WHEN IS A CHRISTIAN SAVED?
Some people doubt that they are Christians. They want to be, but they feel like they are missing the happiness of the Christian faith.
The awful uncertainty that haunts many people arises out of a misconception of what the Christian experience is. Some people do not seem to know the nature of Christian conversion, while others have been misinformed about salvation and seek an understanding that is not biblical. A lot of people confuse faith with feeling.
Faith always implies an object — that is, what we believe in. To understand the Christian life, we will talk about: truth, faith, and feeling. They follow this order, and the order is essential. In this order, you will have the confidence and joy to say, “I know whom I have believed” (2Timothy 1:12).
First of all, we are saved by personal faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as described in the Scriptures. The Bible relates to the news of Christ’s death and resurrection to pay the penalty for our sins and provide a path to eternal life.
Although it may at first seem dogmatic and narrow-minded to you, the fact remains that there isn’t any other way through which you can be rescued from your sins than by the grace of God through your faith in Christ. The work of Jesus Christ is a fact, His cross is a fact, His tomb is a fact, his resurrection is a fact.
It is not possible to believe anything into existence. The Gospel didn’t come into being because men and women believed it, and the tomb of Christ was not empty three days after His resurrection, because His followers believed it. The truth followed faith. Without an object of our faith, we are spiritually incapable of believing. Christians do not call on people to believe in something that is not true but to believe in historical facts. Believing in Christ for your eternal salvation is trusting in a fact — not a figment of someone’s imagination.
Faith is the second of those three words. Faith is logically impossible where there is nothing to believe in. Faith has to have an object. Jesus is the symbol of the Christian faith. Faith means more than agreeing with Christ’s teachings; faith requires the will — the decision to believe in Christ.
If you say with your mind and heart, “Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ, and I receive everything He has done for me by dying on the cross for my sins,” then you have eternal life. Faith, then, means surrender and devotion to Christ’s claims. It means to acknowledge your sin and turn to God. We don’t know Christ through the five physical senses, but we know Him through the “sixth sense” that God has given to every man and woman — the ability to believe.
The feeling is the final word and must remain the last of your thinking. The sincere and truthful seekers of God’s redemption have confusion and difficulty as they think they must have some emotion to make conversion a true experience. If you seek redemption as portrayed in the Scriptures, you will want to learn what sort of experience the Bible says you should have.
You may have gone to a church altar, to a study room, or knelt by your radio or TV when you were asked to embrace Christ. You heard the message, and you realized you were a sinner in need of the Savior. You prayed to God for redemption in your wretched and hopeless state. You believed he could and would save you. You may have read about His invitation to sinners: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
When you read the New Testament carefully, you will see just what kind of experience you are supposed to have. You will see the nature of conversion experience and will find that the New Testament reveals just one: the experience of faith.
Believing is an experience as genuine as any experience. Still, multitudes are looking for something more — an electrical stimulation that brings energy to their physical bodies, or some other amazing occurrences. Many have been encouraged to look for spiritual thrills, but the Bible says that man is “justified by faith” rather than thinking. A human is saved by believing in the finished work of Christ on the cross and not by physical sensations and religious ecstasy.
When you realize Christ’s love for you as a sinner, respond with love for Christ, and love has feelings. Those who love Jesus, too, have faith in Him that lifts them above all fear.
Having a guilty conscience is also a feeling. The Bible explains in Hebrews 9:14 that Christ cleanses the conscience: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Having a guilty conscience cleansed, and being free from its relentless suspicion is an achievement, but it is not the cleansing of conscience that saves you. It is faith in Christ that saves. A cleansed conscience is the result of a right relationship with God.
Joy is a feeling, too. So is inward peace. Love for someone is a feeling. Concern for the lost souls is a feeling. But all these feelings are not conversion. Again, the only experience you can seek and expect to be converted is to believe in Jesus Christ.
Someone might say, “I believe the Gospel’s historical truth, but nothing has changed for me. I don’t think I am saved.” You might not be saved because the faith that saves has one defining quality: saving faith is a faith that creates obedience. This is a faith that brings about a way of life. Some have successfully imitated this way of life for a while, but for those who trust in Christ for salvation, this faith gives rise to a desire to live out that inward experience of faith. It’s a power that gives rise to godly living.
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
One of the followers of Jesus Christ was asked this question more than 2,000 years ago, and it is still just as relevant and important of a question today as it was asked then.
Have you ever thought about this question before?
Do you know the reply to the question?
I would like you to seriously consider this question today, as your answer will decide how you will live your life and where you will spend eternity after you die.
Here’s how the follower of Jesus answered the question:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
It’s an easy answer, but what does it mean to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? And from what do we need to be saved?
SAVED FROM WHAT?
The Bible, which is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and completely truthful (John 17:17; Psalm 119:160), provides a simple answer to what you need to be saved from, you need to be saved from God Himself.
The Bible states that God created and sustains all things in the world (Genesis 1:1; Job 38:1-41), including you (Psalm 139:13-16). It is Him who has established the unchanging rules of nature and morality. It is Him who has the ultimate control over His creation. He wants you to be in the right relationship with Him (1Timothy 2:3-4).
Besides being the Creator, God has another title — the Judge. He has created good and just laws for our benefit, but unfortunately you, and I and everyone else have violated His laws in one way or another: by lying, lusting, slandering, coveting, envying, stealing, cheating, using God’s or Jesus’ name as a curse word, or by loving someone or something more than God. Some of God’s laws that we have violated are mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17 (The Ten Commandments) or Matthew 5 (Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). If your violations of God’s laws are not resolved on His terms, you will stand before Him when He is the Judge one the judgment day.
There won’t be any injustice in the court of Heaven; nobody will be able to get away with any sin; God has seen and registered in His “books” every act of sin ever committed. He will be just in pronouncing His sentence.
That’s what you need to be rescued from, punishment and wrath of God. Or, to put it terrifyingly, you need to be saved from God “casting” you into the “lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15
Though God is indeed loving, caring, compassionate, merciful, and gracious, the Bible also presents God as full of wrath against those who violate His rules and refuse His reconciliation offer.
Although many people falsely believe that hell is not a real place, and God being loving and compassionate would certainly not send anyone there. The Bible explicitly states that God, the just Judge of the universe, has the power, the authority, and the purpose of sending out all those who condemn His Son, Jesus Christ. Consider the following passages from the Bible:
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36).
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15).
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31).
God’s idea of sending those who condemn His Son to a literal hell may look unfair, unjust, or even crazy to you. The Bible speaks clearly and consistently speaks of its truth (Luke 16:19-31), which leaves two options: either hell is real, or it isn’t. Considering that there is nothing in the
Bible that has ever been proven false — historical occurrences, locations, men, prophecies — it would be wise to take the Bible to its word — the hell is real.
Not wanting to be separated from Heaven and punished for eternity in hell would make us ask,
“What can I do to be saved so God will not send me to hell? The answer is clear: “Believe the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But what does that mean? Does that mean that you believe that Jesus was like some other historical figure, like Socrates, Napolean, George Washington, or Alexander the Great, or is there anything more to believe than that?
“Believing the Lord Jesus Christ” is much more than intellectual consent because He has existed; it means that you put your belief, confidence, the hope of redemption in who He is and all He has done for you.