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Would you be shocked if I told you that many people calling themselves Christians today are not? People believe all kinds of things when it comes to God and salvation. For some people the thought of salvation is ritualistic. They believe a simple repeated prayer of salvation is all it takes, or a dip in the river. Others believe their belief in Jesus alone will get them through.
What do you believe it takes? I can tell you from my own personal experience that even though I had heard from people about how to be saved I was not sure how it really worked. Thankfully God let me find the answer in my darkness though.
I had heard the call from God to be saved…but had no idea how. So I did the only thing I could think of. I prayed. I pleaded with God all night to forgive me of my sins. After crying myself to sleep pleading with Him I woke up the next morning still unsure of how to get this free gift. But when I heard a preacher say, “Did you pray it? Did you mean it? Then it is done!” I finally had the faith to believe and accept the gift.
But that is my story and truth doesn’t just come from someone telling you a story. It comes from God and His word. So what does the Bible say about salvation?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
This is a great example in scripture of how to be saved. No, it isn’t about selling all you have. But, Jesus Himself was telling the rich man the plan of salvation. The man had been what we call a “good man”. He seemed to be a follower of the teachings of God and believed he was good. This is one of the ways people believe they will be saved today.
No, it isn’t about selling all you have. That isn’t why Jesus told this man to do that. But, Jesus did know that this man thought he was without sin. Jesus was showing that this man did indeed have a sin. It was the sin of having another god rather than God Himself. This is why Jesus said he needed to sell all he had. Not because doing so is how he could be saved, but because this man had to throw his own personal idol (his wealth) away to follow God.
But even though Jesus pointed out that he must obey the law He did so only to show the process of salvation. The law was given to point us to Jesus…because we were not strong enough to follow it.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
When we look at the story in Matthew we see someone who doesn’t seem to get it. They believe they are good and have done everything in the law. That is when Jesus says he should sell all he has and then follow Him. Even when we think we are good there is sin hiding in our hearts. Jesus let the light shine on it.
The rich man may have looked good and even fooled himself into believing it but Jesus showed his greed. The man had a hidden sin that even he did not know about. He wanted the world more than the treasure of God. He wanted to follow his pleasure instead of suffer with Jesus. I wonder how many people do the same thing today.
Remember that it is impossible to be saved without God. We can not earn it or make it on our own. We need Jesus!
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
But in the response Jesus gave was the solution to this man’s fate. Repent…turn away from the things of earth and then follow Jesus. So we see two things that Jesus Himself said was a requirement for salvation.
As we look at some of the scriptures today about how to be saved we are going to see how these 2 requirements must be met.
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Here is the verse most people like to quote about salvation. And indeed it is true. You must believe that Jesus is God, died on the cross to remove the wrath of God from us, and was raised from the dead on the 3rd day.
But what people often do not understand is that you can not take this verse alone and make a doctrine about salvation on it. No scripture is alone. They all must be considered.
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
So you see from this scripture that it is not enough to only believe without adding action to that belief. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. So what action must be done?
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The actions that must come from your belief are repentance and baptism. Repentance means that you are turning from your sin. You no longer want to walk in sin, but you want to walk with God.
And so there you have it. The first thing needed for salvation. Repentance.
A Word About Baptism Before We Continue
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Baptism is something many denominations fight over. They argue over how it should be done. Some say it takes being totally immersed in water and some believe a sprinkle will do. When it comes down to it though the whole argument misses the point.
Why do I say that? Because water baptism in itself is not something that saves you. How can I say that after the verses I just quoted? Because there are other scriptures to consider that give examples of those without water baptism being saved, as well as other scriptures that tell us what this baptism is.
Lets think about this…the thief on the cross was not able to be baptised with water after he repented and confessed Jesus on the cross. I know there are some who believe he may have been baptized by John the baptist before then, but this would mean nothing without repentance first.
Also, we should consider these verses as well:
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Here we see people receive the Holy Ghost BEFORE water baptism. And if there was any question if Peter believed these men were saved we can look at the next chapter:
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Baptism was about repentance. God has shown in the Bible how there are two things He uses to purge the world. Water (the flood of Noah) and fire (still to come). So water baptism is about purging or showing a clean conscience.
There is something people miss though. Some people think that water baptism comes before repentance. John made it clear this was not the case. And we have just seen that Salvation can come before water baptism in the verses before.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
It is clear that John did not see water baptism as a means of repentance. Instead repentance meant doing good and not evil. So what is water baptism for if not salvation?
13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Jesus had no need of repentance. He was without sin. That is why we see John forbid Jesus. But Jesus, who did not have need of repentance, requested this act of water baptism. He said it was to fulfill righteousness. What was it about this that made it right to do?
1 Peter 3:20-21
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
This passage of scripture tells us that baptism is not for the putting away of the filth of the flesh (sin) but it is an answer of an already good conscience toward God. So why did Jesus go to be baptized? It was to make a statement that He had a good conscience toward God.
Lets pull this together. You may be wondering why I am talking about baptism when I said the two requirements were repentance and following Jesus.
When you repent it is because you believe something is worth turning away from something else. You can say you believe in God and His word all day, but unless you act on it and repent then you are no better than the Devil who also believes.
But when you repent, you make a change. Baptism is an act of obedience in making the statement that you believe enough to turn from your sins and live for Jesus. It is only the statement made from a life already changed though. In the case of Jesus it was a statement of a clean conscience as well.
So to be saved you must first believe and act on that belief through repentance. This is not a one time prayer or a random act of self sacrifice to try to please God. It also isn’t just being covered with water. It is however a turning from your sins and turning to Jesus.
Have you ever followed someone…I mean really followed them? You walk where they walk, listen to them speak, and do what they ask. They are your leader. Eventually you follow them so closely that you look just like them in how you act, what you say, and even in how you think. That is what Jesus said we needed to do. We have to follow Him to be saved.
It isn’t enough to say a prayer or go to church. We are supposed to follow Him. Too many people will get to the judgment and God will say, “I never knew you”. If they were actually following Him this could not have been said.
So after repentance we need to cling to Jesus. He has to become our life. We can not have Him and the world. If we are going to follow Him we have to let it go.
23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Part of following Jesus is to lay down your own life. That is part of repentance…remember?
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
This verse is key in understanding salvation. It says that we wait for our salvation. Believe it or not, we haven’t made it yet. But we do have hope and a promise.
I look at salvation as a person lost at sea on a raft. In the distance they see a ship coming for them and people scrambling to get the rescue equipment to save them.
The person on the raft isn’t on the ship yet. But, they can still say that they are saved because of the hope and promise.
1 Corinthians 1:1-2
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
This verse does show us that it is possible to believe in vain. We do have the choice to continue following Jesus or not. Now let me make one thing clear here. No amount of sin can cause you to lose salvation. But if you do not continue with Jesus then you will not be saved.
It is like the person on the raft telling the ship “nevermind” I don’t want to be on that ship.
We do have an example of this type of thing happening in scripture. In fact we have many. But here is one speaking of the Jews:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
There are some things you will see in scripture about salvation being given to those who believe enough to act on it and then who follow Jesus. You can not have one without the other and still make it though.
The Bible does not tell us that a ritual prayer repeated after someone else will result in salvation. It does speak of calling out to God though. It also does not speak of simply believing without laying our lives down. It all works together.
So if you want to be saved I encourage you to acknowledge your need for Jesus to save you, repent and make it clear that you have done so with your words and actions, and begin to follow Jesus through reading the Bible and learning all you can from Him.
You are accepted by God at the moment you make the commitment to repent and follow Him. Like a seed, you have new life already growing even if no one can see the fruit yet. If you continue to follow Jesus that seed WILL produce fruit which will make everyone you meet have no doubt that you are a born again Christian.
July 13, 2015 at 6:28 am | | No comment