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How To Be Saved and Be Certain of It

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Whenever we lose something, depending on what it is, we may feel annoyed with ourselves or anxious.  When it is a child or loved one that is lost, great fear and concern drives us into a determined effort to find them.  But what if we are lost, and what if we are lost and do not know it?  Many people are in that very situation.  We know this is true because of something Jesus said.  In Matthew 7:13, 14, He said:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (ESV)

Notice Jesus said that many people enter the way that leads to destruction, but only a few enter the way that leads to life.

Later in that same chapter, Jesus pictured something that will undoubtedly happen countless times on the day of judgment; people being surprised that they are not allowed to enter heaven.  He 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, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV)

Is it possible that you might be lost and not know it?  Is it possible that you think you have entered the way that leads to life but somehow you really missed it?  Wouldn’t you really like to know it, if in fact you are lost?  That is the purpose of the information provided here.  We want you and every person to KNOW HOW TO BE SAVED AND BE CERTAIN OF IT!

Perhaps we should begin by asking, “Why are people lost?”

The reasons why people find themselves lost are many, but they all boil down to just one thing–SIN!  It is certainly not God’s desire that anyone be lost.  The idea that God has predestined some people to be lost is a gross perversion of the truth  (see  John 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 2:4;  2 Peter 3:9).  God is not the reason why we are lost, we have done that to ourselves!  The Word of God makes that very clear:

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;  as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE,” Romans 3:9-10 (ESV)

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23 (ESV)

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;  but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”  Isaiah 59:1,2 (ESV)

“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23 (ESV)

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”  2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV)

“…it is appointed for man to die … after that comes judgment.”  Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)

The bottom line is, people are lost because of sin and that is something we all have done and continue to do.  The Scriptures tell us (see 1 John 1:8) that the person who says he does not sin deceives himself.  Deceiving ourselves is a good way to continue being lost.  If we truly desire to be saved, we must come to recognize our sinfulness and need for forgiveness.

Sin is like a debt, and the longer we live and the more we sin, the larger that debt grows.  The problem is, we have nothing with which to pay our debt.  Because we are sinful beings, we have nothing to offer God that He will accept.  That is because He is a holy God, and as the Isaiah passage above says, it is our sins that has separated us.

Because we are sinners, and not like God, we tend to minimize the importance of sin.  We think our sins are not a big deal.  It is just a little lie, drinking too much perhaps, or perhaps losing our temper.  We think to ourselves that all in all, we are really not BAD people.  We reason that if God is loving and merciful as “they” say, surely He will see that I am not all that sinful.  We think, “At least I am not a murderer, or a rapist or some really bad person.”  We fail to realize that all sin, and every sin separates us from God, and every sin we have ever committed or ever will commit, is an offense against the holy God who made us and gave His Son to die for us.  Our sin problem is very real and something had to be done about it.  Let’s now learn what God did to make it possible for our sins to be forgiven.

What God has Done, and is Doing, to Solve our Sin Problem

The reason why Christ came into the world was to make a way for our sins to be forgiven.   Before He began to create the heavens and earth, God had a plan to save us (see Ephesians 3:8-11).  That plan was for Christ (God Himself) to come into this world and become a sacrifice for our sins (see Philippians 2:5-8).  He would take upon Himself a mortal body, live a sinless life and offer Himself upon the cross for our sins (see Luke 19:10; Matthew 20:28).  In offering Himself, He was taking our punishment, suffering the wrath of God for us.  That once-for-all sacrifice was totally sufficient to satisfy the holiness and justice of God.  Consider the following Scriptures:

“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

“But now we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste of death for everyone.”  Hebrews 2:9 (ESV)

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8 (ESV)

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”  1 Peter 3:18 (ESV)

But Christ did not just die.  He was raised from the dead.  Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”  In other words, the “good news” is not just that Christ came and died for us, but that He was raised from the dead.  Death has been defeated and we have a living Savior!   He was raised from the dead and not long after that He ascended back into heaven to sit at the right hand of God (the Father).  There he rules with “all authority (see Matthew 28:18) and sitting at God’s right hand, Christ continues to intercede on behalf of those who have put their faith in Him.

This “good news” about Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is at the very heart of God’s plan of saving people from their sins.  The Bible expresses it as in the following quotation from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (ESV)

Truly, as Titus 2:11 tells us, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.”  The coming of Christ to die on the cross for our sins had been prophesied in the Old Testament by many prophets in various ways.  The prophet Zechariah spoke of it as a “fountain” being opened; a fountain for the forgiveness of sins.  This “way” of forgiveness was made possible because of the love and grace of God (see John 3:16) and the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf.

However, it is important to understand that just because Jesus died for all men, that doesn’t mean that all men are going to be saved.  Salvation is available to all men, without regard to who they are or what they may have done, but the good news (i.e. the gospel) does require something of people.  They must not only believe the gospel; they must also “obey” it.   1 Peter 4:17 says, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (ESV, also see Romans 10:16 and 2 Thessalonians 1:8).

What must we do?

As we learned above, the facts of the gospel are that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead for our justification and has now ascended back into the heavens where he sits at the right hand of God, interceding on behalf of the saints.  Those are things one must believe, but how does one obey facts?  When you think about it, you begin to realize that the gospel not only contains facts to be believed, but also commands to be obeyed.  What are those commands?  Let us consider the words of Jesus as He was giving his apostles the “great commission.”  Following his death and resurrection, and just before His ascension back into heaven, Jesus gave the apostles their assignment.  We read about that at the conclusion of three of the four gospels.  In Matthew 28:18-20, we read:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20)  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)

The same words as related in Marks gospel, (16:15,16) tell us,

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  16)  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (ESV)

In the gospel of Luke (24:45-47), Jesus’ words are given as follows:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,  46)  and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  47)  and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  (ESV)

What do these words from Jesus teach us concerning how we “obey” the gospel?  It seems clear that if people are going to be saved (i.e. become “disciples” of Christ), in addition to believing the “facts” about Christ, they must also repent of their sins and be baptized. Let’s think about the importance of these two commands.

What is repentance?

The word translated repentance implies the idea of turning away from sin.  It involves being sorrowful for our sin, but more than that, it involves ceasing the practice of those things we know that are sinful.  Repentance is something we do, but it is not something we do one time and then we are done with it.  We must learn to have a penitent heart as we go through the remainder of our lives.  We will continue to “sin and fall short of God’s glory” but because we make it our goal to live lives that please God and honor His holy nature, we will also continue to confess and repent of every sin.   The goal of every Christian’s life should be to become as much like the sinless Christ as possible. The apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:14-16) put it this way:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  15)  but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  16)  since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (ESV)

In Acts 2, we read about the very first people who “obeyed” the gospel following Jesus’ ascension back into heaven.  As the multitudes of Jewish people in Jerusalem became convicted (see verse 37) of putting Jesus to death, they wanted to know what they should do about it.  The very first thing that Peter told them, was to repent (see verse 38).  Repentance is a critical element in any person’s decision to become a disciple of Christ and be saved.  If there is no repentance, there can be no forgiveness and salvation. Read and consider the following scriptures that emphasize the necessity and importance of repentance.

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Matthew 4:17 (ESV)

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  2)  And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  3)  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  4)  Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?  5)  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”  Luke 13:1-5 (ESV)

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30 (ESV)

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  5)  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  Romans 2:4,5 (ESV)

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

The first way one “obeys” the gospel is by repenting; a decision to turn away from a life of sinning to a life of holiness.  Repentance is an ongoing attitude towards sin that leads to changes in how we live.  Whereas before we may have lied; now we no longer lie.  Before we may have lusted after that which was not ours to have; now we do not allow those lusts to remain in our hearts.  Before we may have been hateful and vengeful, but when we truly repent, we become kind and forgiving.  Before we may have found worship to be boring; now we delight in spending time in God’s presence.  Once we repent, then we need to be baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins.

Why Baptism?

Baptism is an “immersion” in water for the purpose of having one’s sins washed away.  Alternate forms of baptism, such as sprinkling and pouring of water, are not found in the Bible and should not be used.  Baptism is that “watery grave” in which we actually have our sins washed away by the blood of Christ.  It is that time and place when the “old” man dies and we are “born again.”  Baptism is NOT something we do AFTER we are saved, it is what we do in order to be saved!   We are to be baptized in order to have our sins forgiven, NOT because they have been forgiven.  Read and carefully consider the following scriptures:

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  2)  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”  3)  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  4)  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  5)  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:1-5 (ESV)

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  16)  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4)  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  5)  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6)  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  7)  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Romans 6:3-7 (ESV)

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  Galatians 3:27 (ESV)

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  12)  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.  Colossians 2:11-12 (ESV)

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 3:21 (ESV)

It is clear from these scriptures that baptism is an essential step in becoming a Christian.  Some people teach, however, that it is not essential; that one can be saved before or apart from baptism.  They teach that, often very sincerely, because they believe that salvation is by grace and NOT by works.  That is what Ephesians 2:8,9 teaches.  However, just because God tells us to do something, and we do it, that does not mean we are being saved by our works.  Take the matter of faith, or believing, for example.  Numerous passages teach us that we must have faith in order to be saved (see John 3:16, Hebrews 11:6).  But if we believe and put our trust in God and Christ, that is not some work whereby we deserve to be saved.  Similarly, the Bible teaches that we must repent of our sins.  When we do that, do we “earn” salvation?  Absolutely not!  In the same way, being baptized is not a work that earns salvation for us.  It is simply another way we “obey” the gospel.  The apostle Peter made that clear in 1 Peter 3:21, when he wrote:  “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (ESV)

As pointed out in the Romans 6 passage cited above, baptism is when we die to sin.  Until we are baptized into Christ, we are still in our sins.  Baptism is how we join Him in His death on the cross.   Like Christ, we too are buried.  Like Christ, we too are raised from the dead to walk in a new life.  Until we are baptized we have yet to die, or be buried with Christ, nor have we been raised from the dead.  The “old man” of sin is still alive, and we have yet to be “born again.”

If you want to be saved and be certain of it, be sure you have done the following:

1) You have put your faith (and trust) in God and in Christ as God’s son, that he came into this world, and that His death on the cross was sufficient to satisfy the holiness of God for your sins.

2) You have repented of your sins, that not only have a sorrowful attitude towards those things that are wrong, but you have actually stopped doing those things.

3) You have been baptized (immersed) for the remission of your sins.

If you have read and studied the information on this page, including the many scriptures cited, and you are ready to be saved we encourage you to contact us (click here), or, if possible, contact the church of Christ nearest you.  Let them know of your desire.  They will be happy to assist you and welcome you into the fellowship of Christian believers.  If you have any questions we can help you with, please feel free to contact us using the link below.

May God bless you for taking time to read and study this information, and thanks for visiting our website.