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Salvation and forgiveness are much like the analogy of the purchase of a gift for someone and then the recipient accepting that gift. The gift was paid for by the purchaser regardless of whether someone believes it or not. It is now up to the recipient to accept or reject that gift. God forgave the world of its trespasses through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:19). God reconciled Himself to the world by making this 'purchase' for all humanity. It is now up to each individual to accept God's gift by simply having faith in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that He already paid for. Having faith in Jesus Christ means more than simply believing in the mere existence of a person named Jesus Christ, and although a requirement, it also means more than just believing that He was/is the son God (Gal 2:20), that He is the image of God in the form of man (Col 1:15, Rom 1:3), and by God He was the creator of all things (Eph 3:9). There is a specific truth regarding the shed blood of Jesus Christ that all must believe today. Understanding what Christ's shed blood means not only ASSURES salvation for all who place this faith in Him, but it is how the believer can then grow in their walk in faith. It is faith in Christ AND the work that HE COMPLETED for us on the cross: 1 Cor 15:1-4 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 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:" We are told above that it is by belief in what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross that we today, anyone living during the current age of God's grace (Eph 3:2), accept God's free gift of salvation (Eph 2:8-9). Jesus Christ died for the forgiveness of sin on the cross. He was buried, but rose again on the third day for our justification. Many believers place their faith solely on John 3:16. The danger in that alone being their basis for salvation is that Jesus Christ spoke this verse while still living. He had not yet given His life for the forgiveness of sin on the cross. For instance, take the below two responses to the question that asks if someone believes they are going to heaven upon their death. Answer 1: "I hope I'm going to heaven when I die because I believe in Jesus Christ! I've asked God to forgive me of my sins. I've been water baptized. I go to church every time the doors are open. I pray for forgiveness of my sins every night, and I even ask God to help me not sin anymore!" Answer 2: "Yes! I know I'm going to heaven when I die because I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ and the work that He alone completed on my behalf! I thank God continually for Jesus Christ, who gave His life for the forgiveness of all my sins! I am assured of life after my death because Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for me, and defeated both sin and death on the cross and through His resurrection the third day!" See the difference? Both individuals believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, but the first individual has not placed their full faith in what Jesus Christ completed for them on the cross. They are counting on God accepting them based on what THEY are doing...like asking for forgiveness, being water baptized, going to church, etc. They're overlooking THE CROSS! The second individual is fully trusting in Jesus Christ and what HE DID FOR THEM. Jesus Christ completed all the required works and paid the full price for redemption through HIS blood FOR US. Nothing further than belief is required to have God's GIFT appropriated to the believer's account! We accept God's free gift of salvation by belief in who Jesus Christ is AND for the forgiveness of sin that HE paid for!
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