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Home > Salvation from Sin


How Many Ways to Salvation through Jesus?


How many ways are there to be saved from sin?Salvation comes only through Jesus. But is there more than one way to receive that forgiveness? Must we believe, repent, be baptized, and be a church member?

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Introduction:

John 14:6 – Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” So no one can be saved except through Jesus. (Acts 4:12; John 8:24)

Question: Is there more than one way to be saved by Jesus?

Could it be that Jesus saves different people in different ways? Some are baptized, but could it be that others just believe and others are saved even without believing? Some are members of a church, but could others be saved outside the church? Could it be that Jesus accepts them all?

Ultimately, these questions are raised in order to justify people in different faiths and denominations. Many sincere people are following different paths. Could it be that the different paths still lead to Jesus? “We are all going to the same place, just by different roads.”

Let us consider things the Scripture says everyone one must follow to be saved.

Notice, not just what the gospel says to do, but also how many people must do them. Are some requirements of the gospel just for some people, and different requirements for others? Or are all people required to do these things? Consider the following:

Jesus’ Death

John 3:16 – God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus’ death is for the whole world.

1 Timothy 2:6 – He gave Himself a ransom for all.

Hebrews 2:9 – By the grace of God He tasted death for everyone.

2 Corinthians 5:15 – He died for all.

So, the only way to be saved is through Jesus; but the only way to be saved through Jesus is through His death. Jesus offers no other way to salvation. This is generally acknowledged by people who recognize that salvation must come through Jesus.

So the question now is: How do we receive forgiveness through His death? Is there more than one way to be saved by His death, or must all meet the same conditions?

The Gospel

Romans 1:16 – The gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Mark 16:15 – Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Galatians 1:8,9 – Anyone who preaches a different gospel is accursed.

So, the gospel is the message that tells us how to be saved through Jesus’ death. And there is only one true gospel. We must not change or tamper with it. It is the same for all. That gospel is completely revealed in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Since the gospel is the only way to learn about salvation through Jesus, then does the gospel allow more than one way to benefit from Jesus’ death, or is there only one way?

(Revelation 22:18,19; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Acts 20:32)

Hearing or Learning the Gospel

John 6:44,45 – Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. They shall all be taught by God. Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” But we already learned that the gospel is the message the Father uses to teach people and draw them to Jesus. So all must learn the gospel in order to come to Jesus.

Mark 16:15 – Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Romans 10:17 – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So, the gospel is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16), because it tells people how to be saved by the death of Jesus. And since there is only one gospel, no one has the right to preach a different gospel. The gospel we must learn is the same for all.

But what does the gospel say? Does it allow people to be saved in various ways?

(Matt. 11:28,29; Acts 3:22,23)

Faith

Romans 1:16 – The gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.

John 3:16 – God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Mark 16:15,16 – The gospel preached to the whole world says that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. But those who do not believe will be condemned.

John 8:24 – Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Ephesians 4:4-6 – There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

So faith is a universal condition to salvation through Jesus’ death. All must believe the gospel of Jesus. Those who do not believe will die in sin. Do you believe?

Many people would agree that we must have faith, but salvation requires believing there is “one faith.” Not only must we learn the gospel, we must all learn the same gospel. Not only must all believe, we must all have the same faith. We begin to see that the way to salvation is narrow.

Repentance

Repentance is a change of mind in which we recognize we have been wrong and we decide to change and do right. Note what the gospel of Jesus says about it.

Acts 17:30 – God commands all men everywhere to repent.

2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. So all must repent or perish.

Acts 2:38,39 – Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. This promise is to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.

The gospel teaches that all men everywhere must repent or perish. So, repentance is another universal requirement for salvation.

Have you repented of your sins and determined to live your life for God?

(Luke 13:3,5; 24:47)

Obedience

Many will accept all that we have learned to this point, yet many believe people can be saved without doing anything. They say obedience is not essential. What does the gospel say?

Hebrews 5:9 – Jesus became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.

Matthew 7:24-27 – Whoever hears Jesus’ sayings and does them has a house that will not fall. Everyone who does not do them has a house that will fall. (Compare verses 21-23.)

Romans 2:6-11 – The Lord will judge each one according to his deeds (verse 6). Eternal life is for those who do good (verse 7), everyone who works what is good, Jew or Greek (verse 10). But indignation and wrath are for those who do not obey the truth (verse 8); this is true of every soul of man who does evil, Jew or Greek (verse 9). (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Acts 10:34,35 – God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

2 Thessalonians 1:8,9 – Jesus will come in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what some think, no one can be saved without obedience. It is not true that some who obey will be saved but others will be saved without obedience.

So here is another universal requirement of the gospel. To be saved, all must be obedient. The one gospel that we must all learn and the one faith that we must all believe say that obedience is necessary in order for us to be forgiven of our sins by the blood of Jesus.

The path becomes more and more narrow. What does this obedience include?

(Matthew 12:50; John 14:23; James 1:23-25; Romans 1:5)

Confession of Christ

Matthew 10:32,33 – Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father.

1 John 4:15 – Whoever confesses that Jesus is God’s Son, God abides in him, and he in God.

Romans 10:9,10 – 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.

So confession is another universal requirement of salvation: everyone must confess Christ to be saved. Many people would agree that this is true. But notice that this is an outward act of obedience. If confession is required, then outward acts are required to be saved. To deny the need for outward acts would be to deny the need for confession.

The gospel, that all must learn and all must believe, says that confession is another universal requirement of salvation. Have you confessed Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Baptism

Baptism is another condition of obedience according to the gospel. Yet some think that people can be saved whether or not they have been baptized. Is baptism another universal requirement of salvation by faith in Christ according to the gospel?

Mark 16:15,16 – Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. The one gospel, that everyone must hear, believe, and obey, requires every creature in all the world to be baptized to be saved.

John 3:3,5 – Unless one is born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. So no one can enter the kingdom unless he is born again of water. But the only New Testament practice that requires water is baptism.

Acts 2:38,39 – Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. This promise is to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.

So people who need remission of sins must not only repent, they must also be baptized. This is required of “every one” and “all who are afar, as many as the Lord will call.” But this call is extended through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14), which should be preached to whole world.

Romans 6:3,4 – As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death … Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, so we should walk in newness of life. (Note that baptism is a burial, i.e., an immersion.)

So we have learned that everyone must be saved by the death of Jesus, but how many people have contacted that death? As many as have been baptized. When we have been baptized, then we walk in newness of life (we are born again, which confirms what we learned in John 3:3,5). (Compare 2 Corinthians 5:17.)

Galatians 3:26,27 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. So, we must all believe the one faith, and we are all children of God (born again) through faith. But we come into Christ by faith when we are baptized. The number of those in Christ is the same as the number of those baptized. So, all must be baptized to be in Christ.

Contrary to common thinking, baptism is a universal requirement for salvation, just like hearing, believing, repentance, and confession. The one gospel, that all must hear and believe, requires that all be baptized to receive remission of sins, contact Jesus’ death, come into Jesus, and be saved. Have you been baptized to receive the remission of your sins?

(Matthew 28:18,19)

Church Membership

Since baptism puts one into the church, the same people who deny that baptism is necessary will also generally deny that church membership is necessary to salvation. By this, however, they usually mean membership in a denomination. But what does the one gospel, that we must all believe to be saved, say about church membership?

All the saved are in Jesus’ church.

Matthew 16:18 – Jesus planned and built His church. Note that it is one church, not many different churches. Jesus has a church, but it is not a denomination.

Acts 2:47 – The Lord adds to His church daily those who are being saved. So, all people need to be saved; but when the are saved, they are added to the church that Jesus began. To be saved is to become part of the church. So how can one be saved outside the church?

Acts 20:28 – Jesus purchased the church with His own blood. But everyone must be cleansed by Jesus’ blood to be saved. Since the people that He purchased with His blood make up the church, how can anyone be saved outside the church?

Ephesians 5:23,25 – For the husband is head of the wife, as Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body. Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. The church is the body over which Christ is the Head (compare 1:22,23).

The church does not save us; Jesus saves us. But He is the Savior of the body. He gave Himself for the church. So those whom He saves are all in the body, the church.

The church that belongs to Jesus is one united body.

Since the Head has only one body, and since a man may be husband to only one wife, it likewise follows that there is only one true church. The church that Jesus built is not a denomination.

Ephesians 4:3-6 – Keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace requires us to accept just one true God and Father, one true hope, one true faith, one true baptism, etc. In the same way, there is one true body, which is the church.

Scriptural unity requires that all the saved are included in “one body,” the church. This one body believes and teaches the “one faith.” We must not approve the existence of different bodies with different faiths, any more than we approve of different Gods. (2:14,16; Colossians 3:15)

1 Corinthians 12:20 – There are many members, yet one body. As individuals are saved, they become members of the body, but there is only one true body. Those who are saved have all been baptized into one body (verse 13), so all are members of that one body, the church (verse 12).

Jesus’ church is not a denomination, nor does it consist of different denominations. It is the body that consists of all saved people. That one body must teach and believe the one faith, with no human changes. This includes teaching the truth about salvation. And it must work to maintain unity, not justifying or accepting division (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 12:25; John 17:20-23; Galatians 5:19-21; Luke 11:17; Romans 16:17).

So the one gospel, that all must learn and believe without changing, requires that all saved people be part of one church. Membership in Jesus’ church is therefore another universal requirement of salvation. Are you a member of Jesus’ one true church?

(Romans 12:4,5)

Faithful Living

When a person is baptized, all his past sins are forgiven and he comes into Christ. The Lord then adds him to His one church, the body of all saved people. It is possible afterward, however, for disciples to go astray into error. What are the consequences?

Matthew 28:19,20 – Having been baptized, disciples from all nations should be taught to observe all things that Jesus has commanded. Baptism simply begins a life of obedience.

John 15:6 – If anyone does not abide in Jesus, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (Compare verse 2.)

2 Corinthians 5:15 – Christ died for all, that people should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Everyone must be saved by Jesus’ death, but that means we must all live for Him.

Hebrews 3:12-14 – Any one can depart from God through the deceitfulness of sin. We partake of Christ only if we hold our confidence steadfast to the end. (4:11)

2 John 9 – Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

So after baptism, all are required to continue to live faithfully in order to maintain their relationship with the Lord. This includes repenting and confessing sins we may commit. Continuing to live faithfully after conversion is another universal requirement to ultimately receive eternal life through Jesus. Are you living faithfully in the Lord’s service?

(Hebrews 12:15; 10:38; Matthew 16:24-27; James 5:19,20; 2 John 9-11)

Conclusion

By studying the individual requirements of salvation, we have learned that all people must obey all of these conditions in order to be saved. It follows that there is only one way to salvation through Jesus for all people. Other gospel passages confirm this conclusion:

Romans 2:6-11 – God does not show partiality (verse 11). Everyone who works good receives eternal life, but every soul who does evil receives tribulation and anguish. This confirms that the conditions of salvation are the same for all; otherwise, God would be showing partiality. (Acts 10:34,35)

Matthew 7:13,14 – There is just one gate and one way leading to life. It is narrow and difficult. Few find it. Most are on the broad road to destruction.

Remember that no one has a right to teach a different gospel (Galatians 1:8,9). It follows that these conditions apply to all people, and no one has the right to teach a different gospel.

Have you obeyed these conditions of forgiveness? Have you received forgiveness by the death of Jesus? Are you living a faithful life as a member of Jesus’ one true church?


(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2020

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