Perhaps as you have read this blog, you’ve realized that you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be that you thought you did; perhaps you prayed a prayer as a child or adult at the front of a church. Maybe you made a decision out of a fear of going to hell. But now, you realize that nothing actually changed. You still struggle with doing things your way. Or perhaps you simply feel the deep void and hear the Spirit whispering in your heart.
The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30). The answer given seems simple: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (v. 31). Jesus also gave an answer: “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). To be saved, we are to first repent. Most people think that the word means “to change one’s ways.” However, the word really means “to change one’s mind.” In other words, “Change the way you have been thinking about what you have been thinking.” We are to change how we think about Jesus. “Oh, He was a great man, a great leader, a great teacher, maybe even a prophet.” No. The Bible says He is the very Son of God, God incarnate. The Bible says He died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day. As God, He deserves our worship, obedience, indeed our entire life. We also must change the way we think about ourselves. We are not “good.” We were born into sin and live a life of selfishness—no matter how it is disguised as “good.” We could never be good enough to merit anything other than the state we are in—eternal separation from God.
When we abandon our old way of thinking, then, we must believe in the Lord Jesus. In the Bible that word is a synonym for trust or faith. We are to place our faith [full confidence or trust] in Christ. We admit that we are nothing. We are sinners living a selfish life and are separated from everything good and holy. We believe that He died to reconcile us (bring us back) to God. We admit our need of Him, not only for the life to come, but also for this life. We turn over all that we are to Him.
Even the thief on the cross did this. He said to the other thief who mocked Jesus, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:40-42). Notice what the thief proclaimed:
* We are the guilty ones.
* He is innocent.
* He is coming into a kingdom.
The thief didn’t ask to be saved from execution. He entrusted his very life to Jesus, just as Christ committed His life to the Father’s hands (v. 46). In the same way, trusting in Christ means surrendering my life to Him. It is no longer my life, my body. He has bought me with a price—the price of His blood (1 Cor. 6:20). I turn away from my desire to live my life on my terms and embrace His way.
Is it necessary to say a prayer out loud to be saved? No. The Lord knows your heart. The heart is the issue. In general, I dislike scripted prayers because they can shift the focus from the heart to the words. But, if you have never prayed before and have a strong urge to do so, but don’t know how, know that prayer is simply a means of communicating with the Heavenly Father, I suggest starting along these lines:
Heavenly Father, I come before You in need of Your mercy and grace. I know that I am a sinner, living selfishly outside of You. I believe that You sent Your Son Jesus to die on the cross for me and that You raised Him from the dead so that I may have life with You, both now and in eternity. I give You all that I am, and ask You to save me, live in me, and change me into the person You have called me to be. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Lord and Savior. Amen.
How Do I Know That I Am Saved?
You can’t rely on your feelings. Some feel nothing at all. Some have an intense encounter with the Spirit of God. The Bible says that we can know for certain that we are saved. What we cling to is His promise: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). You will learn to hear His Spirit speak to you, both in your heart and through His written Word. You will begin to notice areas of your life change. As you grow closer to the Lord, you will experience the peace and joy that He promises. And you more than likely will have the urge to tell of the change. You are now a disciple of Christ.
What Do I Do Now?
You have begun an amazing journey. It is a journey; we are not called to sit around and just wait for heaven. We are called to love God and others actively, as He changes us into His image. There are no formulas in the disciple’s life, but there are things that the Lord calls each of us to do, out of obedience and love for Him.
Be baptized. Notice I didn’t say, “Join a church.” When you were saved you became a member of the Church (the worldwide Church, aka the Body of Christ). It consists of all who have trusted in Him, whether Jew or Gentile, regardless of “membership” in a local congregation. Baptism is the first step of following Christ. He told the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples, baptizing them” (Matt. 28:19, emphasis added).
Connect with a local community of believers. There are no lone-ranger believers. We were made to walk the Narrow Road with others. Find a community that preaches the Gospel, teaches the Bible and loves and serves each other. The structure, music style and order of worship are less important.
Read the Word of God. There is no greater joy than knowing Christ, and the Bible is one of the ways God has given to reveal Him. In addition, the Bible was given to train us in righteousness (i.e., now that I’m a disciple of Christ, what does that look like?) It may be that you have already been doing that—perhaps you grew up in church. If that’s not the case (and even if it is), I suggest that you start with John’s Gospel. Read a little at a time. Take notes. Don’t let it become a “rule” or “have to,” rather let it be a “get to.” After John’s Gospel (perhaps read it a couple times through before moving on), read 1 John, then Galatians. If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, I suggest a modern translation, such as the New Living Translation, English Standard Version or New International Version.
Listen for the Spirit. As you grow, you will learn to hear the Spirit speak to you. Sometimes it comes through our reading of Scripture. Sometimes it comes through hearing a message from someone else. Often it comes simply as the voice in our heart. Step out in faith and obey what you hear.
Above all, refuse the temptation to do it on your own. Submit yourself in dependence to Christ. Will you stumble? Probably, just like a baby stumbles when first learning to walk. But know this for certain: Christ’s grace is always freely available. One who falls never needs to “earn” his way back into God’s favor. One only need confess that the attitude of his heart was wrong and repent.
Know that you are not alone on this journey. There are others running the race with you. And Christ is always yours. The greatest prayer that I or anyone could pray for you is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers in Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV).
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
If you have comments or questions about the Gospel or your journey with Christ, please feel free to leave a comment!
Note: This material is adapted from the Epilogue of my book “Unspeakable Joy: Embracing the Way of the Cross”, available on Amazon. For a more in-depth look at the New Covenant, the Gospel, and the believer’s hope, you can purchase it from Amazon (paperback and Kindle editions), or read it for free on Kindle Unlimited.