By Joseph Ametepe
• In so many ways, the Bible clearly reveals that God's desire is for everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, God's One and Only Son, spoke of this desire to Nicodemus, a ruler and teacher of Israel. In John 3:16-18, Jesus declared: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (NIV). Again, speaking in the house of Zaccheus, a chief tax collector, the Lord Jesus revealed that saving lost sinners was His purpose in coming to earth: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10) (NIV).
• God's Spirit, also directed God's apostles to affirm God's longing to save sinners and bring them into a personal saving relationship with Himself. Speaking through Apostle Peter, the Holy Spirit says: "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) (NIV). And through Apostle Paul, He again says: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4) (NIV).
• These Scriptures convincingly show that God's highest priority for the people He created in His own image, but who have each gone astray from Him, is to save them and restore them into a loving, caring and living relationship with Him, in order that they might become all that He wants them to be. This is what God's desire for saving us is all about.
• There are only three simple truths you must know in order to be saved. You do not need to know a great deal of theology or the teachings of the church. God has made His plan and purpose for our salvation so simple. In fact, it is so simple that many find it too easy to accept. They feel to receive such a gift, they must work harder for it. They must sweat for it, or else it is not true. And so, people toil and labor hard and relentlessly to achieve their own salvation. They will rather contribute to their salvation than receive it freely. This desire to contribute makes them feel good. They can then boast about their accomplishment and receive the applause of men for their achievement.
• Unfortunately, this is not God's way. His Son, Jesus Christ did the difficult and hard work for our salvation in order to make it easy for us to be saved. Because His work for our salvation is total and complete, there is nothing we can do in ourselves to bring us into good standing with God. In other words, since we did nothing to deserve salvation, we have nothing to boast of. The Bible says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9) (NIV). Thanks be to Jesus Christ!
Three Truths You Must Know in Order to Personally Experience God's Salvation
A. You must know that you are a sinner and that you are lost.
• Unless you know you are sick you will not want to go to a doctor. Isn't that true? Unless you know you are drowning you will not want a rescuer. Isn't that the case? Unless you know you are lost you will not want to be found. Isn't it so? Yes, indeed! Similarly, unless you know you know you are a sinner you will not realize your need of a Savior. It is therefore important for you to know that you are a sinner and that you are lost. This is the first simple truth you need to know in order to be saved. But you say, "I am a good person. I am a nice person. I do good and nice things for people. I don't kill or steal or cheat others. What do you mean I must know that I am a sinner and that I am lost?" Let God respond to your question.
• God's word 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 [Jesus] the iniquity of us all." (NIV).
• The Bible also emphatically declares in Romans 3:10-18: "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. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes." (NIV)
• Whether you are willing to accept it or not, this is God's accurate description of people. God says there is no one who is righteous and there is no one who does good. The righteousness and goodness God is speaking of here are impossible apart from a change of heart performed by God Himself. In fact, God said through the prophet Isaiah: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away" (Isaiah 64:6) (NIV). God always says it just like it is. He sees us as we really are. Without a true change of heart, a work done by God alone, our best acts of charity are dirty and rotten to God. He cannot look upon them, let alone accept us into right standing with Him on the basis of these acts. That's the simple and sober truth. Nothing you say can change God's mind on this.
• As if this is not enough to humble us, David, the King and prophet of Israel, also spoke through the Spirit of God saying: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5)(NIV). David was simply admitting the fact that he is a sinner. So are you. You are a sinner from birth. You and I were born in sin. That's just the way it is, my friend.
• To stress the truth that we are sinners, God further stated clearly and convincingly through Apostle Paul these sobering words: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) (NIV). Again the Bible says, "Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12) (NIV). What's the point being made in these Scriptures? It's simple and straightforward. You are a sinner. You are lost. So the question is: "Do you know that you are a sinner? Do you know you are lost? Will you believe what God says about you? If you do, you are one step closer to experiencing salvation in Jesus Christ.
B. You must know that you cannot save yourself from your sins.
• It is not enough to know that you are a sinner and that you are lost. You must also know that you cannot save yourself from your sins. This is the second truth you must know.
• The Bible is very clear on this. It teaches that no one can save himself by works of righteousness or good works. The Bible says, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5-6) (NIV). Again, the Bible says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast" Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV). My friend, you cannot save yourself by being baptized or confirmed nor by joining a church and becoming religious. You cannot save yourself by living a good life, by obeying the golden rule of keeping the commandments. Your own works will never save you. To save yourself from your sins is absolutely impossible.
• This is what Jesus was trying to stress to His disciples in the story of the rich young ruler. The rich man came to Jesus and asked Him; "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16) (NIV). He boasted to Jesus that he had kept the law perfectly. But seeking to show how hard he's been working to save himself, he again asked Jesus, "What do I still lack?" Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth (Matthew 19:21-22) (NIV). Since Jesus' disciples were there, He used this as a teachable moment, saying to them, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23-24) (NIV). Jesus' statement sent shock waves through the disciples' hearts and minds. They were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:25-26) (NIV). There was nothing the rich man could do to save himself. Jesus showed him how attached he was to his riches. If he could not let go of his wealth, something that was so difficult for him, how could he possibly save himself from his sins? Like the rich young man, you cannot save yourself. It is impossible. Do you know that? Will you believe what God says?
C. You must know that God's One and Only Son, Jesus Christ alone can save you. No one else can.
• The Bible makes it distinctly clear that Jesus is God's Only Way of salvation for sinners. Many believe all roads leads to heaven. It doesn't matter which road you take, you will eventually end up in heaven. While that may be true in terms of traveling on different roads to a city, it is far removed from the truth when it comes to our journey to heaven. There is Only One Road that leads to heaven. That road is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• That Jesus is the Only Way to heaven is revealed in the name given to Him before His birth. When Joseph was considering the plan of quietly divorcing Mary in order not to expose her to public disgrace and possibly death by stoning, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. After exhorting Joseph to take Mary as his wife, the angel said to him: "She [Mary] will give birth to a son, you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21) (NIV). The name "Jesus" means "Yahweh saves." He is the One God has chosen to save sinners. Moses, Mary, Matthew were not chosen by God to save sinners, let alone Mohammed. Only Jesus saves. The angel made that very clear. He, Jesus will save His people from their since. That is the purpose of His coming. He is the Savior of the world. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (see John 1:29). The Bible says, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the world" (1 John 2:2) (NIV). This claim is made of Jesus, and Jesus alone. No other person in history had made such a claim. And no one will ever make this claim and dethrone Jesus from being the ONLY SURE WAY to heaven.
• Furthermore, the Bible makes a more daring claim on the teaching that Jesus is the Only One who saves. Would you please mark this well! Standing before the powerful religious leaders who had condemned Jesus to death, Peter, an unschooled, untrained and unskilled former fisherman, but filled with the Holy Spirit made this bold claim: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12) (NIV). This is what God is saying. He is not a liar. This is the truth we all need to know and accept in our hearts. Salvation from our sins is in Jesus Christ alone.
• Speaking to Jews and Gentiles on his first missionary journey, Paul also testified that experiencing salvation is obtained through Jesus Christ alone. He declared in the Holy Spirit: "I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39) (NIV).
• At the Jerusalem Council, Peter reaffirmed his belief that it is through Jesus alone that sinners are saved. "We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are" (Acts 15:11) (NIV).
• While on earth, the Lord Jesus Himself made two sweeping claims about being the Only One through whom salvation or forgiveness of sins is found and experienced. "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46-47)(NIV). It doesn't matter what your cultural background is or your country of origin is, when it comes to receiving forgiveness for your sins and personally experiencing salvation, you must come to Jesus and Jesus alone. You cannot use the excuse that you come from a culture or a country that has different beliefs than those of Jesus' day. Please, I want you to know that Jesus' coming is not only for the Jews but for all people.
• Perhaps, the most powerful claim Jesus made about being the Only Way to heaven is found in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (NIV). Please notice that Jesus does not merely show the way; He is the way. The Lord Jesus is saying here that He is not just one of many ways. He is the Only Way. No one, absolutely no one, comes to the Father except through the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is as simple as that. So you see, my friend, the way to God is not by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, religion, rites, rituals, regulations, charity, ceremonies, creeds, customs, church membership, doctrines, duties, deeds of merit, systems, service, and pilgrimages. It is through Jesus and Jesus alone. Today many say that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. They say that all religions have some good in them and that they all lead to heaven at last. But Jesus who came from heaven Himself plainly refuted that popular thinking. He declared He is the Only Way. So then Bhudda cannot save you, neither can Confucius nor any other revered religious leader. But praise God, Jesus Christ, the living, resurrected Christ, God' Son, can save you. Do you know it? Will you believe in it.
D. Knowing these three truths, what step should you take to experience salvation in Jesus Christ?
• All you have to do, if you know these three truths, is to receive and believe in Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior and Lord. The Bible says, "All who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descend, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13) (NIV).
• Will you open your heart to Jesus now and invite Him in? Will you believe that He is the Only Way to heaven? Will you believe the work He did on the cross to save you from your sins? Will you take this simple step? Please, I urge you not delay in making this life-changing decision. The Bible says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7) (NIV). Again, it says, "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2) (NIV). You are a sinner, you cannot save yourself, Jesus Christ can save you. Therefore reach out to Him NOW and receive Him NOW and believe in Him NOW. Now is your time of salvation. Please, don't let another day pass without receiving the greatest gift God has for you. It is free. The price has been fully paid by Jesus Christ.
• Since Jesus is the One who alone saves, would you please now tell Him of your heart's desire to be saved. "Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that You died on the cross for my sins to save me from eternal death. I believe that You are the Only One who can save me from my sins. I admit to You that I am a sinner in need of Your salvation. I open the door of my heart to You and receive You into my heart as my Lord and Savior. I give You my life. Please help me become what You want me to be. Help me grow in my life and love for You and for Your Word. Thank You Jesus for saving me. Amen."
• If you have prayed this prayer to Jesus, the Only One who saves us, please contact us and let us encourage and guide you in your new found relationship with Jesus Christ.