Grace: the Gift of God 

54.7 Accepting the Gift of Salvation

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2009

Topics:

Jesus’ Part
Steps in Conversion
Decision: What does the Bible Say?

Jesus’ Part

As the shepherd in the parable seeks out the one lost sheep, God seeks out every lost sinner. Jesus came to this earth to show by His sinless life, what God is like. This beautiful quotation expresses this thought:

"His tender compassion fell with a touch of healing upon weary and troubled hearts. Even amid the turbulence of angry enemies He was surrounded with an atmosphere of peace. The beauty of His countenance, the loveliness of His character, above all, the love expressed in look and tone, drew to Him all who were not hardened in unbelief. Had it not been for the sweet, sympathetic spirit that shone out in every look and word, He would not have attracted the large congregations that He did. The afflicted ones who came to Him felt that He linked His interest with theirs as a faithful and tender friend, and they desired to know more of the truths He taught. Heaven was brought near. They longed to abide in His presence, that the comfort of His love might be with them continually" (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, 254, 255).

There still remained the penalty for sin. In Romans 6:23 we read "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This is not talking about the common death of men, which is called a "sleep" (1 Thessalonians 4:13), rather it is talking about the second death (Revelation 20:15) which is the punishment reserved for the wicked.

It was the penalty of the second death (Revelation 20:6) that Jesus paid on Calvary. His death paid the penalty for sin that each one of us deserve. Men now stand before God justified, forgiven, atoned for. Men are now put in the place whereby the grace of God can work to change their lives and make of them a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Steps in Conversion

After Conversion, becoming a "new creature," being "saved" or "born again," we still have the "flesh" or the "carnal nature" to contend with. Sins are forgiven and victories are won. But common observation is that we still have "blind spots." God in His mercy does not reveal all our sins at one time. There are still victories to be won, sins to confess. This is clear.

Atonement or justification opens the door. Motives and the direction of the life is changed. The problem is that the physical drives (desires, appetites) that even Adam had before sin are still there. After sin, mankind was less able to handle those drives in an appropriate fashion. When Adam sinned he became innately selfish AND was less able to resist the temptations of Satan.

The sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary was a free gift to ALL men (Romans 5:18,19). The questions that arise are the place of faith and decision in the process of conversion.

Steps in Conversion:

Overcoming sin:

 

(Besetting sins)

Sacrifice on Calvary.

Free gift to all men, forensic justification?

Enmity against evil (Genesis 3:15)

 

Wooing of the Spirit through various methods.

Wooing of the Spirit; enhanced by Bible study, prayer and meditation.

 

Temptation, Testing and Trial

Recognition of having a sinful nature, needing salvation.

Conviction. Recognition of having sinned

 

These steps can go through several cycles before victory is obtained.

Spirit resisted.

Spirit resisted, yielded to temptation (go to Start)

Decision needed?

Gratitude and praise for free gift

Immediately turned to Christ (may proceed)

Requesting and accepting Grace.

Decision needed?

Confession. Humbly admitting sin.

New Creature; Born Again

Forgiveness, justification, cleansing from sin.

Victory

 

• More temptation, testing and trials

 

• More victories

 

• Character formed. Growth in grace. Partaking of the divine nature.


• Does it require a decision to accept the free gift?
• Is a decision needed at any point to accept Christ, or does the free gift make one righteous without needing a decision?
• Is the decision to accept Christ an event or a process of several steps?
• At what point in this scenario is the decision made?
• Does one continue to have a sinful nature even after he is a "new creature"?
• Is sanctification a necessary part of justification?

 

What does the Bible Say?

In the theologic ferment of the Reformation, the Protestants formulated the concept that the Christian must live by faith alone. That what Jesus did for us was beside us, outside of us, and even in spite of us. In my opinion they have overstated their case, in the battle against the concepts of merit and legalism in the Roman Catholic system. In the Bible there are just too many verbs pointing to what man must do:

Joshua 24:15 "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"
1 Kings 18:21 "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him:"
Isaiah 55:6 "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:"
Matthew 3:2 "And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

* We find "choose" in Joshua 24:15, 24; 1 Samuel 11:3; Romans 6:16-22; 1 Corinthians 10:21.
* Then there is "seek" in Isaiah 55:6 and Zephaniah 2:3.
* "Repent" in Ezekiel 18:30; 33:11; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15; 6:12; Luke 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 3:19
* Other verbs such as turn, believe, have faith, serve, work out and others are present in the Bible.

In light of this, one must accept that there is a part that the Christian must do to accept the gift of God. This part that the Christian plays, regardless of the word used, is not a forced decision, but rather a loving response. This is discussed more at length in article #53.0 "A Definition of Grace" and article #55.0 "The Path of the Overcomer."