Apart from Him we can do nothing

Jesus Christ: The Way of Salvation

Like the picture here, when someone is seeing a sunrise from the mountaintop, it is breathtaking when we finally see that Jesus Christ is the Way of Salvation

Table of Contents

Are you exploring whether Jesus Christ could be the way of salvation for you? Then you are in the right place, and we are very glad you are here.

The highest aim of any disciple of Jesus Christ is to help seekers to discover Him.

Although this is a longer article, we cannot cover every possible aspect of the way of salvation. enough books to fill a library have been written on the topics covered. Therefore, this article offers specific examples to show:

  • What Jesus Christ claimed about Himself
  • What proof Jesus Christ offered to back His claim
  • What purpose Jesus Christ sought to fulfill

As you consider the information presented in this post, please allow us to pray for you.

The Way of Salvation: Discipleship

You will find the term “Christian” often on this website, or “believer”, or “follower of Christ”. But “disciple” is possibly the most accurate description of what a believer in Christ will seek after. There are a few reasons for this:

  • First and foremost, it is what Jesus called both His contemporary followers and His future ones (Matthew 28:19)
  • “Christian” has been so defined and re-defined in our culture, it is helpful to use a term that requires us to consider its true definition; a disciple is more than a church goer or being a good person
  • By using “disciple” we are drawing a distinction between true followers of Jesus Christ and professed followers, some of whom have caused harm

It is important to know there is a difference between authentic and counterfeit faith in Christ. Jesus Himself clearly states that not everyone who claims to know Him actually does (Matthew 7:21-27).

Since it is possible for a person to deceive themselves into believing they are a disciple and are going to spend eternal life with God whey they actually are not, it is important that we are sober-minded and attentive in understanding true faith in Christ. Then you can be equipped to make up your mind about Jesus Christ being your way of salvation.

The Way of Salvation Starting Point

On one point we will need to agree before starting this journey.  That the Bible is God’s word. The Bible is where we start for the knowledge of Jesus Christ being the way of salvation. If we will not trust it to say what it says, then there is no point in proceeding.

Not only do we want to trust what it says, but we need to trust that, as God’s word, He knows more than we do. Meaning, we don’t want to come to God’s word with preconceived notions about what it says, but to take it and let it speak to us plainly. Some passages may require more wrestling with than others, but it’s worth the effort.

Many books and articles have been written about the credibility and accuracy of the Bible. The Bible itself speaks to its own truth, power, and agreement with itself. We are not going to attempt to duplicate that scholarship in a few paragraphs.

We will be relying quite a bit on the Bible to witness to what is being said here. This article may have more references to scripture than at any other one location on this website.

How Jesus Shows He is the Way of Salvation

With that said, let’s focus on the person of Jesus Christ – who He claims to be, how He proved it, and what His purpose was in coming to earth.

Jesus Claims to be God

We can trust Jesus Christ is the way of salvation because He is uniquely qualified to provide for our salvation.

People make many claims about Jesus – that he was a great teacher, a prophet, a revolutionary – and many others. He is one of only a handful of people in world history who have been at the foundation of a lasting religious movement that has endured for thousands of years.

In the midst of all these claims about Jesus, there is a distinct claim that Jesus made for Himself.  That He is God incarnate – that is, God in human form. These claims are recorded in the Bible multiple times. Let us examine one specific passage; John 8:12-59.

In this passage, Jesus is talking both to the Jewish people who followed Him, and to the Jewish religious leaders of the day who were skeptical of Jesus. In this passage He claims this about Himself:

  • Jesus is the light of the world (v. 12)
  • Jesus stands with the Father who sent Him (v. 15) (the Father being God)
  • Jesus is “from above” and not of this world (v. 23)
  • Jesus is the Son of Man (v. 28) (Jesus used this term about Himself often, and identifies Him with the Messiah prophesied the Old Testament)
  • Jesus has seen things in His Father’s presence (v. 38)
  • Jesus came here from God (v. 42)
  • Jesus challenges His audience to prove Him guilty of sin (v. 46) (The insinuation is that Jesus is claiming to have led a sinless, or perfect life)
  • Whoever obeys Jesus’ word will never see (spiritual) death (v. 51) (The audience at that moment did not seem to understand he was referring to something other than physical death)
  • Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing Jesus’ day (v. 56)
  • Jesus says that before Abraham was born, “I am”. (v. 58)

Throughout this passage, the crowd grows more agitated by the words of Jesus. While they do not fully understand what He is saying at times, they do understand that Jesus seems to be saying things about Himself that a faithful Jew wouldn’t say. Finally, at his utterance of saying “I AM”, the crowd fully understood and saw this as blasphemy.

Why? Because “I AM” is the name that God gives to Himself at Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush (Exodus 3), when God calls Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. So the crowd immediately sought to carry out the penalty for blasphemy:

At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple. (John 8:59).

Today, we might not attempt to kill someone for claiming to be God. We are more likely to put them in an institution, deciding they are a lunatic in need of help. There is no real chance we would take these statements at face value. Reading the teachings of Jesus, if He was insane, He was the most brilliant, kind, insightful, moral insane person who ever lived, who also convinced millions of people down through history of His sincerity.

Another option is that a person claiming to be God is just evil, attempting to deceive other human beings into giving up their rights, money, possessions, or more. How many times have we read or heard in the news about someone claiming to be God’s prophet, who richly profits off of their followers? Yet Jesus appears to have lived as a wanderer with no permanent home (Luke 9:57-58)

These limited options – He is God, insane, or evil – have been put forth by several authors. We can say He was a wise philosopher, but it is either intellectually dishonest or lazy to say that’s what we believe about Jesus Christ. In the face of His claims about Himself, if we say we don’t believe He is God, then neither can we call Him wise or good. But then how do we reconcile the impact of His words or actions on world history?

Here are some additional passages where Jesus either claimed to be God or did not reject the claim when He could have:

Mark 2:1-12; Mark 14:60-62; Luke 9:18-21; John 5:18; John 10:31-33; John 11:17-27; John 13:18-19

So, is there a way a person who claims to be God prove their claim? Incredibly, Jesus said He could prove it.

Jesus Gives the Sign of Jonah

Jesus did an amazing thing; He predicted His own death – and His resurrection. He claimed that He would be put to death and after 3 days, come back to life.

Several times in the Bible, Jesus was asked for a sign to verify His claims and His authority. Here is one early account:

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (John 2:18-22)

In later passages, when the crowds asked for a sign, Jesus simply said that it would be the “sign of Jonah”.

If you are reading this as a true seeker, with no church background, it is still possible you have heard the story of Jonah and the Whale. This is based on the Old Testament book of Jonah, where the prophet Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of a great fish before being regurgitated on dry land.

Jesus also predicted the circumstances of his death:

Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man[a] must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. (Mark 8:31)

Had Jesus stopped at predicting His own death by execution, people could dismiss that by saying He could have forced such events upon Himself by His actions. That is something that is within human ability. Resurrecting Himself would only be in the realm of God to accomplish.

He stated His intention openly, to not only come back from the dead, but to make it happen in His own power. In speaking directly to the religious rulers, the Pharisees, He said:

“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:17-18)

So we see that not only did He claim the ability to resurrect Himself, but in so doing He would be showing obedience to the Father.

The Bible testifies to the fact that Jesus was indeed executed. Jesus Christ provided our way of salvation when He went through one of the most terrible deaths devised – crucifixion. It was agonizing, and it was slow. All 4 gospels give an account of this (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19).

All 4 gospels also share the account of Jesus’ coming back to life, just as He had said He would. This account is further supported by evidence that His resurrection was known to be predicted, and all the reported witnesses to Jesus returning to life.

The Pharisees – the Jewish religious leaders – implored the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, to make orders to guard the tomb, because Jesus had openly predicted His resurrection:

The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”

Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it. (Matthew 27:62-66)

Even with these protections in place –  the sealed tomb, the Roman guards – the tomb was discovered emptied (Matthew 28:1-7)

The Bible identifies many who saw Him after the resurrection and before His ascension to Heaven:

There were likely even more witnesses than were recorded in the gospels. Jesus remained on earth for 40 days before finally ascending to Heaven (Acts 1:3). Few details are provided as to what Jesus did during this time. What we can infer is that 40 days is more than enough time to establish that Jesus truly did rise from the grave.

This truth was a key teaching of the early church. It is the main sign that Jesus Christ could provide the way of salvation. Paul, one of the earliest converts and evangelists, writes that if Christ was not resurrected, there is no hope to be found in our faith (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). The Bible does not record any of those sharing the resurrection claim as being refuted – only being suppressed and ordered to be silent.

The early church attached all their evangelistic efforts to the truth of the resurrection. Jewish leaders, the Romans, anyone with any interest in suppressing the growth of the early church had the ultimate weapon – prove the resurrection to be a lie. Such an incredible, outlandish claim should have been disprovable on its face. Unless it happened.

In the first recorded large scale evangelism effort by the disciples, the resurrection is preached by Peter (Acts 2:22-36). Anyone listening could have walked away in that moment, safe in the conviction that Peter was literally out of his mind. And yet, 3,000 people accepted Christ that day and the early church spread rapidly.

The resurrection is the one thing that you must be able to account for if you want to challenge the veracity of Jesus Christ’s claims about Himself. Those who were alive when the resurrection took place never attempted to deny its truth.

So why did Jesus come to die in the first place?

Jesus Had a Purpose for Coming to Earth

Jesus accomplished many things during His time here on earth. But Jesus Christ came to provide the way of salvation for all of us; His purpose was to come and die to pay for our sins.

Sin is anything we do, say, or think in contradiction to God and His law.

If you have ever lied, or stolen anything, disobeyed your parents, or wanted something that rightfully belonged to someone else – even once – then you have sinned. And that only covers about half of the 10 Commandments.

Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. He answered:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Have we ever ignored God? Or hated someone?

The Bible tells us that if we have sinned even one time, we are guilty (James 2:10).

There was a time when everything was “very good”, according to God. But then the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God, allowing sin to enter our world. Every person born of this world inherits a sin nature. On our own power, it is impossible for us to live a sinless life. It is our sin and our sin nature that separates us from God.

As God’s chosen people, He gave the Hebrews the Law, which included the 10 Commandments. Because it was impossible not to break God’s Law, He also gave them an intricate system of Feasts and Ceremonies accompanied with animal sacrifice. Under this system, only the best, “spotless” animals were to be sacrificed. These sacrifices “covered” the sins of the people for a time. They were performed on a repeating schedule because they were only sufficient for a season.

Jesus sacrificing Himself and shedding His blood on the cross was God’s way to make it possible to “cover” the sins of all mankind, once and for all. Jesus is the only person to walk this earth who lived a sinless life – He was a “spotless” sacrifice. It is by way of this sacrifice that anyone can put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, making it possible to restore fellowship and enjoy eternal life with God.

Consider this passage that contains perhaps the most famous Bible verse in the world:

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. (John 3:14-18)

When Jesus says the Son of Man must be lifted up, most Bible commentators understand this to be a reference to His crucifixion. God the Son came for the purpose of willingly laying down his life as a sacrifice to cover the sins of those who follow (“believe in”) Him. By coming back to life, He proved that He had the power over death, and the ability to be that once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins.

Now that we have established who Jesus is, we have evidence of His claim, and understand His purpose on earth, what do we do about it?

Jesus Christ Requires a Decision

If we see and agree that…

  • Jesus is God, as He claimed
  • Jesus came to earth to die as payment for our sins
  • Jesus proved His authority and claims by rising from the dead

…then we also have to accept that He left us with a decision to make, which is whether or not Jesus Christ is the way of salvation for ourselves personally. Jesus invites us to accept His gift of salvation and follow Him. We have to make the conscious choice of believing in Jesus and accepting that His work on the cross covered our sins, because as we just read, anyone who does not believe “has already been judged”.

The gift is freely offered. Jesus has done all the work. There is no amount of effort we can exert to earn it. Jesus Christ has made the way of salvation, providing a payment for every sin we have ever committed and ever will commit. We can never be good enough to achieve it on our own. Even if we could think of a way, there is no other way to eternal life with God, for Jesus tells us:

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

In terms of the faith, this gift, where Jesus takes our place and pays for our sins, allows us a chance to claim His payment for ourselves, and without any means of giving anything for it, is called grace, and it is a wonderful truth. It truly makes this good news.

Since this gift was only made possible through humiliating suffering and death, we should not take it casually. We shouldn’t say yes to Jesus Christ and His salvation like we are checking a box. It is a decision that has life-long ramifications.

Then how can we respond to Christ’s invitation to accept His sacrifice for our sins?

We Must Repent of Our Sins

Christ tells us to repent of our sins.

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17)

To repent of our sins means to turn away from them, and towards God. To turn from our sins, we must first understand and agree that we are sinners.

When we lie to someone, we aren’t simply making a mistake. We are committing a sin. It is in our nature to sin. Jesus wants us to confess that we are sinners, turn from our sin and seek to live in holiness.

The good news is that when we offer ourselves to become a disciple, Christ promises the Holy Spirit will help us to live holy lives.

If God reveals himself to us as a Heavenly Father, and Christ is God the Son, then God manifested in the Holy Spirit is our companion and helper, equipping us to follow Christ and live in obedience to the Father.

This does not mean we will never sin again. But it does mean we are strengthened and equipped by the Holy Spirit to live a live that pleases God.  We will find that we – with God’s help – can resist temptation to sin and find sin to be more and more detestable to us. And for those times that we do sin or come to realize our behaviors or attitudes are sinful, we can confess those sins to God. He then promises to forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).

Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ

The second thing that Christ expects is for us to follow Him for the rest of our lives.

Jesus stated clearly what someone who would become Jesus’ disciple must do:

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8:34-37)

This passage tells us what to do and the “Heavenly economics” involved.

Following Jesus’ call to be a disciple is not an additional layer, or only for the super-spiritual. Otherwise, everybody could just check the box “Yes”, saying they want to go to Heaven, and then go on about their life doing as they please. Our savior, Jesus, calls us to something more.

If we want to be His disciple, Jesus says we are to do 3 things:

First, we must give up our own way. That means in everything, Jesus must come first. It is more than self-sacrifice. It is a surrender of any claim we have to ourselves. As we learn to hear His voice, we can expect that we will have to give up our own ideas and desires as we submit to His will.

Jesus Christ has made the way of salvation available to us no matter how wrecked or rebellious our lives are. Once we accept Him, we enter into a process of sanctification, which is a way of saying as we submit to Christ. Then we will start to become more like Him. It is 100% true that Jesus loves us unconditionally; unfortunately, some hear this as “Jesus loves you just the way you are”, and some have interpreted that as we can live however we choose to live and it’s ok because Jesus loves us anyway. This is a twisting of the intended meaning.

Second, we must take up our cross. The cross was the physical instrument of Christ’s execution. Those who were sentenced to execution were expected to carry their own cross to where it would be raised. Crucifixion was the ultimate in pain, humiliation, and rejection. When we take up our cross, we are identifying our lives with Christ. The expectation is that the world will treat us with contempt and scorn because we choose to follow Christ. We may lose friends, family, and favor because of our decision. All this is a result of our public, open identification with Christ.

Here in America, with its emphasis on religious freedom, we have not endured the level of scorn and persecution that believers in other parts of the world have. There are people being made homeless, imprisoned, horrifically tortured, and even put to death only because they are not ashamed to be identified with Christ. Those disciples will be richly rewarded one day in Heaven.

Third, we must follow Him. Just like the apostles did. They traveled, ate, ministered, and suffered with Him. Later, they even died because of their association with Him. We cannot physically walk with Him as they did, which is why the gift of the Holy Spirit is such a blessing. Also, we can meditate on His word, obey His commands, pray to Him, and spread our faith to others. We can walk and minister alongside fellow Christ followers. These are all things He desires of us.

This surrender to Jesus is absolute, and it is a lifelong call. By becoming a disciple, we are agreeing to “lose” our life, rather than to keep it for ourselves and our own wants, desires, and gratifications.

Jesus gives us a distinct choice – “saving” our lives, doing with it what we want – which results in losing our lives in the end. This leads to be separated from God for all eternity, with hell as our destination. There is a hell, and it will be more awful than we can imagine.

But if we agree to accept Christ, surrender ourselves and become a disciple – “lose” our life – then we will experience rewards both here on earth and in eternity.

Counting the Cost of True Discipleship

If discipleship did not require anything, everyone would claim Jesus Christ for their salvation.

Early in Jesus’ earthly ministry, he had great crowds following Him. They loved the excitement of the miracles He performed and the large crowds that gathered hoping to see Him.

One of Jesus’ most famous miracles is the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-13). We see that the miracle overwhelmed the crowd.

When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself. (John 6:14-15)

They were ready to make Him king of Israel! However, Jesus saw their hearts:

They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. (John 6:25-26)

Jesus then proceeds to teach them in words they are not prepared for. They are hard, confusing words to the crowds, and something happens. The Bible tells us that he was deserted by many of His disciples (John 6:66). The disciples mentioned here are more than just the 12 that you know. They are part of the crowds that followed Him. Still, note that it is not the “crowds” who no longer follow, but His disciples.

It is possible to consider yourself a disciple and then later reject Christ. Not so long ago, this would have been unheard of in today’s culture. That has changed. Now, more and more high-profile believers are coming out and repudiating their faith in Christ. The reasons are numerous, but in the end they are rejecting Christ. About them Jesus says:

If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)

As long as they are alive, they still have time to repent. But if they die in this state of denying Him, they will not inherit eternal life. They have made a clear choice with clear consequences.

This is one of the reasons why Jesus tells us to count the cost of being His disciple before making the decision (Luke 14:25-33).

And this leads us to one last thing you should know about becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The Way of Salvation Must be Chosen in this Lifetime

The way of salvation must be accepted while you are alive.

After we die, there is nothing we can say or do. We will have no avenue to eternal life with Him.

Jesus Christ will give you His gift of salvation at whatever moment in life you ask for it. There have been disciples of Jesus Christ who did not become disciples until their last moments on earth. Those people will inherit eternal life the same as people who accepted Christ at an early age. This is alluded to in the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).

Even so, do not fall into the trap of thinking there is plenty of time to make the decision. We are not even guaranteed our next breath. If we wait, we are literally gambling with eternity.

So, consider the cost, but also consider the cost of waiting to make the decision.

How to Accept the Way of Salvation

If you have been learning about following Christ, you believe in Him and are ready to give your life to Him and follow Him as a disciple, you can start by praying to Him. Here is a model prayer to receive Christ if you aren’t sure what to say:

“Dear Jesus, I am convinced that you are God, come to earth to die, to pay the penalty for the sins of the entire human race. You proved You are who You said You are by Your resurrection. I confess to You that I am a sinner. I have committed many sins and am a sinner in my very nature. Alone, I cannot justify myself to God. Apart from Your sacrifice for my sins, I will spend eternity separated from God. Today I turn from my sins; please forgive me of my sins. My desire now is to follow You and become Your disciple. I am ready to give up all rights to myself and turn my life over to You. Please cleanse me of my sins and fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I might live a life pleasing to You. Guide my actions and my life. Teach me Your commands so that I may obey you. Introduce me to authentic disciples who can help disciple me and hold me accountable. Help me be bold to share with others what You have done for me. Thank You Lord Jesus for your sacrifice and making it possible for me to have eternal life. Give me the strength to endure to the end. Amen.”

Welcome to the Body of Christ

If you prayed that prayer sincerely, then you have begun your journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ! You are now part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). There is right this second a celebration in Heaven happening on your behalf (Luke 15:3-10).

You may or may not feel different. Making this decision can be very emotional, peaceful, energizing, or you may not feel any particular way. You do not have to put any pressure on yourself to react in a specific manner.

Please tell us about your decision and allow us to pray for you as you get started. One of the greatest privileges the Body of Christ has is to pray for each other.

You may be asking “what’s next?” And it is important to know that there is a next. If you prayed that prayer, it was the start of your journey, not the end of it. We want to point you to some specific helps as you begin your walk with Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers.

There are some important first steps you will want to take now that you have made this decision. See our page, I Just Accepted Jesus Christ – Now What?

How do you go about following Christ? Read The Secret to Discipleship followed by The Mark of a True Disciple of Jesus Christ.

All Biblical reference links courtesy of Bible Gateway, a searchable online Bible tool hosting more than 200 versions of the Bible in over 70 languages.

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