Back to the basics: Jesus saves

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
—2 Timothy 3:14–17

By the grace of God I grew up in a Christian home and a loving, conservative Baptist church where sin was opposed and grace was extended to the members. At the age of 6, I believed that Jesus died, was buried, and resurrected from the grave. I experienced a rebirth or born-again experience. Jesus came into my life. I understood the biblical plan for salvation and that it would save sinners like me from a sinful lifestyle. Although I did not understand completely how the doctrine of salvation worked, I knew that I was saved from my sins. This basic knowledge of salvation has sustained me through all of my moral failures for over 50 years of living the Christian life. In the midst of my failures, the Holy Spirit has always taken me back to the basics of salvation: Jesus died to save sinners from sin.

The Christian home is God’s greatest evangelism tool. My wife Nancy and I are blessed with three wonderful children. They all have accepted Christ as Savior and were baptized into the Christian family during their childhood years. They now have families of their own and continue to live as Christian adults with our grandchildren. As conservative parents, we taught them that God forgives all sin, and that they should strive to live holy and avoid sinning at all cost. However, just as their parents had prodigal experiences, the agonies of life compelled them to return to the basics of their Christian upbringing: Jesus saves from sin.

Scripture states we are to train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart (Proverbs 22:6). Our two sons joined the military at a time in their lives when they were men, but lacked Christian maturity. My wife and I had tried to instill sound, moral Christian principles within them. They were expected to attend college, respect all people, follow the laws of the land, love and serve God. Before they became enlisted soldiers the military required them to attend basic training. There we saw God work in their lives. At the end of basic training, they had become men with sound Christian judgments. I recall sharing with both sons at their basic training graduations that the military accomplished in two months what their parents had been unable to accomplish. They both expressed similar responses—the military only brought out of them what their mother and I had instilled within them. Those of us who are blessed to be born into a Christian family understand the importance of returning to the basics.

As Christians, we are to witness to the lost in our world about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. There is a struggle to maintain a strong moral fiber in the church and world. We have spent a great amount of energy fighting for the sanctity of life and traditional marriage, just to name two issues. Every fight against sin is appropriate for Christians when post-modern America is tolerant of sin and sinful lifestyles.

Paul reminds Timothy, his son in the ministry, that the apostate church was a reality and gave him directions on how to handle the times.

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1–7). 

As stated above, Paul encourages us to remember the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. Oftentimes, societal behavior that is opposed to biblical standards can distract us from leading sinners into salvation. We find ourselves immersed in warfare to address issues and movements—believing that if we stop immoral movements we will create a better society and people will change. The only way spiritual change happens in a person’s life is when God changes the heart of a person. We must get back to the basics, and make a clarion call for Christians to lead lost sinners to find salvation in Christ.

Consider that Scripture often describes God’s work in salvation as a miracle. He makes alive what was once dead.

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:1–5).

Secondly, he delivered us from the domain of darkness.

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13); and third, Jesus explained that “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” “When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26).

Once we realize that evangelism occurs in the realm of the miraculous, we start praying more faithfully, trusting more enthusiastically, and proclaiming more tenderly. When we abandon our ability to persuade others and trust in God’s power to save, we find hope beyond understanding. Many of the moral ills in our society are because sinful men and women choose to lead our city, state, and federal governments without seeking God’s direction. Through their leadership, many Americans have become tolerant to sin. The only way to change our sinful world is for us to witness to the lost—to present God’s salvation plan. As believers, we must return to the basics: Jesus saves!

Pastor, Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church
Terry Turner
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