Teaching About Salvation

1) Creation & the Fall  2) The Law  3) The Old Testament Prophets 4) The Cross  5) Salvation

1) Creation & the Fall 2) The Law 3) The Old Testament Prophets 4) The Cross 5) Salvation

We’ve established in a previous post that the cross of Jesus is a pivotal point in the Bible. We look back at how Jesus bled and died on the cross so our sin could be forgiven and we could be brought into a relationship with God the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). The cross was part of God’s eternal plan of salvation, not a last ditch effort.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Pet. 1:18-21)

Consequently, teaching about salvation is very important as the Bible is God’s message of redemption. The doctrine of salvation, called soteriology (from the Greek word ‘soteria’ which is used for salvation), affects life now, not just our future.

Words Used to Describe Salvation:

conversion (Acts 15:3), salvation (Rom. 1:16), redemption (Rom. 3:24), regeneration (Titus 3:5), born again (Jn. 3:3) .. and variations of these words

While these words have some distinctions they all convey the idea of a change or transformation wherein we are taken from one place to another. We are delivered from something negative to something good.  – from idolatry to the true and living God, from sin to righteousness in Christ, from enslavement to freedom, from death to life, from darkness to light, etc.

Hence, Jesus paid the price for our sin so we can be made new. — “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

Words Used to Describe How to Get Saved:

There are many terms used in Scripture regarding the kind of response we should have in order to be saved.

believe (Jn. 3:16), call on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:13), faith (Rom. 3:25; Eph. 2:8-9), receive (Jn. 1:12-13), repent (2 Pet. 3:9)

While there are many terms used in Scripture regarding the kind of response we should have to Jesus in order to be saved, all of them combined would be insufficient apart from grace. Salvation is a free gift (Rom. 3:24; 5:15; 6:23), something we cannot earn nor deserve. — “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8)

Words Used to Describe What Happens at Salvation:

adoption (Gal. 4:4-5), forgiveness (Eph. 1:7), glorification (Rom. 8:30; 1 Jn. 3:2), imputation of His righteousness (Rom. 4:22-25), justification (Rom. 4:25, 5:1), propitiation (Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2, 4:10), reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21), sanctification (1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 13:12)

Due to the purpose of this post, we will not look at the meaning of these terms. Each word brings with it a deeper understanding of salvation. They are presented to remind us of how rich a salvation we have. We have many spiritual benefits as a results of salvation in Jesus.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3)

Despite all the various words used to describe it, getting saved is not complicated — “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9). What happens at salvation is pure grace and can only be received as a gift.

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Tips for Teaching About the Cross

In a previous post we noted that the Old Testament points forward to the cross and the New Testament points back to it. Bible teachers therefore need to understand the centrality of the cross and keep bringing people back to the cross. Help students value the cross as more than a religious icon. Though symbolic with Christianity, the cross is so much more.

To effectively teach about the cross of Jesus, keep these tips in mind:

  • You must deal with the sin issue.

In today’s world it is easy to shy away from the topic of sin. But, if people do not understand that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23) and that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), the cross will hold little significance in their hearts and minds.

Help people understand why sin is an issue by looking at the character of God. He is a holy, righteous, and just God who cannot stand in the presence of sin. But, He is also a loving, compassionate, merciful, and gracious God who wants to be in a relationship with the people He created. Since we are sinners, that would not be possible unless there was an atonement for sin. In the Old Testament they sacrificed animals but had to do that over and over. Jesus died once for all so our sin could be forgiven and we could be made righteous in Him.

  • Get beyond the cross itself to the Person who hung on the cross.

The power does not rest on the cross but rather in the Person who died on the cross. If Jesus had not been God Himself come down to earth in the flesh, His death would not have been effective. Only the death of the sinless human being could die in our place to cover our sin and reconcile us to the Father. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. … For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:14-18)

  • Don’t keep Jesus hanging on the cross.

Death and the devil could not hold Jesus in the grave. He rose victoriously. His resurrection shows His authority and power. As such, we must realize that because of cross, we not only have forgiveness of sin but also the ability to live as new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 15:14)

  • Emphasize the necessity of grace.

Jesus died for us because we could not save ourselves. We will continue to fall short of God’s righteousness no matter how hard we try. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God …” (Eph. 2:8-9) That same grace that saved us is what “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12). If we do not live to His glory, it means we have forgotten what He has done for us on the cross (2 Pet. 1:5-9) which is why we need to keep taking people back to the cross.

Bible teachers will not get beyond the “story” of the cross if they don’t have a good personal grasp of its significance, relevance, and power for not only their eternal salvation but also their everyday living. Click on the book images below to go to one of our affiliate stores for helpful books.

He Chose the Nails     Experiencing the Cross

Teaching About the Cross

1) Creation & the Fall  2) The Law  3) The Old Testament Prophets 4) The Cross

1) Creation & the Fall 2) The Law 3) The Old Testament Prophets 4) The Cross


Bible teachers need to understand that the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection are not isolated stories. Nor should they be reserved for the Easter season. The cross is a pivotal point in the redemption message found throughout Scripture.

The Old Testament, pre-cross, points forward to Jesus as the Messiah who would die on the cross for our sin.

1) After the creation and fall of man, God promised this Redeemer who would come and crush the serpent’s head. Satan (the serpent) would only be able to “strike his heel” through His death as Jesus would rise from the dead as Victor over sin, death, and the devil (Gen. 3:15). When Adam and Eve sinned, their nakedness was exposed, and as a foreshadow of what Jesus would eventually come and do, God clothed them by making “garments of skin for Adam and his wife” (Gen. 3:21). Garments of skin would have required the death of an animal. Likewise, “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21) We must be clothed in Jesus’ righteousness in order to be accepted by God which was made possible by His death.

2) The Law was a tutor to show people their need of a Savior. “… no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:19-24) “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Gal. 4:4-5)

3) The Old Testament Prophets foretold the coming of Jesus who would be “despised and rejected by mankind” and “pierced for our transgressions” for “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53).

The New Testament, post-cross, points back to Jesus and His death on the cross.

4) The Gospels tell about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus even foretold His own death and resurrection to the disciples (Mk. 10:32-34) and how it was necessary for this to happen to Him as a part of God’s plan of redemption. “… beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures (the Old Testament) concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27). He said, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Lk. 24:44).

5) Jesus’ death on the cross was a demonstration of God’s love for people so that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (Jn. 3:16-17). As already evidenced from the beginning pages of Scripture to the cross, we cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we try. “… it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8-9). Though dead in our sins, we are made alive in Christ because the debt we owed due to our sin was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:13-15).

6) Those who put their trust in Jesus, believing in the all-sufficiency of His work on the cross for their salvation, are placed into the Body of Christ, His Church (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2). We, His Church, are to proclaim His message of redemption as “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

7) In the book of Revelation and some other passages in the New Testament, we read of God’s plan to not only save us from the penalty of sin, as He now does for those who put their trust in Jesus, but also from the very presence of sin in His eternal new heaven and new earth (1 Pet. 3; Rev. 21) — all because of what He did on the cross. “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain!” (Rev. 5)

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14)

Tips for Teaching from the Old Testament Prophets

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“ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching … so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

As noted in a previous post, “ALL Scripture” includes the books written by the Old Testament prophets. But, notice that we are not teaching this biblical text merely to impart head knowledge of all the details of prophecy. Rather, we are teaching to make a difference in people’s lives as ALL Scripture is useful.

Tips for Teaching from the Old Testament Prophets That Will Make a Difference in Their Lives

Provide the big picture. Keep teaching of the specific prophetic books in the context of how it fits into God’s redemptive message and how it points to Jesus.

Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. (Acts 3:24)

… the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David (Rom. 1:2-3)

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Pet. 1:10-12)

Provide purpose for studying these prophetic books. Remember that while everything in Scripture is meant for our learning, not everything applies to us. Make sure you observe to whom it was written before trying to enforce the specifics on us today. Though a particular book or passage might not relate to us, we can still gain understanding about who God is and glean principles from it about how God works which most certainly would be relevant to us. At minimum we can see within these pages of Scripture that we have a sovereign God who has already fulfilled much of what has been written about the nation of Israel, surrounding nations, and the Messiah. Certainly we can trust Him regarding that which is yet to come and also with our lives today.

Provide background information or context that will help students better understand, like the geography and culture of that day. Yet, be careful you don’t focus so much on the historical setting that it becomes purely an academic study. Get to God’s heart and the implications for us today.

Provide perspective. We have a faithful and compassionate God who sent the prophets not only to foretell future events, but also to warn and admonish the people to turn to God. Let’s not get so hung up in future predictions that we fail to heed God’s desire for His people to live for Him today.