 16 watertight compartments would keep it afloat regardless of any disaster. It was unsinkable.

Titanic researcher David G. Brown says that the ship could have been its own lifeboat. Even after running aground on a submerged iceberg, the 46,000 grosston liner “was capable of saving all on board by floating into midmorning until the rescue ship Carpathia arrived on the scene.” Instead, once the Titanic’s owner, Bruce Ismay, saw that the damage appeared minimal (the hole in the hull measuring only about 12 square feet) and that the ship’s pumps were successfully expelling the incoming water, he ordered, “Engines ahead, half-speed.” Minutes later, the ship’s fragile buoyancy gave way, and it began its fatal plunge. Brown says, “The inescapable conclusion is that Titanic’s pumps were swamped by massive amounts of water pushed into the ship by its own forward motion.… Titanic appears to have steamed itself into a watery North Atlantic grave.”

Meanwhile, thousands of people were comfortably, confidently, securely sleeping below deck.

“God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.’ ”

(Luke 12:20)

I.     Definitions

One of the reforms brought about by the tragic sinking of the best ship of the White Star Line was the requirement that all oceangoing vessels be equipped with adequate lifeboats. Titanic carried enough for only half its passengers. Brown says that while it sank, “Preventing panic was paramount. The maximum number of lives could be saved by loading only those people smart enough or lucky enough to reach the boat deck. No one would be told to go to the boats. In this way, the boat deck would remain free of panic for as long as possible. Those who remained in the warmth and false security of the ship’s public rooms would have to fend for themselves after the boats were gone.” Fortunately, God does not leave us to fend for ourselves. He has already provided for our salvation through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

A. What Is Salvation?

•     Salvation is the preservation from destruction, failure, or evil.

•     The Greek word for salvation is soteria, which means “deliverance, preservation, salvation.”

B. What Do We Need to Be Saved From?

#1  We need to be saved from the penalty of sin. This is a state of “justification.”

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16–17)

—  Justification means “declared righteous, vindicated, acquitted.”

—  Justification is “just as if” I’d never sinned—a completed action.

“Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

#2  We need to be saved from the power of sin. This is a state of “sanctification.”

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12–13)

—  Sanctification means “set apart to God, set apart from sin.”

—  Sanctification is not being in bondage to anything—a present process.

—  Sanctification means set apart by God to live with a new way of behaving and to become more and more like Christ.

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–4)

#3  We need to be saved from the presence of sin. This is a state of “glorification.”

“We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Romans 8:23–24)

—  Glorification is the final state of all believers who, with transformed, imperishable bodies, will live in splendor in the presence of God—a future condition.

—  Glorification means there will be no more death, crying, pain, thirst, or sin. (Read Revelation chapter 21.)

“God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)


II.    Characteristics of the Unsaved

The owner of the Titanic, Ismay, simply could not believe that the ship was capable of sinking—thus, defying logic and warnings, he gave the order to proceed after the collision. Brown says, “It was not the ice that sank Titanic, but the actions of its captain and owner.” In the same way, the primary characteristic of someone who turns away from God is unbelief. Often the lost person simply can’t believe God can or will do anything for him. His unbelief (or hardness of heart) shows up in different ways.

A. What Are Common Attitudes and Actions of Many Unbelievers?

•     Attitudes

—  Feeling unfulfilled

—  Feeling lonely

—  Feeling restless

—  Feeling disillusioned

—  Feeling empty

—  Feeling a lack of peace

•     Actions

—  Performance-based acceptance

—  Self-reliant, living by one’s own resources

—  Attention-getting behavior

—  People-pleasing behavior

—  Compulsive behavior

—  Dependency on drugs, alcohol, food, people

—  Ego-oriented, self-centered

“So we see that they were not able to enter [God’s rest], because of their unbelief.”

(Hebrews 3:19)

B. How Would You Know If You Have Received Salvation?

God wants you to know if you are an authentic Christian or not. In fact, He has devoted one whole book of the Bible to let you “know you have eternal life” or not (1 John 5:13). Read the Letter of First John and notice how the word “know” is repeated 7 times throughout this short book to make this point clear. Then evaluate your life in light of this insightful book of the Bible.

How Do You Know?

—  “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.” (1 John 2:3)

—  “But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5–6)

—  “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” (1 John 2:29)

—  “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:16)

—  “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:9–10)

—  “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.” (1 John 3:24)

—  “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.” (1 John 5:18)


III.   Causes of Unbelief

Bruce Ismay was the son of the founder of the White Star Line and a proud and impatient man. He was said to have often spoken to Captain Smith in a dictatorial fashion, demanding him to increase the speed and reach New York a day earlier than planned. He denied knowing that a plan had been devised for more lifeboats or that Captain Smith had given him messages that warned of ice in the vicinity. But after saving himself, while the captain and most of the men who were in first class went down with the ship, he found his reputation ruined for the rest of his life. Ismay had arrogantly refused to believe that anything could sink his nautical wonder.

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

(Proverbs 16:18)

A. What Are Common Questions About Salvation?

QUESTION: “If I prayed a salvation prayer but I see that my life has not changed, what did I pray? Did I ask Jesus to be my Savior and Lord or did I just pray for fire insurance so that I don’t go to hell?”

ANSWER: The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Unless you see your need for Jesus to be your Savior and invite Him into your heart to be Lord and Master, allowing Him to have ownership of you, He isn’t in your life. How do you know if your prayer worked? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” There will be a life change where more and more of your character is being conformed to the character of Christ. You will have the fruit of the Spirit as evidence of the spirit of Christ in you producing self control inside you.

“But the fruit of the Spirt is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” (Galatians 5:22–23)

QUESTION: “I have been in a sinful lifestyle all my life and I’m beginning to wonder if I am really a Christian. How can I continue to live like this if I am saved?”

ANSWER: You can’t belong to Christ and stay in a sinful lifestyle for very long. Many people intellectually understand salvation, yet they have never yielded their will to God’s will and allowed him to take ownership of their lives. That is why Jesus said,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

(Matthew 7:21–23)

QUESTION: “If we are not saved by our works, but by our faith, why does the book of James say that “faith without works is dead”? Does Scripture contradict Scripture?”

ANSWER: No! Scripture never contradicts itself. The primary purpose of the book of James is to communicate not how to be saved, but rather what your life will be like after you are saved. James lets us know that true faith in Christ transforms your character and your conduct. In other words, if there is the root of faith, there will be the fruit of faith. You do good works not to become saved, but rather because you are saved. Good works are not the means to salvation, but clearly the manifestation of salvation. Ultimately, if there are no “good works,” then there is no authentic salvation. That is why James says:

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

(James 2:17)

B. What Is the Root Cause of Unbelief?

Wrong Belief:

“I have my own way of determining how to live, and total dependence on Jesus Christ is not necessary.”

Most nonbelievers seek fulfillment of their needs through temporal means: popularity, possessions, position, and/or power.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

Right Belief:

I accept the Bible’s teaching that total dependence on Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life—is the only way to eternal life. Believers can find lasting fulfillment, not in popularity, possessions, position or power, but in experiencing the very life of Jesus Christ in them.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6)


IV.  Steps to Solution

David Brown ultimately stated that “Posting another lookout, choosing a more southerly course, reducing to a safe speed, or remaining stopped after the accident—any of these actions of ordinary seamen could have prevented the needless loss of life.”

Likewise, God uses ordinary Christians to help in the rescue of souls for His kingdom. Once God awakens you to the fact that someone you know is drowning in sin, ask Him for the courage and wisdom to approach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

(Matthew 10:19–20)

A. Key Verses to Memorize

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

(John 3:16–18)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

John 3:1–21

•     Our spiritual life comes only through   spiritual birth.


v.   3


•     Our spiritual life is invisible, as are   many of its effects.


vv.   7–8


•     Our spiritual life comes through Jesus   alone.


vv.   13–15


•     Our spiritual life is eternal.


v.   16


•     Our spiritual life depends on belief and   trust in Jesus Christ alone.


vv.   17–21


C. Common Mistakes in Counseling Nonbelievers

•     Offering counsel for a superficial problem without getting to the root problem

•     Assuming a person is saved

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” (Matthew 7:21–23)

•     Assuming a person understands biblical salvation

•     Getting sidetracked

•     Answering questions not asked

•     Trying to push a person into salvation

•     Offering only “fire insurance”

•     Offering only a “ticket to heaven”

•     Not presenting the cost of an obedient walk with Christ

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28)

•     Feeling personally responsible for another person’s salvation

“[Regarding Judas, Jesus] went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.’ ” (John 6:65)

D. Common Objections Made by Nonbelievers

Satan provides nonbelievers with all kinds of rationalizations for not accepting the lifeline being thrown to them. He lulls them to sleep in the icy waters of death with the whisper, “It can wait one more day.” If one distraction doesn’t work, another one might, so Satan cloaks the temptation to put off an eternal decision.

•     “People can’t really know if they will go to heaven.”

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

•     “Jesus never claimed to be God.”

“Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:9–10)

“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

•     “There are many ways to God.”

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ ” (John 14:6–7)

•     “What about all the hypocrites in the church?”

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12–13)

“Each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

There are hypocrites in the church … as well as in business, in schools, and in every aspect of life. Jesus desires to heal the hypocritical part of us all.

“For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

(2 Corinthians 4:18)

E. Common Concerns from Nonbelievers

Some people have concerns about whether salvation for them is even possible because of their very real awareness of their own sins and shortcomings.

Wrong Belief:

“God would never accept me.… You don’t know what I’ve done.”

Right Belief:

The issue is not what you’ve done, but what Christ has done for you.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

“ ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” (Isaiah 1:18)

Wrong Belief:

“God could never forgive all my sins.”

Right Belief:

God not only forgives your sins, but He also forgets your sins.

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)

“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

Wrong Belief:

“I can’t give up my sins.”

Right Belief:

The power of Christ in you is bigger than the power of sin over you.

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Wrong Belief:

“I think I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.”

Right Belief:

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—the only unpardonable sin—is a complete and total hardening of the heart, resulting in an unwillingness to yield to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. One of the major roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict unbelievers of their sins and their need for the Savior. A picture of such hardened hearts is found in the third chapter of Mark, where the teachers of the law refused to believe that the miracles of Jesus were from God and instead attributed them to Satan. God certainly has the power to forgive this sin, but these unbelievers completely and repeatedly rejected their need for forgiveness and reconciliation to God.

“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)

Wrong Belief:

“I want to become a Christian, but I don’t want to make a decision now.”

Right Belief:

Not making a decision is still a decision—it’s a decision against Christ.

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)

Wrong Belief:

“I might be harassed or hated.”

Right Belief:

True, every authentic Christian will be opposed and oppressed.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)

“No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20)

But you will not be overcome by trouble.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the: Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

Wrong Belief:

“It’s too late for me.”

Right Belief:

It’s never too late for a heart to be humbled before God.

“[God said] ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

F.  Present God’s Plan for Freedom

Once a nonbeliever reaches up to take hold of the lifeline, you need only pull it in. Draw him up to the Lord by means of these four handholds:

Four Handholds of God’s Plan

#1  God’s Purpose for You … is Salvation.

—  What was God’s motive in sending Christ to earth? To condemn you? No … to express His love for you by saving you!

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16–17)

—  What was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth? To make everything perfect and to remove all sin? No … to forgive your sins, empower you to have victory over sin, and enable you to live a fulfilled life!

“I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

#2  Your Problem … is Sin.

—  What exactly is sin? Sin is living independently of God’s standard—knowing what is right, but choosing wrong.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)

—  What is the major consequence of sin? Spiritual death, spiritual separation from God.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

#3  God’s Provision for You … is the Savior.

—  Can anything remove the penalty for sin? Yes. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for your sins.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

—  What is the solution to not being separated from God? Belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6)

#4  Your Part … is Surrender.

—  Place your faith in (rely on) Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and reject your “good works” as a means of gaining God’s approval.

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)

—Give Christ control of your life, entrusting yourself to Him.

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’ ” (Matthew 16:24–26)

After sharing these four handholds, tell the unbeliever that the moment we choose to believe in Jesus—entrusting our lives to Him—He gives us His Spirit to live inside us. Then the Spirit of Christ gives us His power to live the fulfilled life God has planned for us.

If the one with whom you’ve just shared the Gospel expresses a desire to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, you can lead that person in a prayer of salvation. Or perhaps today you realize that you have never received Jesus into your life. If you desire to be fully forgiven by God and become the person He created you to be, you can tell Him in a simple, heartfelt prayer like this:

Prayer of Salvation

“God, I want a real relationship with You. I admit that many times I’ve chosen to go my own way instead of Your way. Please forgive me for my sins. Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Come into my life to be my Lord and my Savior. Through the power of Your Spirit, make me the person You created me to be. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.”

Listen to what God’s Word says about the ones who surrender their lives to Him!

“I [Jesus] tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

(John 5:24)

G. Welcome to God’s Family

If you have just trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you are now in God’s family and …

•     You are completely forgiven and cleansed of all your sins.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

•     You are a new creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

•     You are declared righteous by God … right in God’s sight.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

•     You have received the gift of eternal life.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

•     You have received the Holy Spirit, who lives within you, empowering you to overcome sin, as well as to love others in a new way.

“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

•     You have peace with God.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

•     You will never be condemned by God.

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

•     You will never be separated from God’s love.

“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.” (Romans 8:38–39)

If this lesson has helped you to come into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, please write to me and let me send you some additional material that will encourage you in your spiritual growth.

And.… Welcome to the family of God!

—June Hunt


Selected Bibliography

Branon, Dave. Where Do I Go From Here? A Handbook for New Believers. Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1993.

Brown, David G. The Last Log of the Titanic, 2001. Cook, Robert A. Now that I Believe. Chicago: Moody, 1977.

Dewitt, David A. Answering the Tough Ones: Common Questions about Christianity. Chicago: Moody, 1980.

Graham, Billy. Peace with God. Rev. and expanded. Minneapolis, MN: World Wide, 1984.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Letham, Robert. The Work of Christ. Contours of Christian Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Molony, Senan. Bruce Ismay and the Ring’s Taunt, 2001.

Moyer, R. Larry. Welcome to the Family: Understanding Your New Relationship to God and Others. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996.

Radmacher, Earl D. Salvation. Swindoll Leadership Library. Nashville: Word, 2000.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody, 1965.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. So Great Salvation: What It Means to Believe in Jesus Christ. Chicago: Moody, 1997.

Sproul, R. C. Reason to Believe. Grand Rapids: Lamplighter, 1982.[1]


Salvation (leading a person to Christ)

I. Apart from Christ, we are helpless and sinful.

A. We are all sinners.

1.   We are all born in sin.

Ps. 51:5. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

2.   We all, like sheep, have gone astray.

Isa. 53:6. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

3.   All have sinned through Adam.

Rom. 5:12. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Rom. 5:19. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

4.   Jews and Gentiles alike are sinners.

Rom. 3:9–12. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

Rom. 3:22–24. Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

5.   We are like lost sheep whom Jesus goes out to seek.

Luke 15:3–7.

6.   We are like the prodigal son.

Luke 15:11–24.

7.   Even our righteous acts are as filthy rags.

Isa. 64:6. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

B. We are in spiritual bondage.

1.   By nature all are in sin’s bondage. Christ sets us free.

John 8:31–36.

John 8:34–36. Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

2.   To continue to live in sin is bondage.

2 Peter 2:19. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

3.   Jesus sets us free.

Rom. 6:16–18. Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

C. We are alienated from God.

1.   Outside of Christ we are at odds with God.

Col. 1:21–22. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

2.   Without Christ we are without hope.

Eph. 2:12–13. That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

D. Knowledge of sin comes by the law of God.

1.   Through knowledge of the law we become conscious of sin.

Rom. 3:20. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

2.   The law helps us understand sin.

Rom. 7:7. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

3.   Jesus gave us his summary of the law.

Matt. 22:37–40. Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

4.   God has given us the Ten Commandments.

Exod. 20:1–17.

E. God in his justice punishes sinners.

1.   God first revealed his justice to Adam.

Gen. 2:16–17. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

2.   The result of sin is death.

Rom. 5:12. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Rom. 6:23. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3.   By nature we are all under the curse of God.

Gal. 3:10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

See also Warnings.

F. We cannot save ourselves in any way.

1.   By nature we are at enmity with God.

Rom. 8:7–8. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

2.   By nature we are dead in sin and are objects of God’s wrath.

Eph. 2:1–5. And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

3.   We are saved only by grace, through faith.

Eph. 2:8–9. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

4.   God saves us through a rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:4–7. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

II. Jesus saves us by grace, through faith.

A. Jesus suffered and died for sinners; those who believe in him will be saved.

1.   Isaiah depicts the suffering servant of Jehovah.

Isa. 53:1–11.

Isa. 53:4–6. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

2.   All who receive Christ by faith are saved.

John 1:12. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

3.   As was prophesied, God gave his only Son so that those who believe in him may have eternal life.

John 3:14–16. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

4.   Jesus died for his sheep.

John 10:11, 14–15. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

5.   His sheep hear Jesus’ voice and follow him and receive eternal life.

John 10:27–28. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

6.   We are redeemed through the blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:18–19. Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

7.   Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.

Eph. 5:25–27. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

8.   Jesus is the only mediator.

1 Tim. 2:5–6. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

9.   Christ died for undeserving sinners, for many gracious purposes.

Rom. 5:8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Phil. 2:8. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

2 Cor. 5:21. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

John 1:29. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

1 John 4:9–10. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Gal. 3:13. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).

1 Peter 2:24. Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

1 Peter 3:18. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

Eph. 5:25–27. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Heb. 9:14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

10. We are forgiven, justified, and cleared of all guilt and condemnation by faith in Jesus Christ.

Rom. 3:21–24. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Rom. 5:1. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom. 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Rom. 10:9–13. That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

See also Forgiveness of Sins.

B. Examples of those saved by grace, through faith.

1.   Levi, the tax collector.

Luke 5:27–32.

2.   Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

Luke 19:9–10. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

3.   The penitent woman who wept at Jesus’ feet.

Luke 7:48, 50. Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

4.   Many notorious sinners represented in Jesus’ parables.

Luke 15:3–7. (parable of the lost sheep)

Luke 15:8–10. (parable of the lost coin)

Luke 15:11–31. (parable of the prodigal son)

5.   The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

John 4:1–26.

6.   The murderer on the cross.

Luke 23:39–43.

Luke 23:43. And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

7.   Saul, the persecutor of the church, who became Paul, the great missionary.

Acts 9:1–19. (Paul’s conversion)

1 Tim. 1:13–16. Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

8.   The Philippian jailer.

Acts 16:25–26.

Acts 16:30–31. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

III. The Lord calls sinners like you and me.

1.   God calls those who are spiritually hungry and thirsty.

Isa. 55:1–3. “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—The sure mercies of David.

2.   Jesus is the bread of life and the living water, and he calls sinners to come to him.

John 6:35. And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

John 7:37–38. On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Rev. 22:17. And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

3.   Jesus calls those who are weary and burdened.

Matt. 11:28–30. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

4.   He calls us to enter through the narrow gate.

Matt. 7:13–14. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

5.   He calls us to repent and believe the gospel.

Mark 1:14–15. Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

6.   Seek the Lord while he may be found.

Isa. 55:6–7. Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

7.   Today, if you hear his voice, don’t harden your heart.

Heb. 3:7–19.

8.   The Lord will never turn a sinner away.

John 6:37. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

Rom. 10:13. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

IV. We are saved to joyfully obey and serve the Lord.

1.   Offer yourself as a living sacrifice unto God.

Rom. 12:1–2. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2.   We are saved to bear much fruit, through Jesus Christ, the vine.

John 15:1–8.

John 15:8. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

3.   We are saved to be dead to sin, alive to God, and slaves to righteousness.

Rom. 6:1–23.

4.   We are called to live a new life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rom. 8:1–14.

Eph. 5:1–21.

5.   The Holy Spirit helps us to bear fruit.

Gal. 5:13–26.

For more Scripture on living the life of gratitude for our salvation see Loving God; Loving and Serving Others; and Obedience.[2]


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Salvation: Sharing Christ with Confidence (1–13). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

[2] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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