What Must We Do: The Before and After of our Salvation
There is a passage recorded in the synoptic gospels, e.g. Matthew, Mark and Luke, that reveals a universal question concerning the requirements for salvation. Human beings are so performance oriented that they will inevitably perceive reality in terms of ‘What they must do in order to be accepted, acceptable, etc.”
When God is involved in this equation, the ultimate performance trap is being set, e.g. “I will be worthwhile (in the sight of God) if ______________.” “I must meet God’s requirements (whatever I perceive them to be) to feel good about myself” will become the central paradigm in our thinking.
This ultimate question is preceded by the teaching of Jesus concerning the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Luke 18:9-14. That teaching ends with the disciples protesting against those who were bringing small children to the Messiah for His blessing, Luke 18:15-17.
It is important to be very clear about the difference between what must we do to be saved and what should we do after we are saved. The Word of God is extremely clear about what we must do in order to be saved, .e.g. Repent (change our thinking about who God is and who we are in His sight) and believe the Gospel (the Good News that Yeshua has died for our sins, according to Scripture, and has been raised from the dead on the third day, according to Scripture, I Cor. 15:3-4.
So, our salvation is going to be about what God has done for us, what He will do in us via His Holy Spirit, and what He will do through us as we walk it out one step of faith at a time, one day at a time, always by grace through faith.
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth, Luke 18:18-23.
When we study how the Messiah interacted with others during the three years of His earthly ministry, it becomes exceptionally clear that He always went directly to the heart of the matter, e.g. what were they really in need of and how could He get them to understand their need for His redemptive work in their lives.
Nicodemus: In the Gospel of John chapter three, Nicodemus visits Jesus at night and expresses his own belief that Yeshua was a teacher sent by God, John 3:2. Yeshua goes directly to the heart of the matter by telling Nicodemus that he must be born again, vs. 3.
The Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth told Nicodemus he must be “born again.” All humans are born naturally in sin, Psalm 51:5; Isaiah 53:6, but God has provided atonement for our sins. This is the promise of the New Covenant, Jer. 31:31-37. That promise is that we can know God and be forgiven. A promise that He will place His Holy Spirit inside us and make us new creations in Christ, Ez. 36:37; II Cor. 5:17-21.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved, Acts 20:21.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph. 2:8
Believing God, taking Him at His Word is what is required. Believing “in” God is not the acceptable way of salvation.
We need to believe Him by trusting in His Word, the living Word of God, Jesus, and the written Word of God, the Bible.
The way of salvation (the name of Jesus in Hebrew is Salvation) is to place our faith in the gospel. The gospel is clearly delineated by the Apostle Paul in the following passage.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, I Cor. 15:3-4a.
The gospel is good news! It is not based on blind faith but faith that is rooted in the proof of prophecy. God has written the history of the world in prophecy. There are many infallible evidences concerning the Person and work of His promised Messiah. Read for yourself about how He would be rejected by His own people, the children of Israel, yet He would die for their sins, Isaiah 53. Read where God told us where He would be born, Micah 5:2, about His virgin birth, Isaiah 7:14 or about His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Zech. 9:9 and His eventual crucifixion, 1,000 years before the fact, Psalm 22.
Don’t take our word for anything. Prayerfully check these things out for yourself. Your eternal destiny depends on a decision you will make concerning Jesus of Nazareth. No one will be with God for eternity that did not make a conscious decision that is where they wanted to be. And no one will be separated from God who has not decided they wanted nothing to do with God’s loving provision of forgiveness and new life in His Messiah, the Holy One of God.
What We Must Do After We Are Saved
Interestingly, one of the best biblical instructions for how to live our lives after we repent and believe the Gospel is found in the book of the prophet Micah. This should not surprise us because God changes not and His plans for His people have always been the same, e.g. saved by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8 and continue to live by grace through faith, Col. 2:6. But what exactly will a lifestyle of faith, hope and love look like?
With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God, Micah 6:6-8.
- Do the next right thing. Trust in the Lord by believing His Word, continue believing the truth and serve the Lord in word and deed. They should match.
- Loving God will result in loving what He loves and manifesting the fruit of the Holy Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23, always by grace through faith, Rom. 1:17; II Cor. 5:7.
- Walk humbly with God. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all, Eph. 4:2-5.
- Find a Bible believing local body of believers and adopt them as your extended family. Don’t wait to find the perfect church. If you wait to find a perfect body of believers and you join them, they won’t be perfect anymore. Remember, believing the gospel for yourself, that you are holy and blameless before God in love because of Christ, Eph. 1:4, means that all God’s children are His good works in progress, Eph. 2:10.