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What must I do to be saved?

I listened to a sermon by a man named Paul Washer.  He reminds me of my pastor, Marty.  They talk about having to count the cost of salvation.  Paul Washer talks about the sinner’s prayer as something that came about 50 years ago that puts (this is a paraphrase) many people in danger of going to Hell.  The idea that one can simply utter some words and be forgiven of their sins is ridiculous.  Now the Bible is very clear that all one has to do is believe.  “By grace are we saved through faith.”  There is nothing a person can do in order to earn salvation.  Jesus came and paid the price for my sins.  All of them.  Once and for all.  The question then would be, “What must I do to be saved?”

The Acts 2:21 says “If anyone calls upon the name of the Lord, he shall be saved.”  John 3:16 says, “whosoever believes on him will have eternal life.”  “So,” you might say “what does belief mean?  I mean, I believe in God.”  Well,  so does the Devil himself.  James 2:19 says, “You believe there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe–and tremble.”  So, simple belief in God may not be what is required here.

My church has 2 mission trips to Senegal, West Africa every year.  Some of those people have read the Bible all the way through several times and they don’t even believe in Jesus as the Son of God.  When they make the decision to follow Christ, they consider what it will cost them.  It will cost them family, friends, community, and maybe even their lives.  When they make that decision, it is most definitely based on faith.  I wonder if we have it too easy here in the US.  No I don’t.  I know we have it too easy.  Our faith will never be tested the way the African Christian’s faith is tested daily.  Not while we remain in our comfort zone.

So now we have to go to Africa to be saved?  Or was it that we have to read the Bible several times through to be saved?  No.  None of those.

If you were to meet the President, how would you feel?  What about if you were in the presence of a person who could order your death on a whim?  My questions are leading to this one.  Do you fear God?  Should you?  If so what part of Salvation should that play?  Let’s go back for a moment to the belief question.  Do you believe in God as he is presented in the Bible?

He is described in Isaiah 6 as “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty.  The whole earth is full of His Glory.”  Holy is repeated three times for perfect emphasis.  He is HOLY.  That is not a description of God like he is nice.  It is a description of God, like he has brown hair and blue eyes.  This is who God is.  HOLY.

He can’t abide anything unholy in His presence.  Nothing imperfect can be with him.  So how can I, this completely imperfect worm of a creation who forsakes Him at every chance I get, go into His presence to be with Him for eternity?  Jesus, the Son of God, God himself in human form, decided to make the only sacrifice that could possibly be enough.  God himself died for my imperfections.  My sins.  That which separated us and kept us from being holy enough was put onto the perfect HOLY God.  He took our sins on himself and died a brutal death.  What made it a victory instead of a defeat was the fact that, under His own power, he rose on the third day from the dead.  He defeated the power of sin to separate us from God.

His perfection was then available to us to claim.  Romans 4:3 says, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him Righteousness.”  That Righteousness is God’s holiness.  It can’t be earned by us.  Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteousness is like “filthy rags”.  There is no comparison to God.  The holiest, most righteous, best person in the world is barely a speck above Hitler in God’s eyes.  We just can’t measure up on our own.  God’s Righteousness, God’s holiness is the only thing that would allow our imperfect souls to be in His presence.

So.  Do we do good in order to be holy enough for God?  No!  We can’t measure up!  God’s grace is there for us.  It is the forgiveness of sin.  It was God’s sacrifice that loosed his grace into our lives.  So , then, do we continue our lives as they were before we believed?  NO!  God expects us to be holy. Leviticus 32:2 says for us to be Holy for God is Holy.  We know that we can’t possibly be holy enough to earn a place in Heaven.  We also know that God forgave our sins.

I believe we must bow our hearts, not our heads.  In other words, we must put God above ourselves.  We must count the cost of being a Christian.  If that means we give up things we like, we give them up.  If that means we do things we don’t like to do, we do them.  In honor of God.  If you are a Christian you will NOT be perfect.  That does NOT give us a license to sin indiscriminately.  We must be holy for God is Holy.  We have a new nature.  We no longer seek to do those wrong things.  We can be tempted.  We can make wrong decisions.  We do not seek out bad behavior.

God is Just.  That means he will do justice and judge everyone according to what they do.  If you have the righteousness of Christ, then you will be judged according to that.  If you don’t you will experience a harsh judgment from God.  It means you decided that you were good enough to go to Heaven without Jesus.  That means His death was for NOTHING in your eyes.

However God is merciful.  God gives us the opportunity to have him forget our sins.  His mercy allows us to find him.  We need only accept that Christ dies for us.  We need to acknowledge that we have in no way earned a place in Heaven and we don’t deserve it at all.  We need to bow our hearts to God, the Creator of the Universe.  We must accept that He made the only way to Him.

We need to repent of our sins.  That means to turn away.  Put them behind us.  Allow God to fill the places where our sin once was.  Let him give us meaning and fulfillment.

  1. July 26, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Amen! There is a lot of good truth in what you wrote and also a lot of uncomfortable truth. I struggle constantly with thoughts of “am I good enough”, “did I mess up one too many times”…the fact is the Lord is willing to forgive sin if I have totally given my life to him. He knows my true heart, there are no special words I can say to earn that forgiveness. I just believe and he just forgives. So simple, yet so hard sometimes. Thanks for sharing Bill.

  2. James
    July 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

    You know there is a Catholic version of the Sinner’s prayer. I forgot which nun came up with it but it came to her in one of those vision type experience where she saw the Virgin Mary and told her if people would pray the prayer is will be given they will be saved. Anyways something to that effect and very mystical.

    Paul Washer definitely is a hard hitting minister. What I do trust in is the simply fact that if the Spirit of God dwells within me where will be a change. what is why Paul tells us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith.

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