Salvation and the Seat Belt

The operation of a seat belt is a simple thing, but so is the operation of God in bringing about salvation. Salvation is the simplest subject in all the Bible. God made it simple. Man has complicated it, but God intended it to be simple, because God’s desire is that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. If it is God’s desire that all men be saved, does it not follow logically that He would make salvation the simplest, most understandable subject in all the world?

The apostle Paul writes in I Timothy 2:3-4, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wills that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, so He sent His Son to bring that about.

The idea for this lesson came while I was driving on an interstate highway coming into the State of Tennessee from the State of Mississippi. I saw a sign that said, “TENNESSEE CARES, BUCKLE UP, STATE LAW.” The message was clear and very simple: “We care about your physical safety, therefore, we’re telling you buckle your seat belt, but it is really not an optional thing, it is state law.”

I believe there is a spiritual analogy we can see as we look at God’s plan for saving man and the simplicity of it, as we compare it to the seat belt. God says to us, “God cares, buckle up to the blood of my Son, Jesus Christ.” And, He reminds us, “That’s my law—it’s not an option.” We must be saved by coming into contact with the blood of Jesus Christ; we must buckle up to the blood, or come into contact with the blood of Christ.

God’s motivation for allowing Christ to shed His blood on Calvary to bring about salvation was the greatest possible love and care. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and without the shedding of His blood there can be no forgiveness (remission) of sins.

Hebrews 9:22 tells us, “And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.” Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The blood of bulls and goats, which were offered as sacrifices under the Old Testament law, could not bring about the absolute and complete forgiveness of sins, except as they pointed toward the ultimate shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. Notice Hebrews 9:13-14, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Without shedding of blood there is no remission, but the blood that was shed had to be the blood of the perfect, sinless Son of God. God cared enough, loved us enough, to send His Son. He has told us we must “buckle up” to that blood—we must come into contact with that blood.

In John 3:16, we read: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Now, is that belief alone? How do we come into contact with the saving blood of Christ? Is the fact that the blood was shed enough to bring about forgiveness of sins? We could not say the simple fact this seat belt was manufactured according to federal standards would mean it would save my life in the event of an accident. Just the fact this seat belt is in existence does not bring about salvation in the event of a wreck. The mere shedding of the blood of Christ does not bring about remission of sins. That would be the doctrine of universalism, the idea that all men, at all times, for all times would be saved just by the mere fact the blood of Christ was shed. John 3:16 clearly shows that universalism cannot be valid, because God says to us we must believe in His Son in order to have everlasting life.

But is that “faith alone” in John 3:16? If I get into my automobile, my wife is at my side, and she reminds me to put on my seat belt, if I respond to her by saying, “Well, I believe very strongly in this seat belt. I believe in its power to save me, and if I reach around me and put it on, then I’m really failing to show my faith. I believe this seat belt will save me, but I can’t put it on, because then I would be seeking to work out my own salvation apart from my faith in this seat belt,” she might question my sanity and say, “Let me drive!”

How would I show my faith in that seat belt? The only way I could possibly show my faith in the seat belt is by putting it on. When I put it on, I’m not doing something that negates my faith in the seat belt, I’m doing something that demonstrates my faith in the seat belt. It’s the only way I can demonstrate my faith in the seat belt—by reaching for it and putting it on. I’m not trying to save myself apart from my faith in that seat belt.

Look at that in terms of God’s plan for saving us. In James 2:19-24, we learn that the faith that saves us from sin is obedient faith, a faith that works together with God to bring about salvation. In James 2, beginning in verse 19, James writes, “Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.” That’s what we demonstrated with the seat belt. I showed my obedient faith in the seat belt by putting it on. Read James 2:24: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Do you realize that the only time “faith only” is used in Scripture is in the negative sense, “not by faith only”?

The Bible speaks of different kinds of works. There are some works that are not valid for us, that cannot bring about salvation, such as the works of the Law of Moses, because the Law of Moses has been done away. We live under the new covenant, the New Testament. Read Colossians 2:13-14: “And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross.” Neither can works that I might invent on my own save me. We can’t earn salvation. Even when we’ve done all that God would have us do, it’s the grace of God that brings about our salvation. But our obedient faith must cooperate with God’s grace to bring about salvation. “[F]or by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.” (Ephesians 2:8).

Are there any works that are valid before God? Paul says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.” The Bible speaks of a kind of work that is absolutely essential—the work of obedient faith that cooperates with the grace of God. Just as my faith in this seat belt has to be shown by my putting it on, I must put Christ on in baptism for the remission of my sins, based upon an obedient faith that leads me to turn from my sins in repentance, confess that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and be buried with him in baptism for the remission of sins. Baptism is that integral part of obedient faith by which I demonstrate to God that I love Him enough, trust Him enough, to obey what He has commanded me to do. In Romans 6:3-4, the apostle Paul reminded Christians that they had been buried with Christ in baptism and raised with him to walk in newness of life.

The blood of Christ was shed in His death. Remember, the soldiers came to break the legs of those that were hanging on the crosses to hasten their death before the Sabbath. But, when they came to Jesus, they realized He was dead already, so they did not break His legs. In John 19:34 we find that one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and the Scripture says “...straightway there came out blood and water.” Paul in Romans 6:3-4 clearly says, “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” It is in baptism the blood of Christ is contacted. By our obedient faith we work together with God who saves us by His grace when we trust Him enough to obey His commands.

Galatians 3:27 tells us we are baptized into Christ and put Him on in baptism. Once we’ve been baptized into Him and have put Him on, we are in Christ. Notice: If I put on this seat belt, I am in this belt, am I not? Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.” Can I be saved out of Christ? No, I must be saved in Christ. Baptism is the final step of faith that puts me into Christ.

The subject of salvation is as simple as the operation of the seat belt. I work together with God, not earning salvation, but, by obedient faith, appropriating the wonderful, marvelous, amazing grace of God.

We are saved by God’s grace, which has made possible the simplest plan ever given to man for salvation: Believe in the only begotten Son, repent of our sins, change our mind about our life of disobedience, and confess Him with our lips (Romans 10:10, etc.), and, be buried with Him in baptism. Then, we are in Him and He adds us to His church, of which we read in the New Testament, the pattern for which is clearly seen—the worship, work, organization, and every aspect of the Lord’s church over which Christ is head. Then I am buckled to the blood of Christ, because I’m cleansed continually by that blood.

But how do I stay buckled? Once I’m buckled, am I always buckled? There is a doctrine that says, “Once saved always saved.” The Bible clearly says I must do certain things in order to remain tied, or buckled, to the blood of Jesus Christ. First John 1:7-9: “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I must confess my sins because I’m not perfect. I must confess my sins, not try to say I have no sins. I must also continue to live a faithful Christian life. I can have security as a believer in Christ, but it’s not unconditional security. It is conditioned upon my continued obedience to the blessed will of God and my willingness to confess regularly my sins and my shortcomings.

Finally, let’s ask this question: when should I buckle up? The time to buckle my seat belt is when I first get into my automobile. The time for you to buckle up to the blood of Christ is when you first learn the truth. When one hears the truth is the time to obey it: to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, to fully repent of sins, to confess Him as the Christ, and to be buried with Him in baptism for the forgiveness of sins.