(This sermon was preached in the Sunday morning service at Beacon Baptist Church, Lancaster, SC on June 30, 2013.)
THE SIMPLICITY OF SALVATION
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
I would like to draw your attention to our text and to a word near the end of the verse: simplicity. By inspiration of God, Paul stressed the need for simplicity. Our text indicates that the devil endeavors to distract people from the simplicity that is in Christ.
By way of introduction, let me say that you do not have to be a genius in order to know how to live for God. Serving God is simple. Living for Jesus is simple. I’m not saying that a person can do it successfully in the energy of the flesh. I’m just saying that it isn’t complicated. In less than a minute I can tell those of you who are Christians how to become growing Christians. It’s simple, and it’s fool-proof.
Now, listen: If you want to be a successful Christian, if you want to stay close to the Lord, and if you want to grow spiritually, just maintain some regular habits. One of those is to read the Bible every day. Make it a habit to pray every day. Talk to someone about the Lord every day. Find the right church, join it, and attend it every time the doors are opened. Give tithes and offerings from your income every Sunday. Follow the leadership and example of your pastor. Try to put into practice what you hear preached from the word of God. I promise you that if you do these things, you’ll grow in the Lord. It’s that simple.
However, it’s impossible to grow as a Christian until you become a Christian, so that needs to be settled first. With regard to the subject of our sermon, some people think that it’s complicated to be saved. It’s not. I’m not saying that you can get saved apart from the supernatural work of the Holy Ghost. I’m just saying that it is not complicated. Jesus did the work on the cross of Calvary. This morning’s message is titled,
The Simplicity of Salvation
Acknowledging the need for spiritual reproof and enlightenment, you do not have to be a great intellectual to be saved. It is simple.
Concerning salvation, it is so simple that Jesus said a person must become as a little child in order to receive it (Mk. 10:14-15). What you adults need to understand in order to be saved is the same thing a little child needs to understand. You need to understand the message Paul preached, declaring it to be the gospel by which people are saved:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Christ’s dying for our sins means that He paid the price for them. He suffered for us, taking our sins upon Himself. In so doing, He purchased our salvation with His own blood. As a result of that great sacrifice, salvation is simple. Although there is absolutely no effort on your part that is required to be saved, the Bible gives some comparisons to show you just how “easy” it is. (It is not even “easy”; it is effortless!) As a result of the fact that Christ, not you, has done the work required for salvation:
Salvation is as Simple
As Getting a Gift
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Eternal life (salvation, the new birth, forgiveness, everlasting life, pardon, justification, etc.) is, according to the above verse, a gift! The fact that God declares salvation to be a gift shows how simple it is to be saved. This comparison of salvation to a gift teaches us some wonderful, simple things about the subject. First, a gift shows concern, compassion, and charity. Thank God, salvation is the greatest gift of all, showing all of these things:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Second, a gift shows a cause. Sometimes the cause may not always seem one of danger. Perhaps it is nothing other than the cause of a birthday, an anniversary, or another occasion when an expression of love is appropriate. In the case of salvation, the prospect is in need. He is in need of escaping the wrath to come.
Third, a gift has a cost. Teaching the truth about salvation’s simplicity does not cheapen it. The fact is, the cost is nothing to the sinner, because it is a gift. However, the gift itself is priceless! It cost Christ greatly!
Next, a gift must be claimed. A person may consider the gift, desire the gift, and admire the gift. If he does not receive it, though, it is not his, even if it has his very name inscribed on it. In the case of salvation, the gift of God is received by faith (Eph. 2:8), by believing on God’s Son (Acts 16:29-31).
Dear friend, have you received God’s gift? Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you trusted Him and His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary to save you from eternal damnation? To further explain how simple it is to be saved, let me show from the scriptures that:
Salvation is as Simple
As Gulping Down a Drink
Another illustration of the simplicity of salvation is given by our God in the last chapter of the Bible:
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Here salvation is compared to water, as it is called “the water of life.” In other words, to be saved is as simple as to drink water. When you think of that, first, the drink is prepared. When Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scripture, He prepared the water of life for the human race.
Second, the drink is poured. That is, it is presented to the individual. This is done today by preaching. It may be preaching from a pulpit, preaching from an individual soul-winner, or preaching through digital media or printed literature. When a Christian gives a gospel tract to a lost sinner, he has poured the water of life into a glass.
Third, the drink is partaken of by the thirsty soul. Oh, dear sinner, are you aware of how dry your soul is? Only Jesus can fill that void in your heart. This is done by a personal faith in Christ and His atoning work on the cross.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
How simple salvation is! Further,
Salvation is as Simple
As Going Through a Door
We all admit that, while there is some effort involved in walking, turning a door knob, and entering a door, it is certainly simple. There is no effort of ours that brings salvation, but salvation is simple. These comparisons were not made in scripture so that we might think some minimal effort on our part brings us salvation, but rather they are given to show us the simplicity of it. Jesus said,
John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
The comparison is clear. To be saved is as simple as going through a door. If you want to go through a door, first, the door must be seen. God opens the eyes of sinners through the work of the Holy Spirit and the supernatural medium of preaching.
Titus 1:3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
However, the door must also be selected by the traveler. There may be other pathways, doorways, ladders, all promising the same thing. There are entrance-ways of self-righteousness, philosophy, religion, giving to charity, etc. However, there is only one door that leads to God:
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Third, the door must be stepped through. Many were invited in Noah’s day to come into the ark for safety. The ark door was open. No doubt it was seen by many. Perhaps there were even some outside of Noah’s family who, having examined the ark, thought it was a good place to reside in the event of such an unknown danger as a worldwide flood. Yet, they would not go in because the danger seemed so unlikely or far away. Then one day the door was shut with only eight people inside. Perhaps it was only then that a cloud was seen in the sky, then another, then another. The heavens became dark, and the rain began to fall. Oh, no! This was the rain, the “new thing,” that Noah had warned them about! They ran to the ark, they beat on its side, but it was too late! The door was shut!
Oh, friend, do not allow the simplicity of salvation to cause you to procrastinate. Come to Christ by faith today!
Another similitude to reveal the simplicity of salvation is given in both Testaments of scripture:
Salvation is as Simple
As Gazing Upon a Person
The great Old Testament prophet recorded God as saying,
Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Then in the New Testament, the Lord gives this comparison in the chapter containing the most famous verse of the Bible:
John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Here we see that salvation is as simple as a look. First, it is looking at sin. The Israelites were bitten by snakes because of their sin. When they looked to the serpent on the pole they were reminded of their sin and its consequences. Christ died “for our sins.” Salvation is in understanding that Jesus died because we, as sinners, deserve eternal condemnation, not eternal life.
Second, it is looking at a sacrifice. Jesus died voluntarily for your sins and mine. He took our place. He took our punishment. He became sin for us. He became a curse for us. Such love!
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Third, it is looking for salvation. It is a look of faith, trusting Christ and His sacrifice to save a person from sin and hell:
Acts 16:29-31 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Salvation is not complicated! Sin is complicated! Sin will complicate your life and everything you touch!
I’ll give one more comparison from scripture, and we’ll be done.
Salvation is as Simple
As Giving Up Effort
Not only is no effort required in order to be saved, but no one is saved until he turns his back on his own efforts for salvation. The Bible says,
Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
You ask, “But what if a person does …” Don’t complicate things. Salvation is simple! Believe the Bible! It says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth …”
Further in scripture we read,
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
That is, no one is saved by works of righteousness on his part, period. You say, “Well, what if …” Hey, don’t complicate things. The Bible says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done …” You see, it’s not that the Bible is too hard here to understand. It’s a matter of the will. That is, you can choose to believe it or go on in your sins and unbelief. You never will get saved until you realize that all of your works are “dead works”:
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Give up, and you can be saved! Keep trying (“You know, Preacher, we’re all working to get to the same place!”), and you’ll end up in hell fire!
It is much like a drowning person being willing to stop his own efforts and trust the ability of the lifeguard to save him. Why, even an unwise person can do that. So do it! Even an unpopular person can do that. Won’t you do it? Even an unlovely person can do that. So why haven’t you? Even an unwealthy person can do that. Quit moaning and groaning about your situation and just give up working and trust in God’s marvelous grace!
The people who have the most difficulty in getting saved are not those who are weak, stupid, or failures. Rather, it is those who are strong. They think they can do something to be saved because they have done something in their lives that required diligent effort. It is those who are smart who have difficulty in getting saved. They have learned some things that were complicated, so they stumble over salvation’s simplicity. It is those who are successful who have difficulty in getting saved. They have achieved something in life, and it bothers them to be presented with something, salvation, that is impossible to achieve by their own efforts.
My friend, will you trust Christ and be saved today? I urge you to believe on Him today! My contact information is here if I can be of help to you.
(Updated contact information)
Michael D. O’Neal
Pastor, Glenwood Baptist Church
4597 Tunis St.
Jacksonville, FL 32205
Phone: 229-886-5715 cell / 904-384-4043 church