Today our message is entitled “How to be Saved.” We’re in a message series called “My Salvation.” The topic of salvation is so simple that a young child can be saved. I was saved at the age of four and understood the basics of salvation as taught in the Bible and explained to me by my mother. Yet the topic of salvation is so misunderstood that literally billions of people think they are saved, when they are not. Jesus taught that there are two and only two roads in life.
Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
We see that there is a broad road that the majority of people are on. But the destination of that road is not salvation, but destruction. The narrow road has only a few people on it, but it leads to life, that is salvation. Do the people on the broad road know that they are headed for destruction? The answer is absolutely not. They think they are headed for salvation, heaven, nirvana, union with God or some other type of wonderful eternity. Let’s look at some more teaching by Jesus on the two types of people in the world.
Luke 13:23-25 (ESV) And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’
In this passage, Jesus explains to us again that many will seek to be saved, but will not be saved. Only a few will enter through the narrow door. At the end of time, at the judgement, many who have followed the broad road will knock on the door of heaven and seek to enter. Yet, Jesus will tell them that He doesn’t know them. That leads us to the question, why will so many people think they’re saved and going to heaven, when in fact, they are headed for destruction in hell? The answer is that the majority of people think they’re saved because they’ve been following a plan to be saved that is not biblical. Many people think that they believe in Jesus when in fact they don’t truly believe.
Let’s watch a video about belief called “Faith on a Wire.” You see the people said they believed in Blondin, they believed he could take them across Niagara, but they didn’t believe enough to trust their lives to him. In the same way, many people say they believe in Jesus. They believe He existed, that He was a good man, perhaps even the son of God. But they don’t trust their entire lives to Him. They want to live life on their own terms, following their own plans, not His. They don’t have a relationship with Jesus, He doesn’t know them, they’re not saved.
Today, we’re going to learn how to be saved, from the Bible. We want to make sure that we are saved. Then understand how to be saved so that we can explain it to others who have been deceived.
The first step in being saved is to repent from sin. John the Baptist began his ministry saying “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When Jesus began preaching, his message was exactly the same “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What does it mean to repent? To repent is to …
On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached a message saying that Jesus was the Messiah who died to provide forgiveness and rose from the dead. The crowd asked Peter, what must they do?
Acts 2:38 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We see that Peter’s message, the message of the early church was exactly the same as Jesus’ message. The first step in being saved is to repent. To repent is to admit that you have sinned and then to turn away from that sin. To repent is to change your mind from loving sin to loving God. Acts 2:38 is really the key verse of the book of Acts and of the whole New Testament. It describes the three steps God desires for every person.
The first step is repentance, which here encompasses the other two steps of salvation, that we’ll talk about next. Once one is saved, then Christ commands us to be water baptized and baptized in the Holy Spirit. One cannot completely fulfill God’s plan for your life as a believer without being saved, water baptized and Spirit baptized. Spirit baptism is how a new believer is to …
Acts 2:39 (ESV) For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
The promise spoken of in this verse is Spirit baptism, promised by Jesus in Acts 1. That promise of Spirit baptism was not just for the early church, but for everyone who is saved. Spirit baptism equips a believer to live a life of repentance, following Jesus as Lord and living by faith.
Acts 2:40-41 (ESV) And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Three thousand people listening to Peter preach repented and were saved, water baptized and Spirit baptized. Let’s talk a bit more about repentance.
Every Sunday, we give an opportunity for people to be saved and the first step is to Admit that you have sinned. To repent is to first of all admit that you have sinned. But actually repentance is more than simply admitting sin. Repentance is to turn away from that sin, to determine that with God’s help, you won’t continue in that sin. Repentance is to accept Jesus’ forgiveness of your past sins.
Sometimes people try to be saved by simply asking Jesus to forgive their sins with no determination to turn away from that sin in the future. That is not repentance, as repentance involves turning away from sin. There is no salvation without repentance. Repentance comes through the Holy Spirit convicting a person of their sin. Then the person convicted of sin, prays to God in repentance and changes their mind about their sin, turning away from it. Repentance is not a one-time act, but something that should be a daily activity for the believer. Today, the next step or aspect of being saved is to …
To be saved, we look to Jesus not just to forgive our sins, but to be Lord of our lives. This is an aspect of salvation that is overlooked by many who think they are saved, but are not. In fact, there is a prevalent teaching that you can be saved and then at a later date make Jesus Lord of your life, if you so choose. This teaching is absolutely false. If Jesus is not Lord of your life, then you are not saved. So, let’s look at …
Romans 10:6-9 (ESV) But the righteousness based on faith says, … “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
We’re going to look at the importance of faith in our third point, but all three steps in how to be saved are interrelated. These verses tell us that one must confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord as an essential aspect of being saved. This does not mean that one must simply say the words Jesus is Lord like some type of magical formula. To confess something is to speak out a sincerely held belief, normally in the presence of others.
In the original Greek language, the word for Lord is kurios. Kurios means lord, master or owner. It is derived from another word kuros which means supreme in authority. So to confess Jesus is Lord is to acknowledge that Jesus is your master, the supreme authority in your life, your owner. You no longer have any say over what you do, what you think or what you say in your life. Your sincere desire is to only please Jesus, your Lord.
The second part of verse 9 follows. For you must believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead and is alive in order to follow Him as your Lord. A dead person cannot be your Lord, master or owner. For Jesus to be Lord of your life, you must have a relationship with Him in which He gives you orders and you follow them. Now let’s look at little more closely at the relationship between …
Romans 10:10-11 (ESV) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
These verses speak of two aspects of salvation that are closely related. Believing with the heart and confessing with the mouth. The confession of Jesus as Lord in the presence of others means that one cannot be a secret Christian. Jesus said in Luke 12:8 that whoever confesses Him before men, He will confess before God. But those who deny Him before men, He will deny before God, which means they are not saved. Those who confess that Jesus is their Lord will not be ashamed.
Romans 10:13 (ESV) For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
This final verse simply indicates that salvation is open to everyone. There are not an elect few that only can be saved. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
If Jesus was truly Lord of all our actions, thoughts and attitudes, we would never sin, would we. When one is saved, we confess and acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord. But we continue to learn and grow closer to Him throughout life. We continue to grow in understanding what His Lordship means in every aspect of our lives. When there are times where we take the driver’s seat in life, we must repent and give the control back to Jesus. Just as repentance is a life-long practice for every believer, so is growing in acknowledging Jesus as Lord. Finally, let’s talk about …
We’ve already mentioned faith in the verses from Romans 10, but now let’s look at this essential aspect of salvation in greater detail. This aspect of salvation is the one that has the most people confused and missing out on being saved. The key concept in Scripture is that people are …
Galatians 2:16 (ESV) yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
These verses clearly say that a person is not saved by works of the law. So, what are works of the law? A simple way of looking at this is that people are not saved by doing good things or not doing bad things. Why is that? In order to be saved by doing the works of the law, one would have to live a perfect life of never sinning. That’s impossible. Only Jesus lived a perfect life. So, no person can be good enough to be forgiven, have a relationship with God and go to heaven. The only way to be justified or saved is through faith in Jesus Christ. When a person is saved, they are …
Saved for good works
Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Salvation is a gift from God that is received through faith. No one gets saved by doing good works, because no one can be good enough to earn salvation. But when we are saved, God has a plan for your life, a plan that was prepared before you were even born. People were created and are saved to walk in the good works that God has in His plan for their lives. So, you are not saved by good works, but you are saved for good works. Of course, that ties in with Jesus being Lord. He has the plan, we must follow His plan for our lives.
Why does salvation by faith alone confuse so many people? Because most people believe that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. And most people believe they are good people, they’re good enough to make it to heaven. People who believe that they are going to heaven based on how good they are, are not saved. They are seeking to base their salvation on their own good works, not possible. Many of these people go to church, say they believe in Jesus and genuinely seem like good people.
Compounding the problem is that many churches and denominations teach salvation by good works, doing certain good things. But the Bible teaches that a person is saved by faith alone which will result in good works in their lives.
One simple way to find out what people believe is to ask them the simple question: At the end of your life, when you appear before Jesus and he asks you “Why should I allow you to enter heaven? What would be your answer?” If their answer has to do with being a good person or doing good things, you can explain to them what the Bible teaches about how to be saved. Most of us know people who are trusting something other then Jesus for their salvation, which is a great deception.
What should our response be to this simple but yet profound teaching on how to be saved?
2 Corinthians 13:5a (ESV) Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
Examine yourself to see what you’re trusting in for your salvation. Make sure that your faith in based on Jesus Christ alone and not your good works. Then ask God for opportunities to talk to people about their salvation. The vast majority of people in America believe they are going to heaven. Find out why they think that. If it has to do with being a good person, you have an open door to begin to present the Gospel to them. If you have relatives or friends that you do not know their spiritual state, ask God for wisdom on how to talk to them. Don’t let Satan dissuade you by being afraid of the conversation being awkward or upsetting to them. Wouldn’t you rather have a friend or loved one upset that they weren’t going to heaven, so that they could be saved? Rather than have them continue on the road to destruction. May God help us to have important spiritual conversations with those in our lives on how to be saved. And may He convict people’s hearts of the truth and so lead them to salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.