Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How to be Saved according to the Bible

If you aren't a church-going person, you might be asking, "saved from what?" You may have even heard a street preacher shouting "Jesus Saves" and thought to yourself, "Is Jesus a soccer goalie now?"

Thankfully, the Bible doesn't give us a solution without first giving us the problem. It answers these questions by not only telling us to get saved. It describes in detail why we need to be saved and what it is we need to be saved from. Reading the following verses will show that "saved" isn't just a churchy word, it is a thoroughly biblical word (Mark 13:13, John 3:3, 5:28-29, II Corinthians 5:10-11, I Thessalonians 1:10, II Thessalonians 1:5-10, Colossians 3:5-6, II Peter 3:10-13). These verses seem to spell out in bold terms that we are in grave need of being saved from God's wrath. So before we can begin talking about how to be saved, you need to realize that you cannot pick up the Bible and read it long without being told why you need to be saved. Contrary to what a lot of preachers may tell you not wanting to offend anyone in our politically correct climate, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31).

I like to call the following explanation of how to be saved: The Radical Romans Road to Salvation because most of the verses come from the book of Romans. Even when they do not you will notice that every point is derived from the Bible. For this reason you ought to read it with a Bible in hand so that you can look up these verses and read them in their original context. This way you won't have to take my word for it (If you are too lazy to go find a Bible, just go to, and read the Bible online. Then go to "browse" and type in any verse you want to look up).

Let's say your neighbor started yelling outside your front door claiming that a hurricane was coming. You wouldn't just jump in the car and evacuate would you? Sadly to say, some of us are that gullible. But not you! You would check it out first to see if he had his facts straight via the news, the internet, reliable friends etc. In the same way, I am telling you that you need to be saved from the hurricane of God's righteous wrath. That is a serious claim. Don't just accept it, and more importantly, don't just reject it as the claim of some fanatical preacher. Take the time to read the verses I am giving you and corroborate it with Scripture.
Remember the simple acrostic: S.A.V.E.D.

"S" is for SIN
The Bible says that "All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory" (Romans 3:23). We see evil all around us and yet most philosophies blindly assume that we are all good in our hearts. However, this verse wakes us up to reality by telling us plainly that we have all messed up. We have all fallen short of the standard God has set for us. So you might ask, "What is God's standard? What does God expect from someone like me?" Jesus answers this question by saying that to break just one of God's commandments is to fall short of God's glory. God demands nothing short of perfection (Matthew 5:19-20, 48, James 2:10).
This puts all of us in a pretty tight spot because all of us have broken God's commandments at some point in our lives. However, our situation is much worse than simply breaking one of God's commands because the Bible tells us that we have a sinful human nature that impulsively breaks God's commands (Jeremiah 13:23, Matthew 15:19-21).

To prove this, let's line your life up to the Ten Commandments and see how well you do:

"Honor thy father and thy mother"
(Exodus 20:12). Sure, you can say that you have always honored your father and mother, just list their phone number as a reference first. I have lived long enough to know that if you say you've always honored everything your father and mother ever said, you're also guilty of breaking the ninth commandment: "Thou shalt not lie" (Exodus 20:16). In short, if you have ever dishonored what your father or mother have said at any point in your life you are guilty of breaking the fifth commandment. We might call someone who dishonors their parents "rebellious."

"Thou shalt not murder"
(Exodus 20:13). Jesus interpreted this by saying that to be angry with your brother was to murder him in your heart. He also follows this up by telling us that to verbally insult someone was to murder them with our words (Matthew 5:21-22). We even talk of character assassination today. So if you can admit that you have ever been angry with someone without immediately going to him to be reconciled; or if you will admit that you have ever chewed somebody out, you are admittedly guilty of breaking the sixth commandment. What do we call someone who commits murder; even just one murder? A murderer, right? So far we have proven you to be a rebellious, murderer.

"Thou shalt not commit adultery"
(Exodus 20:14). Jesus interpreted this by saying that to look upon a woman in lust was to commit adultery with her already in your heart (Matthew 5:27-28). I may not be able to speak for my female members of the human race. But I am pretty confident that if you are a man you have at some point fallen flat on your face when it comes to this one. What do we call someone who commits adultery? You guessed it; an adulterer. So now we have proven you to be a rebellious, murdering, adulterer.

That is just three out of the Ten Commandments and already, every one of us has been shamefully exposed as guilty. But just in case you have any doubt as to whether anyone alive today can escape the verdict of "guilty", Romans 3:19 clearly affirms that God's law was given so that the whole world would be proven to be "guilty."
What is even more tough is that God not only demands perfection, but the consequences of not measuring up to perfection is death (Romans 6:23). Ironically, most people think God will somehow overlook the fact that they are worthy of death and slip them a Get Out of Jail Free card. But God's law isn't a Monopoly game; He takes it serious. Only when you humble yourself to understand that you are deserving of death will you ever appreciate God's gift of life.

You might use the excuse that "God made me this way. God created me with this desire to sin, therefore he cannot hold me accountable for sin." The Bible, however, removes this excuse by teaching that when God created Adam and placed him in the Garden, his nature was beautiful and upright in the sight of God: "God looked upon the man he had made and said, Behold, it is very good" (Genesis 1:31). However, when tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit, man willfully chose to reject God's law in order to set up his own law. Solomon explained this saddening event well, "Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). This verse tells us that God's creation of man was not flawed. God's design for man was perfect and beautiful. Yet, it was man that turned that beauty into ugliness the moment he sinned in the Garden of Eden.

Because Adam was the first man and the father of the human race, his sin was accounted as the sin of all humanity. So inevitably All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, also 5:12). No one can exclude themselves from this group; we all bear the curse of sin.

The surest evidence of how widespread the epidemic of sin has become is death. Statistics tell us that 100 out of every 100 people die. Romans 5:12 tells us why this is the case, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because (in Adam) all sinned."
However, as bad as physical death is, our physical death is only an foretaste of a greater spiritual death to come. You might ask, "How can someone die when he has already died once?" Revelation 21:8 answers this question well: "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." The second death according to the Bible is none other than Hell.

"A" is for ASLEEP
Sin has lulled us all into a comatose sleep leaving us unable to respond to God's voice according to Romans 8:7-8. The Bible not only speaks of this condition as a sleep (Ephesians 5:14), but it also describes it as "death" because of the fact that we are out of touch with the reality of our sinful condition and prevented from being able to respond obediently to God's law (Ephesians 2:1-3). Romans 3:11 tells us just how out of touch we are when it says: "There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God" (Romans 3:11).
Contrary to this, you may have heard people claim that they are seeking to find God. But this verse tells us we are completely oblivious to God until He intervenes by waking us out of sleep and raising us from the dead. For this reason the Bible says says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you" (Ephesians 5:14). Notice that this verse speaks of sleep as synonymous with death. To be spiritually dead means that we have no ability to please God, much less the ability to save ourselves.

Romans 8:7-8 tells us that we are in such a comatose state that none of us have the ability to rouse ourselves to understanding the reality of God; we are hopelessly unable to respond to God in the same way that a dead man is hopelessly unable to respond to you no matter how loudly you may shout.

So before we come to know Christ, we must humbly admit our inability to save ourselves and confess that the only way for us to be saved is for God to resurrect us from the dead (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13, Romans 6:4). What I am saying may go against every bone of pride in your body because you have always thought that somehow you can be good enough for God. But in light of all we have mentioned, your only hope of salvation is to know that God does not accept the proud;"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the lowly" (Psalm 138:6).

"V" is for VITALITY
Anyone can receive vitality by turning to Christ. We have all been given the death sentence because of our sin according to Romans 6:23. But the same verse goes on to tell us that the gift of God is vitality. That is: "eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Before Jesus astonished many by raising a man from the dead, he said: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). When we believe in Jesus this promise stands true. He resurrects us from the dead and gives us new life so that we can live that life for Him. The Bible says: "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

"E" is for EXCHANGE
Salvation is really a barter or exchange. You must exchange your sin for the righteousness of Christ (Romans 5:17): The fact that Christ died on a cross is the supreme example of the fact that God could not overlook sin. The sin that all of us have committed must be punished according to Scripture (Hebrews 9:22).

Sin is such a big deal to God that He cannot simply act as if it never happened and wipe it under the rug. He doesn't let bygones be bygones. When God's law is broken the glory of His name is at stake. The bible says that His name must be vindicated (Hebrews 10:29-30).

Somebody has to suffer the punishment that for our disregard for His law That is why Jesus died on the Cross. He literally paid the penalty for sin that we all deserved. Think about how amazing this is: Instead of us dying on a Cross, or in Hell, Christ died in our place. This is exactly what the Bible tells us: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5, also Hebrews 9:22).
The burden of sin is a weight that none of us can bear; we will inevitably be crushed and spend eternity in Hell if we insist on keeping it in our possession (Luke 20:18). But thank God Christ bore that weight of sin for us when He died upon the Cross.

When you believe on His name, your sins do not just disappear; they are not swept under the rug. They nailed Christ to the Cross.

Christ taking your sin on the Cross is only the first part of the exchange in salvation. The exchange isn't complete until He gives you His own righteousness. Jesus lived on the earth for thirty three years and never sinned because He made it His joy to glorify the father (John 17:5). Such righteousness is a gift we could never earn; it is a gift only Christ can give because only Christ lived a perfect life (Hebrews 4:15, 7:25).

Once Christ completes the exchange by giving you his own righteousness, God no longer sees the shame of your sin and nakedness. He no longer sees the ugliness of your law-breaking heart; He sees only the perfect righteousness of His son Jesus Christ. There is one person in the universe that God accepts; His son, Jesus. And when you trust Christ, God accepts you just as He accepts the Son.

Romans 5:17 explains well this gift of righteousness: "For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." Sin once reigned in all of our hearts, but sin is dethroned and righteousness reigns when we receive His gift of life.

"D" is for DECIDE
All must decide (Romans 8:6). You must decide who you will serve. Jesus once said, "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other . . ." (Matthew 6:24). You cannot continue to cherish your sin and embrace Christ.

Are you going to trust Christ and reject your sin. Or are you going to reject Christ to embrace your sin?

You might be thinking to yourself, "I love my sin. I don't know how I'll ever stop doing it." Certainly, when we come to Christ there is a cost, and that cost is everything. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). To deny yourself means that you are willing to give up everything to have a relationship with Him. It means we will view Christ and His kingdom as a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field (Matthew 13:44). All must decide; and the decision is not only between Christ and sin, it is between life and death: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:6). This verse is simply telling us that if we continue to live a life of sin our end will be death.

You can pray now and ask God to save you:
1. Admit to God that you are a sinner.
2. Confess to God that you have been asleep, better yet, dead, unable to save yourself.
3. Ask God to give you new life and vitality just as He gave Christ new vitality when He raised
Him from the dead.
4. Ask God to take away your sin in exchange for Christ's perfect righteousness.
5. Explain to God that you have decided to turn from your sin and to live for Him. (You cannot
turn from your sin by your own power. But the Holy Spirit will empower you the moment
you believe. Read Acts 1:8).

If you just prayed and asked God to forgive you of your sins, send me an email so that I can thank God for your decision. I would like to contact you and encourage you in the faith.

However, you should know that while it is important that you pray to God asking Him to save you (Romans 10:9-10), no prayer is going to be the proof that you are saved. Rather, the proof will be found in a radically changed life (II Corinthians 5:17), because if God has really entered your life you can never be the same. The sin you once loved will be the thing that you hate, and the God you once indifferently weighed as inconsequential will be the thing most essential. The Christ who died for you now gives you the Divine love not only to live for Him, but also to die for Him (Matthew 16:24).

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