47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where ‘THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.’ (Mark 9:47-48)
Jesus gave a clear warning of the possibility of being cast into hell. Many wish to deny the reality of hell and its never-ending punishment. Yet, Jesus warns of “hell fire” where agony does not diminish and where fire does not consume. In another place, Jesus described hell as a “furnace of fire” where “there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42). Sin will be punished – its wages is death – “but, the free gift of God is eternal life is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Thanks be to God who saves all who “call on the name of the Lord” (Acts 2:21, 37-41; Rom. 10:9-13). Accept God’s gift of eternal life like Saul: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Heaven is real and eternal; so is hell. Where will you spend eternity?
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)
Water baptism is commanded of all who want to be saved from their sins by Jesus (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). Many have distorted the Biblical purposes of baptism, but the Scriptures continue to teach us the truth. Sinners are baptized into three things according to this passage. First, one is baptized “into Christ Jesus” (v. 3). Baptism is an action of faith that brings one into a saved relationship with Christ. Clearly, one is outside of Christ until he is “baptized into Christ”. Second, one is baptized “into His death” (v. 3). The benefit of Christ’s death is obtained when one is baptized “into His death”. That is when Christ “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). Third, one is baptized “into death” (v. 4). When baptized, sin’s death no longer claims the sinner. He or she is raised from the death of sin by the power of God to newness of life in Christ (Col. 2:12). These are among the reasons water baptism is essential for our salvation in Christ.
15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:15–17)
Why preach the gospel? Because it is God’s power to save the lost. Why does the gospel possess such power? Because it reveals “the righteousness of God”. That is, the gospel reveals the means by which God counts sinners righteous; it is “by faith” (Rom. 5:1). Plus, the gospel produces personal faith in Jesus (Rom. 10:17). This is the thesis statement of Romans. The gospel teaches us how God saves sinners. The gospel teaches us about the personal faith we must have in Jesus in order to be saved. That is why the gospel must be preached.
1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. 2 And the LORD said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 6:1-5)
A clearer picture of salvation “by grace…through faith” could not be given. Israel took Jericho by grace: “God has given you the city” (verse 2, 16). Yet, their faith in God had to be obedient for seven days (verses 3-5). Then, the walls would “fall down flat” (verse 5). Similarly, sinners are saved by God’s grace when, by faith, they obey Him (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-41; Titus 3:5). Obedience does not earn salvation any more than it earned Jericho. Yet without obedient faith, the gift is not received (the walls would not have fallen until Israel obeyed God). Saving faith is obedient as it relies on God’s grace for salvation.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)
Many interpret Paul’s statement to mean baptism is not essential for salvation. By doing so they set Scripture against itself. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Peter said baptism is “for the remission of sins”, and that baptism “saves us” (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). Ananias told Saul to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). There was division in the Corinthian church. Although Paul had baptized Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas, he was glad he had not personally baptized more, “lest anyone should say they I had baptized in my own name” (1 Cor. 1:14-16). Did Paul violate verse 17 by baptizing these people? Not at all. As an apostle, Paul’s work was especially to preach the gospel. Others could baptize the sinners who responded to the gospel call to be saved. Who baptizes you is inconsequential. What is crucial is unity in Christ and His gospel, not division over men. Unity in Christ includes the gospel truth that water baptism is essential for salvation.
1 I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ To a nation that was not called by My name. 2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; 3 A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face;… (Isaiah 65:1-2)
The fulfillment of this prophecy is explained to us in Romans 10:20-21. The Gentiles seek and find God while Israel rebelliously sins, openly defying their God to His face. Yet, by the gospel, God still stretches out His hands to save “whoever calls on the name of the Lord” (Rom. 10:13). How long will you live in defiant disobedience of God and His great love for you? (There is no greater love than God’s sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross for your sins.) Remove the rebellious heart and life. Replace it with faith and faith’s confession (Rom. 10:9-10). Walk in the good way of God and be blessed with His salvation.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…” (Titus 2:11-12)
This passage teaches us several things about God’s marvelous grace. First, it “brings salvation”. Without God’s love, mercy and grace we would not be saved from our sins (Eph. 2:4-5). Second, it “has appeared to all men”. God’s grace is available to all who will access it “by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17; 5:1-2). Third, God’s grace teaches us to live differently than before He saved us by His grace. We must deny sin and pursue holiness. God’s grace is greater than sin, but it does not allow us to “continue in sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1-2). God’s grace is not our license to sin, it is our incentive to love God and be faithful to Him.
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD—Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41-42)
The mercies of God are not ours to dispense as we see fit. The salvation of God is available to all, but only “according to Your word”. God’s word reveals salvation – not our feelings, opinions and desires. It is the height of presumption to expect God to save sinners in some way other than how His word teaches (Matt. 7:21-23). Trust God’s word to answer every reproach. Be faithful according to His word and the mercies of God will come to you (see Rom. 12:1).
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Sin is real, and we have all committed it (Rom. 3:23). The wages of sin is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). The problem is, we (sinners) cannot save ourselves from our sins. We need God’s mercy and grace. In His great love, God sent His Son to be the Savior of the whole world. There is no other power to save sinners except Jesus Christ. Though God desires all to be saved, sinners must put their faith in Jesus in order to be saved. Saving faith is submissive and obedient to the word of Jesus. Do you want to be saved from your sins? Jesus, and only Jesus, can save you. He wants to save you. His gospel reveals what He commands you of you to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16). The decision is yours. Believe and obey Jesus to be saved “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9).
3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness. (Psalm 101:3–4)
We learn in Acts 1:16 that “the Holy Spirit spoke by the mouth of David” in the psalms he wrote and sang. David was inspired by God. How then, by the Spirit of God, could David speak of “those who fall away” if it is impossible to fall away? His statement is prima facie evidence that people can indeed fall away from God. To avoid this tragedy, David would be careful not to fix his eyes (his desires) upon anything that was wicked. He would abhor the sins by which others fell away. When David found sin in himself he would not let it cling to him. He would choose to completely reject sin. He would cleanse his heart, lest by becoming acquainted with sin he would love it instead of God. There were certainly times in his life when David fell into sin and away from God. But in his repentance the joy of salvation was restored. May it be so for all who have fallen. And may we keep from falling by abhorring evil and clinging to what is good.