The Most Important Question Ever Asked

Rev. Donald C. Elifson

The most important question ever asked is found in the most important book in the world--the BIBLE. It is also found in the hearts of all thinking people. This question has been asked in different forms, but in all its forms it amounts to the same thing. The Lord Jesus Christ stated it this way: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36,37). Job asked many centuries ago, "How can a man be righteous before God?" (Job 9:2). In Acts 16:30, the Philippian jailer asked the question this way: "What must I do to be saved?"

Truly this is the most important question that a lost, guilty sinner could have asked. Every human being is a lost guilty sinner by nature and practice, and therefore needs to be saved from his sins.

The question is very important--so is the answer. Apart from the Bible, there is no valid answer. All human answers are vain and do not satisfy the longing soul. The Bible answers this question with the authority of God.

The Bible everywhere presents Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus Christ is presented in the Bible in various relationships. He is presented in His relationship to the gospel of the Kingdom, also in His relationship to the gospel of the grace of God. The gospel of the Kingdom is found especially in the synoptic gospels and in the early chapters of the book of Acts, while the gospel of the grace of God is found in the epistles of the apostle Paul. The gospel of the Kingdom refers to Christ's reign on this earth for one thousand years, which is yet future but was "at hand" in the Gospels and offered in the early chapters of the book of Acts.

Let us compare the difference between these two messages. When the people were convicted of their sins (especially of crucifying Christ) on the day of Pentecost and asked the apostles what they should do, we read: "Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Peter's answer is plain. They were to repent and be baptized with water. Water baptism was essential on the day of Pentecost, as also in Mark 16:15, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." God is not a sacramentarian, that is, merely requiring the performance of a ritual, but water baptism was required together with true faith and repentance.

On the other hand, we have the question of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30, "What must I do to be saved?" We read that all he was to do to be saved, according to Paul and Silas, is found in verse 31: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." The apostle Paul stated very plainly that he was not sent to baptize, that is, with water, but to preach the Gospel (1 Cor. 1:17). He was vitally interested that his readers should know about "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5), which is the work of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 12:13 states that "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." This is the ONLY baptism that God demands TODAY. This baptism takes place the VERY MOMENT a lost sinner receives the LORD JESUS CHRIST as HIS OWN personal SAVIOUR.

The gospel of the grace of God is most clearly set forth in Paul's epistle to the Romans. It is summed up in the third chapter, verses 23 to 25: "For ALL HAVE SINNED and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith."

The apostle Paul overwhelmingly proves that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In the first chapter of Romans he proves that the Gentile world is guilty before God. What a black catalogue of sins! Then he goes on in chapters two and three to show that the Jewish nation is also guilty before God. He proves that "There is none who does good, no not one; there is none righteous, no not one." In chapter 5 verse 12 he explains why sin is so universal: because it came by one man--Adam. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." This is the bad news.

The good news begins with the words, "being justified" (Rom. 3:24). This means "declared righteous." Certainly this is good news, that a guilty hell-deserving sinner can stand before a holy God in the very righteousness of Christ. In Acts 13:39 Paul said, "By him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses."

Notice how we are justified "without a cause;" for that is what the word "freely" means. By our works? No! "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5). This same expression is found in the gospel according to John, where the Lord Jesus Christ said that the people hated Him "without a cause." There was no reason why anyone should hate Jesus Christ. He came with a mission of love. He never cast out a sinner who came to Him. Likewise, there is no cause in us why we should be saved--but by the grace of God. "Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8,9). Grace is just the opposite of what we deserve. We deserve the wrath of God, instead he bestows his love and grace upon us.

The reason God can justify the ungodly is found in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. On the cross of Calvary Jesus Christ, God's Son, "suffered for sins once, the just for us, the unjust, that he might bring us to God." It is written that God set forth His Son to be a propitiation for sin. God did not spare His Son, but "delivered him up for us all." What love and mercy and grace! God caused Christ to be delivered for our offenses and raised from the dead for our justification.

Notice how this great salvation is appropriated; how it becomes ours! It is by faith in Christ's blood. There are many who say, "We believe in the grace of God and the shed blood of Christ, but the merits of Christ's death are conveyed to us by means of church membership, water baptism and the Lord's Supper." God, through the apostle Paul, tells us that it is conveyed to us by faith in His blood.

There is no place on this earth where we can find the actual blood of Christ. We are to place faith in the blood which was once for all shed for our sins. "Therefore being justified by faith," not by works, not by water baptism, not by church membership, "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). Put your faith in the crucified, resurrected, and glorified Christ.

This is God's answer to the most important question every asked! This is God's plan of salvation for this present age in all its beauty and glory! This is the Gospel of the grace of God! Anything else is "another gospel."

Will you receive God's answer to this most important question?

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