Note: The following blog comes after the previous series on the Goodness of God in sending Christ to a hurting world. I invite you to read those posts if you have questions about context.
How Do I Accept Jesus Christ as My Deliverer and Savior?
“I’m still not sure, but I want to know more. What must I do to be saved?”
A wise man once asked the same question. The answer given him by the Apostle Paul was this:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
The story is told in Acts 16. Paul and Silas were in jail for preaching the Word of God when an earthquake happened and the doors of the jail opened wide. The Roman jailer was terrified that the prisoners surely had escaped and his life would be taken in repayment. But there sat Paul and Silas and all the prisoners willingly remained in their cells, for Paul and Silas had been singing praises and witnessing to them and they were content. The jailer dropped down to his knees in recognition of the verity of the evangelists’ message made real by their actions and his temporal salvation from a cruel Roman death. It is just here that the jailor asked his question. He and his household were indeed saved and his life was changed that day.
What about me? Isn’t there more to it than that?
Jesus gave a few elements to salvation that are comprised within this phrase “believe on”.
- Repent – The story of Zaccheus gives us a picture of the requirements of salvation. Zaccheus was a corrupt tax collector, but Jesus showed him kindness, and Zaccheus wanted to follow him to salvation. Instantly, he understood the terms and promised to repay what he had stolen, not just the amount but with interest as well. Jesus replied, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 5:9-10). More pointedly, upon hearing of a tragedy where many Galilean had died, Jesus warned those gathered there: “…But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3-5). Repentence means to turn away from disobedience to God and to turn toward God in obedience. Zaccheus realized his sin in cheating the people, and he turned away from it and instantly made the necessary restitution for his wrong. He did this only because he believed Jesus was who He said He is. It was his belief in Christ that drew him, not by trying to clean himself up on his own. He did it for Christ.
- Believe – Acts 4:12 tells us that we must believe that there is only one say to salvation, and that is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus said in Matthew 10: 32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Am I waiting to “happen” to believe? No, belief is a choice that one makes by faith. Is God’s Word true? Does it ring with truth in your heart and mind? Are you convicted by it? Will you walk out on it, venturing your very life upon it? That is belief. Repentance and belief work together.: you cannot truly repent without belief in Christ Jesus, and you cannot believe in Christ Jesus and not repent also.
- Be Baptised – “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:6). Baptism is a public declaration of our belief and God has ordained that we should follow up on our decision to follow Christ by this declaration which He blesses: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Baptism does not save you, but it marks for you and to the whole world that you now belong to Christ.
- Deny Self and Follow Me – 34“…And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Matthew 8:34-35). The decision requires a willingness to live life in obedience to Christ, not fearing the cost.
- Endure – “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). God does not tell us the troubles of this world end when you receive Christ. Rather, God promises to empower you to live through all this world has to throw at us. He warns us that this world is still at war with God, and upon receiving Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation you will have incited the ire and prejudice of this world. God doesn’t call us to a pansy salvation, but a brave and courageous life of power and vitality and victory over evil. It will cost us, as it cost our Savior, but He has promised to be with us and all victory is assured because of His Resurrection. We can and must endure; we must not grow weak by negligence to the things of God.
First, and I have done this myself and so has every true Christian you will encounter: Entirely to yourself, admit your need of Him. Confess your nature of sin, and your active sins, and turn from your life of intentional sin. You don’t need to “clean yourself up first”, because God will transform you into His likeness as you travel through your new life as a Christian. But you must agree that You will let Him do that work in you. You must let go of the sin that has plagued you, and He will help you. That is what is meant by “turning” from sin. You no longer walk in that direction, but you have made an about-face and have chosen a new direction, making new choices. Only be willing, and He will do it.
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he isfaithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:6-9
Second, while you are still learning more about Him, you believe that His Word is true and that Jesus died for your sin. You believe that He will accept you in His grace, forgive your sin, and that He will set you on a new course as His own child. Ask Jesus to come into Your life and live as Your Master and Friend, and commit your life in obedience of all that He speaks to you. Repent and Believe.
Prayer is simply speaking to God, using your own words to express your heart to Him. You may not see Him, but He certainly hears you. If you fully mean this in your heart and have spoken this in prayer to God, He has heard your prayer and will be with You to help you walk it out. You are saved.
The Christian Walk Begins!
For the Christian walk, there is a plan for your life ahead of you, and that’s a good thing! God does not leave us waffling in the mists. Your life has purpose and meaning now. He has already given you marching orders to equip you for a life of service in His Name. You are now part of the answer that you sought for the ills of this world! He invites you to work with Him in overcoming evil now and forever more. Therefore, here are some follow-up things that you can do to begin your journey toward Him and toward your new life in Christ.
- You agree that as you want to know more about Him, you will “Take up and Read” His Word. Find a Holy Bible (I suggest the NIV for study or the ESV for reading) and begin to read. You can find a free one online (these are websites and also offer apps) at BibleGateway.com or BibleHub.com or BlueLetterBible.com. These offer the many different translations, some offer different languages, and all offer study helps (dictionaries, maps, overviews, concordances, commentaries and much more).
- Since you will have questions, and will need companionship on your new journey, you agree that you will join with other believers (at first a friend, coworker, family member). You need to tell someone who is a believer what you have decided for your life. Your prayer to God is between you and God, but you must share your decision to believe with a fellow believer. It is easy to “forget” in times of testing and to fall back to old patterns. You can tell someone right now at PeaceWithGod.net (see Resources below). God wants you strong! He wants you to walk together in unity with His Church (the global body of believers in Christ). You can find a church near you by going to GoingFarther.net and clicking on “Find a Church Near You” (see Resources below). Begin forming relationships within a corporate body of believers–visiting and then ultimately joining a Bible-believing, Christ-centric, praying and actively serving church fellowship.
A word about Baptism
The act of baptism is only an outward public symbol of what has already happened in your heart. Baptism does not save on its own. But by your faith made public, baptism unites you to the body of Christ in fellowship with other believers. You are confessing your decision publicly, having your soul “washed clean” in the symbolism of immersion into the water. It is also a confession of “death to sin” as you briefly lie completely under the water as Christ lay in the grave.
And finally, it is a sign of your completeness in Christ as you follow Christ in His Resurrection, coming up out of the water to walk in the newness of the life in Christ. You are a new creation in your spirit and your heart is made pliable and new in the Father’s hands.
It is a beautiful, symbolic and meaningful ceremony that you will undertake in a Bible-believing church to unite yourself in membership with them. You will only be baptized once, even if you move or change churches. Your baptism is a one-time thing. I encourage you to follow through and seal your decision before God, the angels in heaven, and the body of believers who will walk with you in your journey. Your local pastor will help you with this.
If you are in a place where baptism is not possible, there are other modes available to you and the timing can be worked out between you and your fellowship and pastor. For those who are disabled, ill, or otherwise in a place or situation where you cannot be immersed, your church body will help you.
- Finally, you agree that you will obey the Lord as He speaks into your heart. He will show you what pleases Him and He will be patient with you as you learn and grow. The important thing is that you begin your journey. All will be made clear to you as you go along. There are plenty of others who are at the same place in their journeys, so you will find grace along the way from the kindness of other travelers. They will pray with you and speak truth and love into your life. You agree that you will accept this process and that you, too, will give the comfort and teaching you have received to other travelers as well.
If you have made a choice to follow Jesus, drop a comment and let me know (you can remain anonymous).
© by ReadPsalm119.com. PHOTO: “Sunset on Kauai”, HI by ReadPsalm119.com.
PeacewithGod.net – Live chat or email for questions, prayer, decision for Christ; “Looking for Answers?”, “You Can Have Peace witih God” including two options: “Yes, I Prayed the Prayer [of Decision for Christ]” OR “No, but I still ahve questions”. A chat box is always located on the screen for live chat with someone who will help direct you to further helps and resources for you.
GoingFarther.net – Learn more about Jesus and Biblical Christianity through “Basic Christianity”, “Common Questions”, and “Life Issues”; PLUS! free self-paced online “Courses” with a live coach, PLUS! click “Find a Church Near You” if you need help in locating a place of fellowship.
EveryPerson.com – “A Safe Place to Explore Questions About Life and God”; Learn more about Jesus through the website, free (live, optional) email correspondance, and free self-paced online courses; also (for students) EveryStudent.com
Many thanks to this good article: “What Jesus Himself Teaches About Salvation (2 John 1:9)” by Mike Mazzalongo at BibleTalk.tv