I was sitting in her little house when 95-year-old Amelia told me how she came to accept Jesus as her Savior.
Many years before she had stood at the doorway of a church in Latin America. She was afraid to enter, but listened intently as the preacher said, “Jesus is your Savior. He will save you from your sins. When you are in need, call on Jesus.”
That day she walked back up the hill and when she entered her room she heard a rustle. Suddenly, before she could run, a large boa constrictor snake wrapped itself around her. She could see the large head in front of her face as it began to squeeze. She remembered the preacher’s words and in desperation she cried out, “Jesus, save me! Jesus, save me” The snake loosened its coils, fell from her and slithered out of the room.
Needless to say, that day Amelia not only thanked the Lord Jesus for saving her physically, but asked Him to save her spiritually as well.
The same Lord Jesus that saved Amelia can save you. Let’s study about this precious salvation and what you can do to obtain it.
Definition of Salvation
One day a young man from a university said to me, “There are many roads to salvation and heaven. Sincerity is the key to reaching heaven. You may believe whatever you wish as long as you are sincere.”
Was he right? Is being sincere enough? Or can a person be sincerely mistaken?
The Bible is very clear in saying that freedom from sin comes only through Jesus Christ, Revelation 1:5 says, He [Jesus Christ] loves us, and by his death he has freed us from our sins.
Acts 4:12 states: “Salvation is to be found through him [Christ] alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.”
So, in defining salvation we can say that it is pardon from sin, but we must add “through the death of Jesus Christ.”
Who needs this salvation? As we previously studied, everyone has sinned and been sentenced to eternal death or separation from God. Ezekiel 18:4 says, “The person who sins is the one who will die.” And in Romans 3:23 we read, “Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence.” All mankind is in need of forgiveness of sin and pardon through Jesus Christ.
Initiation into Salvation
A few years after the resurrection of Jesus, the writer of Acts tells the story of a jailer who was very frightened because there had been an earthquake and he thought some of his prisoners were escaping. Two of them, Paul and Silas, were followers of Christ.
Paul and Silas quickly assured the jailer that no prisoners were getting away. Then the jailer, seeing that God had worked a miracle, asked how he could be saved. The answer the believers gave him was very simple. It is found in Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” So the first step that must be taken to enter salvation is to believe in the Lord Jesus.
In what way must we believe? Again the Bible has the answer. It says that we must accept Him as our Lord and Savior, and depend on Him to take us to heaven.
These have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life (John 20:31).
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we must also turn from sin. We must repent and ask God, for Jesus’ sake, to forgive us and make us clean. If we ask Him to do this, we must also trust that He does forgive and cleanse us. Remember 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.”
This acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior is done simply by talking to Him as you would to a friend. If you have never taken this step, just tell God that you want to accept the forgiveness He offers. Perhaps you could say in your own words something like:
I recognize that I am a sinner.
I’m sorry for my sin and ask your forgiveness.
Cleanse me and keep me from all wrongdoing.
I accept the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus who died for me.
I take Him now as my Lord and Savior.
Thank you. Amen.”
Once you have sincerely prayed this, you can trust that your sins are forgiven! You can praise and thank God that you belong to Him, that you are His child.
Results of Salvation
What happens to you when you accept salvation? A definite spiritual change, a transformation, takes place. Sometimes this is called a change of heart. Second Corinthians 7:10 says, “For the sadness that is used by God brings a change of heart that leads to salvation.”
Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” This change can be seen in several ways. Sometimes a person’s attitude toward life changes from sad to happy, or perhaps he now loves someone he couldn’t love before.
There can also be physical transformations. Those who have been bound by habits such as alcoholism can be set free. The Lord is powerful to make any changes necessary in the person who now believes on Him.
To accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior also means to be born into the family of God. This is what Jesus meant when He said in John 3:3 that we should be “born again.”
John 1:12-13 says:
Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God’s children. They did not become God’s children by natural means, that is, by being born as the children of a human father; God himself was their Father.
The Bible also speaks of adoption which brings out a similar relationship. By adoption we are received into God’s family. God makes us His children, giving us all the rights of inheritance that belong to the sons of God.
God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children. Since we are his children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him: for if we share in Christ’s suffering we will also share his glory (Romans 8:16-17).
Being in the family of God is special. This is why you will hear Christians call each other “brother” or “sister.” This is a way of saying, “We belong to the same family.”
Can we be sure of our salvation? One day a young woman asked for prayer. She told me that when she accepted Christ as her Savior she had felt so wonderful, so full of joy. Now she didn’t feel that way and wanted to know why she had “lost her salvation.” We know that we are not saved by feeling, but by taking God at His Word.
If we have met the conditions that the Bible gives us for salvation, we must believe we are saved no matter what we feel. The Holy Spirit can speak this assurance to our hearts also. We can find reassurance from our brothers and sisters in Christ, too, like my friend did the day she came to me.
“We know that we have left death and come over into life: we know it because we love our brothers” (1 John 3:14).
Perhaps you have heard Christians use the words justification and sanctification. What do these mean?
Justification is being free from sin, made righteous. It is a result of salvation. God forgives our sin, takes away all guilt and says that we are now righteous—just as if we had never done anything wrong. Romans 5:1 tells us, “Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Being put right with God is justification.
Sanctification means being made holy, that is, clean from sin and dedicated to God. May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being spirit, soul, and body—free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
God wants all Christians to be sanctified, made holy. “God wants you to be holy and completely free from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). “Try to be at peace with everyone, and try to live a holy life, because no one will see the Lord without it” (Hebrews 12:14).
There is another point that should be touched upon while talking of the results of Jesus’ death on the cross. This is divine healing. Divine healing was included in the benefits Jesus bought for us on Calvary.
People brought to Jesus many who had demons in them. Jesus drove out the evil spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. He did this to make come true what the prophet Isaiah had said, “He himself took our sickness and carried away our diseases” (Matthew 8:16-17).
“We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received” (Isaiah 53:5). Divine healing is the supernatural power of God bringing health to the human body. James 5:14-15 tells us how we can claim this healing:
Is there anyone who is sick? He should send for the church elders, who will pray for him and rub olive oil on him in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick person; the Lord will restore him to health, and the sins he has committed will be forgiven.