What must I do to be saved?

Whether or not humanity is indeed approaching the End-Times as I believe, each one of us can decide today where we will spend eternity.

What is Sin?

Many of the world's religions teach and many people believe that a person can reach God by their good deeds. However, the Bible disagrees with this concept as the following scriptures show:

The Bible says that sin keeps us apart from God:

God , who is a perfect being, cannot have imperfection in His presence. His perfect holiness would consume it:

Therefore human beings, who are sinful by nature, could never enter the presence of God on their own merit. Jesus said that those that do not believe in Him will die in their sins. This means that those unbelieving persons will never be able to enter into the presence of God in the eternal life that is to come:

So what is the biblical definition of sin that we can never overcome with our good deeds and that will keep us separated from God for eternity?

The Greek word used in the original language of the New Testament is "αμαρτια" (hamartia is the English transliteration of this word). This word was used to describe a departure from divine standards of uprightness. Of course the New Testament writers would have restricted this meaning not to the standards of the "divine" Greek and Roman gods but to the standard of the God of Israel, the God of Creation.

God's perfect standard is stated clearly in the Bible. In the Old Testament He gave the nation of Israel 613 commands or laws that they were to observe and obey. The most famous of these laws are the Ten Commandments which prohibited such things as idolatry, murder, stealing, adultery, coveting, the giving of false testimony, and the taking of God's name in vain. There are laws against transvestitism, bestiality, sorcery, and astrology. The list of sinful behaviors prohibited in the Old Testament is too long for me to enumerate in this section.

In the New Testament Jesus elaborated on some of these commandments. He said that if you hate someone you have committed murder in your heart. He also said that if you lusted after someone you have committed adultery in your heart. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." In Revelation 21:8 we read, "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

As you can see, the Bible is quite extensive when it comes to the subject of sin. After reading it a person could feel severely condemned. Remember the apostle Paul wrote, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." So that means all of us humans are guilty of falling short of God's divine standard of perfection. But condemnation is not God's goal for His creation. In John 3:17 we read, "For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

The biblical truth about sin and separation from God is the bad news. The good news is what the Bible says about forgiveness for your sins and restoration of fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

Make sure you want to be saved

Numerous churches today teach that all a person has to do to be saved is say a "Sinners Prayer" and when they do that person is saved. They can then choose whether they will submit to their newfound Savior Jesus Christ now or whether they will do it sometime in the future. This is called Easy-believism or sloppy grace. However, it is not biblical.

Jesus said that before becoming His follower we are to count the cost of discipleship, 26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. 34 "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 "It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Luke 14:26-35) You cannot be saved and then live your life without submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. The cross which Jesus said His followers were to carry meant only one thing in biblical times -- Death! We are to die to our selfish will and submit to His perfect will. The apostle Paul, James the half-brother of Jesus, and the New Testament Christians called themselves slaves of Christ and saw Jesus as their Lord and Master. Thankfully Jesus is a benevolent and loving Master and it is our pleasure to serve Him because His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30). Christians are also His adopted children who should want to please their Lord and Father, "12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13) In reality, it is not us who choose God but He who chooses us to be His obedient children, 15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 "This I command you, that you love one another." (John 15:15-17) Jesus no longer calls us His slaves but we should see our relationship with Him as one of obedient service in order to bear good fruit by doing good works.

What must I do to be saved?

As you read, our sins separate us from fellowship with God. Jesus indicated that if we die without having our sins taken away from us we will be separated from God for eternity. Thankfully God has made a way for humans to be cleansed and free of their sins.

There are multitudes of scriptures in the Bible that relate God's plan of salvation. The unadulterated, unequivocal, unquestionable truth is that this plan revolves around Jesus Christ and no other being that has ever existed. In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me". The rest of the New Testament substantiates that truth.

The Word of God says in John 3:36, "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life. He that does not believe on the Son shall not see [eternal] life but the wrath of God abides upon him." The last part of this verse is not God's will for humans as is stated in 1 Timothy 2:3-4, "...God our Savior who would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." It is those who do not believe in Jesus Christ who are in for a very unpleasant eternity unless they repent and are saved from their sins.

There is only one place in the entire Bible where the question is asked: "What must I do to be saved?" It is found in the book of Acts, chapter 16, verse 30. A man there had just witnessed the power of God and was trembling with great fear. He asked this question of the apostle Paul whose response was, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved."

The apostle Peter in Acts 4:10 said that a miracle God had just performed through him was only possible because he had invoked the name of Jesus Christ. He then states in verse 12, "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name [Jesus Christ] under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved."

The apostle Paul states in Romans 10:9; 13, "If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Jesus said clearly and unequivocally in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. Whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."

Many people and many religions believe that if you do good works you can earn your way into heaven. The people who came to hear Jesus teach asked Him, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?" Jesus responded, "This is the work of God, that you believe on Him [Jesus] whom He has sent" (John 6:28-29). According to Jesus there is no work that can get us into heaven. Only by believing in Jesus Christ and accepting His sacrifice for our sins will we be able to come to God.

The apostle Peter understood that none of the other religions of the world had the answers to life. In John 6:67-68 Jesus asked His disciples if they wanted to quit following Him. Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Obviously by now you realize that the Bible teaches that for a person to be saved they must believe in Jesus Christ. This means believing that there is nothing you can do to save yourself. This means believing that Jesus shed His blood on the cross to cleanse your sins and remove them from you. This means believing that God raised Jesus from the dead to show us that we too can have eternal life. This means believing God's promise that if you receive Jesus as your Savior you will be with Him for eternity.

You may ignore everything I've said up until now but please don't ignore the scriptures I have quoted for they are the answers to life. Jesus said in John 6:63, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."

If you are willing to submit to Jesus in complete obedience then you need to confess your sins, you need to repent and turn away from your sins, and you need to receive the atoning sacrificial death and shed blood of Jesus Christ for your sins. God's grace will bring you to this point and further because you will desire to be in obedience to Him and you will have a heart to bear good fruit by doing good works. "8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)

So how does one become saved? It starts with the acknowledgement that you are a sinner and that you can do nothing to change this fact. Then you need to repent or in other words, you have a desire to want to turn away from your sinful behavior. Then it is a matter of you asking God to forgive and cleanse you of your sins through His Son's, Jesus Christ, sacrificial death. God, who is always faithful, will do what He promised and forgive your sins. He will then allow His Holy Spirit to live in you to help you for the rest of your earthly life. You will never become perfect, but if you allow God to, He will help you through the hard and the good times. Best of all, you now have eternal life and will live with God forever!

A prayer of Salvation

If after counting and meditating on the cost you still wish to become a follower of Jesus Christ and live forever with Him you can pray from your heart the following prayer:

Heavenly Father God, I know that I am a sinner and have led a sinful life. I want to stop struggling with my sin. I want to turn from my sins. I ask you to cleanse me and forgive me of all my sins through the shed blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. I believe you raised Jesus from the dead. I accept Jesus the Messiah as my Lord, and my, Master, and my Savior now and for eternity. Help me to live my life in obedience to You, the one and only true God. It is in Jesus' name that I pray and ask these things. Amen.

What now?

You now have God's promise that you are saved and you now have His Holy Spirit living in you! You should start reading the Bible beginning with the Book of 1 John which is towards the end of the Bible. It speaks of God's cleansing of our sins, makes it clear we are not to practice sin, and speaks of the love of God through Jesus Christ. Next I would read the Gospel of John to understand Jesus' divinity or deity (i.e. God came to earth in the form of Jesus) and His deeds while He was on earth. The final suggestion I would make is to read the Book of Romans where you will get an understanding of the Christian faith and some of its doctrines. Definitely find a Bible-Believing church to attend and as one of your first acts of obedience to Jesus you should ask to be baptized as soon as possible. Your sins are already washed away but baptism is a public declaration that you identify with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection and have accepted Him as your Savior. While looking for a church you can listen to sound biblical teaching by going to nationally-known pastor, John MacArthur's website. You can listen to more than 3000 of his sermons here: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons

You may want to start each day with a simple prayer: Heavenly Father, please slay my old sinful nature, please cleanse me from my daily sins, please fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, please lead me where You would have me go, and please use me and show me what good works I can do for your kingdom's sake.

How do you know you are a Christian

John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA., gives a great definition of what it means to be a Christian:

Whether the End-Times comes during your lifetime or the Lord takes you before then, you can have confidence that you are saved for eternity.

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