What must we do to be saved?
This very question was asked by a jailer two thousand years ago. Paul and Silas had a simple response: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31 NIV)
But what does it really mean to “believe in the Lord Jesus”?
Before we can determine that, we need to realize that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)
There is only one way to heaven, and when you compare the gospel message to what other religions proclaim, it makes sense: Only Jesus asserts salvation by faith, all other religions are work-based!
This is confirmed all over the New Testament:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9 NIV)
“And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom 11:6 NIV)
“However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.'” (Rom 4:5-8 NIV)
Why, as humans, are we so tempted to try and do our own part in obtaining salvation? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard: “I try to be good. At least I’m better than Hitler!” But this isn’t what Jesus was proclaiming. If we rely on our actions, we will fall short of our goal! “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:23-24 NIV)
There is only one way to heaven and it isn’t through our efforts, but solely through Jesus’ efforts!
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom 5:6-11 NIV)
Salvation was only made possible by God’s love. We are the ones who strayed away from Him. We are the ones who wanted to lead our own lives, filled with lust, unforgiveness and selfishness. We weren’t even aware we had wandered away, except for the remorse that kept haunting us and our past that couldn’t be erased. But aware or not, we became alienated with God. We weren’t even talking to Him any longer, and we didn’t even care to hear His voice.
Our attitude didn’t discourage God, however. After all, you can’t discourage true love. His love drove Him to do the unthinkable. Who in their right mind would be willing to die for someone else, especially if that person is ungrateful? Who in their right mind would be willing to set all His comfort aside and give up His richness to die for a race in rebellion? Yet this is what God did though through His son Jesus the Christ!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)
He is the One who is madly in love with us, who is pursuing us in order to catch our hearts so that we can experience His resurrection life for eternity!
The only catch is that it is only available to those who believe “in Him”!
“To believe in Him” means much more than accepting that God is somewhere out there! “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (James 2:19 NIV)
The apostle Paul digs deeper into its meaning: “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess 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 confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts 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.'” (Rom 10:8-13 NIV)
“To believe in Him” means to “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead”. As we are dealing with real love here, it is an affair of the heart! Faith has to stem from our hearts. We really need to mean it! He loves us so much that He willingly died for us! We can’t just stay on the side unaffected. We need to respond from the heart, where love resides. And if we do respond that way, we will realize what His sacrifice means to us! He died because He loves us. He rose up from the dead so that we, too, can experience resurrection from living among the dead, as well as resurrection to eternal life!
But we also need to “confess with our mouth”. And what do we confess? “Jesus is Lord”! Or in other words: “I am tired to be the one in control of my life. I hurt people. I tend to be overbearingly selfish and feel utterly empty inside. Jesus be in control of my life! Redeem me!”
In the olden days everybody understood the term “Lord”, but in today’s day and time, we don’t even understand the term “king” or “dependence”. People in the past depended on their lord for survival and protection. And it is true that many of these humanly conceived “lords” often were far from trustworthy. But none of them ever willingly died to save their people like Jesus did!
With Him at the helm of our heart, we can be assured that He will lead us with our best interest at heart. With Him as our Lord, worry will become unnecessary, because He will take care of us (See Mat 6:33-34). Only by depending on Him will we experience utter inner peace (See Philippians 4:7).
This is the complete gospel message that was proclaimed by Jesus’ apostles: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Cor 15:1-8 NIV)
It’s unbelievable to notice that these same apostles were running for their lives and hiding when Jesus was crucified (See John 20:19). None of them at that time would have had the guts to stand up for Jesus. All of them however, except for the apostle John who died of a natural death, died the death of a martyr, proclaiming this very message called the gospel. They underwent a transformation that filled them with boldness. They had met the resurrected One personally!
This same message is still being proclaimed today, although some have altered its content for their own purposes. We, too, can receive the same assurance the apostles did, and we can also proclaim without a doubt: Jesus is alive!
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16-17 NIV)
“This is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:24 NIV)
Jesus promised us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us (See John 16:13) and once we experience Him in our lives, we too will have the assurance that He is truly alive and that He lives in us through His Spirit.
How can we be saved? Simply: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31 NIV)
Samuel Willey was the proud owner of a home in the heart of Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, located in the shadow of what is now known as Mount Willey. He had turned it into a cozy inn to accommodate those travelling on the desolate notch road. He noticed that at the back of his property, up a bit on the mountain, stood a solid outcropping of boulders. “It sure doesn’t hurt to have those here!” He decided.
The night of August 28, 1826 his good fortune turned sour. A long drought had dried the mountain soil, and a violent rainstorm now lashed over the land. Suddenly an unusual noise was heard, and Samuel Willey realized it was the rumbling sound of a landslide. Samuel left his glasses on his Bible and gathered his family together. They then left their house behind in search of a more secure haven.
Unfortunately, they left the only safe haven in the surroundings. The landslide hit them head on, while the house, protected by the boulders at the back, survived unscratched!
We all tend to try and work out our own way to salvation, but only One can guarantee it. He is the One so many are confused about, but He is also the One who is referred to as “the rock”! Just like the boulders at the back of Wiley’s property, He is the One who, literally, can save us!
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Rom 9:29 NIV)
The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus more than seven hundred years before His birth: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:3-5 NIV)
Remember “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9 NIV) Why don’t you invite Him in your heart right now? Only then will you start experiencing “real living” (See John 10:10). For a sample of how to accept Jesus into your heart, visit http://answers2prayer.org/salvation_prayer.html
P. S. If you have just accepted Jesus into your heart, let me be the first to welcome you to the family of God. Please share this moment of rejoicing with us!