As Peter and John stood on trial before the Jewish leaders, condemned for preaching the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the two men refused to back down. (cf. Acts 4:1-20)
They understood what they had seen and would not allow anyone to contradict the truth that Jesus had risen from the dead (cf. Acts 4:10).
More than this, they understood the urgency of the message that Jesus had given to them. Having declared the resurrection boldly, Peter also forthrightly claimed, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12; NKJV)
Let us note the use of the word “must” by the inspired apostle. Salvation is a necessity. There is a genuine danger awaiting the soul of the unsaved man and Jesus Himself stressed the great importance of avoiding that danger at all cost (cf. Mark 9:43-48). There is no sacrifice too great, no task too difficult, and no road too long; if such will save us from the eternal peril of everlasting separation from God.
Likewise, there is no thing that we could gain which would make entering into torment worthwhile. Jesus pointed out this truth when He asked, “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” (Matthew 16:26a)
Whenever a Christian begins to question just how important salvation should be to them, they merely need to remember how important salvation was to God. God, foreseeing the need for men to be saved, appointed, from before the foundation of the world, His Son to be the savior of men. (cf. 1 Peter 1:20; Matthew 25:34) The crux of this plan was the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross, and for that purpose God prepared a nation, a law and a time into which His Son could come to die for the sins of mankind. All that came before was in preparation of Christ, and all that came after is because of Him. The cross stands at the center of History, a vivid reminder that God wanted us to be saved so badly, He was willing to sacrifice His own Son for that purpose.
As we read in Scripture, God is not willing that any should perish, but desires all men to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9b)
To further emphasize the importance of salvation, the Bible also stresses the urgency of being saved. It’s not a matter to be put off to a later date. In the book of Acts, the inspired word shows men, hearing the message of life, and then responding to it immediately. In Acts 2, three thousand souls heard the apostles preach, and were baptized that same day. In Acts 16, the Philippian jailer, about midnight, hears the message and he and all his family were baptized that same night, regardless of the lateness of the hour. In Acts 8, the Ethiopian eunuch, riding in his chariot, listening to the message of Jesus, espies water and asks, “here is water, what prevents me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36b).
We read, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) And elsewhere, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts … but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:7-8a, 13)
Because of the importance, the necessity and the urgency of salvation, those that take spiritual matters seriously must recognize there is no room for complacency, procrastination, or carelessness in matters of the soul. God is merciful, but that does not excuse neglect on our part.
Rather, we should heed the admonition, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure,” (2 Peter 1:10a; NKJV) and “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15; NKJV).
If you recognize your need for God’s grace, don’t put off what you know needs to be done, but turn to God diligently, in faith and obedience. The church of Christ welcomes you to come study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.