Your Personal Salvation
|Copyright © 2005 - All rights retained by author|
|Written by: C. W. Booth|
This short article has been written for those who are concerned that they may need to be "saved." If you are a person with that very concern on your mind, you are invited to read this article in order to put those concerns to rest once and for all time.
Do You Really Need to be Saved from Hell?
Salvation from Hell is only a requirement for those who need to be saved. How does a person know if they are one of the people who need to be saved, and who is it that does not need to be saved? Christian Scripture, which is the Bible, provides this key criteria for us.
And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31,32)
Only those who know they are sinners have a need to be saved. The person who is not a sinner has no need of salvation or repentance.
But how much sin must a person have committed before a person has need of salvation?
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10)
Just one little sin in an otherwise perfect life makes a person as guilty as if he had broken every one of Godís laws.
How many people have committed at least one sin and need this salvation of which Jesus speaks?
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
as it is written, "there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)
Everyone has sinned enough to be guilty before God, and to be in need of Godís salvation.
How much of a sinner is the average person? Almost everyone has broken almost all of the Ten Commandments, which are the most fundamental of all Godís laws.
Most people are pleased that they have only worshipped the true God. Yet God also requires them to have never made or worshipped a statue or an idol. Worse, God says that "greed amounts to idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). So anyone who has been greedy has worshipped the idol of greed. Most everyone is guilty of breaking Commandment 2.
Anyone who has cursed or uttered profanity using the name of God, or of Jesus Christ, has broken Commandment 3. Those who make it a habit to miss worshipping God even once in a week have broken the spirit of the Commandment 4. And anyone who has withheld financial assistance from their aging parents or who have purposely disobeyed their parents while living in their home have shattered Commandment 5.
Commandment 6 tells us not to murder. And yetÖ
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15)
Do not commit adultery; which is the sexual exploitation or violation of someone elseís husband or wife. That is commandment 7. But adultery is not just a sin of the flesh, it is also a sin of the mind, the eyes, and the heart. Jesus said:
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
Do not steal? How many of us have not cheated a little on the payment of taxes owed to the state? Who among us has not goofed off during a work day but still accepted his paycheck in full anyway?
Telling a lie is a human universal. What fisherman has not exaggerated the size of his fish? What driver has not bragged about how little time it takes for him (or her) to drive that same route while knowing that the real time is a tad longer? No, mother, I did not break that. Yes, dad, I finished all my homework. Oh yes, I have perfectly obeyed all the commandments ever since I was a young child.
Finally, Commandment 10, do not covet anything that is not yours. Have you ever done as I have done and thought, "I really, really wish I had gotten that promotion instead of John"? Or said to yourself, "I want Janeís new car so bad I can taste it?" Has anyone ever said inside their own head, "Man, that woman is so good looking, I wish she was my wife instead of his"?
That persistent sound of glass breaking is the sound of the Ten Commandments being broken even as you read this article. And recall, that James (who was the brother of Jesus) wrote that: "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all" (James 2:10). How much more guilty are those of us who have broken most of the commandments?
What is the Penalty for Breaking Godís Law?
On balance you may really be a pretty good person. Unfortunately, we learn from Adam and Eve that God is most concerned about your very first sin. The first time Adam and his wife Eve committed a sin, God ejected them from His presence and from being in their home in the garden. Worse, God took away their human immortality by starting the aging clock and allowing them to eventually die from getting old.
It is that first sin that causes God to reject you from Heaven. Why? God is Himself a holy being: "For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44a). Since it is Godís very nature to be holy, He cannot sin, nor can He look with approval on anyone who does sin. "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor" (Habakkuk 1:13a).
Not only does God not look at sin, He does not allow sin, or sinners, to live with Him in Heaven.
So just as God expelled Adam and Eve for their first sin, so He has expelled you and every other sinner from His presence, from His holy heaven. Even Satan, who was once an angel serving the Lord, was expelled from Heaven and thrown to Earth for his first sin: "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him" (Revelation 12:9).
What does that mean, to be expelled from Heaven for being a sinner? While we live on this Earth, it means that we are living for ourselves, driven along by our own desires, and we are not children of God. God does not give His spirit or His help to those who are not His children. Finally, at the end of life, we die and are judged by God. His judgement is based on holiness, and He finds us guilty of having sinned. He then sentences us to a place called Hell.
"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;ÖThese will go away into eternal punishment," (Matthew 25:41, 46a)
Hell is a place that is forever separated from God. And Hell is a place where sinners will be punished for the rest of time. "Hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:47b,48).
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
Jesus said: "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
What some people need, those who are sinners, is a way to be saved from being sentenced to Hell and a way to be permitted to live with God in Heaven. What such people need is salvation, or, to be saved from their sins and from Hell.
For Those Who Need to be Saved, There is a Way
There is a way to be saved. This is called the "gospel", which just means, "the good news." This good news can be understood by thinking of it as the transcripts of the negotiations that took place between your lawyer and the sitting judge before your trial even began. It is the same generous plea bargain arrangement (offer of a gift) that every sinner is given. If the sinner agrees to accept the gift of the plea bargain, they are saved. If they scoff at it and go to trial, inevitably they will be found guilty and will be sentenced to Hell.
A History Behind the Offer
Most of the second part of the Bible, called the New Testament, describes how God decided to live among the people He had created, and that He lived in the form of human man until the time of His death. He was called Jesus. Jesus was His human name while Christ was His title. Christ means "anointed by God" or "Messiah". Messiah means, "God is living among us."
Jesus was born about 2000 years ago in the nation of Israel, the land where the Jews have lived. Before Jesus was born, Israel had been conquered by a larger nation called Rome, and Roman soldiers controlled the Jewish people with an occupation force. As Jesus grew up He began teaching the Jews all about the meaning of sin and that sin leads to spiritual death.
He taught them that after a personís human body dies, their spirit lives forever. They live forever in Heaven in new spiritual bodies, or, if they are sinners, they live forever in Hell in their spiritual bodies. Living in Hell is called "the second death, the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14b).
Jesus, being God and living among the people He had created, had great love for His people, even though they were still sinners. So, out of His great love, Jesus gave them a way of escaping their sins, He would pay the spiritual penalty in their place, for everyone elseís sins, all at once. He did this as a sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus, being God and being a man, never sinned while He lived on Earth. Since He never sinned, He was the only one holy enough to pay the penalty for anyone elseís sins. The sacrifice in payment for sins, had to be perfectly holy, without any sin. That is why sinners are incapable of ever paying for their own sins. That is also why the judgement is always "guilty" when the sinner goes on trial before God--assuming the sinner does not accept the plea bargain.
Jesus allowed the leaders of the Jews, who did not believe that they were sinners, to arrest Him. He allowed them to bring false charges against Him in front of the Roman military occupation leaders. Now the Roman leaders did not believe Jesus was guilty of any crimes against Rome, but they wanted the leaders of the Jews to stay calm and not incite the Jewish people to riot. So they sentenced this innocent man to be executed simply to placate the mobs.
Romans executed their condemned prisoners in a particularly brutal fashion. First the condemned person was viciously whipped, inflicting striped wounds all over their bodies. If the condemned person lived through that, the Romans used spike-sized nails driven through their wrists and ankles to pin the prisoner to two logs that formed the shape of a "T", this was called a cross or a crucifix.
Hanging from this cross by their outstretched arms (which were nailed into the logs), the condemned men slowly suffocated while also bleeding profusely from the whipping wounds. If the prisoners did not die after several hours, the Roman soldiers would break the prisonerís legs so that they could no longer push against the nail in their ankles, which the prisoner would do to relieve the pressure on their chests while gasping for air. Without the use of their legs, the prisoner suffocated faster.
Jesus was whipped, mocked, forced to carry His cross up a hill, was nailed to His cross, and died as any criminal of the day might have. After dying, the dead body of Jesus was stabbed in one of the kidneys with a spear to ensure He had actually died, the Romans had His body taken down and sealed into a tomb. To prevent mob violence or religious zealots from rallying at the tomb and stealing the dead body, a Roman military squad stood guard at the tomb.
After three days, Jesus was raised to life by God. He left the tomb scaring the guards into panic, and showed Himself alive to hundreds of eyewitnesses, and to the men He had specially trained who were called "apostles." Jesus returned to Heaven to rule as God and creator of the Earth.
This perfect sacrifice by Jesus satisfied the penalty for everyoneís sins, but only if the sinner agrees with the terms of the offer. For those sinners who accept this offer God also accepted this "atonement" and no longer considers us to be unrepentant sinners, meaning we can enter His Heaven and His presence when we die.
This does not mean we no longer sin, for indeed, we do sin. But because of Jesusí sacrifice, God considers us to be repentant sinners. While unrepentant sinners may not enter Heaven, repentant sinners who have received forgiveness from Jesus are permitted to enter Heaven.
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10:38-43)
How Do We Receive Forgiveness from Jesus?
Just knowing the news of how Jesus died is not sufficient for salvation. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord,í Ö and then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'." (Matthew 7:21-23).
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (James 2:19)
To be saved from your sin and from Hell, to accept this plea bargain, this offer of the gift of salvation from God, it is necessary to take a step of trust and faith that the demons cannot or will not do. To know God, to enter into a spiritual relationship with Him, it is necessary to be born a second time spiritually.
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
This second birth is accomplished for us by God when we pray to God and admit that we are sinners, admit we are guilty of having broken Godís laws, and admit we deserve to be sent to Hell for our sins. When we call out to God in our prayer, admit our sinful guilt, and confess that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead so that He might rule over us, and if we ask to be forgiven of our sins merely on the basis that Jesus died for us, God will never turn us away. God will cleanse our minds and our hearts for us. This is the second birth from above, or being born again.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." (Romans 10:9-11)
God wants us to confess Jesus as Lord. He wants us to believe in our innermost being, our hearts, that Jesus is Lord. He wants us to confess the sins we did. He wants us to repent from all sin, which means to turn and walk away from doing sin. If we do this, He will save us. There is nothing more we can do but to accept what Jesus did for us. He died so that we would not have to be found guilty and be sentenced to Hell. He did this because He loves us. He wants us to love Him.
If you want to be saved from Hell and from the eternal penalty of the sins you have committed, you must pray. Prayer is just talking to God. There is no magic prayer or special formula to pray to get saved or to be born again. God just wants you to admit you have sinned, admit that Jesus is your Lord, and to turn away from doing sins.
Praying something like the prayer below, if you believe in God and trust that Jesus is Lord and Savior, is all that is necessary to receive salvation from God as a free gift. He is the one who will cause you to be born again.
Dear Heavenly Father, I am a sinner and I deserve to go to Hell. But I know that Jesus died to pay the penalty for the sins I committed. I believe in You and I believe in Jesus. I want to turn away from doing sins. Please forgive me for being a sinner and give me a clean mind and a clean heart. Fill me with your spirit. Thank you for forgiving me and for saving me. Thank you for making me a new person. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Jesus said: "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40)
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:1,2)
If you have accepted Godís gift, a form of plea bargain where you admit your guilt and confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior, then you have been given a new life. A new life now, abundant in love, peace, and power, and a new life in Heaven with God when you die.
If you have not accepted Godís gift, this all seems like foolishness to you. "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Corinthians 2:14). Please continue to think on these things. So long as you draw breath, it is not too late to place your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus and to confess Him as Savior.
Now That I am Saved from Sin and Hell, What Next?
There is a world of fellow believers out there who would love to rejoice with you about your decision to follow Christ. In fact, becoming saved is just the first step of an entire lifetime of what Jesus called living an abundant spiritual life. "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." (John 10:10b,11).
To get you started, here are some highly recommended "next steps" to take in your new abundant life:
May God bless you as you walk in faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
nevertheless 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)
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
And He said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)