Nothing in all the world could be truer than this: Jesus came to seek and save the lost and destroy the work of the devil. Peter said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, ESV). No one is saved apart from Jesus.
The church that Jesus built is central to salvation. The church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27). Jesus has gone to prepare a place in the Father’s house for His bride. Following the great wedding feast on the day of judgement, He will bring His bride, the church, home with Him to live in the Father’s house forever (John 14:2,3). It is impossible to separate the church from salvation. Jesus indeed came to seek and save the lost and that process includes the fact that when we respond to Jesus in faith, repentance, confession and baptism, God adds us to the church of Christ.
When we think about this process we can’t help but pause and consider a basic fact: If the mission of Jesus was to seek and save the lost then it goes without saying that we were at one time lost. We had become separated from God because of our sins (Isaiah 59:2). Left on our own, without Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, we would be hopeless as we stood before the judgement seat of Christ to answer for the things we have done in the flesh. We would be eternally lost and that would not be due to anything other than our own sin. We couldn’t blame anyone else for our condition.
Yet, because of God’s matchless grace, we can face the future with confidence and know without question that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). When we obey the gospel, when we are baptized for the forgiveness of our sins and are added to the church, then Jesus presents us to the Father as His bride. Paul wrote of this, saying that Jesus “gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27-29).
No bride was ever more undeserving than the bride of Christ. Yet, when Jesus washed us with water (baptism – Colossians 2:11,12), when He removed the spots and wrinkles of sin, we were transformed! We were born again! It was like we received the incredible gift of a total and complete “do over”; where everything in our lives up to that point which stood opposed to the will of God suddenly disappeared. In fact, that is exactly how this transformation is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Such a gift that God has given us is indescribable. Like David in Psalm 8:4, we are continually amazed and ask God, “What am I that you are mindful of me?” Of course, we have done nothing to deserve a second chance. Yet, with God’s gift comes responsibility. God has literally pulled us out of the fires of hell and, in doing so, He commands us to live obedient and faithful lives (Revelation 2:10). Not that we will be perfect, but we are compelled to show our appreciation for His gift of transformation, of a brand new start, by sanctifying Jesus as Lord of our heart (1 Peter 3:15) and living our lives in a manner worthy of His gospel (Philippians 1:27).
Being the church that Jesus built requires that we recognize just how undeserving we are, yet at the same time celebrate the gift of incredible grace by dedicating our lives to the One who gave His all for us. Our old is gone. Our new has come. How much more blessed can we possibly be?