By Don Fortner
When is a person saved?
The Apostle Paul tells us that A PERSON IS SAVED WHEN IT PLEASES GOD TO SAVE HIM. “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his graces to reveal his Son in me.” “When the fulness of time was come … God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father”. My friends, “Salvation is of the Lord”, Salvation comes to men according to God’s sovereign pleasure. He says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy”. God saves whoever he is pleased to save; and he saves them whenever it pleases him to do so. When is a person saved? Mark it down.
A PERSON IS SAVED WHEN IT PLEASES GOD TO SAVE HIM.
When is a person saved? I can tell you this – Salvation is something more than walking down an aisle at the end of a church service and saying “the sinner’s prayer”. Salvation is an operation of the grace of God upon a man’s heart. Salvation is a living union with the living Lord. The Word of God makes it very clear that salvation is not something you do for God, it is something God does for you. Salvation is not accomplished by man, not by the works of man, not by the decision of man, and not by the free-will of man. Salvation is not a co-operative program in which God does his part and you do your part. “SALVATION IS OF THE LORD”. It is God who quickens, regencrates and gives life to dead sinners. It is God who redeemed, justified, and pardoned his people. it is God who chose his own elect, determined to save them, and predestinated them unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ. Salvation is not by man’s decision, but by God’s decision. Salvation is not by man’s power, but by God’s power. Salvation is not by man’s work, but by God’s work. Salvation is not by man’s will, but by God’s will.
Am I asked, when is a person saved? The Word of God teaches us very plainly that A PERSON IS SAVED WHEN HE IS BROUGHT UNDER THE AUTHORITY AND DOMINION OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND MADE TO BOW TO THE SON OF GOD AS LORD. A man must be brought under the authority of Christ, because he will not submit to Christ by his own choice. A person must be made to submit to the dominion of Christ, because he is a rebel by nature. You must be made to bow to the Son of God, because you are stiffnecked rebels against his throne by nature. My friends, the Bible knows nothing of a doormat named Jesus. The Word of God known nothing of a fire-escape from hell called Jesus, Holy Scripture knows nothing of a salvation that allows a person to take Christ as his personal Savior while refusing to bow to Christ as his sovereign Lord. THE WORD OF GOD AND THE GOSPEL OF HIS GRACE DEMAND THAT YOU BOW TO THE AUTHORITY AND SOVEREIGN DOMINION OF CHRIST. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus (confess Jesus to be Lord), and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” This is what Christ himself says “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple … Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple”.
Is Jesus Christ your Lord? If so, you are saved. If not, you are yet under the wrath of God. SALVATION IS NOTHING LESS THAN THE HEART BOWING IN SURRENDER TO THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST. Faith’s first, constant, and last act is to submit to Jesus Christ the Lord. Where there is no submission of the heart to Christ, there is no saving faith in Christ.
All To Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give:
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow.
My friend, either you will be a servant under the dominion of King Jesus, voluntarily giving up everything to the claims of the sovereign Christ, or you will go to hell. “No man has truly given himself to Christ unless he has said, “My Lord, I give thee this day my body, my soul, my powers, my talents, my goods, my houses my children and all that I have. Henceforth, I hold them at thy will, as a steward under thee. Thine they are. As for me, I have nothing. I have surrendered all to Thee.”(C. H. Spurgeon)
We know that “SALVATION IS OF THE LORD”. Salvation is altogether the work of God’s free, sovereign, and effectual grace(Eph. 1:3-14). Salvation was PLANNED and PURPOSED by God in eternity, before the world began. Salvation was PURCHASED for God’ s elect by the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, at Calvary. Salvation is PERFORMED in the hearts of God’s elect by the irresistible grace and power of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration. He gives us life and faith in Christ. Salvation is PRESERVED by the grace and power of God. Paul tells us that we may be “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. Peter tells us that we are “kept by the power of God”. And our salvation will be brought to PERFECTION by the grace of God in Christ. Jude was so confident that God would perfect his work in us that he spoke forth God’s praise for it, saying – “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen”. We know that in its commencement, in its continuance, and in its consumation, “Salvation is of the Lord”.
We know also CHRIST ALONE IS OUR SAVIOR. All the grace of God flows to the believing sinner through the merits of Christ’s shed blood and righteousness. In the matter of salvation CHRIST IS ALL. If you have not yet learned that, you have not yet learned the gospel (I Cor. 1:30-31). Christ is all our RIGHTEOUSNESS, all our REDEMPTION, all our SANCTIFICATION, all our ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD, and all our HOPE.
And we know that God’s saving grace, that grace which was given to us in God’s eternal purpose and purchased for us at Calvary by the blood of Christ, THE GRACE OF GOD THAT BRINGS SALVATION IS EFFECTUALLY APPLIED TO THE HEARTS OF GOD’ S ELECT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profitteth nothing.”
But the question that I am asked over and over WHEN IS A PERSON SAVED? According to the Word of God, no man will ever be saved until he is convinced in his own heart that he is a sinner, deserving eternal wrath and condemnation from God. A PERSON WILL BE SAVED WHEN HE IS SO CONVINCED OF HIS OWN SIN THAT HE IS ABLE TO JUSTIFY GOD IN HIS OWN CONDEMNATION. The only person who will ever call upon Christ in faith and seek mercy from him is that man or woman who is so fully aware of his corruption of heart, sinfulness and guilt, that he is able to take sides with God against himself. A person is saved when he can speak to God, as David did, saying – “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight: that thou might be Justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me’. This is what I am saying, YOU MUST RECOGNIZE AND CONFESS YOUR SIN, the vileness of your heart, the corruption of your nature.YOU MUST REPENT OF YOUR SINS, the wickedness of your thoughts and deeds. AND YOU MUST ABHOR YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Yes, even your righteousness the best of your thoughts and actions, is as filthy rags before a holy God. You must be broken and humbled before God, you must be made to loathe and abhor yourself, or you will never come to God in true repentance and faith, crying
“GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME: I AM THE SINNER!”
Salvation is something a person experiences in this life. It is something that is known, felt, and experienced in the heart. SALVATION IS A LIVING UNION WITH THE SON OF GOD BY FAITH. If a person ever experiences salvation by the grace of God, if you and I are saved three things must be found in our hearts. No man, woman, or child is truly saved until his heart is made to experience HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTION. Our Lord told us that the Holy Spirit would come to “reprove (convince, or convict) the world of Sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit to convict men, to persuade and convince men, of their sin, the evil of their hearts, of the righteousness of God in Christ, and of the satisfaction of Divine justice by the death of Christ. No one is saved who does not have such conviction in his heart. No one is saved until he is given a true HEART FAITH IN CHRIST. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” I am not talking about a decision you made for Jesus. I am talking about true faith, a true and continual heart confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, a reliance of the heart upon the sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness, the efficacy of his blood, the merits of big intercession, and the power and ability he has to save. No one is saved without Holy Spirit conviction and faith in Christ. And no one is saved who does not experience in his heart REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD. our Lord said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”. Repentance is a change. it is a change of mind, a change of motives, and a change of Masters. A man has not truly repented, until he repents of his sin – the evil of his nature, his sins – the evil of his deeds, and his righteousness the evil of his supposed goodness. Do you know anything about the conviction of the Holy Spirit, faith in Christ, and repentance toward God? Have you experienced these things in your heart? Do you now experience them? Without conviction, faith, and repentance wrought in your heart by the Holy Spirit, there is no salvation.
A PERSON IS TRULY SAVED WHEN, BY THE REVELATION OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT, HE SEES THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST. “For God, who commanded the light to Shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” “How can a man be just with God? How can he be clean that is born of woman?” How can God be just and yet justify the ungodly? Where can righteousness and peace meet together? Where can mercy and truth kiss each other? How can justice be satisfied and grace be extended? Find the answer to those questions and you will learn the gospel. There is but one answer. It is found in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the death of Christ we see both the wisdom and the power of God. THE REDEMPTIVE GLORY OF GOD IS REVEALED IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST! No man is saved until he sees, by Divine revelation, the glory and justice of God, as well as the grace of God, in saving sinners through the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son at Calvary. God sacrificed his Son in the place of his people, because in order for a holy God to save sinful man SIN MUST BE PUNISHED, RIGHTEOUSNESS MUST BE MAINTAINED, and JUSTICE MUST BE SATISFIED (Rom. 3:19-26). How can God forgive sinners and save them by his grace? Only by SUBSTITUTION! Through the sacrifice of his Son as our propitiation to make an atonement for our sins, God is as just as if he never showed mercy, and as merciful as if he had no justice.
I am not interested in knowing the time, the day and hour, of your conversion or mine. It is not important. I am not interested in knowing the place where God’s saving grace found you. That is of no significance. But it is important that we understand when a person is saved in this sense – WE MUST KNOW THOSE CONDITIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ALWAYS ACCOMPANY TRUE SALVATION. Of these things I am sure – A person is saved when it pleases God to save him. A person is saved when he bows to the authority and sovereign dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ. A person is saved when he justifies God in his own eternal condemnation. A person is saved when he sees the glory of God in the crucified Christ.
AND A PERSON IS SAVED WHEN HE SAVINGLY LOOKS TO CHRIST BY FAITH. This is what our Lord declares. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” My friend, THIS IS GOD’S REMEDY FOR SIN – LOOK TO CHRIST AND BE SAVED! If you will but look to Christ in true faith, you will not perish, you will have life eternal, you will be saved. What does it mean to took to Christ? To look to Christ is to acknowledge my sin and guilt, and my need of a Savior. To look to Christ is to acknowledge him as Lord, the only one who can save. To look to Christ is to trust him, to rest my soul upon the merits of his righteousness and shed blood. What must I look to Christ for? I look to Christ for pardon. I look to Christ for righteousness. I look to Christ for redemption. I look to Christ for faith. I look to Christ for strength. I look to Christ for acceptance with God. I look to Christ for sanctification. I look to Christ for everything my soul needs. He is all my salvation and all my desire. Do I, as a guilty sinner, have any encouregement to look to Christ? Indeed, there are many things to encourage sinners to look to Christ and be saved. He invites, and even commands, us to look to him. He promises salvation to all who will look to him. If we refuse to look, we will surely die in our sins. Many around us, as vile, loathesome, and guilty as we are, have looked and been saved. Why, then, should we perish? When is the best time to took to Christ? “Today, if ye will bear his voice, harden not your heart.” We must look to Christ right now! We must look to him right now, and we must look to him always, throughout our pilgrimage here. And we shall look to him for ever. The glory of heaven is this – We shalt see his face! Salvation begins with a look – “Look unto me”. Salvation is maintained by a look – “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith”. And salvation ends in a look “They shall see his face”. Will you look to Christ? If you do, you shall be saved.
A PERSON IS SAVED WHEN, WALKING IN THE LIGHT OF DIVINE REVELATION, HE RECEIVES AND CONFESSES JESUS CHRIST TO BE HIS LORD AND SAVIOR. “To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The Lord Jesus Christ has no secret disciples. All who trust him confess him. They publicly identify themselves with Christ and his people. As God’s servant, with the authority of God himself, I invite you to come to Christ today. Look to him now. God help you to look. If you look to him, you shall be saved. Amen.