Jesus Christ the Fiery Serpent

Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

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Anyone who hears the Gospel message that Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners and then seriously considers that message, eventually will begin to ask the question, "What must I do to become saved?" An additional question will follow, that is, How can I know for certain that I have become saved? These are the two most important questions that any human being can and should ask.

    The correct answer to these questions requires an understanding of why we must be saved and also an understanding of what was required to make our salvation possible. We will discover these truths as we learn, from the Bible, the actions that God must perform to save any individual at any time in history.
    We will address the second question first.

Certainty of Salvation

    How can I know for sure that I have become saved? This has to be the most important question anyone on earth will ever face. To answer this question, we must first discover precisely what happens in a person's life at the moment he becomes born again.
    There are three exceedingly important actions taken by God Himself that are absolutely required before anyone can experience salvation in his life. These three actions are required for every person who becomes saved. There are no exceptions.

Chosen of God

    The first action performed by God on behalf of the individuals He plans to save was that before the creation of the world, God chose every person that He would save. We read in Ephesians 1:3-5:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly


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places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
    As God prepared to create this world and its billions of human inhabitants, He looked down the corridors of time and saw a miserable mass of humanity that was altogether in rebellion against Him. Even though God created mankind as perfect beings, in the image and likeness of God, the Bible is clear that no one is righteous before God and no one of himself will seek after God. God knew that mankind would rebel against Him. He also knew that no one would seek a right relationship with God. We read in Romans 3:10-12:
As it is written, 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 the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
    Yet, in spite of the total disaster of mankind's rebellion against God, God made a decision to redeem some of the rebellious humans so that they would not have to pay the consequences of their rebellion. The consequences are horrendously awful because the sin of the human race is horrendously awful.
    And so, from before the foundation of the world, God chose those whom He wished to sanctify for Himself. His choice had nothing at all to do with any action or desire of mankind. God declares in Romans 9:15:
. . . I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.


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    Through the emphasis of this all-important first action of God, God provides an enormous hope to every unsaved person. God insists that He is not a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 3:25). No nationality or class of people is likely to include more of God's elect than any other group. No class of sinners is farther outside the possibility of containing elect people than any other.
    The Bible records the salvation of the adulterous woman in John 8, and it records the salvation of the criminal who was crucified alongside Jesus. Therefore, regardless of how great our sins may be, if we have a deep desire for salvation on God's terms, there is a definite possibility that we could be among God's elect. Given the fact that today, God is saving a great multitude (Revelation 7:9), we can know that, It is possible that I, too, can be one of that great multitude who is saved.

The Chosen Ones Were Given to Christ
    Those whom God chose to be redeemed or saved were given to the Lord Jesus Christ, as we read in John 6:37:
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
    However, if Jesus is to have these chosen ones as His eternal possession, something had to be done about their sins. The perfect law of God decreed that because mankind was created in the image of God, every individual must pay the penalty, demanded by God's law, for their sin. Therefore, even though they were elected by God and given to Christ to become His eternal possession, Christ could not have them unless the payment for their sins was paid. God's law decrees that the penalty for sin is eternal damnation, so effectively, those who were chosen and given to Christ would never be able to come into Christ's possession because they would be forevermore in hell paying for their sins.


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    That brings us to the second dramatic action that God took on behalf of those who become saved.

The Sin Bearer

    When God viewed the universe, which He created at the beginning of time, He saw that there was no one He could utilize to bear the wrath of God on behalf of the elect or chosen by God who were given to Christ as His eternal possession. This is taught in Isaiah 63:5 and Ezekiel 22:30. However, God's perfect law decreed that the penalty of eternal damnation must be paid before any individual could be allowed to enter into God's holy heaven. Every aspect of God's perfect law had to be satisfied perfectly.
    Therefore, in an act of mercy and love that is unparalleled, Christ Himself became the sin bearer on behalf of those individuals who had been given to Him. We read in Isaiah 53:6:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
    This is why Jesus had to take on a human nature. He was paying for man's sins, and therefore, Christ had to become the Son of man. He had to become a human being so that He would legally qualify to be a substitute or stand-in for the human beings He had come to save. He had to be the substitute who could bear the curse of God on behalf of those cursed individuals He had come to save. This is why He had to go to the cross. The fact that He was hanging on the cross declared and demonstrated to the world that He had become a curse. We read in 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:


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    This is why He was forsaken by God. To be forever forsaken by God is one description of the awfulness of hell. We see this truth in the cry of Jesus when He was hanging on the cross. We read in Matthew 27:46:
. . . My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
    Only because Jesus was God and He never ceased to be infinite God could the hours of the cross experience be sufficient time to pay for each and every sin of each and every one chosen to be given to Christ. No sin of these elect persons could be left unpaid.
    So now, there are many individuals in this world who, from before creation, were chosen to salvation and who have been given to Christ as His eternal possession. Their sins have been totally and eternally covered because Jesus became their Savior by paying for their sins.
    But one more great act of God is required. These individuals, who were chosen to salvation, are sinful humans. They don't know anything about God's plans for them. Like the rest of the human race that will never become saved, they are essentially a body and a soul. Their body is that part of their personality that is buried at the time they die. Their soul is their spirit essence that is just as real a part of their personality as their body. We know that the soul is completely substantive because in the case of a saved person, at the moment of his physical death, his soul leaves his body and is taken into heaven where he lives and reigns with Christ. Then at the end of the world, when Christ returns, He will resurrect his body (II Corinthians 5:8, I Thessalonians 4).
    However, the chosen individual now lives in this world like any individual who is not chosen to salvation. We read of him in Ephesians 2:1-3:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power


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of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
    In his body, he lusts after sin, and in his soul, he lusts after sin. Before he becomes saved, he is as spiritually dead as any individual who will end up in hell eternally paying for his sins.
    That brings us to the third giant act of God which He does on behalf of those whom Christ came to save.

The Miracle of the New Birth

    The third act performed by God on behalf of those who were given to Christ as His eternal possession is that God performs the miracle of giving the elect person a brand new resurrected soul. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about this in John 3:5, where we read:
. . . Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
    Ahead of that He said in John 3, verse 3:
. . . Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    To be born of water and of the spirit means to be born of the Gospel (water), by the action of God the Holy Spirit (John 4:10-15, 7:38). God speaks of this action in Romans 10:17:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


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    In God's divine arrangement, He established the environment in which He saves people. That environment is the Bible, which is the only Word of God. Therefore, it is impossible for anyone in the world to become saved unless they hear words from God, and the only Word is the Bible. That is why throughout the church age, God commanded the local congregations to send the Gospel into all the world. That is why in our day, we are to continue zealously to send the Gospel into the world but now, as individuals, we serve as Christ's ambassadors.
    God does the entire work of saving, and therefore, He can save an elect individual at any time during that person's life. The only requirement is that the individual be under the hearing of the Bible. At the moment of salvation, God gives that individual spiritual ears and a new eternal soul. Thus, a baby can be saved as readily as a mature adult. A person with the mind of a two-year-old can be saved as readily as a college professor.
    At the cross, Christ paid for all the sins of the elect person. So, what remains to be done is that at an appropriate time known only to God, God will cause this person to actually experience the wonderful fact of salvation.

A Mighty Transformation

    Now the question must be asked: How does salvation affect this person? What does it mean in his life that he is born again? Remember, before he was saved, in his whole personality, he was exactly like all the non-elect people who will never become saved. In body and in soul, he lusted after sin and was in rebellion against God.
    But now, he has been given a new resurrected soul. In that part of his personality, he is a new creature in Christ. When he was born physically, he was a baby with a personality that consists of a body and a soul. At the moment of salvation, he is born again. He is given a new soul. It is a miracle our human minds cannot understand. There is no physical evidence of this transformation. However, the result of the miraculous transformation of his soul can be seen, that is, a brand new soul in a person's unchanged body will seriously impact and change his


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behavior. This is proven by God's declaration in I John 3:9:
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
    In this verse, God teaches us that beginning at the moment of salvation, an enormous change occurs in the individual's personality. In his new resurrected soul, he cannot sin. Since sin is transgression of God's law, it means that in the soul part of his personality, he cannot initiate sin. It means that in the soul part of his personality, he loves God and God's laws. It means that he always has a great desire to be obedient to all of the commandments of the Bible.
    Since God has done everything to accomplish these three things that are necessary for the salvation of the elect individual, that person can be certain that he can never lose his salvation. Once he becomes saved, he has eternal security. God has already accomplished everything necessary to give him eternal life. Therefore, a true believer can never lose his salvation. The Bible says there is no sin nor anything else that can separate a true believer from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).
    But in his new soul, he still must live in his old body that was not at all changed at the moment of his salvation. Therefore, he has become a personality with two mutually exclusive desires. On the one hand, he always wants to be obedient to God's laws, and on the other hand, he still lusts after sin. This awkward situation is described by God as the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares in Romans 7:21-24:
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O


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wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    To be free of our sinful body is the continuing desire of every true believer.
    However, the tug of war that goes on in the saved personality is not static. There will be progress toward increasing victory for the new resurrected soul. This will be true because one other wonderful event occurred in that individual's personality at the moment of salvation. That event is that God the Holy Spirit has begun to indwell the life of that person. We read in Romans 8:9 that if we do not have the spirit of God, we are "none of his."
    We do not at all understand how Almighty God can dwell in a saved person's life. We must admit it is a complete mystery to us. But because we absolutely trust the Bible, we know that this mysterious fact is true. The indwelling presence of God Himself in the life and personality of the saved person further stimulates him to obey God and desire only that which is pleasing to God.
    Moreover, the saved person has been taken out of Satan's dominion and has become an eternal citizen of Christ's kingdom. God tells us about this in Colossians 1:13, where He says:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
    In Philippians 3:20, we read that our "conversation" (better translated "commonwealth"), that is, our citizenship, is in heaven. This is true for every individual who becomes saved.
    Thus, at the moment of salvation, many factors are at work in his life that cause a very decided and important change in his conduct and desires. He will understand and identify with statements such as those found in Psalm 119 and elsewhere in the Bible.
    A few samples of the beautiful language found in Psalm 119 that demonstrate the true believer's love and respect of the Bible follow.


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Verse 10: With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Verse 11: Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Verse 16: I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

Verse 24: Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

Verse 47: And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

Verse 77: Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.

Verse 97: O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
    These kinds of statements can be found all through the Bible. Anyone who has truly become saved will increasingly experience these desires and motivations in his life. Thus, he recognizes and identifies with the truth expressed in I John 2:3-5, where we read:
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
    The true believer knows that the commandments of God include the whole Bible. He also knows that awful feeling he has when he allows the lustful desires of his body to cause him to sin.>


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He empathizes with a true man of God, David, who fell into grievous sin. And then David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded his heartfelt remorse, which we read about in Psalm 51.
    So, God has to do these three things, and this is why no one can get himself saved. Every human being knows that he must answer to God. But until he becomes saved, he wants to get right with God on his own terms and with his own salvation plan. Therefore, he will not call upon God in a God-pleasing way until God has saved him (John 6:44, Romans 3:10-12, Ephesians 2:2-5).

Fear and Trembling

    One aspect of the truly saved person's character is his recognition of the holiness and righteousness of God and the fact that God is the righteous judge of all the earth. In Philippians 2:12, God declares:
. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    The salvation the believer is to "work out" in his life is the salvation that God has given him. But as he grows in grace (II Peter 3:18), that is, as he increasingly lives to God's glory and away from following the sinful desires of his unsaved body, he does so with fear and trembling.
    This is a surprising statement because we might expect that as a result of our salvation, all fear of God would be removed. To still tremble and fear before God would appear to be altogether alien to the wonderful security the saved person has been given, for example, he knows that Christ has paid for all his sins, and he knows he will never be threatened by the possibility of hell.
    We must remember, however, the saved person is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He also has begun to increasingly love and respect everything the Bible teaches. Therefore, he learns and becomes increasingly aware of the greatness of God. He knows that God is the Almighty God who spoke and brought this tremendous universe into existence. He knows that God is the Almighty Judge who is


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completely aware of even the smallest sin in every human being. He knows that God is so righteous that even the smallest sin is sufficient to cause a person to be eternally damned. The true believer is aware that he himself still has sins even though he is dramatically more obedient to God's laws than he was before he was saved. He is thoroughly aware of the fact that except for the mercy and grace of God, he deserves eternal damnation.
    A poor illustration of this might be offered. Suppose that by his own stupid and uncalled for action, a person placed himself in an exceedingly dangerously situation. For example, we might think of a child playing with matches. The impact of this action is that he causes the house in which he lives to burn to the ground. By some miracle, at great cost to his rescuer, he is brought to safety. And for days afterward, this child has nightmares as he contemplates his narrow escape. Furthermore, for the rest of his life, he may have a phobia, that is, an enormous fear of fire, even though he is never again threatened by fire. This, of course, is a poor illustration of the life of someone who has become saved, but it may help us to see what God means when He uses the phrase "fear and trembling."
    On the one hand, because of his intense love and trust in the Bible, the believer increasing knows he is eternally secure in Christ, and he knows that he can never be threatened by hell. He knows that all of his sins have been covered by Christ. On the other hand, the more he becomes acquainted with the teachings of the Bible, the more he recognizes that he rightly deserves the awful wrath of God as payment for his sins. He is aware that it was only God's mercy and grace that caused his salvation. He therefore trembles in fear and awe before God. He recognizes that his salvation was entirely undeserved.

But Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

    It is true that the Bible teaches that perfect love casts out fear. We read in I John 4:18:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:


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because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
    We might conclude that because the true believer has experienced the perfect love of Christ, he should no longer fear. But that conclusion is contrary to all the verses that teach that a characteristic of the believer is that he fears God (Acts 9:31, 10:35, Philippians 2:12, I Peter 2:17, Proverbs 1:7, Ecclesiastes 8:12-13). How then are we to understand I John 4:18, which teaches that perfect love casts out fear? The solution comes when we learn the Biblical definition of love. In John 14:21 we read:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: . . .

In John 14, verse 23, this law of God is reiterated:

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: . . .
    In other words, love is altogether identified with obedience to God's commandments, the Bible. Regardless of how convincingly an individual tries to proclaim his love for Christ, the litmus test of his love is his fidelity, his obedience to God's law book, the Bible.
    But that means that perfect love would require perfect obedience. Perfect obedience, however, is impossible until we receive our new resurrected bodies, and they will not be given to us until the last day when Christ returns. In the meanwhile, in our new resurrected souls, which we received at the moment of our salvation, we live in a body that still lusts after sin. Therefore, at the present time, we do not have perfect love, and therefore, we cannot live without fear.
    Earlier in our study, we learned one reason why we fear and tremble before God. But more should be said about that. When David, a man after God's own heart, a man greatly loved by God, committed sin, God tells us the reaction of this man's heart in Psalm


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51. The entire psalm records David's reaction, but we will quote only one verse. Psalm 51:11:
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
    David had received eternal life. He was eternally secure in the kingdom of God. How could he say the words of this psalm, which God the Holy Spirit gave him to say. The answer comes when we realize the enormous consequences of sin. Every sin requires the penalty of eternal damnation. Therefore, when the true believer sins, two truths should permeate his whole personality.
    The first truth is that the sins he commits after he has become saved had to be paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is true, of course, that God knew from the beginning that these sins in the life of the true believer would occur, and therefore, He has already laid them on Jesus. But that does not change the fact that these sins are being committed by a person who has learned how dreadful sin is and the enormous payment for sin that is required by God's perfect justice. Thus, the true believer fears and trembles as he realizes that each time he sins, this sin, too, had to be laid upon our blessed Savior.
    The second truth is that the true believer becomes increasingly acquainted with the seriousness of sin and the awful penalty that God's perfect justice demands as payment for sin. He also recognizes that each time he sins, he is engaging in an act of rebellion against his beloved Savior. On the one hand, he knows that his sin is covered by Jesus' shed blood and will never be counted against him. On the other hand, he recognizes that forgiveness of his sin is only because of the completely undeserved mercy and grace of God. Therefore, the fact that he dared to sin again causes him to live his life in fear and trembling before God and that stimulates his desire that he not sin, that, indeed, he might live more and more obediently to all of God's laws.
    Thus, we understand that the saved person will have an entirely different lifestyle and an entirely different attitude toward sin, and


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God, and the Bible, from that which is found in the life of the unsaved.

What Must I Do to Become Saved?

    The logical question then is: What can I do to become saved? With all of the information I have learned concerning salvation, I know that the answer must be: I cannot do anything. Salvation is entirely the work of God. I am entirely dependent upon God's sovereign mercy to choose me and pay for my sins and make me a new creature in Christ. I must patiently wait upon the mercy of God.
    Is there no hope for me? Well, in fact, there is great hope. It is entirely possible that I, too, despite the enormous sins I have committed, could be one of those who are chosen by God to become saved. And because I have learned that the environment that God has established for saving His elect is the hearing of the Word of God, I want to read and listen to the Bible as much as possible. Remember what the Bible says in Romans 10:17:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    The fact that I carefully read the Bible will not guarantee my salvation but it will provide several great blessings to me, including the following.


1.

It will place me in an environment in which God can save me if He so desires.

2.

It will make me more acquainted with God in all of His majesty and glory.

3.

It will make me more aware of my sins and my need of salvation.

4.

I will realize more fully that God is merciful.

5.

I will learn that if it is God's plan to save me, He will do so in His own time. Therefore, I am to patiently wait on Him.

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    As I carefully read and listen to the Bible and become increasingly aware of my sins, I can pray and I can plead with God. I can beg God for His mercy and for some understanding of what I am reading, and I can pray for Him to make me more obedient to His law book, the Bible. I will become increasingly aware that the words of the Bible are God's voice speaking directly to me.
    The Bible gives us a beautiful statement that tells us to wait upon God in Lamentations 3:26, where we read:
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
    We must wait upon God for salvation because as we learned earlier in this study, God must do all the work that is required to bring about our salvation.

God Tests Us

    We have learned that God must do all the work to accomplish our salvation. But why then did God the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul, command the jailor of Philippi to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Remember the jailor's question to Paul and Silas in Acts 16:30 and 31, where we read:
. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
    On Pentecost day, the people asked, "what shall we do?" Why did God, through the Apostle Peter, answer by saying in Acts 2:38:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


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    Why does God say in Romans 10:9:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Why does God tell us in Romans10:13:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Why does God say in Revelation 3:20:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
    Unfortunately, when theologians and Bible teachers have examined these verses, they seem to have forgotten that the correct understanding of any Bible verse can only come as that verse is carefully examined in the light of everything the Bible teaches that may relate to that verse. These verses apparently teach that before God saves someone, that person is required to believe, repent, and obey. However, when we examine the whole Bible, we discover the sad news that when God is speaking to unsaved people, He is speaking to spiritual corpses. Before we are saved, we are absolutely and totally unable to obey any of the above commands. As we learned earlier in this study, God must do all the work to save us.
    But why then did God give these commands to believe and to repent when mankind is totally incapable of obeying these commands? In our consideration of that question, at least two very important truths must be kept in mind.
    The first truth is that God created mankind in His image and in His likeness. Therefore, God holds mankind completely accountable for his actions. Even though mankind will not and cannot obey these


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commands, God addresses all of us as those who were created by God to obey these commands. Therefore, God can rightfully expect mankind to obey His commands. However, because of mankind's rebellion against God, we are so infected by sin that we can never obey God as we should. It is only after we are saved that we can begin to obey God in a God-glorifying way.
    A second major reason why God gives these imperative commands to believe, to repent, etc., is to test man. By means of these commands, God puts man on trial. The issue is does he trust in God alone for salvation or does he trust in his own ability or something or someone other than God? Remember, God gives the command to believe, etc., to all of mankind. However, in the same law book, the Bible, God informs us that we are spiritually dead and we are slaves of sin and of Satan. Therefore, we are totally incapable of obeying these commands.
    Therefore, when God commands us to believe, etc., as He does very plainly in so many verses of the Bible, we should understand that we cannot obey these commands. We should realize the truth of John 6:44, where God says:
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
    We should, therefore, realize that only God can save us and that He must do all of the work required to save us.
    Unfortunately, in our human depravity, we hear and read these commands to believe, to repent, etc., and we believe that somehow we can begin to obey them. At the moment we believe we can obey these commands, we are guilty to some degree of putting our trust in our ability to assist with our salvation. In this study, we learned that the idea that we can assist in any way is impossible. Not only is it not possible but it means we have a "do-it-yourself" salvation plan. Unfortunately, any "do-it-yourself" plan guarantees that those who follow it will end up under eternal damnation. Those who conclude that they can sufficiently obey God's commands so that through their


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obedience they can be right with God are rejecting the law of God that declares there must be payment for our sins, and only God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ can make that payment and save us.

Lazarus is Resurrected to Show Us How God Saves

    In His patient mercy God gives us a vivid illustration of what is required to become saved when He brings a dead man named Lazarus to life. We read about this true historical event in John 11. Lazarus had been dead for four days. The Bible records that he stank (John 11:39). So it was abundantly obvious that he was a stinking corpse and there was no vestige of life remaining in that corpse. But Christ stood outside of that tomb and commanded, "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43).
    Jesus was about to demonstrate how He brings spiritually dead people to spiritual life. When He stood outside the tomb of Lazarus, He declared in John 11:25-26:
Jesus said unto her [Martha, Lazarus' sister], I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
    Clearly, it was Christ's intention to bring the physically dead Lazarus to life as a dynamic illustration of how Christ can and does bring spiritual life to those whom He came to save.
    Before we are saved, we are spiritual corpses. We are as spiritually dead as Lazarus was physically dead. In the historical event of Lazarus being brought to life, Jesus demonstrates how He does all of the work that is required to bring an individual to salvation.
    Jesus commanded that stinking corpse of Lazarus to come out of the tomb. Because Jesus was speaking the Word of God, that stinking corpse was now in an environment in which he was under the hearing of the Word of God. This is precisely parallel to the requirement that those whom God plans to save must be under the hearing of the Word of God.


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Jesus' command to the dead Lazarus is parallel to the commands God gives to spiritually dead people, that is, they are to call upon Him, they are to believe, etc. These are the commands they hear when they listen to or read the Bible. This meets the requirement of God's law expressed in Romans 10:17, where we read:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    Returning to John 11 and the dead Lazarus, could that stinking corpse in the tomb hear the voice of Jesus? Was there some way that the dead Lazarus could obey that command? It is obvious that such a response to Jesus' command was impossible. There was no possible way that Lazarus could obey that command.
    Likewise, when God commands unsaved mankind to believe and to repent, there is no way possible for the unsaved (that is, the spiritually dead) to obey these commands.
    However, that stinking corpse in the tomb did obey the command of Jesus. John 11, verse 44, declares:And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. How could that be? Remember, Jesus had said, "I am the resurrection, and the life." When Jesus commanded the dead Lazarus to come out of the tomb, Jesus as eternal God, who is the creator of life, had to give physical life to that stinking corpse. Jesus had to give the physically dead Lazarus ears to hear and strength and a will to respond to Christ's command to him to come forth.
    Likewise, God commands the spiritually dead of the world to believe, to repent, to become saved. But with that command, God creates eternal life in the souls of those He has chosen to salvation. The Bible declares, "many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). That is, every individual who reads or hears the


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Gospel is being commanded to believe in Jesus as their Savior. But no one can or wants to believe. Spiritually, everyone is a stinking corpse.
    Yet, within the spiritual graveyard of the world, there is one here, one there, one in another place who begins to believe and who finds in their life a strong desire to obey the Bible. What has happened to those few? Their spiritual experience was precisely like the physical experience of the dead Lazarus. Jesus, through His Word the Bible, commanded them to believe, and Jesus applied His Word to their life and created within them a new soul in which they were given eternal life. This could only happen because they had been chosen by God from before the beginning of creation.
    Now we can understand the illustration of Revelation 3:20, where we read:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
    The individual behind that door is spiritually a stinking corpse. He could never hear that knock on the door. But when Jesus knocks on the door of our heart, commanding us to believe, at the same time, He creates eternal life in the corpse that lies behind that door if that individual is one of God's chosen people. At the moment that person is given eternal life, he also receives spiritual ears to hear and understand the Bible, and he is given the desire to obey God's commands.
    Truly, we should be learning that God alone can save us. We are totally dependent on Him to do all the work.

Is There Hope for Me?

    Does that mean that the possibility of becoming saved is hopeless? Yes, it is indeed hopeless if we are depending in any way upon our efforts, our faith, our desires, our obedience, to provide even the smallest contribution to our salvation. Such thinking is evidence of an arrogant disregard concerning all that the Bible teaches about the


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astounding, sublime provision of God. It means we are trusting in a salvation plan that can never save and actually makes a mockery of God's perfect salvation plan.
    But when we understand God's salvation plan, that He is the only one who can do all the work required for our salvation, we can have hope, abundant hope. We are living in a day when God is saving a great multitude which no man can number (Revelation 7:9). Moreover, the Bible's declaration that God has elected certain individuals and given them to Christ, and that Christ has paid for all of their sins, provides enormous hope to unsaved individuals.
    Any unsaved person who has an intense desire to become saved and recognizes that he can become saved only on God's terms, possibly could be one of God's elect or chosen ones. Since God's election plan has nothing to do with our personal worthiness (we have none), and regardless of how great and terrible an individual's sins have been, he or she could just as readily be one of God's elect as any saved individual. Indeed, God's elective plan gives great encouragement to the unsaved person who begins to earnestly desire that he, too, might become saved.
    There are at least seven additional truths revealed in the Bible that should be of great encouragement to the individual who truly wishes that his sins, also, were covered by the blood of Jesus. We have already made reference to some of these truths. However, they are so important that we will briefly outline them again.
    1. Presently, it is the day of salvation. We have correctly learned that God is no longer saving people by utilizing the efforts of the local congregations, its leaders, or its people. (For more information, contact Family Radio and request the free book, "The End of The Church Age . . . and After.") However, outside of the local congregations, a great number of individuals are faithfully bringing the true Gospel to the world. They are witnessing individually and banding together collectively to send the Gospel into the world by radio and other methods of mass communication, and "a great multitude which no man can number" (Revelation 7:9), is being


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saved. Any unsaved person potentially could be one of that great multitude. What a blessing to know that we are living at a time when all over the world, many individuals are becoming saved.
    2. The setting or the environment in which God saves is the hearing of the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible declares in Romans 10:17:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    Today, a higher percentage of people are literate and have the Bible available in their own native language than ever before in the history of the world. What an enormous encouragement that anyone can place himself, together with the unsaved members of his family, under the hearing of the Bible. In many instances, this can be done by listening to those who faithfully read the Bible and faithfully teach the Bible on radio broadcasts such as those of Family Radio. He can also do this by personally reading the Bible. Indeed, the environment for God to save people is more hopeful than ever before in history. For this reason, we parents want our babies and all of our children to be under the hearing of the Word of God. That is what makes radio an especially valuable and important tool that can be used to make the Gospel available to large multitudes of people.
    3. Christ came to save sinners. He did not come to save the self-righteous, those who think of themselves as decent, moral people who trust that their righteous conduct is an inducement for God to look favorably upon them. He came to save sinners! What an encouragement to read about the criminal who was crucified at the same time Jesus was crucified. At first, this criminal showed his utter contempt for Jesus. We read in Matthew 27:41-44:
Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come


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down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
    Yet marvelously, just a few minutes or hours before this crucified criminal died, he asked Jesus for mercy, and he received the answer that assured him and assures us that in that most improbable time and location, he had become saved. We read in Luke 23:39-43:
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
    This grievous sinner was under the hearing of the Word because he heard Jesus speak to Mary, to the Apostle John, and to God Himself. And right then and there, this despicable sinner was given eternal life. Thus, regardless of how great his sins may be, the unsaved sinner can know that Jesus came for sinners. What a magnificent encouragement!

    4. Jesus is not a respecter of persons. That is, no class of people is more likely to become saved than any other. A person may be shunned by society, and regarded as being one of the "untouchables" by his fellow humans, but in the Bible, God gives examples of individuals who became saved who were scorned and despised by the congregation of Jesus' day. We are reminded of this by the salvation of the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-42), the tax collector, Zacchaeus (Luke 19:2-8), the leper (Luke 17:12-19), the criminal who was


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executed for his crimes (Luke 23:39-43), and the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11). All of these people were looked upon as the scum of society but God saved each one of them. Thus, we see clearly that He is not a respecter of persons. How wonderful this fact should be to any unsaved person.

    5. God is merciful. True, mercy is no longer found in the local congregations where their pastors, elders, deacons, and Bible teachers minister to those poor people. What a terrible truth that is! But outside the local congregations, throughout the world God continues to demonstrate His unfathomable mercy. God is a God of mercy. Remember what we read in Psalm 103:8:
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

And in Lamentations 3:31-32:

For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
    6. We can personally make known to God our intense desire to become saved. to God is work that we do, so we know that praying to God will not guarantee or contribute to our salvation. But we can know that as we cry to God, He will know of our desire to become saved. Jesus Himself gives the illustration of the publican who prayed for God's mercy. We read in Luke 18:13-14:
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that


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humbleth himself shall be exalted.
    7. We need never lose the hope for salvation. If God plans to save us, He will do so in His own time. He may save us early in our life or salvation may come hours before our death. We are never to attempt to dictate to God the time frame of our salvation, if indeed it is God's intention to save us. Remember what we read in Lamentations 3:26:
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

And God gives us so much comfort in Psalm 62:5-8:

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.
    As a person patiently waits upon the Lord, he may be filled with great anxiety. To become saved is a serious and important matter. To remain unsaved is awful.
    Wonderfully, God gives us much comfort by the promise of Philippians 4:6:
Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Then God gives us the assurance of Philippians 4, verse 7:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


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    Thus, God is comforting us by encouraging us to rest entirely in Him. He is encouraging us to tell Him all about our anxiety. Marvelously, He is absolutely faithful and trustworthy to do His perfect will. We are to rest in His almighty arms.
    In the meanwhile, we can hear God's voice as we continue to carefully and prayerfully read the Bible. And each time anxiety strikes us, again and again, we can come boldly to God's throne of grace to tell God all about it. HOW MERCIFUL GOD IS!