By Joseph Ametepe
• God is a God of love. The Bible says, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). In His love for all men, God desires and delights to be in relationship with them. However, sin separated people from God. God could have chosen to allow us to remain separated from Him forever. But His deep love for you and me would not permit Him to do so. He dearly loves us and wants to draw us into a living and loving personal relationship with Himself. Motivated by such deep love for us, He chose to send His One and Only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who willingly sacrificed Himself for sinners like you and me in order to bring us to God. What love is this!
• In other words, God did everything possible to save us from being banished from a love relationship with Him. He sent us a Savior, Jesus Christ, to release us from a life of sin and bondage to the devil. God's work through Jesus Christ to set sinners free from sin and Satan and bring them into a personal loving and living relationship with Himself is called salvation. That is the simple and practical definition of salvation.
• However, the question to consider is: How does a person enter into this experience of salvation? This question has been answered by many. Some say, you must be circumcised before you are really saved. Others say, doing good deeds, such as acts of charity, is necessary for salvation. Still others say, attending church is important for entering into the experience of salvation. Again, others assert, baptism as a child or an adult guarantees one's salvation.
• God is not only a God of love, but also a God of clarity. He is not a God of confusion. He is truth and speaks truthfully. He made clear the way of salvation. He spelt it out in simple terms so that even a little child can understand it and personally experience it. The purpose of this article is to present three simple steps to experiencing salvation as clearly taught in the Bible. I call this the ABCs of salvation.
The ABC's of Salvation!
A. Acknowledge that you are a sinner before God.
• The first simple step God has clearly laid down for us to follow to receive His salvation is to acknowledge that you are a sinner before God. You must agree with God that you are indeed a sinner. You must admit this undeniable fact. You must accept it because it is true of every single person living on the face of this earth. I say this with no apology. This is the plain truth God has revealed about us in the Bible. We are sinners before a holy, loving, and righteous God. Of course, when we compare ourselves with others, we conclude that we are not bad. We are better than many. After all, we don't cheat like others do. We don't steal like others we know do. We do not murder, so we are better than the gangsters who shoot and kill at the least provocation. When we compare ourselves with our fellow human beings, we may find reason to believe that we are not sinners. But unfortunately, comparing ourselves to other people is the wrong standard to use. The right standard to use is God Himself. He is the true standard of perfection, righteousness and holiness. When we compare ourselves to Him, at once it will become clear to us that we fall short of His holy and high standard.
• The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Notice, the repetition of the word "all." It is repeated for emphasis. All, without exception, have gone in the wrong way as far as God is concerned. In other words, the Bible is saying that we are all sinners.
• Also in Romans 3:23, the Bible declares: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Would you please notice again, the word "all." God's evaluation of every single person living on the face of His earth is that he or she is a sinner. I know this is difficult for many to accept. But this is what God is saying. God never lies (Titus 1:2). God is not a man, that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). He is the truth and tells only what is true and trustworthy. He says, we are sinners. Nothing we can say or do will change what He has said of us.
• Again the Bible strongly and unashamedly declares: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Romans 3:10-12). This is the sobering truth about us. This is how God sees us. Please, make no mistake! God always speaks the truth not only about Himself but also about us. He knows our true condition so well. We are sinners. In ourselves, we are not righteous and we cannot attain right standing with God through our good deeds.
• Since this is the undeniably fact, what must we do? We must admit that we are sinners. We must agree with God concerning the truth He revealed about us. We must acknowledge that according God's standard, we are lost sinners. It is a truth we cannot run away from. We must accept it as it is. You are a sinner before God.
• Admitting the truth about ourselves is hard. It is humbling. But it is healthy for us. Failing to accept the plain truth God has revealed about us is deceptive and dangerous. It is dangerous because it will lead us eventually to ruin. It is deceptive because we are making the choice to believe a lie rather than the truth. Are you deceiving yourself by believing a lie that you are basically "good" when God's Word clearly says you are a sinner? Please, don't let self-deception rob you of one of God's great gifts for your life - the experience of salvation.
• You are a sinner. Accept it. Acknowledge that fact. Admit it. Agree with God about what He has made known you. He says, "you are a sinner." Would you at this very moment admit before God that you are a sinner?
B. Believe with all your heart that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and was raised again from the dead.
• It is important to admit before God that you are a sinner. However, to experience God's saving grace, the Bible reveals that one must also believe. The Bible is very careful to define who or what one must believe in to be saved. It makes it clear that you must believe wholeheartedly in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross for the salvation of sinners.
• One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of a prison guard at Philippi. He had received a command from his superiors to guard Paul and Silas in the inner cell of the prison. He strictly followed the orders of his superiors. Paul and Silas did not resist the jailer. They submitted themselves to God and His will for their lives. As a result, they found joy in praising God and praying to Him. God responded to their praises and prayers with an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison. Doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. The jailer thought all the prisoners had escaped and decided it was better for him to take his life than face the sword of the emperor for his negligence. Just as he was about to draw his sword to kill himself, Paul called out to him in a loud voice not to harm himself. The fear-stricken jailer had one question to ask Paul and Silas: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household'" (Acts 16:30-31).
• Please notice carefully that the jailer wasn't told to get baptized before he is saved. Neither was he commanded to do good works before he is saved. Nor was he instructed to be circumcised before he is saved. He was simply told to believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, to have absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus, who is the Savior of the world, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
• In Romans 10:9-10, the Bible again emphasizes the necessity of believing in Jesus Christ for salvation. "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
• Please notice the Bible says you are to believe with your heart, not your head. In other words, the belief being spoken of here is not merely an intellectual belief but belief in your inner person, the heart, which is the real you. It is important that you believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus died for our sins. But He didn't remain in the grave forever. He was resurrected from the grave because God accepted His sacrifice for your sins and mine. By this, God was declaring to all people, that there is no other acceptable sacrifice for sins. Christ's sacrifice of Himself was sufficient for the full payment of our sin debt. His sacrifice alone completely satisfied God's wrath against your sins and mine. God guarantees salvation for anyone who simply believes in the Person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross for sinners.
• But the question is: Have you believed in Jesus Christ? Have you believed that God raised Him from the dead? Have you believed that His sacrifice is sufficient for the full payment of your sin debt? Simply believe, wholeheartedly, sincerely, not in yourself, not in your goodness, not in your good works, but in Jesus Christ, His death for your sins and His resurrection, and God, who does not lie, says, "you will be saved." In other words, you will not be disappointed. You will experience salvation in Jesus Christ and join millions over the world who live in a saving personal relationship with the true and living God.
C. Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved.
• You must accept the sober truth God has revealed about all people of all time and of all ages and cultures: You are a sinner before God! But you must also believe with all your heart in Jesus Christ and in His resurrection from the dead. Having admitted that you are a sinner before God and believed in Jesus Christ, you must also call on the name of the Lord Jesus in order to experience salvation.
• The Bible speaks of this calling on the name of the Lord as a simple step to experiencing God's salvation. On the Day of Pentecost, Apostle Peter exhorted the crowds who were listening to his message to call on the name of the Lord. "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Acts 2:21). This is a wonderful promise God has made to sinners. This promise was later repeated in the Letter to the Romans. "For, 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Romans 10:13).
• Please notice the certainty of the promise. The Bible repeatedly says, "you will be saved" not "you may be saved." God does not give us fake and false promises. He does not give promises He has no intention of fulfilling. He means what He says. You can count on His word and never be put to shame.
• Now, the question is: What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord? In the Bible, a name represented the nature of a person. The name of the Lord is an expression that includes all that the Lord is. Therefore, to call on His name is to call on Himself as the true object of faith and as the only way of salvation. To call on the name of the Lord does not refer to some desperate cry to just any deity but to the One True God as He has revealed Himself fully in the Lord Jesus Christ. Calling on the name of the Lord is simply turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
• Have you called on Jesus as the true object of faith? Have you honestly called on Jesus as the only way of salvation? Have you called on Jesus by simply turning to Him as your Lord and personal Savior? The Bible says, you will be saved. In other words, your eternal destiny will be changed. You will be made a new creation. You will pass from death to life, from darkness to light. You will begin to experience salvation in Jesus Christ.
D. What must you do in the light of this clear teaching about experiencing salvation?
• When God's presents His truth to us He does so with this purpose in mind: We must respond to it. Response to God's truth is what you must do. You must respond simply by admitting that you are a sinner before God. You must respond by believing with all your heart in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His work on the cross for you. You must respond by calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus, that is, to call on Jesus' name as the true object of your faith and as the only way of salvation. This is the response God expects of you. Any other response will not do.
• Since Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, why not take a few moments of your time to speak to Him. He is always ready to listen to you. Just tell Him from the bottom of your heart: "Dear Jesus, I know and understand that I am a sinner before God. I have not lived up to Your holy standard. I honestly admit that before You. Lord Jesus I believe in You with all my heart and in Your death on the cross for my sins and in Your resurrection from the dead. I am calling upon Your name as the true object of my faith and as the only way of salvation. This is the response You desire from me. Please, take my life and make it what You want it to be. Thank You for saving me and bringing me into a loving relationship with You. Help me love and follow You the rest of my life. I wholeheartedly accept You as my Lord and Savior. Amen."
• If God has moved your heart to pray this simple prayer for the first time in your life, I want to encourage you that based on the Word of God, you have entered the new and exciting experience of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Please contact us to rejoice with you as well as guide you in this new life of salvation in Jesus Christ.
• May the joy of the Lord be your strength today and always!