Monday, March 27, 2017
How to be saved from an eternity in hell!
I believe there's a lot of confusion and a lot of deception regarding "How to be saved". I hesitate even using that phrase because it's become so much a part of our Christianeze that the world rejects it outright or merely ignores it. We toss around the phrase "Are you saved?" or "Is he saved?" so much that I think we often forget what we are being saved from. To the world, they are probably thinking the same thing. Why do they need saving? And from what?
That's why I chose the title I did for this very important post. Hell is not something you hear much about in church these days. In fact, a recent poll says that most professing Christians no longer believe in hell. Many churches now believe that a loving God would never send people to hell for all eternity.
Yet the Bible says otherwise. Actually it isn't God who sends them there, but their own choice in rejecting Him. But that's another topic. What I want to address here is a more positive topic. How to go to heaven when you die. How to spend eternity with God.
For years I sat in church and watched the pastor give altar calls after the sermon to all those who wanted to be "saved". People would come up, repeat a prayer exactly as he said it, and then BAM, they were pronounced "saved"! It seemed to me more like an initiation for some sort of club like the Boy Scouts or maybe a political club than it did an eternity-altering event. I started to wonder. (Recently many churches now make it a secret thing and ask everyone to close their eyes and people who want Jesus to quietly raise their hand and repeat a silent prayer as if it's a complete embarrassment to admit you need Jesus. GRRR)
So, I looked up Scriptures on how to be saved
He who has believed in Me and has been baptized will be saved from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment; but he who has not believed will be condemned. Mark 16:16 AMP
And it shall be that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking, adoring, and worshiping the Lord Jesus] shall be saved (rescued spiritually) Acts 2:21 AMP
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved Acts 4:12 AMP
“Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household Acts 16:31 AMP
Because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 AMP
Sounds easy, doesn't it? All I have to do is BELIEVE in Jesus.
But then, how do we process a Scripture like the following:
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. James 2:19
So I looked up BELIEVE in the Greek in Mark 16:16, Acts 16:31, and Romans 10:9 above and here's what I discovered.
It is the GREEK word pisteuo and it means: To have faith, to entrust one's spiritual well-being, to commit unto, to be committed unto. It means to be persuaded of, and hence, to place confidence in, to trust, and signifies reliance on.
So it would seem that BELIEVE means much more than we think of it in the English. Yes, getting saved is easy, but the process is much more complicated then is preached from the pulpit. It also involves REPENTENCE, which is also a topic not spoken of much anymore. But most of all, the entire salvation process is ONLY initiated by the Holy Spirit.
Unless the Holy Spirit pricks our hearts, our dead spirits cannot perceive the things of God
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
So, a person can repeat a prayer to receive Jesus for all the wrong reasons until he or she is blue in the face AND not be saved because his or her heart is not in the right place, and the Holy Spirit did not initiate it. Yes, I actually believe that.
So, what does a true salvation experience look like? How does one commit themselves to and trust in Someone they've never seen? That's where the Holy Spirit comes in.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44 (Jesus is speaking here)
One of the Holy Spirit's major jobs here on earth is to draw people to Jesus. But He is a gentleman and does not force Himself on anyone. Man has some responsibility too. He must first seek God. He must turn his face ever so slightly toward God and truly in his heart wish to know the truth. Then, the Holy Spirit can enter the situation and draw that person toward God. The person can still reject God and walk away, but he or she still has a chance in the future if they begin to seek again. In fact this cycle of seeking and drawing and rejecting can go on for years until either the person gets saved or the person walks away forever.
This is exactly what happened in my own life and in the life of my husband.
The short version of my testimony is this: I had "become saved" at a young age in church. I said the repeat-after-me-prayer and was pronounced "saved". I even prayed and read my Bible on occasion, but I can honestly say I didn't know the Lord. As soon as I grew up, I drifted far away from the things of God and did many things I'm terribly ashamed of now. One day in my mid-thirties, I woke up and realized my life was one big fat mess. Divorce, alcoholism, wayward children, a job I hated... it was so bad, I wanted to die. I hit rock bottom in the pit I had dug for myself. That's when I started seeking God. I pulled down my old Bible and began to read it. I didn't pray. I just read. Somewhere in the middle of Ezekiel, a light began to grow inside me. I saw prophecies written there that were coming true in my lifetime. I remember the moment I looked up and said to God. "You're real!" I guess I had never truly believed that. As soon as I said that, something happened to me. I can only describe it as my entire being flooded with light--not a light I could see but an inner light of peace and joy and, something I hadn't felt in a long while, hope. Over the next few months, I began to pray and seriously seek God, and the Lord started to reveal to me some of my sins and how dark my spirit was. I spent hours in tearful repentance and finally committed my life to Jesus. That was over 20 years ago and I've never looked back. Nothing in this world compares to knowing Jesus. Nothing.
My husband had a very exciting salvation experience. I could write an entire post on it, but suffice it to say God had to do something drastic to wake him up. He was an atheist who used to argue with me about the existence of God. He forbade me to tithe or to take the kids to church. But then he lost his job and our marriage was on the brink of collapse, and you could say, he also hit rock bottom. I told him to go for a walk and ask God if He was real. I didn't think he'd do it, but he did! All it took was that one sincere question and BAM, God showed up. My husband describes it as a buzzing that spread throughout his body. Suddenly everything around him became brighter and more colorful. My husband says he felt very small and dirty, like he wasn't worthy to be speaking to God. God told him he was wrong about many things. My husband saw lights shooting up into the sky from all across our city and when he asked God what those were, the Lord responded. "Those are my people". He also saw demons in the form of dark slinky shadows darting across the path he was walking. When he returned home, he was shaking and his eyes were glowing. I kid you not. He told me what happened and we both prayed together right then. There's much more to the story, but I'll leave it at that.
Not everyone has this kind of experience. Most of us feel nothing at all, at least at first, but as you progress in your walk, you will definitely experience many wonderful things!
Here's how to truly be saved.
First, you must sincerely want to know God, you must want to know the truth. This yearning has to come from your heart, not your head, and your motives must be pure.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Secondly, when the Holy Spirit tugs on your heart, respond! Find a place alone, drop to your knees, and pray. The Holy Spirit will make you feel a sense of remorse for your sins, shame at the bad things you've done. Without repentance, there is no true salvation. You must first realize that you are a bad person at heart, that you have broken God's law. There are no good people in God's eyes. You must see your sin for what it is and realize you need a savior. It was Adam and Eve's rebellion in the Garden of Eden that separated all of mankind from God. It's not that God was mad and simply didn't want to have a relationship with us. It's that He couldn't. If we were to approach Him, we would instantly die just being in His Holy presence. And without God, we would all ultimately die and go to hell. So, God had to plan a way to save mankind. He had to send His Son on a rescue mission--to die in our place for the sins of all mankind, in essence to take our punishment. So, now our debt is paid, our sins wiped clean, and we can reconnect with God, but only if we receive the free gift of Jesus's sacrifice. In order to do that, we must first realize our sinfulness and repent. Repent actually means not only to be sorry, but to turn around from the way you were heading and go the other way. It's a life changing act.
Thirdly, after you have truly repented, receive the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and commit your entire life, soul, body, and spirit into His hands. That means you no longer live your life for yourself, but you live your life for Him. Sounds restrictive, doesn't it? Believe me, it's quite the opposite. It's true freedom, along with adventure, purpose, joy, peace, and love like you've never known before.
Lastly, the Christian walk is not an easy one. Don't listen to preachers who tell you you're going to have your "best life now". We live in a fallen world that is run by our enemy, Satan. Jesus, Himself, said.
"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Being a faithful follower of Jesus is work. Like any relationship, you must spend time with Him, with the Father, in prayer, and in conversation. You must spend time reading the Bible. You must constantly be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit and learn to walk by faith and be led by the Spirit. It's a journey. There will be great highs, along with deep valleys. You will be hated by the world and shunned by many. But the rewards are so great! I wouldn't trade the past 25 years I've walked with God for anything in the universe. I only wished I'd come into the Kingdom sooner.
It's important to remember that this life on earth is nothing compared to eternity. It is just a staging ground, a test, a play, in which we must make the right choices. When our physical bodies die, if we've made the right choice, we go to a place far better than this, more real, more beautiful with endless wonders for all eternity. We'll have bodies far better than the ones we have now, and we'll have friends and family and even jobs which we love. And there will be no more pain, tears, sorrow, wars..etc. And we will be with our Father, our Creator, and our Savior forever.
I implore you, if you haven't already, to make the right choice today.
The alternative is unthinkable.