In Christ following circles there is a lot of talk about “being saved.” What does that mean? Saved from what? Saved for what? Especially if you are new to church, the idea that you need to be “saved” might be an odd one…but the fact is, we all need it. Without salvation in Christ, we must depend upon our own human strength and human wisdom to face the challenges of life and to find hope when the darkness of life closes around us. But in Christ there is hope…there is power…there is promise…there is life! Fortunately, God has a plan to save us from ourselves! That plan is through the life… and death…and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible makes this declaration for each and all of us:
For God so loved the world (that is us!) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) You see, Jesus died for us…for our sins and for our salvation…and in His resurrection, He opened the way for us to enter the presence of the living God, right now and forever! So…how do we “get saved?” Great question!
WHY? First, we need to ask the question, “Why?” Why do we need salvation? Why do we need a Savior? The answer is a simple one…because on our own we are sinners and incapable of living life without that stain. We cannot overcome temptation on our own and we cannot live righteously under our own power. The Bible says this: for 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. (Romans 3:22-23) But, you might ask, why Jesus? Why not some other religious leader? Why any person at all? Why not some psychological process? It is because the only way to salvation is through Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6) And while this might seem like a pretty exclusive claim, it is, in reality, the most open invitation in all of human religion. Everyone, of every age, station, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, background, or origin is invited. Come to a life-saving, life-changing, life-giving relationship with the One who created it all through Jesus Christ and find the hope, strength and promise you cannot find on your own.
So, once we know why, how do we do it? How do we find salvation in Christ? Do we purchase it? Do we study up and pass a test? Do we have to prove our worth and ability to be good? Again, a great question! In the very first recorded Christian sermon, the disciple Peter is addressing a crowd of people at the festival of Pentecost on the day the Holy Spirit filled the disciples and propelled them into their post-resurrection ministry (see Acts 2 for the story!). After telling the crowd, Jews from all over the known world, about the truth of Christ and His sacrifice for them, the crowd responded: When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) And Peter told them: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
That’s it…no cost, no test, no earning…just the free gift of God in giving His Son for you, given in repentance and the desire to know Him. But that raises another question, doesn’t it? What, exactly, is repentance? Let’s look to the Bible for an answer to that one: First, repentance is confession that we have lived sinful lives. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) Then, repentance is asking Jesus to come into our lives that we can be redeemed from the penalty of that sin:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)
And finally, repentance is accepting the challenge to live new lives in the power of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, that we might live lives free from the sin that once enslaved us: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17) So, repentance is the act of turning from our old, sinful lives, accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior and striving to live a life worthy of the gift we have received. Now…what happens next?
WHEN? When we receive salvation in Christ, as stated in the 2 Corinthians passage above, we are re-created in the love and power of God. So what does that mean? It means God has claimed us as His own: Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12) It means we belong to God and in Christ, He will never let us go: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28) And it means we can live lives of abundance now and in the hope of eternal life in heaven: but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) Sounds great, doesn’t it? So…are you ready to do it? It is simple really. It’s just a matter of giving up control to God, recognizing your own flaws and inviting God to come in. And we can do it in prayer…together…right now. If you are ready, pray this prayer…or make up your own like it…and rise up reborn, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Are you ready? Let’s pray:
Eternal God, I know I need something more for my life. I am a sinner. I am tired. I am surrounded by challenges I don’t know how to overcome. I need someone to help me…someone to take my cause and show me a new way. I need You. So, loving Father, I am asking You to enter my life. I declare my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I seek His power and claim the gift of eternal life He came to offer me. Cleanse me, I pray. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me new. Please give me the power and hope I need and help me to live my life free from sin and the temptations that have caused me to fall in the past. And, Holy God, allow me to serve You and to know Your presence for all eternity. I ask all this in the name of Jesus who died, was raised to new life, and lives forever that I might find You. AMEN!
Now that you have found your salvation in Christ, please accept our invitation to join us as we seek together to deepen our knowledge of God and our desire to serve Him. Come worship with us, study with us, serve with us, and share with us the love we have found in Jesus. Welcome!