How Can I Be Saved?
If you identify yourself with a religion other than Christianity, or believe that there are multiple ways to God, read this first.
Hello. I have written this out of love and concern, and I pray that you, whoever you are, will find joy, peace, and love in God.
Contrary to what many people believe, Christianity isn't about doing "good deeds" to make God happy. The Bible says that "all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment..." God is so holy, and so pure, that we can't live up to his perfect standard. His standard is perfection. Trying to force yourself to obey laws or rituals or the ten commandments for salvation will not work, because, "...a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus...."
As the book of Romans states, the purpose of the law was to reveal sin, and to show mankind how much they weren't able to keep the law on their own. They needed Christ.
“...knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” Galatians 2:16
People are naturally wicked. You never have to teach a child how to lie, cheat, or steal. But you do have to teach them how to be good. The reason people are naturally wicked is because of the Fall, when Adam and Eve sinned against God and made all of the generation after them, all people, to inherit the punishment of their actions. "...Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned... For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners" (Romans 5:12,19)
One can say, "Well I don't believe in God, but I have morals," however, the Bible clearly states that all of our self-willed righteousness don't meet up to God's standard (which is total perfection). No matter how much you may "be a nice person" or even "go to church" and "read the Bible" and "pray" and "tithe" and even "donate to charities"... No matter how many "good" things you may do, you will never be able to earn your way into Heaven, because you have still been disobedient to God's law (everyone has sinned).
You don't have to be a mass murderer to need salvation. All of us need it, even if we think we "are not too bad" or "not as bad as that person over there." You can even grow up in a Christian family and go to church for years, and you can do all of the "right stuff," but if you have not personally placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you are not saved.
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" - Matthew 7:21-23, NIV
So what, then, is the will of the God?
"Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'" - John 6:28-29, NKJV
Do you believe you are good enough to earn Heaven? Compare your life to God's law. If you have broken any of God's commandments, you have violated God's law:
Have you ever worshiped or idolized anything in place of God?
"You shall have no other gods before me." - Exodus 20:3
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." - Colossians 3:5
"Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?" - Ezekiel 14:3
Have you ever taken the name of God in vain/misused it?
"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." - Exodus 20:7
Have you ever dishonored your father and/or mother?
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." - Exodus 20:12
"If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness." - Proverbs 20:20
Have you ever murdered or hated anyone?
"You shall not murder." - Exodus 20:13
"Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him." - 1 John 3:15
"Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt." - Leviticus 19:17
Have you ever committed adultery, or even simply thought adulterous thoughts?
"You shall not commit adultery." - Exodus 20:14
"“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matthew 5:27-28
Have you ever stolen anything?
"You shall not steal." - Exodus 20:15
Have you ever lied?
"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." - Exodus 20:16
"The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy." - Proverbs 12:22
Have you ever coveted/greedily desired something?
"You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." - Exodus 20:17
(Scriptures above taken from NIV)
If you have broken any of God's laws, you have sinned, and the penalty for sin is spiritual death (Hell).
Because of our sin, we all deserve to go to Hell. Hell was originally created for Satan and his angels who rebelled, but because of our sin, we will go there too if we refuse God's gift of salvation. "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels..." (Matthew 25:41).
God is holy, and righteous, and "God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." The reason God has condemned natural mankind to Hell, is because His character and nature are that of a righteous judge. All iniquity and sin must be punished, or else God would not be a just and righteous God, and therefore, He wouldn't be perfect:
"'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.'" (Isaiah 6:3)
"'There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.'" (1 Samuel 2:2)
"“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He." (Deuteronomy 32:4)
So how then can we be saved from Hell when God judges the world? After all, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully." (Psalm 24:3-4)
If that scripture, like all other scriptures, is true, then all of us deserve to go to Hell, because none of us has a pure heart, nor have any of us lived a perfect life, obedient to all of God's laws, without sin.
What must we do to be saved? Because of God's goodness and mercy, and because of His great love, He sent His own Son, who was Him, God, in human form, in the form of Jesus, who was the Christ prophesied of in the Bible's Old Testament. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)
Immanuel means "God with us. "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
And in the New Testament, which was when the prophecy was fulfilled, Jesus the Christ was born, of Mary a virgin, through the power of the Holy Spirit. "'...for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.'" (Matthew 1:20-21)
Man can do nothing on his own to save himself. So God came down to earth as the human, Jesus, humbled Himself as a servant, lived a perfectly righteous life in our place, so that we wouldn't have to, and then He died on the cross as an offering to God, in order to atone for/wipe away all of our sins, past, present, and future, so that we can be saved from the wrath of God. Jesus took the wrath of God in our place.
"without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" - Hebrews 9:22
Jesus had to die, because our sins had to be atoned for. In the Old Testament, Israel sacrificed animals to atone for their sins, but they were not able to be perfectly cleansed, because although their sins may have been atoned for by the animal's blood, their hearts stayed the same, and were not changed -- and so they would sin again, and had to keep offering up animals when they sinned.
But this is not so with Jesus. He was the perfect sacrifice. His sacrifice completely atoned for all of the sins of those who put their faith in Him. Past, present, and future, all of your sins can be wiped clean! Because He is God, He was able to bear His own wrath. He was both God and man. His offering atoned for the sins of man; those who believe in Jesus will be saved from Hell.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1,14)
As it says in Philippians 2:6-8 about Jesus: "...who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Jesus died on the cross, bearing the wrath of God, the wrath that we should have been given, in order to save us, because of His great love for us, and to show the justness of God. He was a propitiation, which means, in basic terms, to "appease." He appeased the wrath of God, the wrath that should have been poured out on us, as a sacrificial atonement for our sins. The bible says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'...". (Galatians 3:13)
In other words, He became a curse in our place. Jesus was cursed. We were blessed. Jesus took our punishment and bore our guilt, shame, and sin. We were given the gift of eternal life. We had no power to save ourselves, but God, who is able to do anything, came down, and lived a perfect life so that we wouldn't have to, and died as the perfect sacrifice.
But it didn't end there. After three days, Jesus rose from the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. His death had payed for our sins! He was victorious, and those who are saved have victory over sin. After He ascended, the Holy Spirit was given out. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus have the Holy Spirit, and He is in them, sanctifying them and transforming them to be more and more like Christ!
So again, what must we do to be saved? The bible says that we must simply repent and believe on Jesus. What is repentance? It means to have a change of mind. To be saved, you must come to Jesus in faith, recognizing that you are a sinner unable to get to Heaven on your own strength; and with a heart willing to let God work in your life to change you, trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation, and not on yourself, your "good works," or anything else. You can express this by confessing to Jesus that you have sinned, asking Him to forgive you and cleanse you from your sins, and for salvation. But, and this is important: do NOT trust in the prayer itself (the saying of certain combinations of words, or saying the prayer like it's a magical formula/potion) as though the act of the prayer itself is what saves. It is not. It is only REPENTANCE/FAITH IN JESUS that saves.
When the wrath of God had been satisfied on the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished!" In other words, it truly is finished! All you have to do to receive eternal life is believe on Jesus! Know that everything for your salvation is already done (because of the cross) and all you have to do is receive it!
The concept is so simple that many people have tried to disregard it and try to "work" their way into salvation by "doing good deeds." But as mentioned above, this is impossible, because God's standard is perfection.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
What happens when one truly believes unto righteousness? They are saved. (Forever!) They also have received the Holy Spirit, which is God the Spirit.
When one truly believes unto salvation, they have received the Holy Spirit, "...for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13).
If faith were simply a work on our part, then the gift of salvation would be of works. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God is the one who gives us the faith. He opens our eyes, turns us from Hell-bound sinners into His own children, and gives us eternal life! All of it is from God, because we can do nothing on our own.
When one receives the Holy Spirit, He causes them to walk no longer in darkness but in light. It does not mean that you are saved by good works. It is simply the evidence of truly having believed unto salvation. Someone who is truly saved (Christian) will show evidence of having been saved, by the new lifestyle they live. They won't be perfect of course, and Christians still do sin at times, but the Holy Spirit will always be there with us, helping us, sanctifying us, and making us more and more like Christ.
There are many "Christians" out there who profess to know Christ but have no evidence of the workings of the Holy Spirit in their lives, which is not what the bible teaches, since Jesus said many times, "You will know them by their fruits." (ex: Matthew 7:16)
In other words, you will know them by their actions. "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matthew 7:17-19)
However, if you are truly saved, rejoice! No one can snatch you out of His hand once you are saved! You don't have to "struggle" or "try" to keep yourself saved, because God Himself is working in you. Only be sure that you truly are saved. A true Christian will walk in the light, and won't abandon the faith, because God will keep them. Examine your lifestyle (after your profession of faith of course) and be sure you truly do have the workings of the Holy Spirit in your life.
So we are saved by faith, not works. But one who is truly saved will live a different life than when they were sinners, because they now love God, and want to please Him! (They don't do good for salvation, but because they are already saved! Don't mix this up and try to get saved by doing good! Truly repent/place your faith in Jesus, and watch your life change because of Him!)
And with that, I finish. I write these things to you so that you will believe on Jesus and have eternal life. "...how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3)
I pray that you will give your life over to Christ. God is love, and He loves you dearly. Won’t you put your trust in the God who loved you and died for you?
I hope you were blessed by this message. For those of you who are believers, I would advise you to seek out a biblical church for fellowship with other Christians, one that preaches biblical truths. I would also advise you, if you don't already have one, to get a Bible, and study/read so that you can be built up in the truth of God's word.
If you have any questions about God, this message, the gospel, or anything else, feel free to send me a message.
Unless otherwise indicated:
*** Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. ***
However, all above passages/scriptures that have been identified with "(NIV)"/"NIV" are taken from:
**THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
All passages/scriptures that have been identified with "NKJV" are taken from:
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptures to look at:
--1 John 1:5
--1 Samuel 2:2