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True Salvation

 

True Salvation
By Andy Zoppelt

Many are taught, all one has to do to be saved is say the "sinners prayer" and believe and you will be saved. What would be the result of our alter calls if Jesus stood before each seeker? He would have altered a lot of calls I'm sure.

Biblical salvation begins with repentance

John the Baptist's first message:

"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 3:1-2, KJV)

Jesus' first message:

"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 4:17, KJV)

Peter's first message at Pentecost:

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38, KJV)

The message is to everyone and for everyone

"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30, NKJV)

"…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, KJV)

It is clear from the preceding verses that repentance is necessary for salvation or to enter the kingdom of heaven. So what is repentance?

A.T. Robertson, the most learned Greek scholar of our day, had this to say about repentance,

"Repent metanoeite. Broadus used to say that this is the worst translation in the New Testament. The trouble is that the English word "repent" means "to be sorry again" from the Latin "repoenitet." John did not call on the people to be sorry, but to CHANGE (think afterward) their mental attitudes metanoeite and conduct.… This is John's great word (Bruce) and it has been hopelessly mistranslated. The tragedy of it is that we have no one English word that reproduces exactly the meaning and atmosphere of the Greek word. The Greek has a word meaning to be sorry metamelomai which is exactly our English word "repent" and it is used of Judas (Matt 27:3). John was a new prophet with the call of the old prophets: "Turn ye" (Joel 2:12; Isa 55:7; Ezek 33:11,15). (Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1985 by Broadman Press)

Matthew Henry in his commentary said:

"Those who are truly sorry for what they have done amiss, will be careful to do so no more. This repentance is a necessary duty, in obedience to the command of God (Acts 17:30)."

(Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

So to repent, one is turn. Turn from Satan and sin to Christ and righteousness. A turn from self-centeredness to a centeredness on Christ. Nothing must take priority over Him.

Jesus said:

"'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'" (Matt 16:24-27, NKJV)

It is clear that one cannot be committed to self-interest and selfish ambition and follows Jesus. It is like trying to walk both north and south at the same time, it can't be done. There must be a change, a turning of one's life. salvation is not an enrichment of our lives, it is a death to our lives and an impartation of His life. Hence there is a call for fruit worthy of repentance. Repentance deals with the very heart of an individual, it goes to the very depths and searches its intention and motives. If there is anything in the person that takes priority over the Lordship of Christ, the Lord will shake it until the person either surrenders or walks away.

"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…" (Luke 3:7-8, NKJV)

"….throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet (worthy) for repentance." (Acts 26:20, KJV)

True repentance will produce fruit and works that are worth or honorable to repentance. It would be hard to conceive that a person would repent and would continue to serve Satan. Jesus death on the cross was not so we could serve Satan, but in the power of His grace we would honor Him in our lives. Does one sin so that grace may abound, God forbid… The work of the cross and God's grace is the gift of God to deliver us from the world, the flesh and the Devil. To continue a former lifestyle with a few modifications is unscriptural. Today it is fashionable to make the "salvation message" as easy as possible. The message may be simple, but by no means is it easy. If you are not willing to die to self, when you leave this earth, you will see hell and not heaven. If you believe the religious lie that you can continue to willfully sin and still be saved - you have been deceived by Satan's first lie told to man. "You shall not surely die."

What does it mean to Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance.

What we have done with repentance, describes what we have done with the salvation message. Though grace plays a big part in salvation, grace today is used to take the sting out of repentance. There are many reasons for this, one, if true repentance was preached, the church would be less than one tenth the size. After three years of a powerful ministry, healing the sick, casting out demons, preaching to thousands and providing lunch, Jesus had only 120 at the upper room. What was so restrictive about His message that isn't in our messages?

Repentance is not a call to religion, but a call to lay the axe to the root of your life. You cannot continue to live your life from the root that you have been living. You must give it all up. Two statements worth paying close attention to in John's message: " Bring forth therefore fruits meet (worthy) for repentance ," and "every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."

Repentance is rooted in the total surrender of the soul to the life of Christ, if not, there is no grace.

What kind of fruit was Jesus looking for?

In order to understand the full meaning of the word "fruit" of which accompanies repentance, we must go back and examine where the demand for "fruit" is stressed without the use of the word "repentance.". Let me give you some examples.

The rich young ruler.

"Now behold, one came and said to Him, 'Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?' So He said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.'" Matt 16:16,17

This situation would have provided a great opportunity for Jesus to explain the significance of the grace message and follow up with the sinner's prayer. In fact Jesus doesn't even deny his request to know the "good thing" that would give him eternal life. There is something we are missing here, the author of faith and salvation is leading this man to the "act" of repentance and not necessarily the message or "word" of repentance. He is skillfully going to his heart and challenging his roots and ambitions. In today's gospel we would immediately explain that works has nothing to do with eternal life, but Jesus knew it was not a correct doctrine of works vs. grace that was the solution, but "root." Until the axe was laid to the root of this man and eradicated out of his life, he could not be saved, otherwise he could only be "theologically" saved. We talk people into a "theologically" salvation without the axe being laid to the root of their life. Today we seek no fruit or evidence of the individual's commitment to make Jesus Lord. You cannot have a kingdom without there being a king. By our lowering the standard of salvation, our message convicts no one of sin, they remain on the large part unchanged after "salvation" and are functionless members in the body of Christ.

Let us read on:

"He said to Him, 'Which ones?' Jesus said, 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' The young man said to Him, 'All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?' Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect (not have lack), go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." V. 18-22

"What do I still lack?" He lacked the first commandment, "I am the lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me." Whatever takes first place in our heart, is our god. God will permit nothing to take first place. Jesus cannot save you, if He doesn't have you. Jesus was not willing to: one, make the answer theological, and two, give him a false hope without a total surrender. Jesus pressed at the very heart and desire of the man, to get at the very root of his life. He could not be saved unless he confessed the root of his sin and turned from it. If we want to be free from God's wrath and hell, we are going to have to give all to Jesus. There is no second best we can offer Him. You are going to go to hell if you don't give Jesus all of your heart. You must change the direction of your life to be rooted in Christ.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (salvation). And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, 'Who then can be saved?'" v. 23-25

In today's gospel, it is not "hard" for anyone to be saved, in fact we go to lengths to convince them of salvation. But the disciples were "greatly astonished," because they recognize the difficulty, they just saw Jesus refuse a man, a man that was not willing to give up his money. Wow! This was not going to be easy. What they saw in Jesus' dialogue with the rich man, was Jesus pressing him to repentance. Repentance is the surrender of your life and the control of that life. It is confessing that you have things in your life that control you, things that you give worth and power to, things that you want more than Jesus, and now, you are willing to turn from those things and follow Jesus.

"But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' Then Peter answered and said to Him, 'See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?' So Jesus said to them, 'Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." V. 19:26-30

"With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." We often hear it said: "Well God knows my sin and though I will continue to sin, He understands, and with God all things are possible." Yes, we agree, being a Christian is a personal relationship; my question is, a personal relationship with whom? Do we really believe that we can serve the Devil the majority of the day and week and turn around and say we have a personal relationship with the "Lord" Jesus? Repentance is a turning from the sinful root and its sin and turning to the godly root and abiding in Jesus - and producing much fruit.

Let's call this man the "bigoted Lawyer."

"And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?'" Lk 10:25,26

Here we have Jesus again referring to the law. Doesn't Jesus know that through the law no one is justified. What is wrong with His theology? Jesus knew how the law gets to the heart of a man's rebellion, it reveals the true motives and the intent of his life.

Rom 7:5 says that "while we were in the flesh [fallen state], the sinful passions, which were aroused by the law.."

The Law arouses our sinful passions, it is in direct conflict to the things we want and desire. Jesus here was allowing the Law to "mirror" the righteousness of God to his sinful heart. The sinful nature hates the law, it refuses to submit to any ordnance or orders. If someone would have come forth with the four spiritual laws, he may have given his heart to the Lord.

"So he (the lawyer) answered and said, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' V 27

It is clear that the lawyer had perfect theology, he had the right answer. Jesus was not after his confession, but after the root of his life.

"And He (Jesus) said to him, 'You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.'

Interesting, Jesus brings the argument back to doing something, something that would demonstrate his sincerity in follow the Lordship of Christ. If he starts loving people, that would be fruit worthy of repentance and evidence of his salvation. But in order to do that, he would have to lay down his self-interest and the root from which self-interest draws.

Example: "We know that we have passed from death to life, [How?]because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death" (1 John 3:14, NKJ)

"But he (the lawyer), wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' v 29

Jesus saw the prejudice toward the Samaritans and the limit to which this arrogant lawyer would be willing to surrender. His question was to twist and misrepresent the command to love. Men often justify themselves using vagueness and ignorance: "I don't know what God requires of me." So they give vent to the root of their sin, self.

"Then Jesus answered and said: 'A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?' And he said, 'He who showed mercy on him.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'" V. 25-37

Jesus' response to his having eternal life was "Go and do likewise." Jesus quickly got to the reservation of his heart, the limit to which he would follow. A surrender to God will produce the fruit of the Spirit, a good tree can do nothing but produce good fruit worth of repentance. This is what John meant when he said:

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (it can't be) Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:17-18, NIV)

Let us look at one more illustration… Zacchaeus.

"Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.' So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, 'He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.' Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.' (here we are given fruit of repentance, now look at Jesus' response.) And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'" (Luke 19:1-10, NKJ)

When did salvation come to Zacchaeus' house? When he was willing to show the willingness to change and turn from his greed and sin.

The pathway is narrow and difficult and most will not enter.

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Jesus continues and identifies the false prophet by their fruit.) "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing (they look like sheep), but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them (How?) by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matt 7:13-20, NKJV)

"Then one said to Him, 'Lord, are there few who are saved?' (good question, look at Jesus' answer) And He said to them, Strive (agonize) to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luke 13:23-24, NKJV)

Why will they not be able? They did not "strive." Is striving a condition or work? It sure is. The word for strive is the Greek word agonizesthe, it is the word that we get our word agonize from. It is not only action on our part, it is a serious struggle.

"Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits" (Isa 30:10, KJV)

We are living in a generation of false prophets. We have cheapened the honor of God's word, God's grace and the walk of faith. We have taken the word out of context and used only those verses that have made it easy. We have ignored the real meaning of repentance.

By their fruits they bear, you will know their source. Satan is using the most eloquent, the most charismatic, the most dynamic and the most entertaining teachers to combat against the truth of God's word. Satan is using the big named, the successful churches and the big crowds to convince the unlearned and the unskilled in God's word. We are falling away by the droves. We have no love, no fellowship, no discipleship, no commitment, no community and we are ignorantly ignoring these fruits and to our own demise. We feel saved and are told by our doctrine that we are saved. We don't have the fruits, the striving, and the complete turning around…. We need to truly repent and preach the gospel that was once and for all delivered to the saints. We need to build the church, build the people together. God give us men of conviction. Until we are convicted and living it, we will never convict anyone. When they preached the word in the early church, men were "cut to the heart." Today we appeal to the carnal nature and its greed and needs. Rarely do we preach a message that prostrates the sinner or convicts the religious.

The cost of salvation:

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."(Matt 13:44-46, NKJV)

The kingdom of God comes with a price tag… we must be willing sell all that we have in our heart, all that is important, and let the King rule from there. We cannot rule and God rule, one has to die. If we don't understand the dying to the life of self, we will be unable to understand salvation. Death to self is the cost, are you willing to pay the price?

James makes it clear that the saving faith, which Paul preached, had works. We cannot be disloyal and faithful at the same time. Faith must have a corresponding action. The action in faith will cost us our lives. It will be a life dedicated to keeping His word and walking in obedience. How can we say we have faith, when we demonstrates no change in our life and we continue to willfully give our lives over to sin. Today we have totally cheapened the responsibility to the obedience of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We have stripped Him of His rank and authority over the recipients of His salvation. Our whole plan of salvation has become a theological fiasco, it is rooted in the numbers game of the success-oriented church. Don't let the crowds fool you, the majority is almost always wrong. The sinner's prayer is only a cheap method to increase the numbers in the church. The more the numbers, the bigger the business.

"Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ' You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.' You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." (James 2:17-24, NAS)

Is grace unconditional?

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5, NIV)

God does not give grace to the one who is proud, self-centered and selfish. It is often said that grace is the unmerited favor of God. What does that mean and how does that affect the average Christian? We have taken unmerited favor to mean unconditional favor, and that is wrong. One is granted grace on the basis of certain conditions. Pride is a large blanket covering many areas. When Jesus said that we must "lose" our lives for "His sake," He was talking about pride or a life centered around self and self-gratification. We can't have two centers in our lives: Jesus and self.

Though it is clear that no one can provide the benefits of grace by works on their own part, and in that case it is unmerited, but one can be in a position or condition to where grace is not available to them. Grace is simply provided by Jesus' work on the cross, but to receive the benefit of that work requires certain conditions. God will not give grace to the proud, but instead, He will resist him. There are many today that think they can do whatever they choose and God will grant them His grace. It is like the argument presented by Paul in Romans 6:1-2,

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" KJV

"For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and (therefore) deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4, NKJV)

How does one "turn" the grace into sin? Easy, one only develops a system of theology to accept grace as a means to continue to sin and serve Satan and not the purposes and perusal of the Lordship of Christ.

"Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Heb 10:29, NKJV)

We cannot use God's grace as a provision for continuing to sin, God forbids it. If we are dead to sin, how can we be alive to it at the same time? It is a contradiction. Much of the grace message today is in support of those who choose to continue to sin, rather than challenging them not to sin. We have developed a theology that says, "We will never be able to be sinless, we will always have sin, therefore God understands and provides for our continuing to sin." Though there is truth to a certain degree in that statement, it is how we respond to that statement that I am questioning. If I use that statement to continue a "besetting sin," I am wrong. The biblical doctrine of grace does not teach we can continue our sinful life since we have Christ. We must put a radical end to the practice of habitual sins, that is the evidence and fruit worthy of repentance.

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good". (Titus 2:11-14, NIV)

"You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin." (Heb 12:4-5, NAS)

One would think that God gives grace so we can serve our sin and the Devil and still be "saved." But what are we saved from if we continue to sin? True salvation, is rooted in true repentance bringing the fruit of the Spirit and a walk that pleases the Lord, it is to those He grants grace. Much of what we see today: the sinners prayer, cheap grace, excuses for sin, is only dishonoring the Lord and His grace. We are at the point where unbelievers, who think they have embraced true salvation, are leading other unbelievers into a false salvation based on a false understanding of God's word and the Lord Himself. Many are saying "Lord, Lord" while walking in sin, that dear friend is not true salvation.

Works = Obedience

Many argue, because John 3:16 only mentions believing, then that must be all that is required, some cheap form of mental assent. If that were the argument, why do other scriptures mention other requirements for salvation? Because there are other requirements for salvation other than just believing, at least the mental assent kind of believing. When biblical belief is properly understood, it includes all the rest of the requirement. It is like the parts of a car, all its part put together make up the car. To believe in Jesus is more than accepting His existence, it is living by Jesus. It is trusting in Him and not yourself, it is obeying Him and not your selfish plans.

"Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. 'He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. (John 14:23-24, NAS)

"And by this we know that we have come to know Him, (How?) if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected (conditional love). By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (1 John 2:3-6, NAS)

if we truly believe, we will obey. If we truly love, we will obey, therefore, if we truly repented we would believe, love and obey. They are not separate, they are only different parts of the same picture. We sin because there is something in us that is holding on to self-interest and the self controlled life. We want to find God out of our self-center life, and that deception leads us to make demands on God out of self-interest and to keep us centered on self. We have no real interest in others or extending ourselves beyond our self-interest. Sin dominates us because we still have self trying to incorporate salvation. The flesh can't conquer the flesh. People get frustrated because they don't have victory, it is because they have never been led to lose their lives, salvation was a solution to self fulfillment. "So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:8, NKJV)

Because we have denied repentance and fruit worthy of repentance, we have denied God's word to deliver the saints and to mature the saints, we have only excused and therefore justified all the sin we see by using custom and man made doctrine. Few would be saved if we preached the same message as preached by Jesus and His apostles. Our message without the foundation of repentance and a losing of our lives is convincing people they are saved, where in reality they have accepted a false gospel and remain unconverted. They may experience modification in their lives, but no radical commitment and function within the living body of Christ. Because emotions accommodate their experience, it does not validate it. Because we are confident we are saved, does not assure it.

When we truly love someone, that person is the source of our affections and devotions. If we truly repented, and we have forsaken self-interest with its constant focus on self and its needs, we will find it easy to please the one we have given all our interest. But if we are holding on to self, praying all the time for self, feeling sorry for self, evaluating God's love based on His attention to our self-interest, we have not repented.

"We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.".(Acts 5:32)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' (sinner's prayer), shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matt 7:21, NKJV)

Therefore, we can clearly see, obedience to God's will is a necessary requirement for salvation. Exclude it, and you delude it.

Flee the wrath to come

"And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious) come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers (Satan was a viper), who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet (worthy) for repentance: (get this next point) And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham (I am a Christian and don't need to repent, I said the sinners prayer 14 years ago) to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Matt 3:4-10)

John made two threats in his repentance discourse: "the wrath to come," and "cast into the fire." Repentance is contrasted with those alternatives. That if one doesn't repent, they will not be able to flee and be free from "the wrath" of God which is coming to every man and be "cast into the fire." John was not offering a better life, a better marriage, a better job, he was threatening them of the consequence if they did not repent. John was warning that the axe is laid to the root, to the very source of everything in the world and in every individual's life.

Continue to sin?

You cannot continue to give your life to a life of sin and expect to be having eternal life.

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely (than the law of Moses) do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' and again, 'The Lord will judge his people. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'" (Hebrews 10 26-31)

"We know that anyone (truly) born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him." (1 John 5:18)

"Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver." (Ps 50:22, NKJV)

The "Great Commission"

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt 28: 18-20

That my friend is true salvation!

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