When I was a young man, the religious tradition in which I was raised spoke of “salvation” as a state which a man could attain by acting in his own free will to accept what CHRIST had done by HIS death on Calvary’s cross. It taught that if a man could be persuaded to “believe” and “receive CHRIST” then he could attain a standing or position known as “salvation”. Folks were urged to “get saved” as soon as possible so that in case they died they would be assured of a place in heaven where they could join all of the other neighbors and loved ones who had made similar “decisions” and gained heaven by their action of faith, avoiding the pit of hell in the process.
Though the work of CHRIST in dying on the cross was often spoken of, the true importance of what HE did was actually of secondary consequence since it was concluded that regardless of what HE had done on the cross, it made little difference if men did not “accept” it thereby making it effective in redeeming them. The basic concept which was taught was that CHRIST died for every individual on the face of the earth and had made the salvation of each one a possibility if they could just be persuaded to receive it and thereby gain its benefit; otherwise CHRIST had simply died in vain for all who did not believe.
While CHRIST’s work on the cross was said to be a payment for sin, yet the teaching was that no one was actually “saved” by it, only made “salvable”. The only sin that was left “unpaid for” was that of unbelief. So that by adding the work of faith to that which CHRIST did on Calvary this made a man saved. They said the only thing that could cause a man to go to hell was “unbelief.”
Therefore much time was spent and various methodologies adopted in order to influence men to exercise their “free will” and effect their own salvation by accepting HIM and making a profession of faith. They could even write the day and hour (in which they made this transaction) on a little card so if they ever began to doubt their “salvation” they could refer to the card and be assured. This scenario is played out in most churches and religious orders today with certain variations. Some require baptism in water as an act of obedience which washes away their sin, some expect that those who make such decisions to speak in a language unknown to men, some advocate that certain styles of dress be adopted, etc.
The list goes on but, in every case, the most important part of a man’s “salvation” is ultimately considered to be what “he does” since it is assumed that CHRIST has already done all that HE could do and has left this salvation up to men to either accept it or reject it. If that truly was the scenario that the LORD had displayed then no man would ever be saved, since the scripture clearly declares the deadness of men in their sinful state and says, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Rom 3:11)
How different is the scriptural message concerning the “work of CHRIST”? HE came into the world in order to perform a specific work for which HE was ordained. As the angel told Joseph, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Mat 1:21) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” (1Pet 1:18-20)
CHRIST is the REDEEMER, HE has bought and paid for the salvation of every one of those whom HE loved from before the foundation of the world. HE has not left one stone unturned nor in any wise failed to do everything that was needed in order to secure the redemption, justification, and sanctification of every one of them. Their salvation depends, one hundred percent, on what HE has done for them. “But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.” (Psa 37:39)
When you ask a true believer to describe his “salvation”, he only needs one word: CHRIST. “But Christ is all, and in all.” (Col 3:11) If he needs more then it is too much. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1Cor 1:30) There is nothing lacking in that which CHRIST has performed. Not only has HE purchased the redemption of HIS people by paying their sin debt, but HE has imputed HIS perfect righteousness in keeping the law to their account. Not only that but HE has triumphed over death and become the “first fruits” of the resurrection, thereby assuring them that if they die they shall indeed live again.
In addition, HE has sent HIS SPIRIT into the world to lay claim to every one of HIS elect, and does draw them to HIMSELF in the appointed hour and does lead them from darkness into LIGHT. HE has also promised to return to this earth to receive that which is HIS at the last trump. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6:37-39)
The salvation of the sons of GOD is totally the “work of CHRIST” from beginning to end. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb 9:12) It is a false “gospel” that declares anything less. This is why Paul said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save (i.e.; except) Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1Cor 2:2)
To declare that CHRIST performed a work of salvation for a man which is not sufficient to save him, apart from some action on the man’s part, is to preach no “salvation” (only its possibility) at all, and is to count the precious blood of CHRIST as shed in vain for many. It is to disregard the efficacy of the blood of the SON of GOD and to deny the prophecy of Isaiah, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isa 53:11)
The atonement of CHRIST, which is the basis of the Christian faith can only be viewed in three possible scenarios. Either, 1. HE paid the price for the sins of all men, therefore all men are “saved”., or 2. HE paid the price for the sins of all men but actually saved none, leaving the final act of “salvation” in their hands. or finally and truthfully, 3. HE actually accomplished the work which HE came into the world to perform which was to redeem an elect people which were chosen in HIM before the foundation of the world and does save them to the uttermost. The latter is indeed the “work of CHRIST” upon which all who have been given “faith” must alone rely. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (Joh 10:27-28)mam