The Plan of Salvation 1
Plan of Salvation (1) - Hearing
The next six articles will be dedicated to a review of God's plan of salvation as given in the New Testament. We are reluctant to enumerate "steps" of salvation for fear of trivializing what God really wants from us, which is nothing short of everything (Rom. 12:1-2). Each of the steps is quite profound, and each is designed to bring us to the point where we will be able to state as the apostle Paul did: "For me to live is Christ ..." (Phil. 1:21).
As an overview, consider what Jesus said about each of the following: (1) hearing - Jn. 6:44-45, (2) believing - Jn. 3:16, (3) repentance - Lk. 13:1-5, (4) confession of our faith in Him - Mt. 10:32-33, (5) being baptized - Mk. 16:16, and (6) being faithful unto death - Rev. 2:10. Each of these verses states a condition.
The examples of conversion that we have in the book of Acts enables us to see how these form the New Testament pattern.
But what does it mean to hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized and be faithful unto death? Over the next several weeks we will address these questions. We can answer one aspect of this question immediately: these are not works whereby we merit our salvation. It is the blood of Christ and that alone that purchases our salvation (Acts 20:28; Rev. 5:9). No works of our own hands can ever atone for our sins (Eph. 2:8; Tit. 3:5). We certainly cannot compare our part of salvation with the sacrifice of the perfect Son of God on the cross. The more we sacrifice ourselves, the more we receive of the abundant life which Jesus promised his followers (Luke 18:29-30). In light of this, we can understand that salvation is truly a free gift of God.
It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first small step. While first, the step of hearing the word of God is far from small. As we consider this step in more detail we see that it might well be the most important steps toward becoming a child of God, for without this step there can be no others.
Let us first establish that hearing God's Word is a condition of salvation. In John 6:44, Jesus stated: "No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me."
Note first that this is a condition of salvation: "no man can come to me except ... and I will raise him up in the last day."
Now, what does it mean that the "Father ... draw him?"
This is explained by the quotation (in verse 45) of Isaiah 54:13: "And they shall all be taught of God." Many think that this implies some miraculous impartation of knowledge. However, the verse goes on to explain this in very natural terms: "Everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me." This is not necessarily miraculous, since we all can hear and learn of God from His written word.
The importance of hearing is further impressed on us by Romans 10:17, which is the only verse that we know which tells us specifically how to acquire faith: "So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Most religious people know that faith is an important aspect of our relationship with God. But do they understand what we must hear in order that we "obtain the like precious faith" (2 Pet. 1:1) that was held by the apostles?
Think about the fate of those who refuse to hear. How can they believe? How can they ever come to repentance? Now, consider those who readily hear, but hear the wrong thing? What will their faith be in? They might make tremendous sacrifices, but who would it be for?
Jesus answered in John 8:32: "If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." We control what we hear, and what we hear is of the greatest importance.
Ye Often Hear It Said . . .
As long as we call Jesus "Lord," nothing else matters . . .
but Jesus said (Matthew 7:21-23):
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. . Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
These were not immoral sinners; they were religious people. These were not liars; they believed what they said to the point that they were arguing with the Lord on the day of judgment. It appears that they even believed that they had performed miracles in his name.
Jesus said that we must "do the will of my Father who is in heaven." How do we know what the will of God is? This is given in the next verse: "Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock ..." It is essential that we hear (actually listen) to what God has revealed. This first step, learning the truth, is essential to doing God's will. "You are what you eat" holds much more in the spiritual realm than in the physical.
You Find the Answers
These Bible study questions provide assistance to you in studying and teaching God's Word. The answers are quite clear, and they prove that we can have the same understanding as the apostles had by reading what they wrote (Ephesians 3:4). We challenge you to open your Bible and establish the truth.
THE SOWER (MATTHEW 13)
1. Where did the various seeds fall? (3-8)
2 Did Jesus plead for them to hear and listen? (9)
3 Did the disciples wonder why Jesus taught in parables? (10)
4. To whom was it given to know the mysteries of the kingdom? (11)
5. Why did Jesus speak in parables? (13)
6. What prophesy was fulfilled by those who did not understand? (14)
7. Why could they not understand? (15)
8. Who wanted to hear these things but could not? (16-18)
9. What was the seed? (19; see also Luke 8:11)
10. What did the various locations represent? (19-22)
11. What did the good ground represent? (23)
12. Is your "ground" fertile?