Salvation ....

People are capable of such noble and compassionate acts. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the sick, and shelter the homeless, but even in our best moments, we find wretched, sometimes vile, acts attending our efforts. The same hand that protects the defenseless or nurtures the feeble sometimes afflicts the weak and grieves the forlorn. Apostle Paul observed, "When I would do good, evil is present with me" (Rom 7:21).

The reason good people do bad things is because everyone is a sinner. Evil desires are woven into the fabric of each personís makeup. The Bible teaches, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). While we perceive the sublime life possible if we live by our most honorable standards, we are also painfully aware that such high virtues are undermined by our selfish instincts. No effort, no matter how well conceived or painstakingly followed, can raise us above our natural state. We are hopelessly flawed and doomed to continual disappointment.

Our defects are due to our mortality. Adam and Eve, our first parents, chose to disobey Godís commandments. They were expelled from his presence and sentenced to death. We inherited their nature. By using Godís creation to pursue our own interests, we choose to defect from our Creator, mimicking their disobedience. Our personal infractions place us under the same condemnation pronounced on Adam and Eve. We must die, too. Our flawed nature is merely a symptom of our mortality. We need more than reformation. We need a Savior.

The same God who made us loves us. Anxious to restore every person to his presence, he sent his Son into the world to save us. Jesus left his celestial abode where only praise and adoration surrounded his throne and took our nature, endured our limitations, and suffered our infirmities that he might bare our sins on the cross. He allowed those to whom he came to mock him, beat him, and finally crucify him. Since he was without sin and not obligated to die, his death fulfilled the divine verdict and paid the penalty for our transgressions. He simply died in our place; but death could not hold him. After all, he is God in the flesh. The same Jesus who was crucified rose from the tomb and ascended to his heavenly Father. His resurrection opened a doorway to celestial abodes where those who follow him can receive eternal life.

The atoning sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross did not automatically change human nature. People continued their inherent resistance to Godís will and ways. The death of Jesus did not make us holy, but it did offer an opportunity for us to be held guiltless. Since Jesus paid the penalty caused by our sinful nature, those who change their nature can be found guiltless when they return to God after this life.

Unfortunately, the task of changing our nature exceeds our abilities. Not only have we insufficient strength to abide Godís laws, but we lack the desire. Our natural interests remain instinctively selfish. The only way a person can make their nature God-like is to let God live in them. The Bible says, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do his good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). With Godís help every person can find the will and way to keep his commandments. The atonement wrought by Jesus on the cross created the possibility for all of us to live like Jesus.

We let God live in us when we give place to the Holy Ghost. Jesus told his disciples, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever" (Jn 14:16), later explaining that the Comforter is the Holy Ghost (Jn 14:26). Just as the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:38), he can anoint us with the same Spirit. Christ comes from the Greek word that means anointed. When God anoints us with the Holy Ghost, we become like Christ ó anointed ones, or Christians. The presence of the Holy Ghost within us lets the Father see the image of his only begotten Son in our countenances. That is the only possession that we can bring to the judgment bar on the last day that will endear us to our heavenly Father and provide sufficient reason for him to receive us into his eternal abode. This is the whole meaning of the gospel. It is even couched in the Saviorís name. The literal meaning of Jesus Christ, when translated from the Greek, is Jehovah saves the anointed.

The Holy Ghost cannot dwell in the unclean. The Bible specifies, "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house" (Ps 101:7). The apostle stipulated, "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph 5:5). Since we all are sinners, we cannot house the Holy Ghost until we are cleansed. The apostles taught that a personís sins are remitted in the waters of baptism. "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" (Acts 2:38). When one is baptized, his natural man is crucified (Rom 6:6). He publicly witnesses that he has submitted his will to God and vows to keep his commandments. Our heavenly Father confirms the covenant by erasing that personís sins in preparation for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The apostles gave the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. The Bible describes what happened in Samaria: "Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. At Ephesus, it says, "They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them" (Eph 19:5-6). Once baptism has washed away the stain of sin, the Holy Ghost is placed within as an abiding comforter through the laying on of hands, making the body a temple of God. Paul taught, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor 3:16). Although their natural man is dead, they live because Godís Spirit resides within their bodies. Paul explained, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

When the repentant receive the Holy Ghost, they are spiritually reborn. Jesus taught, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:3). When asked for an explanation, he added, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5). Those who receive the Holy Ghost are born of God. They become his children. Apostle Paul wrote, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom 8:14-16).

When the Holy Ghost is born in us, we become children of God. Like any father, our heavenly Father provides a spiritual inheritance for all his children. The Bible explains, "Thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Gal 4:7). Our new relationship with our heavenly Father is not caused by any effort that we make. It is a gift made possible through the merits and mercy of our Savior, Jesus Christ. His redemption makes those who claim their salvation joint heirs with him. The Bible teaches, "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17). The gift of the Holy Ghost, given through the grace and sufferings of our Savior, makes us a child of God and entitled to the same inheritance bestowed on Godís only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God and will eternally abide in realms of glory. He shares his everlasting inheritance with all those who become children of God. When the repentant receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, God confirms to them that they are promised eternal life. Paul wrote, "Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance" (Eph 1:13-14). An earnest is the collateral deposited at the time a contract is made. God promises to give eternal life to all those who become his children. The earnest that God deposits with the believer when he agrees to submit his will to the Father is the Holy Ghost. The Bible records, "He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor 1:21-22). The presence of the Holy Ghost abiding in the repentant is the constant confirmation that they are the children of God and future recipients of celestial glory.

Are you anxious to enjoy eternal life in the presence of your Savior? It is his free gift to you if you will receive it. The steps of salvation do not make you worthy of eternal life. No one earns the right to live with God. Instead, the steps of salvation detail the process by which our heavenly Father adopts you as one of his children. He will give you the gift of the Holy Ghost in token of his adoption, which, like a birth certificate, is a continual witness of your relationship to him and your entitlement to eternal life.

Steps to salvation

Believe that Jesus has atoned for your sins when he died on the cross.

Exercise faith in his ability to raise you to eternal life by following his example.

Repent of your selfishness nature.

Be baptized for a remission of your sins.

Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands.

Endure in your new relationship with our Lord as long as you live.