What is Salvation?

Dr. John Ankerberg: Erwin, we’ve got to be realistic right now. Some people say, “I have a hard time getting excited about being born again.” How can they get excited about this? This is really the plan of God for their life. And if they’ve really invited Christ into their life, this is what He’s going to do for them.

Erwin Lutzer: A couple of things. First of all, you and I know that there are many people who believe that you can lose your faith and so forth, especially if you leave the doctrines and fall away. And we understand that that is out there, and many people believe it. What we have to do is to realize that the Bible is a consistent book. And there’s some passages that may teach somewhat differently, or appear to teach differently, but the Bible is consistent. And if you look at all the evidence, the fact is that over and over again it teaches that a truly born-again Christian who has received Christ will make it into the heavenly kingdom.

John Ankerberg: Yes. One person might ask this question: “How do I know that I’m one of the chosen ones?”

Erwin Lutzer: Well, and the answer to that is simply this; receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, and prove that you are one of the chosen ones. So, don’t say to yourself, “Well, I don’t know whether or not I’m chosen.” Don’t use that as an excuse. If God has worked in your heart to bring you to faith, then believe on Him right now.

John Ankerberg: Yes. Jesus said, “He that comes unto Me, I will give you eternal life.” 

Erwin Lutzer: Let me mention one other verse that confirms what we’ve been talking about, and that is John 10. Jesus talks about the fact that He is the good shepherd. And this is powerful. He says, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life. And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father who gave them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

At Moody Church years ago, I preached a message entitled, “Hands in Harmony.” You have the hand of the Son and the hand of the Father, and they’re holding us. But some people say, “Yes, but, you know, I can use my free will to wrestle myself out of Their hands.” It’s not quite that simple. Because, actually, if you are a believer, you are already a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. So, despite the fact that sheep sometimes stray;… By the way, could you imagine a shepherd. He leaves with 100 sheep in the morning and comes back with 95 at night? And the other shepherds mock him, “What kind of a shepherd are you?” “Well, you don’t know these sheep. They were so rebellious. They actually went through and they followed false paths.” “I don’t care.” The fact is, you bring them back by hook or by crook. So that at nightfall, the 100 sheep that you were given are within the fold.

John Ankerberg: And that was the illustration that Jesus used. Let’s define salvation clearly for people it.

Erwin Lutzer: Well, the simple fact is this: that Jesus Christ’s coming was a rescue mission. And He came to redeem us from our sins. Now, this is very important. There are some people who go to the internet, and I’ve had this said to me: “Oh, you know, there are other religions that also demand a blood sacrifice just like the New Testament teaches.” But, John, Christianity is the only religion where God Himself becomes the sacrifice. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”

John Ankerberg: That’s another important point. There’s all kinds of religious leaders, and if you look at them, there is only one who claimed to be God, and that was Jesus Christ.

Erwin Lutzer: And in this rescue mission He comes to earth; He proves His credentials; He is crucified on the cross for our sins. It is a payment for sin. And as a result of that He,… of course because He is God: He is buried, because He is the God-man; He is raised again; He is taken to heaven in triumph. And He says that “those who believe on Me will participate in My victory over death. They will be with Me forever.” But the key is this. It’s not enough to simply have head knowledge. But the knowledge that we must have is the knowledge of the heart where we are transferring our trust to Christ alone and have that assurance. 

You know, Charles Spurgeon, who was a great preacher in England during the 19th century, said this. He said, “I could actually float above hell with all of its flames hanging on to a flax stock if I knew that my faith was in Christ alone.” And so it is that God gives us the assurance that if our faith is in Christ alone, we will not come into condemnation, but we will have passed from death unto life. And so, I say to those who have believed today, have that assurance. Rejoice in the fact that you are held in God’s hands, and not your own.

John Ankerberg: Yes. And I would just say this. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof of His claims that He was the Messiah; He was the Son of God; He was the Son of man. He did the miracles. But His resurrection was His coming out party, if you want: “I am who I claim to be.” And nobody has done that. And so intellectually with your mind you can say, “He’s the one I should put my faith in.” 

Erwin Lutzer: You know, I want to say this: that there is a time coming when you’re going to stand before God. And you’re going to need someone to stand in your stead. 

You know, there’s a story about a friend of mine, it’s a true story; a pastor who was asked to be a character witness for a friend of his. And this friend asked if he would, and the pastor said yes. And later on, during the trial, awful things came out about his friend, because they had tapes on what he had said and what he had done. Well, the pastor agonized and was angry because he was to go there and be a character witness, but that didn’t work out. And he was so upset that he had had to fly to another city just to do this; to be a character witness to a scoundrel, though thankfully he didn’t have to be. 

But here’s the point. On the way home, suddenly he was so filled with shame. It was as if God said, “Look, I’ve got tapes on you. Not only tapes, but CDs and DVDs, and they are all in HD. Someday would you like to have somebody to be a character witness for you, to stand in your stead?” And then it hit him; Jesus is that character witness. He is our intercessor. He is our Redeemer. And He stand between us and God. When you trust Him, He’ll take you all the way to the finish line. 

(Extracted from our series “How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God – Part 2.”

About Dr. John Ankerberg interviews Dr. Erwin Lutzer

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