Salvation Analysis (by God for Man)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
Probably the most profound, perplexing and gratifying verses found in Scripture are those listed above, in which is stated that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was “made” or “bore” the sins of all mankind in order to provide eternal salvation for “man” (a universal designation for both men and women). God’s salvation is strictly a gift, which cannot be self-earned with “good works” (Ephesians 2:8, 9), a gift due solely on Christ’s sacrifice when He personally paid the price for the sins of all mankind while being crucified on a wooden cross on Calvary (“Golgotha”, a skull-shaped hill in ancient Jerusalem). And even if a person doesn’t fully grasp how Christ accomplished this most amazing transaction, God grants His gift of salvation the moment the individual decides to place his/her faith (total trust) in Christ and His work for one’s eternal salvation.
Truthfully, many Christians do not have an in-depth understanding of how Christ paid the price for their sins. Even though they understand that the transaction took place during His crucifixion on the cross on Calvary, they are unclear as to the specific time and act that made it possible. Although Christ’s physical suffering and death on Calvary’s cross was/is a depiction of His sacrifice for the sins of the world and is often referred to as such, in actuality it was Christ’s spiritual death, which He endured prior to His physical death that precisely made the payment for all of mankind’s sins.
It was the inception of sin, the act of disobedience by both Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the one act of disobedience that severed the relationship between God and Man, which indeed brought death (both physical/temporal and spiritual/eternal) to the human race (Genesis 2:15-17). And it should be understood that the concept of “death” in God’s Word is not the cessation of life. Rather, it is separation from one state of being to another. When a person experiences physical/temporal death, he/she becomes separated from physical existence, but not from continuing in an eternal state. On the other hand, a person who is spiritually dead is separated from God, a state that hopefully will be addressed and reversed during a person’s physical/temporal lifetime. Otherwise, if not reversed, it will continue after one’s physical death throughout eternity.
As previously stated, Scripture often utilizes the depiction of shed blood as being the payment for sin. Just as God allowed man to shed the blood of animals to reflect payment for sin, the shed blood of Christ on the Cross of Calvary is often used in passages of Scripture (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12d, 22; 10:19; 13:12, 20; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 1:7; 5:6; Revelation 1:5) to reflect Christ’s payment for the sins of all mankind. This is understood in that the life of flesh is indeed in the blood.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
The human authors of the New Testament utilized this familiar representation to depict the sacrifice Christ made on Calvary’s Cross, which indeed was the payment that only Christ could make in order for mankind to be saved, i.e., be reunited with God eternally. The reality is that as long as a person comes to the conviction (a determination that is brought about by the Spirit of God) that it is/was Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and makes the decision to trust only in Christ and His work on the Cross for his/her eternal salvation, he/she will be instantly saved upon making that decision.
Frankly, there is no stringent requirement for a detailed understanding on how Christ paid for one’s sin in order for a person to be “saved” as long as the individual comes to the understanding that eternal salvation can never be self-obtained, but may only be achieved by placing one’s faith (trust) in Jesus Christ. Still, it can be most gratifying for any Christian to come to a more profound grasp (specific details) of Christ’s sacrifice, thereby achieving a more perceptive appreciation of God’s love for him/her (John 3:16). Hopefully, this study will be helpful to that end.
(It should be noted that God’s plan of salvation for mankind is most comprehensive – involving all three components of man, i.e., spirit, soul, and body, which involves both eternal and temporal life, as well as the reality of Heaven and the coming Millennial Kingdom upon earth. Nevertheless, without doubt the most important/foundational element in/of God’s plan of salvation for mankind is in the initial acquisition of eternal life, the very instant a person is spiritually “born again (anew, from above),’ which is when he/she exercises (make the decision to place) faith in Christ. That is the primary focus of this study.)
This study will be presented under the following headers: (1) The Requirement, (2) The Reality, and (3) The Realization, which will be followed by some Closing Comments and a link or links to the comprehensive (all three aspects) plan of God’s salvation for mankind.
Why must a person be “saved” and from what is the person “saved.” Scripture clearly states that “all (mankind) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), indeed, “Scripture has concluded all under sin” (Galatians 3:22). Man and woman, in the garden of Eden, following their eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in direct defiance of God’s specific instructions, found themselves in a ruined state – a state of sin, which was/has been passed on to all their descendants. The result of this state – for all human beings – is death, physical death but most significantly spiritual death, which is separation from God (Genesis 2:16, 17; Romans 6:23a).
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12; cf. 1 Corinthian 15:21)
It was established at the very beginning that the consequence, the price or payment for sin (disbelieving and thereby disobeying God), was death, the literal meaning of such is the separation between two entities – between the Divine and the temporal, between God and man. The death relegated to man due to his sin was all-inclusive. It was (1) the initiation of a progressing temporal death of the body and soul, which was/is promoted by the then-alteration (deterioration) of man’s physical environment (Genesis 3:17-19) and results eventually in a person’s separation from temporal life; but more importantly, (2) an instantaneous supernatural death of the spirit, affecting (passed on to) every human being from that day forward (Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1), which results in the separation of a person from God.
Bottom line, the cost, the consequence, the price of sin was death – separation. The most crucial aspect of this death/separation was on the spiritual level. Man was separated from his Creator, the Living God. Furthermore, this cost, this consequence, this price, was/is eternal unless it could/can be paid in full to God, to His satisfaction.
How was mankind’s record/accumulation of sin – through all of time – “satisfied” or “paid for in full” so that a person could indeed be “saved” from its ultimate result, i.e., separation from God. Christians understand that it was Jesus Christ and His sacrifice upon the Cross of Calvary that “satisfied” God’s requirement for sin, but many are at somewhat of a loss to be able to clearly explain how this was the case. Most often the only explanation is that it was Christ’s “physical death” that made the payment. And when there are a number of scriptures linking the “shed blood” of Christ with the salvation of man, this is somewhat understandable. And on a metaphorical level, this is correct.
The short answer is that Jesus Christ “took the place” of all sinners through all of time in order to “pay the price” of sin, so that any individually may take advantage of Christ’s payment in order to obtain eternal life. Christ’s death was a substitutionary death for all mankind. Still, this doesn’t exactly explain “how” Christ made the “payment” for all sin. So, a more detailed answer follows.
For He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us [mankind], that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21; e.g., Isaiah 53:6)
It was on the Cross of Calvary that Christ made the sacrificial price of taking on and becoming our sin, thereby personally experiencing the type of “death” resulting from sin. This was a transaction that only God could and did perform, which would then enable any person who would/will appropriately take advantage of Christ’s payment for sin to be brought back into spiritual union with God.
The “death” that Christ experienced on the Cross of Calvary, which was indeed the payment (the price) required by God for the sins of mankind, was not the physical death experienced by the physical body of Jesus Christ. In fact, before that occurred, Christ specifically cried out “It is finished!” And only then did He bow His head and give up His spirit (John 19:30), personally permitting His physical death.
What did Christ mean by “It is finished”? It refers back to His previous cry, which followed a specific period (3 hours) of time, as seen in the following passage of Scripture:
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
(Matthew 27:45, 46; cf. Mark 15:33, 34)
Precisely identified, it was during this three hours period of time, “from the sixth hour (noon) until the ninth hour (3:00 P.M.) there was darkness over all the land,” that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, having personally taking on and becoming the sin of all mankind, became separated from God the Father – personally experiencing spiritual death for (in place of) mankind.
Granted, the spiritual separation between the Father and the Son was for only a three hour period of time, but on the Divine level, it equated to eternal separation between the Creator and those He created should they have to experience it. As for our (created beings) ability to understand this, I’m certain it is far beyond our mindset.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9)
Nevertheless, it should be observed that the horrific penalty for sin due created human beings, which is eternal in scope, only required the Son of God to fully pay the penalty, for every person throughout the ages, in a three hour period of time. As many believe, the number three in Scripture represents “Divine wholeness, completeness and perfection.” This is certainly true with God’s substitutionary sacrifice for the salvation of mankind.
And because God in the flesh, in the Person of Jesus Christ during a three hour period of time on earth, experienced the price of sin in the place of man (i.e., a substitutionary sacrifice), any person who is willing to accept by faith this total payment for sin, will then never ever be personally subject to it.
Once a person (1) becomes aware by means of the Holy Spirit that he/she is a sinner and is separated from God (John 14:26; 16:5-11), and (2) that there is nothing he/she can do to personally obtain eternal life (Ephesians 2:8, 9); but (3) that Jesus Christ did indeed pay for his/her sins on Calvary’s Cross by means of His substitutionary death (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 3:5, 7), and he/she has only one action to take in order to obtain eternal life, i.e., to be ‘saved”; he/she then has only one choice to make in order to change his/her eternal condition.
And that singular action/choice is to exercise his/her faith (trust) in Jesus Christ and His finished work at Calvary (alone) for his/her personal salvation. The instant he/she makes this decision of trusting in Christ alone, the result is obtained, i.e., he/she is “saved” from eternal separation from God, which is eternal life, the “birth from above” (John 3:3,7, 15, 16,18, 31; 6:47; Romans 3:24, 28; 4:16; Ephesians 2:5, 8, 9; Titus 3:5).
Should you be interested, please check out the document at http://bibleone.net/Gods-plan-of-salvation.htm for a more extensive treatment of this subject. A small portion of this document follows (originally taken from: Salvation by Grace through Faith by Arlen L. Chitwood):
Only One Place in Scripture
It is of interest to note that the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” and the answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” only appear together one place in the entire Bible. Scripture is filled with information concerning redemption, but Acts 16:30, 31 is the only place from Genesis to Revelation where the question concerning eternal salvation is asked and answered in so many words.
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30b, 31)
Eternal salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9), and it is based entirely upon the finished work of Another (John 19:30). Nothing that man has done, is presently doing, or will ever do can have anything to do with his eternal destiny. Man can do no more than receive by faith that which has already been done on his behalf. This is why Scripture states, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
In this respect, the answer to the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” is actually, Nothing!
This would have to be the answer simply because there is not one single thing left for man to do (nor could he do anything if something were left [he is “dead in trespasses and sins”]). This is the implication in Paul and Silas’ response to the jailor in Philippi. He was told simply to “believe [put his trust, reliance in]” the One who had already done everything on his behalf.
Coming into possession of eternal salvation was that simple and easy for the jailor at Philippi, and it remains that simple and easy for man today. The instant an unsaved person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he is eternally saved. He becomes a “new creation” in Christ, a part of the “one new man” (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:13-15). Anything in addition to unsaved man’s act of faith can occupy no place in the biblical answer to the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Such can occupy no place in salvation by grace through faith.
Thus, within a completely biblical framework, if the question in Acts 16:30 is asked, there can only be one answer: “Believe . . . .” Man’s ideas, thoughts, comments are of no moment. God has spoken, and that’s the end of the matter.
Often the act of “repentance” or a salvation “prayer” is suggested as relevant to the achievement of salvation. And, although such a framework is presented, it should be noted that a person who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) can in no way take such an action, for such can only be addressed and acted upon by one who has a redeemed spirit, who has been sealed by God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14; 4:30). Indeed, when the word “repent” or the topic of repentance is utilized in the New Testament, it contextually refers to Israel and its relation to the Messiah. On the other hand, one may understand that “repentance” is to turn from any other “method” of salvation to Christ alone for such a gift.
And as to any “prayer” being the key to one’s salvation, one is at a loss to explain at what precise moment during the prayer, or, possibly at its end, that one becomes “saved.” Yet, this is not to say that a person cannot be saved when addressing God in such a fashion. Indeed, vast multitudes have come to Christ in such a fashion.
But precisely, it should be understood that the exact moment of salvation is achieved prior to the utterance of such a prayer – at the precise instant the individual decides to trust in the finished work of Another (Jesus Christ, alone) for his eternal salvation. It is at this precise moment in time that a person transitions from being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) to being a “new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:13-15) – a position that can never be reversed.
My sincere hope is that all who read this presentation will further their study of God’s marvelous plan of salvation by accessing one or both of the books entitled Salvation of the Soul, both extolling a comprehensive treatment of the subject, involving the tripartite composition of man, i.e., spirit, soul, and body. And although both have the same title, one is written by Arlen L. Chitwood and the other by James T. Harman. Both may be freely accessed at the following website links: