“How am I saved?”

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Acts 16:30-31

When the terrified jailer at Philippi asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”, Paul and Silas responded: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:30-31
There was indeed good reason for the jailer to be gripped with terror. For we all deserve eternal separation from God in Hell. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” Rom. 1:18. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom. 3:23. “For God has shut up all in disobedience,” Rom. 11:32. “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions,” Ezek. 18:30. Cf. also Ps. 14:1, Is. 64:6, Is. 59:2, Rom. 2:3-5.

But Paul had a message that overcame that unspeakable terror. And our one purpose is to proclaim that same message with the same urgency. For there is only one way of salvation for us, lost and condemned sinners. That way is to turn away from all human works and wisdom and put our trust solely in the perfect merits of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.

As our substitute, Jesus supplied, by means of His sinless life, the righteousness of life that we owe to the holy God. By His suffering and death on the cross, He bore the dreadful punishment for the world’s sin. Victory over sin, death, and the devil, and the verdict of “not guilty” pronounced by God the Father on the world of sinners were sealed by Christ’s resurrection. This Gospel (literally, “good news”) is proclaimed in such passages as these:

“He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification,” Rom. 4:25. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” II Cor. 5:19-21. “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed,” Is. 53:5. See also Rom 3:19-26, esp. vv. 23-24, Rom 5:19, I Tim. 1:15, I Cor. 8:9, Gal. 3:10 & 13.

Christ has accomplished our salvation. Our own works are excluded. Thus, the empty hand of faith simply receives, in humility and penitence, the remarkable gift of grace. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law,” Rom. 3:28. “For by grace you have been saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one may boast,” Eph. 2:8-9. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” John 3:16.

Scripture Alone                 

This gospel of God’s good will in Jesus Christ is the one message that the Bible proclaims from beginning to end. To depart in any point from Scripture’s sacred teachings is not only a blasphemous attack on the authority of the faithful and truthful God, who is the one author of every word of Scripture (verbal inspiration),  but also a grave disservice to the cause of saving souls.

For it is written: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” John 8:31-32. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” Rom. 10:17. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth,” John 17:17

And: “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God,” II Tim. 3:15-16. “Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words,” I Cor. 2:13. “For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” II Peter 1:21.

Straying from God’s Word, no matter what form it takes, is putting fallible man above God. All attempts to reshape Scripture from its original meaning and context are a means to put man’s desires and sensibilities ahead of God’s. Without the Word as the final authority, to which everyone willingly bows without reserve, factions arise that strive to define truth to suit their own purposes and desires. And as selfishness comes to prevail, concern for the salvation of souls and the good of our fellow man dwindles.

What assaults the Bible suffers today even at the hand of those professing to be Christians! What a decline we observe in the degree of respect that this precious gift from our Savior receives.

Fervent love of that Savior, intense zeal for the salvation of blood-bought souls, and the highest possible degree of reverence for Scripture- these things go hand in hand.


The various teachings of the Bible all relate to, and support, the central doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Christ

  • The Tri-unity of God; three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:1-3, Gen. 1:26, Mt. 3:9, Mt. 3:16-17, Mt. 28:19, Luke 12:8ff, John 1:1-3, John 3:31ff, John 14:25, John 20:16, Acts 10:38, II Cor. 13:14, Is. 48:16), united in one Godhead (Is. 44:6, Mark 12:29, 32, John 5:23, John 10:30, John 17:3, Rom. 8:3, I Cor. 8:4-5);
  • The creation of all things in six 24-hour days (Gen. 1, Ex. 20:11); the fall of Adam and Eve through the temptation of the devil (Gen. 3);
  • Original sin (Ps. 51:5, John 3:6, Eph. 2:3, I Peter 1:18, Rom. 5:12ff);
  • The Virgin birth, miracles, and bodily resurrection of Jesus (the four gospels);
  • Conversion (and preservation in the faith) solely by the working of God the Holy Spirit (I Cor.12:3, II Cor. 4:6, James 1:18, Eph. 2:1ff, I Cor. 2:14, II Thess. 2:13-14, John 3:5-6);
  • The saving power of the sacraments- Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (I Peter 3:21, Acts 22:16, Eph. 5:25-26, Mt. 26:26-28, and parallel passages); the Real Presence of Jesus’ body and blood in the Lord’s Supper (the accounts in Mt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and I Cor. 11);
  • The spiritual nature of the church and of God’s kingdom (I Cor. 1:2, Eph. 4:4-16, Gal. 6:15-16, Col. 3:3-4. Rom. 8:18-39, Rom 14:17, Luke 17:20);
  • Christ’s return to judgment at the end of all things (Acts 1:11, Acts 17:30-31, II Thess. 1:6-10, Titus 2:13, Mt. 25:31-46);
  • The bodily resurrection (I Cor. 15, I Thess. 4:13-18, Mark 16:16, I John 3:2) and a literal heaven and hell (Luke 16:19-31, Mt. 8:11-12, Is. 66:24, John 14:2-3, Ps. 16:11, Luke 23:43, Phil. 1:23).

When it comes to what God says, nothing dare be sacrificed. Any loss is a grievous and tragic loss. Note Jesus’ words in Matt. 28:20: “Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”


One manifestation of the devil’s attack upon Scripture and thus upon the Gospel is today’s craze for church union. So very many have been swept along in the ecumenical movement, succumbing to the influence of the ideas that bigger is better and that any joining of hands is a display of “love” . But God’s provisions for bringing souls safely to eternal life are obstructed by church unions in which false teachings (whatever is contrary to the Bible’s teachings), instead of being rigorously excluded, are given place alongside the truth.

How many are still to be found who take to heart the biblical directives to separate from error (such as Rom. 16:17-18) and the biblical examples (such as Noah) of the isolation that can accompany faithfulness to Jesus? The one who paid with His life to redeem us from eternal punishment warned, “Beware of false prophets,” Mt. 7:15. Those who follow that word today are not in a position to win popularity contests. But they can echo Paul’s confident assertion in Rom. 8:31, “If God is for us, who is against us?”

True fellowship is enjoyed by those who still take to heart this word: “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment,” I Cor. 1:10. See also Acts 2:42, II Cor. 6:14-18, Gal. 5:9, I Cor. 5:6, Rom. 15:5-6, Phil. 1:3-11, I John 1:1-7. Only as we flee darkness do we enjoy the blessings of light.

Our link to countless faithful confessors of the past whom God has raised up is shown by the confessional statements we embrace. The creeds and confessions setting forth our position at greater length include, first of all, the three ecumenical creeds (Apostolic, Nicene, and Athanasian). As heirs of the Lutheran Reformation, that breathtaking work of God’s grace, we also subscribe to the unaltered Augsburg Confession and its Apology, to the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, to the Smalcald Articles, and to the Formula of Concord.

It is our fervent prayer that we may yet find many others with whom we can hold fast the word of life together in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15-16), as we with one accord and one voice “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 15:6).

What’s it all About?

Does anything make sense?

Where did I come from?  Why am I here? What is the purpose of it all?  Why do we have suffering, sickness, poverty, bloodshed, and war?  Why must we die?  Does anything make sense?  Does death end it all, or will we live again?  Will there be a day of judgement?  Is there a heaven and a hell?  Is it possible to fine true inner peace and contentment?  Where can I find the answers to these and other questions?

In the Beginning

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  So begins the Bible, God’s book to man, which alone can answer our questions.  The Almighty God created the universe and all it contains.  After creating the earth, sun, moon, stars, and the plants and animals on the earth, He created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.  “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  Genesis 1:27.  Notice that our first parents were created in the image of God, that is, holy, pure, and innocent, without any sin, fault, or shortcoming.  Neither was there any such thing as hardship, sickness, or suffering, for the Bible says: “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31.

The Fall into Sin

Sad to say, man did not remain in the condition in which he was created.  God had warned man, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Genesis 2: 16-17.  But Adam and Eve thought they knew better.  They listened to the voice of the devil, disobeyed there Creator, and thus rebelled against God.  The punishment for this was death, both physical and spiritual, both temporal and eternal, and also all manner of sickness and misery.

Since that time every human being is born a sinner and is incapable of doing anything that is pleasing to God.  Listen: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  Genesis 6:5.  “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that does good, no not one.”  Psalm 14:3.  “For there is not a just man upon earth that does good and sins not.”  Ecclesiastes 7:20.  “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags.”  Isaiah 64:6.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23.  This is a pretty sorry picture of the human race, isn’t it?  But alas, it is true.

A Look at Ourselves

If you and I are honest with ourselves, we shall have to admit that we also are guilty sinners.  The summary of God’s requirement of man is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Luke 10:27.  Must we not admit that it is impossible for us to love God with our whole heart?  Do we not love other things more than God, such as our money, our pleasures, our appetites, and the luxuries and conveniences of this life?  And have we not often shown our disrespect for God by using his name in cursing and swearing, or at least by just plain carelessness?

Sin is not only a matter of outward acts, such as murder, adultery, stealing, drunkenness, slander, etc.  Sin is primarily a condition of the heart.  “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”  Matthew 15:19.  Which one of us can say that he loves his neighbor as himself?  Can you say that you never had an angry thought about your neighbor, or spoke an unkind word about anyone?  And aren’t we all greedy and selfish?

It will not do to compare ourselves with other people whom we may imagine are worse than we are.  We must compare ourselves with God.  He says, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”  Leviticus 19:2.  And listen to this:  “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  James 2:10.  And what is God’s verdict concerning us sinners?  “The soul that sins, it shall die.”  Ezekiel 18:20.  This does not merely mean physical death; it means much more than that.  It means eternal damnation in hell, where those who are there cry out, “I am tormented in the flame”, Luke 16:24, and where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  Luke 13:28.  Every person on earth has earned for himself this everlasting punishment in hell.

The Good News

Is there then no hope for us poor sinners?  In our own selves none whatsoever, for we are “dead in trespasses and sins”.  Ephesians 2:1.  A dead person can’t help himself.  Neither can a spiritually dead person do anything to save himself from the predicament in which he finds himself.  But God Himself had pity on us and provided us with a Savior.  He gave His Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die on the cross to pay for the sins of the world.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 6:23.  Our Savior came “to seek and to save that which was lost”.  Luke 19:10.  That includes you and me.

Is not this the most gladsome news you have ever heard?  Think about it; let it sink in.  God, against whom we had rebelled, and who would have had every right to let us go on our own way straight to hell, still loved us so much that he gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die in our place, as our substitute, in order to make it possible for us to enter into heaven instead of having to spend eternity in hell.  Can such love be spurned?  Can such a gift be refused?

Our Only Hope

We can get to heaven through no one, absolutely no one, except Jesus Christ.  “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12.  We cannot be saved by our own efforts.  Our Savior Jesus Christ has done everything for us.  For us He kept the law in perfect obedience. For us He suffered the punishment which we deserved by our disobedience.  For us He conquered death.  He arose from the grave on Easter, and forty days later ascended bodily into heaven.

God does not want you to be lost; He wants you to be saved.  “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”  Ezekiel 33:11.  God wants you to repent of your sins and put your trust in Him.  “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.  Why continue to live in doubt, uncertainty, and the fear of death?  Why not confess your sins to God and trust in the forgiveness which Christ has won for you?  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:8-9.  You do not know when your last hour will come.  Tomorrow may be too late; why not become reconciled to your God today and put your trust in his mercy?  Then begin to study the Bible, in order to learn more about your Lord and Savior, so that you will be ready for His return.

The Judgement Day

That He is going to return, and this time to judge all people who ever lived, is a certainty.  He spoke of it often when He was here the first time.  On that great Judgment Day “all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth”, John 5:28, and “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”  2 Peter 3:10.  Then all who had put their trust and confidence in Christ shall be with Him forever in “the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness”, 2 Peter 3:13, where “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.”  Revelation 21:4.  But those who reject Him here and now, thinking that they are good enough to be saved by their own merits shall, of course, not be with Him there either.  Did they not spurn what He had offered them?  “he that believes on the Son has everlasting life; and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.”  John 3:36.  “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.”  Mark 16:16.  Which will it be for you?