Salvation means being saved, or rescued, from something — but what? The Bible says that a day will come when God, just like a judge in a courtroom, will judge every person for the evil things they have thought and done in their lifetime on Earth. Those who have broken His laws will be sentenced to eternal separation from Himself in a very unpleasant place. God does not want that to happen to anyone, and so He has gone to great lengths to make it unnecessary. His anger will fall on only those who reject His solution for this problem. But for now, God is patiently waiting for people to call out to Him for salvation, a time in human history about which this blog site will have a great deal to say. (“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9)
His solution is Jesus Christ, His Son, who He sent into this world to take receive the judgement and punishment we deserve, to be the first person to ever bodily come back from death with new eternal life, and to share that eternal life with us. In this way, God offers us mercy (withholding the punishment we do deserve) and grace (giving us new life that we do not deserve). To make it even better, God offers this at no charge — it cannot be bought or earned. It must be accepted like a birthday present. Why? So that no one can boast about how they got it. (“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9)
In a nutshell, this is God’s plan to rescue people from certain judgement and eternal punishment:
- If you have never received this gift from God, but have rejected it in favor of your own efforts, you are helpless to do anything on your own to fix your problem. Everyone has this problem from the time they are born, and everyone has done things that displease God (called sin) And it only takes one sin to make us worthy of judgement. God’s standard of measurement, contrary to popular opinion, is not that your good deeds outweight your bad deeds, but whether or not you have and bad deeds at all. (“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10; “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23) The first step to salvation is to agree with God that you are guilty and helpless to do anything about it on your own, and are sorry about your sin, and tell Him so.
- God knows this about you, but He still loves you. That’s why He sent His Son to pay the price for your sins personally. (“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16) The next step to salvation is to agree with God that He has provided the solution to your problem through the offer of His Son, Jesus Christ, and tell Him so.
- Since God offers this solution as a free gift, you need to accept it. Telling God, “Well, thanks, but I want to think about it awhile…” is just another way to reject His offer. Understanding what God has done intellectually is insufficient, until you take ownership personally of God’s gift of salvation. Don’t put it off, because you don’t know when God’s patience with mankind (and you personally) will end and judgment will come. (“Behold, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2b) The last step to receive salvation is to accept God’s free gift of salvation, and tell Him so. Don’t forget to say, “Thank You!”
That’s all there is to receiving salvation. If you’ve done this (and actually meant it), you are now God’s child for all eternity. It may take some time before you see changes in your life, or it may have already happened like fireworks going off in your heart — it varies from person to person. But regardless of how God begins in our lives, there are some things that everyone who accepts God’s gift of salvation should do to continue to grow in Christ:
- Tell someone who is already a Christian that you have received God’s gift of salvation. This person may be able to help you with the rest of this list.
- Get a Bible if you don’t already have one, and begin reading it. The Gospel of John (the fourth book in the New Testament) is an easy read and a good place to start.
- Get involved in fellowship with other Christians. It might be attending a megachurch on Sunday, or a home Bible study on Tuesday with only two other believers.
- Set aside a few minutes every day to talk with God. We call it “prayer”, but it’s just talking with God. He loves to sit down to visit with you, and He’s never too busy. He loves you, and wants to know what’s on your heart.
If you have received God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ while reading this, welcome to the family of God! Please let me know so that I can rejoice with you and pray for you!