There are so many people out there with sermons and pamphlets and books about how to be saved and make it to heaven–and this is just in Christian circles. I’m not even including other religions out there. I just wanted to be a little radical and throw out into cyberland what the (gasp!) Bible actually has to say on the subject.
First off, a quick overview. The Old Testament is basically the story of the Jewish people and their relationship with God. He chose them as a race for His own to be a witness the rest of the world. God’s idea was to bring all people to Himself through the Jewish witness. The Old Testament is divided into several parts, history, prophecy, poetry, and law. You cannot fully understand the New Testament without the Old Testament. It’s like starting in the middle of a book or movie and not knowing what went before. My purpose of this post is to focus on the subject of salvation, so I won’t go into much detail on the Old Testament. Just read it for yourself. It’s great stuff and very useful for today.
The New Testament is divided into several sections too, just like the Old Testament. The first four books are the Gospels, which tells about Jesus, which means ‘God is my salvation’ coming in flesh. (That means God put on flesh and came to live with us humans in order to die for our sins.) After the Gospels, is the book of Acts. This is where you see people getting ‘saved’ for the first time. This is the book where the church was born and this is the book which shows people getting saved. After Acts, you have a bunch of letters, written to established churches, essentially about how to live the new life you’ve been given. Finally, the last book of the Bible is Revelation, a prophecy about the end of the world as we know it.
All right, how does a person get saved? Well, that’s easy: Acts 2:38 states it very plainly: Repent of your sins, Get baptized in Jesus’ name, and Get filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues as the Spirit moves. It’s there, read it for yourself. It’s real, it’s a blessing. It’s from God. Jesus said in John 3:5 that in order to enter the Kingdom (be saved) you need to be ‘born again’ of the water and the Spirit. The ‘water’ here means baptism in Jesus’ name. The Spirit means being filled with God’s Spirit. How can you get the victory over sin without help? It is only through God’s Spirit that we can do anything worth while. Read the book of Acts. It’s great stuff and shows over and over and over how people got saved for the very first time.
Now, on to staying saved. Many, many people hate the idea of ‘losing your salvation’. Well, yeah! Wouldn’t it be awful to find yourself in hell? Hello! However, what does the Bible actually have to say about it? First off, you can’t ‘lose’ your salvation in the sense of suddenly waking up and finding it gone. God is not looking for us to make a single mistake. The only way you can lose your salvation is to walk away from it. Losing out with God is a conscious choice. Now, of course, no one is going to choose to walk away from God outright. Rather, it is much more subtle. It is through being tempted to go back to your old life. Revelation 3:16 is pretty clear about being either hot or cold, not lukewarm in the faith. God says He will spew or vomit them out of His mouth. This letter is written to a church, not the unsaved, but the supposedly saved! Over and over in the first few chapters of Revelation, Jesus talks about the things He has against these different churches. That’s the saved ones, folks! Jesus says to get it together or you will lose out!
So, now that you’re terrified, how do you stay saved? That’s actually easy. Seek the Lord. Read His Word (the Bible) and apply it to your life. If you read something in Scripture that says you should stop doing what you’re doing, Stop! If you read something in Scripture that says you need to be doing something you’re not doing, do it! Get to church. A United Pentecostal Church–UPCI preaches the truth–but search the Bible for yourself to see if it matches what you are hearing in church. If they don’t match, stick with the Bible. That’s your bedrock. That’s your foundation.
Seek a church that preaches truth and then submit to that truth, even if you don’t like it or it doesn’t feel comfortable. God isn’t interested in your comfort, He’s interested in your character. He wants to save you from yourself. Staying saved isn’t that difficult, but it might (no, really it will) require change. I just hope I’m more than a little different in five years. I want to be more like Jesus, more mature, more kind, more good, more godly.
Staying saved isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s all about drawing closer to Jesus. It’s a joy. Staying saved isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s something to yearn for, to seek after, to rejoice in. We get to know Jesus personally. What could be better than that?