Salvation / What must I do to be saved?

You may be hearing about the many wonderful accounts of people recently giving their hearts to Jesus & making Him Lord & Saviour in their lives? To see a person come to Christ & receive the gift of salvation is often described as one of the greatest miracles we can ever witness. However we need to have a very clear understanding of why we are to come to Christ & why we need His forgiveness.

People often come to Christ & salvation for one of two reasons.

   Perhaps it is for the offer of a better life – i.e. to ease the pains or fill a void in a person’s life, help with an addiction, straighten out a marriage or to help get a  better job. 

   Or there has been an awakening to our true sinful state & we can see the desperate need for a Saviour, Who alone can forgive our sins by the shedding of His blood on the cross.

Is your desire for salvation a matter of happiness or that of  righteousness? If it is only for an improvement of life & happiness & not for righteousness, you could have a false understanding of what salvation is about.

Maybe you are thinking “What sinful state? What sin? I haven’t sinned, I haven’t murdered anyone or stolen anything recently”. Most of us think that we are good enough to get to Heaven when we die, & by our societies’ standards, we probably are fairly good. But God doesn’t judge us by our standards. He measures us by His Holy standards. God gave us the Ten Commandments as a minimum moral standard to which we must live our lives.

So test yourself against His standard to see how He will see you.

   How many lies have you ever told?
   Have you ever stolen something (no matter how small)?
   Have you ever dishonoured your parents (by disobeying them)?
   Have you ever hated someone?
   Have you used the name of God or Jesus Christ in vain (as a swear word)?

These questions relate to just 5 of God’s Ten Commandments. If we are honest, we have all broken some or all of these & therefore have committed sin. The Bible says “For all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23). However, the Bible also says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6.23). Not only are we guilty of breaking God’s laws by our actions, but also by our thoughts & motives. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight.

When we disobey God, it shows that we would rather live  without His loving rule over our lives. In reality, we are rejecting our all-knowing, all-powerful Creator.

The Consequences

If this attitude continues there are serious consequences.

   By rejecting God we are also rejecting the true meaning of life which is to know God, live for Him on this earth & enjoy Him forever in Heaven.

   God knows everything, including what is best for us. By rejecting God’s guidance, we hurt ourselves & others.

   Since God is a good, honest judge, He cannot overlook or leave our rebellion (sin) unpunished. Our sin is so serious that He cannot let it, or us into Heaven or Heaven would
no longer be perfect, but corrupted by us. “It is appointed for a man to die once & then face the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

The truth is, not one of us deserve to get to Heaven – we all deserve hell. By our own efforts there is nothing we can do to change this fact. We need help! And fortunately God has done something incredible for us.

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The Solution

Instead of giving us what we deserve, God actually wants to forgive us. He does not want anyone to go to hell & has made a way for us to be forgiven. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

This forgiveness was made possible when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. Jesus willingly suffered & died on a cross to take the punishment we deserved on Himself. We broke the Law & Jesus paid our fine. God then raised Him from the dead three days later & now offers forgiveness (a perfect record) & a new life to everyone. However, this is not automatic. Like any gift, we must receive it.

The Gift

Forgiveness cannot be earned! Going to church, praying, trying to be a better person & helping others are good things, but none of them can give you a perfect record permanently before God. To receive this forgiveness you must:

   Admit you have offended God by your attitudes & actions.
   Be willing to turn away from anything that offends God. It is critical that you are sincerely sorry & want to change (God will help you do this).
   Trust that Jesus Christ died for you sins (past present & future) on the cross & rose again from the dead.
   Through a prayer of faith (trust) give God control of your life.

The Cost

Jesus warned us about counting the cost before deciding to follow Him: “But don’t begin until you count the cost” (Luke 14:28)

He made it clear that we are to submit to Him (make Him Lord of our life) & be willing to face suffering & tough times just like He did. However, as a Christian, God will teach, encourage & help you even in times of failure. He knows what is best for you. As you surrender control of your life to Him, He will give you new desires & the power to change. This is a life long process.

Here are some questions that may help with your understanding of the need for salvation:

   Do you understand & agree that you are guilty of rebelling against God by breaking His laws (the Ten Commandments)? This is called sin.
   Do you understand the consequences of your rebellion (sin)? That it is not just an eternal separation from God, but eternity in hell?
   Do you understand that Jesus died on the cross to take your punishment & that God loves you, & wants to forgive you & enter into your life to help you become the person He wants you to be? This is called the process of sanctification.

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   Are you willing to turn away from sin & surrender your life to Jesus?
   Are you aware of the cost Jesus talks about when we follow Him?

If you have counted the cost of being a Christian, if you want to become a follower of Jesus & accept the gift He offers, then the following is a suggested prayer.

We encourage you to put it into your own words & would like to point out that it is not a magical prayer that you just read out. You need not only be sincere, but you must believe in your heart these things to be true & be prepared for God to help you change.

Dear God,

I confess that I have rebelled (sinned) against You many times & I am truly sorry. I now turn away (repent) from those things that I know are offensive to You & I ask for Your forgiveness. Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to take the consequences of my sin on Himself at the cross & I trust that His blood has paid for all my sins, past, present & future. I want to start living my life Your
way. I want to make You LORD in my life. Please enter my life & make me the person you want me to be. Amen.

We would like to encourage you with this important first step  in your walk with the Lord. If your prayer is earnest & from their heart, God will hear you & never forsake you. Please contact us by phone on 09-442 2530 or email us at office@jesusfirst.org.nz so that we can help you get started with your life in Christ.

Here are a few steps that will help you grow in your new found faith.

Pray Every Day

Praying is not a religious formula or tradition; it’s simply talking to God as you would your best friend. He’s concerned about the smallest or greatest detail in your life & wants you to get to know Him. If you would like someone to pray with you, please phone us on 09-442 2530 or email us at office@jesusfirst.org.nz.

Read the Bible Every Day

It’s vitally important to read God’s Word (the Holy Bible) on a regular basis. If you don’t have a Bible, you can get one at the local Christian Bookstore. The version we predominantly use at Jesus First is the English Standard Version which is an “easy-to-read” version, as well as being a good translation.

Get involved in a local church

It’s essential that believers develop a healthy & vibrant life in Christ & His Church. All of us need one another to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. Life is not always easy & God never intended us to do live it alone. He has provided everything we need to be victorious including His Word, His power, His Holy Spirit, & the family of God. That’s why being a part of a local congregation is important. We invite you to join with us at Jesus First. If you are from out-of-town or do not live in our vicinity, contact our office by phone or email & we will see if we can recommend a Church to you in your area.

The Lord bless you.