The following is a sermon transcription that will hopefully help you understand from the Bible the way of salvation and how it impacts our lives.
The Way of Salvation
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Yao Chia Chi)
Many of us have the heart and willingness to worship God but the question is have we found the true religion? Is the God whom we worship the true God? Is our motive right? Is our attitude correct? Is our experience true? Let us ponder.
Many of us have needs for certain things from our religion. I believe many people would like to receive peace, joy and wealth. We want to live a long life, to have a harmonious family and to have a successful career. These are the things we hope and pray for. But our faith should not be limited to them.
Religion should hold a deeper meaning.
I once heard a religious speaker who shared that the content of a religion should include these three things. The first is unique discernment. In other words you must have a very clear and correct understanding of your belief, or it would just be a superstition. With understanding, you are willing to entrust yourself to it and to the true God. You are willing to offer yourself, and place your life into His hands. And you are certain of your commitment to Him. Taking a step further, you will be diligent and put in your efforts to this religion because you know that it is important, for it concerns the salvation of your soul. It does not just concern your short life on earth. The third stage would be actively going forth to preach the gospel.
Therefore in the Bible in 2 Timothy (chapter 1), we see Paul, an apostle of Christ, whose life was transformed after he believed in Jesus. At the very beginning, he was diligently striving after his ideals. In fact, he persecuted and killed many Christians. But on one occasion, the light of Christ came upon Paul and Christ manifested Himself. Paul then realized his misunderstanding of Christ and repented from his deeds. He expressed his deep feelings and experience in his new found faith.
“to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him…” – 2 Timothy 1:11
Hence, he went forth courageously to preach the Way of Salvation. He taught the believers to hold fast the pattern of sound words, to hold on to it in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. He said this was a good thing committed to believers which was kept by the Holy Spirit which dwelt in them. Paul knew whom he had believed in and he was willing to commit all of his life to Christ and he entrusted his life into His hands. He was willing to give up his life in the hope that the gospel can be preached. Thus he became a missionary committed to preaching in places that had never heard of the gospel.
I believe everyone of us want to know the true God, to enter into a true religion. What kind of choice should we make? Paul had walked the wrong path initially. Though he was the best among his peers being very zealous, he did not know the true God. All the things that he held precious, he considered them as refuse after knowing Christ. Christ became his most precious. And this is a very good reminder for us in our pursuit of a true religion. While Jesus was still working on earth, He had put in much effort to teach the disciples and to nurture their faith. In Matthew Chapter 5 to Chapter 7, the author had specifically put together the teachings of Jesus, known as the “Sermon on the Mount”. His primary purpose was to train believers to become the spiritual citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
Towards the last portion of this Sermon on the Mount, the author gave us a very important reminder. In Matthew 7:13-29, Jesus mentioned three parables. The first parable concerned two paths. One is wide and broad and there are many who go in by it. However it leads to destruction. The other path has a narrow gate and the road is difficult so there are very few who find it, but it leads to life.
Our pursuit of religion is not a pursuit of fun. It is not about going for the biggest or most magnificent church, nor the most historical one. Neither is it about the many famous people or intellectuals found within. Such moves may not lead to life. The following parables have one main point: that is, to do the will of the Heavenly Father, and be willing to listen to God’s words.
The second parable concerned two types of fruit trees. We cannot tell a good tree from the bad one just by looking at the exterior. Similarly, there are many false prophets who are hypocritical. They are ravenous wolves who put on sheep’s clothing. Therefore if we judge only by appearance, we would be easily deceived. We must bear good fruits to be good trees. Those who bear bad fruits are bad trees.
What is the standard of measurement?
What kind of good fruits are we looking for? Are we only looking at external actions, or the many good deeds they have done? The bible does not use such a standard for measurement. In Matthew 7:21 onwards, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Verse 22 continues with, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” These people would not believe that they could not be saved. They thought that they have done the right thing, but in the end they were reckoned to be evil doers by the Lord Jesus. And the Lord Jesus says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
This is a hard thing to accept. We have spend our whole life zealously loving the Lord, and we think that we have done much work for the Lord. We have also offered much money and we might have received power to perform miracles. In the end we are stopped outside the gates of heaven. This would indeed be pitiful.
The one who bears good fruit obeys the will of the Heavenly Father. Paul in the New Testament instructed the believers to hold fast to the good things committed to them, because that is the pattern of sound words. He did so because even in the church in those days, there were already heresies and many leaders had changed the nature of the gospel. Such erroneous messages were in fact passed down in the history of the church, which led to the reformation.
Even after the reformation, there were many different denominations for there were many things that were different. So, who is right? Just as what the apostle had mentioned, the one who is right is the one who has held on to the pattern of sound words. There are many Christians among us who are also very faithful and love the Lord. However, have they discerned the truth of Salvation?
The Way of Salvation
There are also among us who are not Christians who may not have any understanding of “Salvation”. What is Salvation? Salvation is the ultimate aim of Christians. As mentioned earlier, there are some things which we desire in our religion and these are included in our concept of salvation. We can simply divide these into two categories.
1) The deliverance of our flesh. It includes physical infirmities. We hope to receive God’s healing.
In the bible we have seen many miracles being performed by Jesus. The bible records of him healing various sicknesses. There were those who were healed of their fever, while others were healed of their blindness; even the lame and the mute were healed. A woman who had a blood disorder for many years was healed when she touched the Lord Jesus. Lepers were healed. The demon-possessed were healed. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus can be likened to a warrior as He attacked Satan and drove out demons. The Lord Jesus had also given this power to the disciples whom he chose. The Lord Jesus had also given us this power today.
“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:11-12)
In fact many people find it hard to accept the doctrines of the True Jesus Church. If it were not for the power of Lord Jesus as well as very strong motivations, no one would believe, in the early days where Buddhist beliefs and the beliefs of other religions were very prominent. Very often, you would not find a Christian in a village. If you were converted to Christianity under those circumstances, you would not know what would happen to you. Perhaps people would shun you, relatives would scold you and maybe your parents would threaten to cut off ties with you. You might even lose all the resources that you gained. Yet, some believed and were converted. Many of them were attracted by the miracles. They may have contracted terminal illness and were healed. Some were demon-possessed and were healed. With such personal experiences, they were motivated to believe. Therefore the first aspect of Salvation is the deliverance of the flesh. In the True Jesus Church, we have many such testimonies.
2) The deliverance of our old lives, no longer bondage to sins.
Besides physical infirmities, another kind of deliverance pertains to a change in our lives. Many people were bound by sins before they believed in Jesus. They might have many bad habits, or might have done many wicked deeds. But after their conversion, the Lord Jesus changed them. And from henceforth, they are no longer in bondage to sins. The bible has mentioned some of these characters like the tax-collector Zacchaeus. As a tax-collector he had previously extorted from people and collected more taxes than he ought to. But after he believed in Jesus, those he had cheated, he repaid four-fold. And he gave half of his wealth to help the poor. In the past he treated his wealth as his life but after believing in Jesus, he valued life differently.
There are many other examples of our brothers and sisters who in the past were drug addicts and gangsters. But after believing in Jesus, they transformed in character and conduct. Their lives changed. Their souls were saved. With physical deliverance, we have peace in our hearts, joy in our lives and we lead abundant lives. These are the signs that we have been delivered in the flesh. However, all these blessings are not our ultimate aim in finding a true religion. Our ultimate aim is the salvation of our souls for we know that it is destined for man to die once, but after that there is judgment. The True God will be the ultimate judge. The good and evil will ultimately receive their just rewards. In the judgment after death, those who are righteous will rise to everlasting life. Those who are wicked will be condemned to the everlasting fire. It does not mean that death ends all things. If death ends all things, then the evil man will continue in wickedness without constraints because in the end he will just die and not be punished. If this is the case then God will not be righteous. The truth is, there is a final judgment after death. Where will our soul end up ultimately?
The bible gives us a very important concept of life. There are some who live in villas while others are unable to keep themselves warm. But with regards to their souls, it does not mean that the rich in this life will be rich in the life to come. On the contrary, if we live a very lowly life now, and if we are able to enter the path of everlasting life, our next life will be glorious and filled with blessings. The bible uses a parable to emphasize this point. There was a beggar called Lazarus. In his life on earth he led a hard and miserable life. Daily, he was brought to the door of a rich man’s house to beg for food while the rich man feasted sumptuously inside. When both of them died, the beggar Lazarus led a blessed life in paradise. The bible describes him being in the bosom of Abraham. He was in paradise. The rich man on the other hand who had fed sumptuously in his lifetime ended up in hell, suffering and begging for water to thirst his unquenchable thirst!
Therefore what is important it not how we fare in this life, but whether we have found the Way of Salvation. These are the things we ought to understand. In the faith of a Christian, we not only have hope in this life, we also have the promise of everlasting life.
The concept of after-life in Christianity differs from that of other religions. In other religions they believe in reincarnation. It is their hope to reincarnate to someone better or richer in the next life, but it is also possible that they may reincarnate into a beast! The after-life of a Christian refers to the Kingdom where our souls are destined to rest eternally. There will only be good and no evil. The other destination is hell, an everlasting fire where we will suffer eternally.
“whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9
In this verse, this “Him” refers to Jesus. Though we have not seen Jesus in the flesh, we love Him and we believe in Him. We experience inexpressible joy because of our faith in Him. At the end of our faith, we will receive the salvation of our souls. This refers to the final state of a saved Christian. Through faith, a Christian enters into a joyful life. We can experience peace even amidst tribulations, even while we live in a world full of sin and temptation. The truth sets us free for we have received the salvation of our souls, and this salvation is already manifested in our current life. In the future when our life ends or when the world comes to an end, we will be received by God into His Heavenly Kingdom.
This is the ultimate aim of our faith – Salvation of our souls. The way of Salvation is simple. The bible states that if we turn from our erroneous ways, walk in His path, return to Lord Jesus, believe and be baptized, we will receive this Salvation. This is a very important teaching that Christians preach today.
“to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” – Acts 26:18
We have to go forth to preach the gospel so that those who have yet to believe in Jesus, may open their eyes to His Salvation. They may turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the blessings of God. Through faith, we will receive the forgiveness of sins and ultimately will receive an inheritance among those who are sanctified.
Time for Action!
Many people may believe in taboos and superstitions and are controlled by Satan before they believe in Jesus. Very often they want to do good but have not the strength to do them, instead they continue to sin. This is the helplessness of man. The Apostle Paul had lamented about the same predicament but he was able to overcome them through Christ Jesus. We have to first deal with the root problem of sin to be freed from its bondage. When we believe in Jesus and there are concrete actions that we have to take. The bible tells us to believe and be baptized. We are baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38
If we are willing to repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, we will receive the remission of sins and we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We will enter into the blessing of God. The method stated in the bible is simple, and there is no need to do many charitable deeds that other religions require.
There was a person who offered one million dollars in donation to the temple after he was shown a drawing of a house by a nun who had told him it was the house that he would have in heaven in his after-life. With one million dollars he bought the drawing of his house to be. Of course after he believed in the Lord Jesus he regretted his actions but could not get his money back. In Mu Zha Church, there is a believer who wanted to change her name prior to her baptism. She explained that her wish was not due to superstition but because her name could be seen inscribed in many temples where she had donated money to previously.
Some of us have done foolish acts before our belief in Jesus. We thought our good deeds would reap rewards in the future. The way to heaven is simple – repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus and we will receive forgiveness of our sins.
Do all baptism have the efficacy to forgive sins?
Some churches use sprinkling method in baptism. Some conduct baptism in a pool in the church. Why are there different modes when the bible only mentioned that we must be baptized in the name of Jesus? And which baptism is the effective one?
In the True Jesus Church, the mode of baptism is full immersion in living water. When John the Baptist baptized the people, they chose places that have much flowing water, like river Jordan. Jesus had no sins, yet He was baptized by John the Baptist. John knew the status of Jesus and told Jesus that he could not baptize Him, but Jesus explained that it is to fulfill all righteousness. So John the Baptist baptized Jesus. In Matthew Chapter 3, when Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon Him and there was a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit. Why did the Holy Spirit have to descend upon Him? Why was this manifested? It is to fulfill all righteousness – the righteousness has to be manifested. And Jesus has instituted this Way of Salvation. Therefore we have to be baptized. Every sinner has to be baptized, to receive the Holy Spirit, to become the beloved son of God.
The True Jesus Church does not read a bible that is translated internally. We used the bible that is published by the Bible Society. Then why are there so many different doctrines? The most important question is whether we have followed accurately according to the teachings in the bible. At the beginning of this article, we have already mentioned that those who obey the will of the Heavenly Father and do the will of God are the good trees.
With regards to baptism, Matthew 28:19 tells us of the instructions of Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. He instructed the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” After Jesus resurrected, He appeared to the disciples for forty days. After the Lord Jesus ascended, many people came to be baptized by the disciples. Did the disciples baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? Have the disciples forgotten the teachings of the Lord Jesus just ten days after Jesus ascended to Heaven? Or did the disciples twist the teachings of Jesus? No. In fact they understood the meaning of the words of Jesus.
What is the name of the Father? What is the name of the Holy Spirit? In Acts of Apostles, all the disciples baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38). The same records are also found in other books. There is a minority of churches that baptize in the name of Jesus, and we too, the True Jesus Church baptizes in the name of Jesus. We go to places where there is living water and believers are fully immersed into the water for the word “baptism” in Greek means to be immersed, or to dip.
We have to bow our heads in baptism because the significance of our baptism is to die together with Christ (John 19). Therefore it is only reasonable for us to be united together in the likeness of Jesus’ death. The likeness of Jesus’ death is different from that of others. When someone dies or breathes his last, his face would very often be facing upwards. But when Jesus died, it is mentioned that He bowed his head. In John 19:13 Jesus said, “It is finished.” In bowing his head He gave up His Spirit. The mode observed by the other churches today has been changed in the course of history. During the reformation, their slogan was to return to the bible, but sadly they have not returned to the bible. There are many Christian denominations that do not practise footwashing. But according to John Chapter 13, we believed Footwashing is a sacrament.
Which day is Sabbath? Many churches believed that the day of Christ’ resurrection is the day they ought to keep. They reckon that the Sabbath belongs to the Jewish laws. In fact in Creation, after God created all things, He instituted the Sabbath. (Click on the doctrine to read more – e.g. Sabbath)
The bible also talks about Holy Communion and the Promised Holy Spirit. The spirit of God can live in our hearts but first our sins must truly be forgiven. As there is a change in our relationship with God, God sends down His Holy Spirit as the guarantee of our heavenly inheritance.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
The Holy Spirit has an effect in our lives which is why we need to pursue and pray for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Sprit is God abiding in us. God wants to abide in us in our earthly life so that our physical and mortal life will become spiritual and we can lead a meaningful life.
By now, we should be clear of the Way of Salvation – we must believe in Jesus. A True Church must be faithful to the teachings in the Bible. Let us keep these teachings with fear and trembling.
May the Lord Jesus be with you.