Did Heavenly Father give us salvation or a plan of salvation?

Many agree that Jesus is the Savior. But there is considerable confusion about what that means.

Many agree that Jesus is the Savior. But there is considerable confusion about what that means.

One cause of confusion is that people define “salvation” differently. This frequently results in people talking past each other. In this particular article, we will define the term “salvation” to mean living eternally with Heavenly Father.

An area of confusion or disagreement revolves around the question: How did Jesus save us?

  • Some feel that he saved us by showing us what we must do to save ourselves. This view can be recognized by an emphasis on Jesus being a great teacher and example.
  • Others believe that he saved us by removing several huge obstacles (i.e. death) thus clearing the way for us to contribute to our salvation.
  • Still others think that he paid our crushing debt but we have to pay part of it back.

These views, and others like them, have two things in common:

  1. Without Jesus’ help, there would be no salvation.
  2. We must, in some way or other, to some degree or other, do something to be saved and become worthy in God’s sight.

But What Does Scripture Say?

In striking contrast, Scripture states that Jesus saved us by doing everything for us. It emphasizes, not so much his role as teacher or Exemplar, but his role as mankind’s substitute. This is seen in the many passages describing what he did for us. (That little phrase “for us” is one of the most comforting phrases in all of Scripture!)

Scripture tells us that he not only suffered all of God’s punishment for us, (Isaiah 53:5) but that he also kept all of God’s commands perfectly for us. (Romans 5:19) This highlights the main difference between a substitute and an example. Examples don’t do things for others. They teach or model the correct thing to do. But others still have to do it. That’s not the case with substitutes. Substitutes do it for people.

Jesus did it all for us. He didn’t leave anything for us to do. Scripture reveals that God gave us salvation itself, not a plan of salvation. In many different ways, and in many different verses, it proclaims this startling truth. (Romans 3:24, Psalm 103:11-12, and 2 Corinthians 5:19)

Not only did Jesus do everything for us, Scripture further states that he had to do everything for us. It stresses that nobody has the ability to help in their salvation. Jesus didn’t just give us an extra boost. He didn’t just extend a helping hand to weak people. He didn’t just give us more time to work on our salvation. He couldn’t just help us because we all were spiritually dead — unable to do anything good.

“There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” 

Romans 3:10-12, emphasis ours

This divine evaluation of mankind is looked at in more detail here.

Because of this sobering reality, we couldn’t help in our salvation. Jesus had to do it all for us. He was like a fire fighter who runs into a burning building and carries out its unconscious inhabitants. Like them, we contributed nothing to our rescue.

You are worthy now!

This amazing truth can tremendously bless you. It can give you the wonderful relief of knowing for a certainty that all your sins are forgiven. It can instill in you the profound joy of knowing that God sees you as completely worthy, as perfect right now. It can make you totally confident that you will spend eternity living with Heavenly Father. It can inspire you to joyfully live each day as a person unabashedly loved by God. This truth is not just amazing – it is life-changing.

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Additional Questions You Might Have

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Does God’s forgiveness give us a license to sin?

A common response to the teaching that forgiveness is God’s gift is the thought that this then gives people the license to sin all the more. But Scripture doesn’t support that argument.

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What will happen to you on Judgment Day?

When you stand before God, will you point to your own righteous character or Christ’s righteousness?

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How can I be sure I’ll avoid outer darkness?

Some people will say that they are physically healthy because they feel good. But a doctor wouldn’t base his answer just on how a person felt. He would give them a thorough check-up.

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