From Sinner to Saved Through Baptism
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Christians are saved to help save others. “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). Just how does one go from being a sinner to saved?
▸ Sinners Are Everywhere
Paul concludes what he has been arguing through the first three chapters of Romans, that both Jews and Gentiles are sinners. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Any person that has ever committed one sin should be interested in what he must do to be saved from the guilt and consequences of that sin. And, since sin is a transgression of God’s law, any one who has violated one single law of God, is a sinner and needs to know what he must do to be saved.
▸ Sinners are Lost
There is only one name, Jesus Christ, by which a sinner obtains salvation. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for their is none other name under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). So long as men feel secure in unbelief, immorality, and denominationalism, they shall be lost and without salvation. For unbelief will bring damnation. For morality alone cannot save. And, denominationalism will be rooted up, since it was not planted by God. Only revealed truth can lift man from this route of certain loss of his soul’s hope of salvation.
▸ Sinners are in Darkness
God is light and in Him is no darkness. A sinner lives in darkness. “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). God sent His Son to give all men everywhere a chance to have salvation, that they might not live in the darkness of sin. For those of this world that believe in Christ and follow his light, shall have salvation.
▸ Sinners Are Without God, Christ or Hope
Paul reminds the Ephesians of the time when they were without God, without Christ, and without hope. “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in this world” (Ephesians 2:12). Without God, a sinner would not have the one last chance God gave to man by sending His only Son to the earth as a Savior, so that the sinner might have eternal salvation. Without Christ, a sinner would be without the precious blood which was shed on the cross, without that, there can be no remission of sins. A sinner is without hope of the remission or forgiveness of sins and salvation. But, a sinner can have God, Christ, Hope, if only he would accept the way of salvation, by following the plan of salvation.
▸ Sinners Must Hear God’s Word
The first step toward salvation from sin is hearing the Word of God “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). By hearing, a sinner profits himself from the gifts of God, and can submit himself in obedience of God’s commands, abandons all thought of self, trusting only in God, and the sinner learns what further steps he must take in order to have salvation. When a person comes up and ask someone the directions to a certain place, he must listen so that he might hear and learn of the various roads he must take to get to that place. A sinner must, by this same manner, listen to the Word of God as it is being preached to him that he might hear and learn of the various further steps he must take in order that he might find salvation. For the way of salvation does not stop at hearing for the sinner must believe in what he hears.
▸ Sinners Must Believe Jesus is the Son of God
Christ said in the great commission that a sinner must believe in order to obtain salvation through baptism. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). A certain “he” shall be “saved”. The term “saved” implies that man is lost apart from Christ and the Gospel. It is the “he” who believes and is baptized. To believe is to have faith or a strong trust in God and His Word. This belief must begin with the gospel of Christ. In the next part of the sentence, “he who does not believe will be condemned” the sinner who will not believe the gospel shall be damned or condemned. This shows us that man is a free moral agent and has the ability to believe. For all who will not believe the Gospel and follow it, shall not be saved.
The Ethiopian asked Philip the preacher: “‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’” (Acts 8:36b,27). When he believes with all of his heart man turns away from trusting in himself and in human wisdom and he places his trust in the Lord. When he believes with all of his heart he turns his affections away from self and the things of the world and centers them upon the Lord. When he believes with all his heart he must deny his own will, forget his desires and ambitions, crucify self, and surrender his will entirely to the Lord, and thereby repenting.
▸ Sinners Must Repent of Their Sins
A sinner’s belief in the gospel of Christ, and in His death, burial, and resurrection, causes the sinner to change his attitude toward sin. This change is called repentance, which literally means a “new mind”, a complete change of attitude and purpose.
John the Baptist refused to baptize the Jews who came to him until they brought forth fruits meet for repentance. “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A sinner’s “fruits of repentance” can be shown in the change of his manner of living as he turns to walk with the Lord in the direction of heaven results in a change in relationship. Though he has been walking with the world in sin and unrighteousness, doing his own will, seeking his own pleasure and the fulfillment of his own ambitions, he now yields himself to the Will of Christ and begins a life of obedience to His Will.
A sinner’s repentance is brought about by a deep feeling of sorrow over one’s sins, causing one to turn to God and to accept His Will. “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:9,10). Here we find that repentance is a step toward salvation that involves more than a feeling of sorry. It requires a recognition of the evil of sin, an inward feeling of detest for sin bound up in a decision to forsake it. Repentance is a condition for forgiveness of sins. Without repentance of sins one cannot be saved.
▸ Sinners Must Confess Their Belief in Christ
Another step according to God’s plan, is for the sinner who believes to confess that faith before men. In Matthew10:32, Christ states that: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Here we find that it is essential that a sinner must confess with his mouth his belief in his heart that God sent His Son to the earth to suffer and die on the cross that through His blood all men might have remission of sins. And in doing so his confession is made unto salvation. Also because of his confession, Christ will declare before His Father that man’s righteousness on the day of judgment.
The Eunuch gave a prime example before Philip of confession in Acts 8:37, when he answered Philip saying: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” When Philip went to the eunuch he found that the eunuch could not understand the scriptures of the prophet Esaias, so Philip took the same scriptures and preached unto him Jesus, whom the eunuch was ignorant of at this time. But he believed and confessed his belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And by confessing his belief in Christ the eunuch also declared that he is willing to follow the Will of God and be baptized.
– by Daniel R. Vess