To be Saved or NOT to be Saved

What does it take to be a “good Christian”? Romans 3:10-12 says “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” So if no one is righteous, no one understands, no one seeks God, and if all have become worthless then what does it take to become a “good Christian”?

The word “good” here really has no bearing since being a Christian is really what it is about, because in order to be a Christian one must follow Jesus, after all that is what a Christian is, a follower of Christ. So the real question then becomes what does it take to be a Christian? The answer is simple and complex at the same time because becoming a Christian is somewhat simple while being challenging as well. To become a Christian you must “declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” and then you will be saved “for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9,10). Likewise, Matthew 10:32 states that “whoever acknowledges me [Jesus] before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father [God] in heaven.”

Becoming a Christian is a relatively simple process on the outside but complex on the inside because Satan wants us for himself and will do anything within his power to keep us from accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He comes only to “steal and kill and destroy,” but Jesus has come to give us life in the fullest (John 10:10). There is a spiritual battle that is taking place when someone comes to a place of decision or is being led to a place of decision of whether or not to accept Jesus. This is a battle that can often times be seen, but is more often likely to be felt by the pre-Christian. It is a battle of the heart of whether to acknowledge sin and confess it before the Lord and to hand over one’s life to Him or to continue living for self by following the ways of Satan.

Romans 3:23 states the “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There is no exception here. We are all sinners and do not have the ability to be righteous in the eyes of God on our own accord. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) and “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). So how does one become born again? “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Which brings us back to confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead that allows us to be saved (Romans 10:9-11).

Becoming a Christian is a battle, but outside of the battle it is a relatively easy process; we must accept that Jesus is Lord and profess it. Once we become a Christian though the battle continues. Just because a person is a Christian does not mean that Satan has given up on us. For me this is a sign that once saved always saved may not apply. I do not know if once saved always saved is true or not. I would rather be certain that I am saved and thus I will do what I can to live a life that glorifies God, though I will fail, I will continue to try.

Jesus came to give us life, but we still have to accept it and to live that life and this is where it becomes tricky because to whom much has been given much will be expected (Luke 12:48). The greatest thing that we can be given is life through Jesus Christ. In Him we are promised a place in His Father’s house; we are promised life eternal. So if we have been given the greatest thing of all then how much more is expected of us than the person who has not been given life?

This is where things become really tricky, because the world has been conditioned to believe that there is no absolute truth or that God would not send people to hell when the reality is that we live in a world of absolute truths, which is why we have laws. I do not believe there is a single person who does not know that it is wrong to kill someone, this does not stop people from doing so, but it is an absolute truth. We know that it is wrong to take something from someone else that does not belong to us, this is an absolute truth. We live in a world of laws created on what people believe to be absolute truths so to say that there cannot be only one way, one truth, or one way to receive life eternal does not hold water. Absolute truth is all around us and is evident in life and for those of us who have truly given our lives to Jesus we know that this is true regardless of what the world may think.

Being a Christian requires that we live life differently. Having the Holy Spirit living within us leads us to live a life that is different from that in which we used to live, but it is just a leading, we still have a choice to make which is where we so often go wrong. I cannot tell you how many times I have ignored the guiding of the Holy Spirit, the voice inside of me showing me truth, and done my own thing only to have it blow up in my face. And let me tell you that these things may not always blow up in our faces right away; we may go a long time before we see the results of our turning from God, but our choices always come with consequences. Refusing to follow God comes with consequences such as financial difficulties, struggles in marriage, struggles in parenting, addictions, instability in life, and death. But following God begets life and it fills our life with the Fruit of the Spirit, “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control” (Galatians 5:22).

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19). Belief in God is not enough. Our belief, our faith, our acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior needs to be expressed. When we accept Jesus as our Lord we receive the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and leads us in truth.

John 14:15-21

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Being a Christian is about obedience, but it is about love first. Notice that Jesus did not say obey my commandments and then you will love me. Jesus said, “if you love me, obey my commandments.” The only way to be a “good Christian” is the only way to be a Christian; we must love Jesus and obey His commandments. But how is it that we come to love Him?

How is it that we can come to obey Him by our love for Him? This is truly the question and this is what keeps so many of us wandering and not truly living the life that we are to be living. Matthew 6:33 says to “seek first the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” The way to learn to love Him is to seek first the Kingdom of God. We must be diligent in our study of His Word, we must be diligent in seeking to honor Him in all that we do, we must trust the voice of the Holy Spirit living inside of us and when we do He will provide us with everything that we need. We must show Him our love by seeking to honor Him in all that we do and He will provide. His provision may start as peace or joy, it may be something monetary, He may begin to restore your relationships, but your life will begin to take noticeable change and you will learn that He is faithful in all things. And as we begin to learn how much love God has for us we will learn to love Him more. 1 John 4:19 says that “we love because he first loved us.”

Being a Christian starts with understanding that God loved us so much that “He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). There is nothing that we can do to earn life; all we can do is lay it down for the one who laid it down for us. When we realize how much God did for us we begin to understand His love and in turn our love should represent the love that He has for us, because it is through Him that we have life and will receive His blessing.

Deuteronomy 15:4-6 states that “There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession. You will receive this blessing if you are careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. The Lord your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you.”

God has provided us with life eternal, but often times we are quick to forget what He did for us and we do not have the resolve to live a life that honors God and the gift that we have been given through His Son, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for us.

James 4:1-10

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: if you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.’

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

How close are you to God today? Have you wandered away? Does your life represent what you have been given?

God’s Word is clear! We must love Him and obey His commandments. If we do not do both we are only fooling ourselves into believing that we are honoring God. The gift of life through Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that we could ever receive. When we truly follow God we will be blessed in our life. We will certainly still have trials, but we must remember to always seek first the Kingdom of God and where we have been proud of our sin we must turn from it with sorrow and humility and draw close to God once more through repentance and by living a life that honors Him. There is only one way, one truth, and one life and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). All others lead to death and destruction. Which way will you choose today? God is waiting to bring His love and power through you and me, all we have to do is to love Him and to follow Him and He will do the rest.

Life through Jesus Christ

Do you live your life for Jesus? Are you truly saved? We each have to take responsibility for ourselves and determine whether or not we are confident enough to call ourselves saved. This blog reaches many different countries, nations, and people groups many of which cannot say that they are able to freely be a Christian, but in America we still have that ability, at least for the time being. In America it is almost assumed that you are a Christian even if you don’t live a life that exemplifies that of what Jesus has called you to do, but does that mean that you are going to go to heaven when you die?

Did you know that it takes more than being a good person to get to heaven? Did you know that it takes more than going to church to get to heaven? There are a lot of people who are good people that are not going to get to heaven and there are people that go to church that will not get to heaven either. Being good does not mean that you are saved just as going to church does not mean that you are saved. You see none of us are good, not one of us and being in church makes us no more a Christian than being in a garage makes us a car.

Mark 10:17-25 (NLT) says this,

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Being “good” does not reserve for us a place in heaven for even Jesus said that “only God is truly good (v. 18).” In answering this man after listing the commandments he went on to tell the man that he must sell all of his possessions and follow Him. This was the one area of his life that this man was not willing to give up in order to follow Jesus because he was a rich man and took great pride in his treasure so he went away sad.

What treasure do you have that you are not willing to give up to follow Jesus? God does not want us to follow Jesus partially, His desire is for us to be all in and when we are we will inherit eternal life and receive the greatest treasure that we could ever imagine.

As persecution increases so does the cost of following Jesus. When we are faced with persecution our faith is tested. Even when we are faced with mockery our faith is tested which is more the case in America, but that is not the case everywhere. When is the last time that you kept silent instead of standing up for what is right for fear of being made fun of or looked down upon? When is the last time that you laughed at an inappropriate joke or made fun of someone for fear of being belittled for your faith?

Let’s take it a step further because some of you who are reading this are faced with far bigger decisions each day. When is the last time that you had to choose between getting a job and denying Jesus or not getting the job? When is the last time that you were beaten for being a Christian? When is the last time that your family was in danger because of your faith?

People around the world are faced with the choice to follow Jesus and proclaim His name or to deny Him every day. We are faced with the choice of self-preservation vs. proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ every day in some way or another. What choice are you making?

When we choose to give up our lives for Jesus we are told that we will have treasure in heaven (v. 21). It is only when we give up everything that we can follow Jesus and reap the eternal rewards that He has for us. Some of you may be thinking that you are not willing to give up everything in order to follow Jesus. Maybe your faith in God isn’t strong enough to be certain that there is a heaven and you may be thinking that it is not worth the trouble to give up everything on an uncertainty and you would be right if it were an uncertainty, but it is not.

When we make the decision to follow Jesus we do receive God’s blessing in our lives. When we follow Jesus and live a life for Him we are changed and if you don’t believe me than try it, you won’t be disappointed. You can have joy in your life even in the face of adversity, you can have peace in your life even in the face of trials, and you can know that everything will be ok for you and your family even in the face of an uncertain economy or political climate, because God cares deeply for His children and pours out blessing upon those who follow Him and who call upon His name.

God does not promise us great riches, but He does promise to provide for us each day just as He provided the Israelites with their daily bread as they were on their way to the Promised Land (Ex. 16:4, Phil. 4:19). He promises us life to the fullest when we follow Him (Jn. 10:10). Life to the fullest occurs in a manner that we cannot understand until we are truly following Jesus, because it doesn’t make sense when you look at it from the outside. When we are truly living our lives for God we receive a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7) and it is that peace that each one of us are seeking. We also receive pure joy because Jesus went to the Father (Jn. 17:13).

Do you want joy, peace, true love? Do you want to live life to the fullest? There is only one way to receive these things. They are not found in this world, they are only found in Jesus Christ and in order to receive them we must lay down our entire lives to Jesus and follow Him. It is then that we will have eternal life and that we will have true joy in our lives. Following Jesus is more than just a promise of eternal life. Following Jesus is life changing and can only be achieved through giving Him your all.

Maybe you’re thinking right not that there is no way that you can receive this because you have made too many mistakes in your life or maybe you have walked away from God and think that He could never receive you back, but that is a lie from Satan. God knew that we would never receive life through the Law which is why He sent us Jesus. When we turn from our sins and ask our Father to forgive us in the name of Jesus we are forgiven. When we follow Jesus and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within us He begins renewing us and changing us into what He desires for us to be, but it requires us to worship Him and Him alone. God’s love is ever abounding, but He will not give life to those who do not choose to accept it and follow Him because there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ; all other ways lead to destruction and death (Jn. 14:6, Mt. 7:13-14).

My Hero Saved my Life

child-164318_640I had the pleasure of meeting a woman today who was on her way to be with her son and her granddaughter. Her son has been in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant and has been searching for 3 ½ years for a suitable donor. Recently his daughter, who just turned eighteen, decided that she would be the one to donate the bone marrow that he needed to save his life. She is sacrificing her body and will endure pain so that her father can have a fighting chance.

When someone saves someone else’s life we consider them a hero. This young lady will be considered a hero to her father and many others around them. It is people who perform selfless actions that protect or save others from harm that receive such honor of being called a hero. They put their own health and safety at risk for other people, but they don’t do this for the praise of men, rather they do it out a place of selflessness within themselves. They do it because they are more concerned about others than themselves.

When I was thinking about this today it struck me that we have all had someone who endured pain and suffering to save our lives, to give us a fighting chance at life. Jesus gave up his life on the cross so that we could have life. He endured mockery, beatings, insults, and even death on a cross so that we could have life.

Jesus is the ultimate hero. He gave everything that he had so that you and I could have life eternal, and all that He asks in return is that we confess with our mouth that He is Lord and believe in our hearts that He was raised from the dead by God (Rom. 10:9). When we do this we are promised life. We are promised to be saved from the impending death and judgement that awaits all people. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24).

Jesus gave his life for you and he gave his life for me. I have accepted him as my Lord and Savior, have you? If you have not I invite you to simply ask for Him to come into your heart and to lead your life. You are precious in God’s eyes and He wants to embrace you in his arms and protect you. All you have to do is say yes, He’s always listening and He’s always waiting.

God bless you all!