Did Jesus say you have to ask Him into your heart to be saved? Do I have to say the “sinner’s prayer”? Do I have to ask Jesus to take control of my life and accept Him as my Saviour? What does that even mean? What does it mean to be a good Christian? How do I “commit” myself to the Lord? What are the steps involved to be saved? These are questions many ask and yet few seem to have really looked at to find the truth. So, let find out what Jesus said and what the Evangelical church says about salvation. Join me as we study the Bible together.
How the Church says you are saved
- Believe that Jesus is Lord
- Confess your sins
- Ask Jesus into your heart or life to receive His Holy Spirit
What did Jesus say?
The word for repent is metanoeō in Greek, and it means “to change one’s mind or thinking.” But Jesus also said we must repent and believe the gospel as well (Mark 1:15). The word for the gospel in Greek is euaggelion, and it means “good news.” What is the good news? Jesus Christ came into the world to save us (John 3:17). Save us from what? From damnation, which occurs because we have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23).
Damnation without God’s grace extended towards us means eternal separation from God.
So far, Jesus lists faith in Him that He came to save us and repentance. But what did He say about confession?
Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father, who is in heaven.”Matthew 10:32, NKJV
“Also, I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.”Luke 12:8, NKJV
In Greek, the word for “confess” is homologeō. It means many things: “to agree with, assent to, declare, or acknowledge.” It also means to confess one’s guilt. Therefore, it is important to consider their context when reading verses with the word “confess” or “homologeō.”
Is it necessary to confess ones’ sins in order to attain salvation?
In the verses above, there is no mention of confessing our sins to anyone else (like a priest) or “confessing” our sins to God either in order to be saved. Keeping the Scriptures in context it is clear that Jesus means acknowledging before God and man that He is Lord, and that we believe He came to save us. But what did the apostles preach?
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”Romans 10:9-10, NKJV
“Therefore God also has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”Philippians 2:9-11, NKJV
The apostles also taught the same thing as Jesus. So does that mean we don’t have to confess our sins to be saved? Well, one thing we must remember about Jesus and the apostles is that they were very Jewish. As part of their commitment to the Torah, confession was something they were doing since childhood.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel: ‘When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the Lord, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged.”Numbers 5:5-7, NKJV
There are two types of confession
So we see two different types of confession at play here. One is to confess (acknowledge) publicly that Jesus is the Lord and that we believe He died for our sins and rose again on the third day. The other is to “confess” (acknowledge) our sins. The Apostle James (Jesus’ brother) believed that when we sinned against another, we needed to confess our sins to those we sinned against.
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”James 5:16, NKJV
The Apostle John agreed:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness1 John 1:9, NKJV
Confession that Jesus is Lord (acknowledging Him before others) is central to our salvation. Confessing our sins to God and one another is essential to our spiritual health.
But why do we have to confess our sins to God when He knows them already? What’s the point? Perhaps there is something to the phrase “confession is good for the soul.” When we acknowledge our sins out loud, either in prayer to God or to someone we have wronged, it creates in us feelings of remorse. Sure, you can silently tell God you are sorry for this or that, but what feeling does that kind of confession stir up in you? Regret? Slight guilt with a promise to never do it again (until you do)?
Silent confession does not bring about real repentance. But saying it out loud forces you to examine your motives and acknowledge with true repentance how wrong your actions were. Did you sin against God? Then acknowledge those sins out loud to Him. He is faithful and just and will forgive you your sins (1 John 1:9).
Did you sin against someone else? Don’t write them an email or call them on the phone asking for forgiveness. Meet them in person, so you can look them in the eyes and acknowledge your sins to them. But don’t expect to get off scot-free. As Numbers 5:5-7 tells us, you must make restitution for your sins. Why? Isn’t that the reason Jesus died for us? So we wouldn’t have to pay the price for our sins? Nice try. But you can’t expect Jesus to take the hit for you every time you deliberately hurt someone. That’s tantamount to throwing His sacrifice for you back in His face.
We don’t make restitution because the Bible commands us, but because restitution brings about true repentance to ensure we will never sin in that way again. Those to whom you have sinned against will see your remorse and forgive you, and if they don’t, God will because He is faithful and just (1 John 1:9).
Can’t I Just Confess to a Priest?
Again, nice try. You didn’t sin against your priest. You sinned against God and someone else. When we sin against another, we are sinning against God too because we are violating God’s moral law and hurting someone He created. Without question, if you are a child of God and you sin, you know it! So confession to the person you hurt, as well as to God, is essential for your spiritual growth. Saying ten “Hail Marys” is not true repentance. It’s just an easy out. You will still be dealing with guilt and regret until you right your wrong.
Jesus teaches faith in Him and repentance, along with acknowledging (confessing) that belief in Him before others. But what did He say about asking Him into our hearts? What did He say about repeating the standard “sinner’s prayer” or “accepting Him as Lord and Saviour of our lives?” Truthfully? He said absolutely nothing! These ideas are not in the Bible, which may surprise you.
According to the Bible, only repentance and belief in Jesus’ death will save you.
That’s it! Repentance is changing your mind about Jesus (who He is and what He did). Without repentance, you are living in opposition to Him, but with repentance comes faith. In fact, Jesus preached that very thing—repentance and faith (Mark 1:15).
Do you want assurance of your salvation? Salvation comes from believing two things God promised concerning Jesus:
- He was crucified as payment for our sins
- He rose again to prove God accepted His payment
If you believe those two things and you will be saved!
That’s How I Become a Christian?
No. That is how you are saved from damnation. Becoming a Christian is what happens after you are saved. You see, one extraordinary thing will happen to you once you acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who will lead you and help you grow in your relationship with Christ and your knowledge of God. Will you change? Yes and no. Your personality will not change. Why would it? God created you to be unique. What will change is your awareness of Him, your understanding of the Scriptures, and your awareness of sin in your life. This is the Holy Spirit teaching you how to live like Jesus and for God.
For example, how will you live now in light of the gift you have been given? Will you continue to use God’s name as a swear word? Or abuse your body with drugs, alcohol, or food? Will you continue to be sexually promiscuous? Honouring God with your body will be just one way the Holy Spirit will affect you because you are not your own when you commit yourself to Christ. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:13), and your life will change because your outlook will change. You will not want to dishonour God. You will want to obey Him and please Him. That’s what will change.
Where Christians Have Erred
“Being a good Christian” does not involve agreeing with everything your pastor preaches. It does not involve politics and voting for those who claim to have “family values.” It does not mean singling out certain sectors of society and browbeating them into the ground about their “sins,” either.
Jesus ate with and associated with sinners of all kinds, all while gently showing them the way to eternal life. The only time Jesus concerned Himself with sin, in particular, was the sin of hypocrisy, and it centred on those who considered themselves righteous, “aka the religiously inclined.” In His day, it was the leaders of the Jewish ruling authority—the Sanhedrin. Today, I believe that His anger would be directed at those same types of people within His church.
We spend so much time yelling about the darkness in this world that we have failed miserably at being the light we were called to be.
Do you want to be a “good Christian?” Stop attacking the gay community. Stop attacking institutions and people outside the church. Stop labelling all Muslims and refugees as terrorists! Stop listening to Q-Anon and their ridiculous conspiracy theories. Stop bringing politics into the church! Stop protesting outside abortion clinics. Do you think those women don’t already feel confused and horrified by what they are about to do? Stop acting like the enemy!
Be the light of Christ you were called to be! Feed the poor, help the homeless, care for the sick, the refugee, the widow, the orphan, and those in prison. Be Jesus to them! Our mission isn’t with the world at large and the darkness that encompasses it. Our mission and mandate are to offer hope to a dark world, one soul at a time.
Yes, the darkness is horrible. Governments everywhere are leading their countries further and further away from God. Movies from Hollywood are filled with violence, swearing, and sexual promiscuity. So things are getting darker. And they are getting darker because no one is listening to the church anymore. And why aren’t they listening? Because Jesus’ church stopped being that beacon of hope to the world the moment they started attacking those they were trying to win to Christ! Now the world ignores the One they so desperately need. Instead, we have become the “moral authority” that everyone hates. The church is literally making the world hate Jesus!
We aren’t supposed to be those angry people who stand on street corners with hateful signs. We aren’t supposed to be associated with people who would storm the Capitol, or occupy a city either. We are ambassadors for Christ and we must do everything in our power to be examples of Jesus! Newspapers like to print about how horrible Christians are. It’s time to give them something good to talk about.
You want to know what it means to be a “good Christian?”