You Need to Get Saved
es, that's what I said; You, dear Reader, need to get saved. So now, if you're Mr. Modern-day Common Sense, you might wonder just what it is you need to be saved from. You're not a bad sort. You haven't murdered anyone. You haven't ripped off your boss. You don't molest children. You're just an average nice person. Well, you still need to get saved. Why, and from what is what I'm going to try and explain to you. I'll try to do it without condemning you for being alive, or resorting to deluging you with hundreds of verses quoted from the Bible (I will have to use a few, but I'll keep it to the bare minimum. Okay?), or lambasting you with a plethora of patronizing religious platitudes and sugar-coated expressions. I won't pretend to have all the answers, but in this document, I've tried to anticipate some questions you might have. After all, they were questions I too had before coming to Christ. So, if you're prepared to spend a little bit of time with me, perhaps you'll come away from this with a new perspective on the world and where you're at.
There are a couple of assumptions that we have to agree to acknowledge before we begin. 1.) God exists, and; 2.) All things were created by God.
If you are having trouble with the first assumption, try beginning with the second. Obtain a copy of “Darwin's Black Box”, by Michael J. Behe, or perhaps “Darwin On Trial”, by Phillip E. Johnson (both easy to find at amazon.com), and read either one, or both, supposing that there just might be something to learn from all of this: something that just might be very important to you. Give it a chance. Okay?
Alright then. Let's assume that you've at least acknowledged our first two points above. There's still the question of what is it you need to be saved from. That thing is called “Sin”.
“What is Sin?” You ask.
It's your natural condition. Really! It's genetic. You inherited it from your parents, and they, from theirs, and so on and so on, all the way back to Adam and Eve, who became Sinful by disobeying God. Sin is the underlying motivation behind everything we do.
You heard of the story; of Eve eating the apple after chatting with the snake? Well, it wasn't an apple and it wasn't a snake, and Eve wasn't alone. Genesis, Chapter 3 and verse 6 reads:
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Adam had been told earlier not to eat from that tree, and it's clear that Eve had been told of the prohibition. The “snake” is a mistranslation of an Hebrew word that means “Shining One”. It's the first biblical reference to Lucifer, the fallen archangel.
God told Adam that to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would result in his death. Genesis, Chapter 2, verse 17 reads:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Yet Adam (no doubt to please his wife, Eve), approved of and participated in this act of rebellion.
Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 31 reads:
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
As a sidebar, isn't it funny, how even in a perfect environment like God's Garden, where everything is described as being “very good”, when given the choice, people always chose to break the rules; even if there's only one rule, they will break it! Anyhow, back to the story.
Now, clearly, they didn't just drop dead on the spot, so what gives? Well, that's the problem with language. Sometimes words have deeper, more profound meanings than a quick, superficial reading brings out.
In the Bible, the words usually translated from Hebrew and Greek as “death” can, as the context will bear out, make reference to other than physical death. In the case we are considering, the death spoken of was not immediate physical death (although it obviously included physical death), but it was a slow death, resulting from being cut-off from the Source of life itself. It's a bit like a battery under load, being disconnected from a charging source. Eventually, that battery will run down, but not immediately. And, Adam and Eve did eventually die.
Something else happened that day. God, you see, is a real stickler for the rules. Now Adam, it seems from the context of the Creation account, and some New Testament references to the event, was put in authority over all of God's creation. Adam's disobedience to God's one and only rule brought a Curse down, not only upon him, but also upon everything under his authority. Genesis, Chapter 3, verses 17-19 read:
“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Therein is the reason EVERYTHING dies. Things wear out and break. People wear out and die. Grass dies, Animals die, stars go supernova, the battery in your car goes dead, etc.; All of creation is under this Curse that Adam brought upon his world and himself. Romans, Chapter 8, verses 20-22 read:
“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”
What we see here is a description of what is called in physics the Second law of Thermodynamics, which describes the process by which all organization of energy proceeds from high levels of organization to ever lower and increasing levels of disorganization. In plain English: Things run down.
So, it was Adam's disobedience that brought the Curse of Sin upon the whole of Creation, including us. Romans, Chapter 5, verse 12 reads:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
and verse 14 also:
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”
Notice that “... death reigned from Adam to Moses”; This is telling us that Sin is a bigger issue than just obeying or breaking the 10-Commandments, which before Moses, were yet to be given. Here we can see the Bible describing the concept of genetically-inherited characteristics. In this case, it is the characteristic of Sin that was passed on from Adam to all his descendants. Genesis, Chapter 5, verse 3 reads:
“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:”
That phrase “in his own likeness”, tells us a lot about the children of Adam, of which we all are. Because Adam became Sinful, so all of his descendants were Sinful. You might say that Sin became the world's first birth defect. So, yes, sinfulness is most definitely the predisposition to disobey God, but wrapped up with it, and because of the Curse, is found the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
There was, however, a type of “death” that was immediate. I believe (and that doesn't make it true – It just means that what I observe in Mankind is explained well by this theory), that Mankind is composed of two elements that, when combined, become a third. There are many things we see all around us which manifest this. For example, a rifle consists of the stock and the barrel. Neither are the rifle by themselves; only when they are combined. The body, and the spirit, when combined, create the Soul. We live in the body. It is a vessel. The soul exists only when the body and spirit are together. The spirit is like the charge in a battery. It is also the part of us that, because it includes our personality, the sum total of our knowledge and experiences, was designed to have relationship with God. That last part, the spirit of Man, lost it's connection to God's Spirit and effectively died the moment Adam committed his sin. It died, but it wasn't destroyed, but being unable, because of sin, to be connected to God's Spirit, the Image of God (body, soul and spirit) in Man became marred and corrupted. Without it's connection to God, the spirit of the unregenerate Man is like a floundering swimmer. That was also passed on genetically to all the sons of Adam. I'm comfortable with the reference to genetic transmission of sin because, in spite of the human genome having been mapped, still no one knows what all the individual genes actually do.
Okay, now we've described the characteristic. It is the physical and spiritual (or immaterial) condition of sinfulness. Sinning is the fruit of the condition. Sinning is what we do. Everything we do, without exception is sinful. We can't help it. Even when we appear to be doing something good, we're sinning up a storm.
Well, if you're like me, you're feeling pretty hopeless right about now. Still though, hang in there, because this is where the story starts getting good.
Did you notice in the Bible verses I quoted above, the subtle references to someone who was to come and about being delivered from corruption? You see, God knows that we are slaves to the Curse. We couldn't do right by Him, even if we tried, because we have this genetic condition called Sin. And that, my Friend, is the thing that you need to be saved from.
Does it make sense; even a little bit? If you have blue eyes, for instance; Is there anything you could do to really change that? If you have black hair, can you really change it through doing some work or performing a ritual? Do you see now what it's like; this business of being sinful? You didn't choose it; it chose you; at conception. And only God can deliver you from it.
How does God deliver us from this Sin-thing? I won't even try to explain all of the details involved because, honestly, I don't understand all the bits and pieces. No one does. If you talk to someone who claims to have it all figured out, turn and run away as fast as you can (because that fella is just as apt to offer you a shot of Kool-Aid as anything). We can, however, comprehend enough of it to apprehend our deliverance.
Now, if you read Dr. Behe's book, then you should have understood that nothing in the universe could have happened by accident. Evolution and all it's bastard step-children are simply Lies from the pit of Hell. There is a Designer, and that same designer has designed a method to save you, my Friend, from that which you did not chose to be. The method begins with your trusting Him.
Consider that so-called “simple” cell. Irreducibly complex, and your physical body is composed of hundreds upon millions of those cells. All working together in chorus, singing the parts they were designed to sing, and the music they make is awe-inspiring. Your original design specs didn't incorporate the Second Law. In spite of that, however, the design still functions pretty well, most of the time. Now, with that thought still in mind, take a look around you. Everything you see in the natural world was designed with the same care and attention to detail as you were. Romans, Chapter 1, verses 19-20 read:
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
You see, the Bible tells us that God has revealed to us His existence and power through the things He created. Now, I understand how hard this is to swallow sometimes. Our society is what is called “dualistic”, meaning that we divide the physical or natural from the spiritual or immaterial. In our linear way of thinking, there's no way the spiritual and physical realities ever meet. They seem to have no relation, one to the other. Most of the time, we don't even acknowledge the existence of the spiritual reality. That too, is one of the fruits of Sin.
Instead of seeing the two realities like Flatlanders, let's assume instead that the universe is like a huge, a really huge ball (think Einstein). All we know about; past, present and future; all we can see or detect, is contained within the boundaries of that ball, and those boundaries are designed in such a way that we cannot pass through them.
Now, it only stands to reason that there is something outside the boundaries of the ball. I propose that whatever is outside represents the “spiritual” reality. That is where God and the angels are to be found. They can enter our reality and effect what happens here, but we cannot enter theirs on our own. In fact, things that happen in the spiritual reality can have a profound effect upon ours (think quantum physics). Not only does this immaterial reality surround our reality, but also permeates it in ways we cannot comprehend.
The Bible also tells us that there is no excuse for not acknowledging God's existence, power and that He is the Creator of all things. God holds us accountable for our disbelief.
But the immediate question is concerning our trusting God. Putting all things into their proper perspective is the surest way of demonstrating to ourselves that the only trustworthy Person in all of Creation, just happens to be the one who created all things.
The Bible tells us that this Creator is quite fond of us, and His Creation, too. So fond, in fact, that He devised a Plan to save what He created from the Curse which Adam brought upon it, and us. The Bible tells us that God loves us.
How much does God love us? Well, as I said earlier, God is a real stickler for rules and one of His rules is recalled in the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 9 and verse 22:
“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [of sin].”
That is why the ancient Israelites performed animal sacrifices, although their sacrifices only hid their sinfulness from God's sight, due to the fact the blood which covered them came from an innocent victim that was not a Man.
Part of God's plan for us involves God keeping His own rules. So, the only way He could dispose of our Sin and sinfulness was to provide a sacrifice which had the authority to not only cover the Sin, but wash it away altogether. That is why Jesus came among us and why God allowed Him to be killed.
Alright, strike that last bit. God didn't “allow” anything. That's what Traditionalists tell you, but that's not what the Bible teaches. Check this out:
ISAIAH CHAPTER 53
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 ¶Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 ¶Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Okay, that's the whole of Isaiah 53. Notice in particular, verse 10: “ Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief ...” In the verse, “he”, is God. This verse shows us how important God's reputation for justice is. While it's true, God does love you, His justice must be satisfied, or He would not be just. Someone had to die because of Sin. In order for you to be forgiven, someone else had to pay the price. That someone else was Jesus. God's full, unbridled wrath, He poured out upon His own Son. It was God's doing. That's why Jesus cried out from the cross: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46). It pleased the Father to bruise His own Son, because, once satisfied, He could raise Jesus from the dead, destroy the Enemy (the Devil), and save all those who would believe the Gospel.
Here's a concept that is hard, if not impossible for any Man to understand: Jesus' mother was called Mary, a normal woman. His Father was God, in the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God too. That's called “Trinitarianism”; a fancy $20 theological word that refers to the belief that God is God, Jesus Christ is God, and the Holy Spirit is God – separate, together, all the time. That's the biblical description of what is called the “Godhead”. No one understands it. In spite of our mental feebleness, we believe it because that is how God describes His nature to us. It is an important reality. Just how important, you will shortly see. Remember, complete understanding of all things has never been promised to any of us in this life. Anyhow, back to the story.
In Second Corinthians, Chapter 5, verses 18-19, the Apostle Paul wrote one of the most profound statements to be found in the Bible:
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
Did you get it? God is not holding our sinfulness against us! He is reconciling the world to Himself! Saint, Sinner; the whole world! That, my Friend, is Huge! That is what God did to save His Creation. That's how much He loves us! Believing that He did this is the only prerequisite to receiving it. It is the only thing that can save you from eternal damnation.
Those who refuse to believe, an awful fate awaits them, as we read in Revelation, Chapter 20, verse 15:
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
And again in Chapter 21, verse 8:
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
But this need not be anyone's fate as we find in the book of Romans, Chapter 10, verses 8-11:
“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
Now, when we read John, Chapter 3, verses 16-21, we do so with so much greater appreciation for what God has done on our behalf.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
Notice a recurring theme here? It is expressed by the word “believeth”. That is what trusting God is about; taking Him at His Word. You, dear Friend, do not have to understand everything about God's overall Plan of Salvation but if you can comprehend your own sinfulness, acknowledging it for what it is, and your inability to do anything to change that condition, and if you can believe that God has developed a Plan to save you from what you are (due to no fault of your own), and that the only requirement is to believe it, then you are in a position to accept God's Salvation which He has provided for you. Why, you may be thinking, don't we have to "do" something? The reason goes back to that story about Adam and Eve in the garden. What Eve did was choose to believe what the Shining One said, and not to believe what God had said. Chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews is a good place to start understanding what it takes to come back to God. It's sort of an index of faith. It identifies people in the Old Testament who learned that to please God you have to first "hear" what God has said (faith cometh by hearing and hearing by [reading] the Word of God), and then to simply believe Him. Today, we have a lot more to hear and believe than someone like Gideon, for instance, but the belief requirement is still the same.
Salvation is a gift from God; freely given, but like all gifts, it must be received, or it is of no effect towards it's intended recipient. It begins with trust. If you can trust that God has provided a solution to this Sin problem, then you will be able to believe that what Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, did on the Cross, some 2000-years ago, was central to the Plan. Even more, you will know that Jesus has been raised from the dead; that He lives right now, and is able to save completely anyone who will believe in Him.
How does one receive this gift from God? You tell him that you believe Him, and that you're ready to receive His gift of Salvation. Just say it. Something like:
“God, I believe that you are the Creator and I agree with your assessment of me. I am a born completely ruined; in a state of sin, and that I've never done anything but sin. I believe You when you said there is nothing I can do about it. But I've recently learned that you have a plan to rescue me from my sinful condition. I do believe that your Son Jesus, died on the cross to pay the penalty for all Sin, including mine. God, I believe, as best I can, that you raised Jesus from the dead and that He is alive at this very moment, at your side. Although I don't understand how it works, I'm trusting You for my salvation and I do ask you to forgive me for living only for Sin and not for you. Save me from this awful state I find myself in. Save me, oh God, from Your wrath! As best I know how, I receive your precious gift of Salvation through the work of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Thank-you for helping me to see just how much I needed a relationship with you. Please help me daily to live the balance of my days honoring and giving You glory. Thank-you for rescuing me. Amen.”
That's called prayer. You don't have to pray what I wrote above. That's just an example, if you've never prayed before. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. No special posture is required. Just speak to God sincerely; as you would anyone who is in authority over you. Use what I wrote as a pattern if you like, but use your own words. It is your eternity we're talking about here. Now, if you prayed in humility and sincerity, (I don't mean parroting words or simple mental ascent here, either. You may have to pester God about it. God wants to save you, but He wants you to really want to be saved,) then you have been born again. The Bible teaches in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 5 and verse 17 that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
and, according to the Gospel of John, Chapter 1 and verse 12, have the authority to call yourself a son of God:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”
You have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. God is your new Father, and the Lord Jesus is your new Brother.
Like I said above, God wants you to be sure. He wants you to count the cost. If nothing happened, perhaps it's because God knows that you're not sure. You need to be sure. Heaven knows there are far too many false converts out there. People who said a superstitious prayer once in their lives and now think themselves Christian. Life for them is a literal hell-on-earth. Trying to live against one's nature is not a pleasant task. That nature mustbe changed, and only God can do it.
So, if nothing happened and you are ready to sacrifice all the things in this world that you believe are important (to see them for the dung they are) for eternal life, and you are prepared to put Jesus, not only first in your life, but to make Him all your life is about; to separate yourself from the sinfulness of your former life; then fall on your face before Almighty God and cry out to Him to save you! Keep doing it until He responds. No one who truly seeks after God will be turned away!
Are you ready to die and be buried to this world with Christ, so you can be raised up and seated in heavenly places with Christ? Count the cost, and when you are ready, cry out to Him! Trust God and He will perform the supernatural work of salvation in you, and you'll know it. There will be evidence of your salvation, and it will show.
It will be as though a great weight has been lifted from upon your shoulders. You will feel clean; a cleanliness like you've never experienced before. You will find yourself developing a sense of hate towards sin (maybe for the first time in your life), and you'll have an overwhelming desire to do what is pleasing in His eyes and to know the One who has saved you.
The Bible tells us in many places how the Holy Spirit will teach and lead us. Personally, I believe that He will only use what we give Him to work with. Since God has given us His Word, the Bible, it is important that we read and study it. We thereby give the Holy Spirit God's own Words that He may thereby teach us how to live. So, start reading your Bible. King David said in Psalms, Chapter 119, verses 9-12:
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.”
The key is hiding God's Word in your heart. That is Scripture memorization. The Holy Spirit will cause you to remember and help you to apply the Scriptures to your life, but you have to fill yourself with His Words. I do not believe that God “zaps” anybody with knowledge of His Word.
The Bible also directs us to have fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ. Now, you shouldn't go looking for clones of yourself. They don't exist. There are many areas of differing opinion in Christianity these days. I suggest you look for a small, close knit group of Believers who embrace and are embraced by the Truth. Get to know them and let them get to know you. God will help you determine if they are a good fit for you. Above all else, remember to keep on trusting God for everything in your life. He is your source and your reward. Verify everything you hear or are told about being a Christian or about the Church using the Bible. This part can be hard. Sin has made a real mess of the Church and there are a lot of those false converts standing behind pulpits. Drop me a line if you would like (see the “Contact” link at the top of the home page). I will do my level best to help steer you in the right direction.
Lastly, the Apostle Paul, writing his first letter to the Corinthian church, encourages them to adhere to the written Word of God, above and beyond anything that comes from Man. In I Corinthians, Chapter 4 and verse 6, we find this statement: “... that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written ...”. Another version renders it this way: “... that through us you may learn “not to go beyond what is written” ...” In II John, Chapter 1 and verse 9 we read: “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son.”
What those verses mean to teach, in context, is everything written, taught, or said about God must be tested against the Written Word of God. Whatever you hear; whatever you read; whatever someone tries to teach you – test it against God's objective revelation of His will. After all, if we do not acknowledge and concede an unchanging, infallible record of the teachings of Christ, to which we are to neither add anythingnor take anything from, by which we as Christians are to live, how are we to know with any assurance and certainty what those teachings are and that we are to be through abiding in them?Flee what goes beyond God's Word.
There is more, and I could go on and on, and on. That, however, is what the community of faith is for. Coming together with the family, your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Reading from the Scriptures; praising God in spiritual songs, teaching each other as the Spirit of God leads. Sharing in the Lord's Table as part of a full meal. Encouraging each other, bearing each others burdens, and when necessary, comforting one another. Learning to give glory to God is the highest purpose of the Christian life, and it's in the extended family of God where it's best learned.