SALVATION CLEAR AND PLAIN
For New Christians
(Revised 2020 Edition)
YOUR SALVATION IS. . .
Not FEELING. . .but FACT
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Some people have complained they don’t “feel” saved. But salvation must first of all be a fact before it is a feeling. Never does God work from feeling to faith, but always from faith to feeling. Our redemption rests upon the absolute certainty of God’s Word, not on the uncertainty of our experience or feeling.
We are saved on the simple basis of taking God at His word and believe Him. When we reach out by faith and ask Jesus to come into our hearts, thereby accepting Him as our Savior, God gives us all the benefits of His incomparable salvation. At that moment, all the things which God has promised us become eternally true.
“To all those who have received Him, to them He gave power (authority) to become the children of God…” (John 1:12).
Feeling that you are a child of God will come in time. After you have been a Christian for a while, you will “feel" saved. Christ will become more real, and prayer and Bible reading more blessed. But entering the Christian life is different. This step is taken not on the quicksand of uncertain feeling, but on the surety of the Rock of Ages Himself, Christ Jesus.
Not a NEW LEAF. . .but a NEW LIFE
“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes unto the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
There are some people who have promised God they would try to do better. Under stress of trouble or sorrow, many have sincerely determined to forsake their sins and turn over a new leaf. But this is not the way to salvation. Even if the new leaf was kept unspotted, what about the other sinful days and years?
God’s salvation is much deeper than mere reformation. It’s an absolutely new birth from above, and with it comes a new nature (John 3:7). It’s complete forgiveness of the past sinful life and an ironclad guarantee of a new life and future. It’s not washing of the hands; it’s the gift of a new heart.
"Whoever drinks of this (natural) water shall thirst again. But whoever drinks of the (spiritual) water that I shall give him will never thirst” (John 4:13, 14).
Please be assured that God is not interested in patching up your old life. What He wants to do is to give you a completely new nature, part of His own righteous nature. This new nature is destined to live forever in heavenly glory. It’s new through and through, fresh from the hand of God our Creator. This righteous nature allows us (through Jesus) to come into God’s presence.
“Therefore if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Not YOUR WORK FOR GOD. . .but GOD’S WORK FOR YOU
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The truth simply is this: it just isn’t possible for you to be saved by what you do for God. If you are of good moral character, that will not help. You may be educated, gifted, wealthy, successful, respectable and honored, but God accepts none of these in return for the gift of salvation.
Nor do good deeds purchase pardon. Not giving liberally to worthy causes, not helping in charitable organizations, not even giving your time toward human advancement. You may do the very best you can but, the works of one’s hands can never merit salvation, neither can one ever earn his way to salvation.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us” (Titus 3:5).
What then? How can anyone be saved? Listen carefully as I tell you that the essence of salvation is—God’s work for you. It’s all provided for you. The entire price has been paid when Christ died in your place for your sins—past, present, and future. It can only be offered with one simple condition—that you take it as a free gift from God. Nobody could earn it or merit it in a million eternities. Therefore, God freely gives it to us.
“For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
Not RELIGION. . .but RELATIONSHIP
This is so important. It is true that the Church is God’s only divinely appointed organization in today’s world. But salvation does not come through the Church and religious activities. No person or earthly entity can forgive sins against God or give eternal life. Only God can do these things. Church leaders are shepherds, priests, and pastors. You may attend the services regularly, sing the hymns, listen to the sermons, drop your gifts in the collection basket, join in the observance of the Eucharist or Communion, and even join the church, but these things will never save your soul.
Don’t misunderstand me. These things are quite right for all Christians to do, but we’re talking about how you became a Christian. Church privileges and duties are not the way to eternal life. Many a person has been saved in church but not by the Church. It points the way to the Savior. You see, it’s Christ and Christ alone Who can save.
“Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).
I know full well that the Church is the body of Christ. And it is true that the main duty of the Church is to proclaim Christ and His gospel. But in the matter of our salvation, we’re saved by the Head, and that is Jesus.
“Neither is there salvation in any other (than Jesus Christ): for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
When you become a “born from above” Christian with your new nature, you are “baptized” into God’s family. At that very instant you became a child of God and entered into a personal relationship with Jesus and have access to God the Father. All the privileges of God’s children are bestowed on you and you have entered into the kingdom of heaven—both in this life and the next. All other Christians are your spiritual brothers and sisters, and we all will be together with God forever!
Not TRYING. . .but TRUSTING
Suppose you try to do the best you can. Is that enough? Suppose you strive to make your life upright and exemplary? Suppose you endeavor to perform deeds noble and praiseworthy? Let’s say your motives are high and unselfish. Will you be surprised as I tell you that God simply does not save on the basis of one’s trying?
God’s standard of life is absolute perfection. Nothing short of that will He ever receive. No one will ever be in heaven except those who fully qualify there. And the truth is that only one Person in all the world ever lived an absolutely sinless life. That One is Christ. All others have terribly failed. If salvation were by trying, no one ever would be saved.
The heart of salvation is substitution (sacrifice for sin). Christ took our place. He lived perfectly. Never did He sin. And when He died, He died for us. He became our Substitute. He takes away our sins and we take on His righteousness. Thus we can stand before God clothed in robes of perfect righteousness by simply trusting in the finished work of Christ. That’s the good news of the gospel.
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Not by WATER…but by BLOOD
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, (even) the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7).
Baptism in water is one of the two great sacraments of the Christian Church (the other being the Eucharist or Communion). It is a divinely given ordinance to mark the Christian’s inseparable union with Christ in death and resurrection. Never, however, is it a means of salvation. There is no soul-cleansing in water. Sin can only be cleansed by blood.
Every Christian ought to be baptized, but not until he has been genuinely saved. Baptism is a testimony to the believer’s own heart, to the church, and to the world that his faith and trust are in the finished work of Christ on the cross. But first and last, baptism is a symbol, a picture-story, a ritual of that change which has already taken place in the Christian’s life. It is not essential for salvation
“You were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold…but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
Not SIMPLY BELIEVING. . .but RECEIVING CHRIST
Some cults have argued that they have always “believed” in Christ and that salvation is automatically bestowed on all people (Unitarianism). This is absolutely not true. It’s the other way around. Since we are all sinners, the default setting is to be with Satan in hell; and that’s where you’ll be unless you accept Christ as your Savior. The Bible is very clear about this:
“Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘From His innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified [raised to honor]” (John 7:38, 39).
The Bible words “believe” and “receive” can be confusing. The Bible meaning “believe” is to put your faith in Christ to save you. At that time the Holy Spirit had not come so His followers could not actually receive Him at that time. When the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after His resurrection, every person who “believed” (had faith) received the Holy Spirit (Christ’s Spirit) into their hearts. Also they received all the spiritual benefits of being born into God’s family as well. This is the way we receive Jesus today and the Holy Spirit confirms we are children of God.
You don’t believe in Christ-like you believe in Julius Caesar or George Washington. Christ must be to you more than a mere figure of history or someone you admire. It is true that Jesus Christ is the greatest Man in history. But He is more than that—He is the uniquely begotten Son of God. It is also a fact that He lived a life of wonderful example. But that isn’t enough either. His life had to be, and was, absolutely sinless and perfect.
You may accept the truth that He died innocently and sacrificially, but until you see that He died for you personally, and ACCEPT HIM as your personal Savior, you cannot know true salvation, nor have His Holy Spirit dwelling in you like the seal of approval that you are truly a child of God. You must place your entire trust and faith in Him first.
Not your WAY OF THINKING. . .but your WAY OF ACTION
Sincerity does not constitute salvation. The person who is sincere, yet wrong, is just as lost as the hypocrite. To depend upon sincerity alone is to die in your sins.
Repentance is not salvation. Some repent with tears, others with joy. But repentance is the turning of one’s faith away from some object or person to something else. Many penitent people are not saved; for while they have shifted their trust from something or someone (even themselves), they have not turned to Christ. Salvation occurs only when the turning is to Christ.
Being under conviction is not salvation. Do not mistake me. Conviction of heart is often God-sent and may lead one to the realization of his desperate need. In this way conviction may become an arrow pointing to Christ, but salvation takes place when the convicted one rests his all in an all-sufficient Christ.
Confession of sin is not salvation. Many times the sinner will, under great anguish of heart, pour out his soul in confession of his transgressions. This is a healthful exercise and can lead to that blessed experience of having all those transgressions pardoned. But confession of sin must lead to a definite, actual, personal trust in the crucified and risen Christ before salvation occurs.
Denial of sin will not change the fact; neither will a routine affirmation of the goodness of God. It is true that God is love; but God is also righteous, just, pure, and holy. Moreover, God hates sin with a holy hatred. No unsaved sinner can ever stand in His presence. Thus the necessity of the sinner’s Substitute, Christ. By Him, sin is forever banished, and the sinner is saved forever.
Bottom line: salvation is Christ, receiving Him into your heart of hearts. With Him, you’re saved. Without Him, you’re lost.
YOURS. . .by FAITH
What then is our part in salvation? If being saved is God’s gift, if Christ has fully paid the price, what does the sinner need to do in order to receive the incomparable benefits of salvation?
Here is God’s truth:
Believe means to receive. Salvation is so great and so costly that it could never be earned. So God for Christ’s sake freely offers it to guilty sinners as a gift. We believe; then with the arms of faith, we reach out and take it.
Believe means to trust. Trust our past, present, and future to Christ. Surely, He is worthy of our trust. Everything that comes into our lives is to be entrusted to Him.
Believe means to accept. To open the door of your entire being and invite the Lord Jesus Christ to enter. To take Him for a blessed and wonderful Companion for eternity.
Believe means to turn. To turn from following your own will and way to following God’s will and way. To turn from seeking your own advancement to advancing the good news of salvation through Christ.
Believe means to rely on. To depend upon the Lord Jesus for every need. To find Him absolutely able to meet every problem.
Believe means to give your entire self to Him. To have Him as your very own Savior. To have Him become the closest to your heart. That is what it means to “believe.”
Not sure if you’re saved?
It’s easy to confirm your salvation. Just say this simple prayer:
“Dear Lord Jesus, I am ready to believe your Word. I am a sinner and need you to save me. I open my heart to you. Please come in and be my personal Savior.”
If you do this and mean it, Jesus will certainly come into your life.
HOW YOU KNOW YOU ARE SAVED
Jesus doesn’t lie. He said it. It is true, and that settles it. Knowing these facts is of great comfort to any new Christian. You can’t see or feel the Holy Spirit inside you. However, there are some noticeable changes that take place inside you after opening your heart to Jesus. Discovering them in your life gives you the most powerful means for reassuring yourself you are saved. You will relax in Christ. How wise of God to provide for actual changes in ourselves. This way they are built-in, and no one can tamper with them. We have them with us wherever we go.
CHANGE #1: NEW INTEREST IN THE BIBLE
What the Bible has to say immediately becomes important to you. True, your first interest maybe curiosity, but shortly you are eager to know more about God’s great love for all people of the earth. You always suspected that our orderly world was no accident, but now you are fascinated to find there is a divine plan for our lives—and you want to learn all about it and do it.
This appetite for the Word of God is new, it wasn’t there before. The inclination to obey Him is new too. Here then is your first noticeable change. The Bible speaks of obeying God like this:
“We have come to know Him if we keep His commandments…whoever keeps His Word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (1 John 2:3, 5).
You detect an inclination to do things you think will please God. You might not always comply with this inward tendency, but you don’t question that the inclination is real. There is an inner prompting to obey God. The Bible reveals God’s will. Your changed attitude toward His will results in a new attitude toward His Word. This evidence in you is real and discoverable.
CHANGE #2: YOU FEEL A KINSHIP WITH GOD’S PEOPLE
Now you are part of a great spiritual family, all of whom possess the same life (eternal), have had the same experience (salvation), and are headed in the same direction (heaven). That’s a lot to have in common with anyone, so it is natural to find yourself drawn to them.
In time you will have Christian friends, perhaps closer to you than members of your earthly family. Surprising? The bond of an eternal family is certainly stronger than that of a temporary one. Possibly you had respect for Christians before you accepted Christ, but now you feel a part of them. That is a different feeling, a changed one. In fact, they are now your new brothers and sisters in the Lord. The bond is so strong that you may be able to inwardly recognize a person as a Christian. Sometimes a brother or sister in the Lord will come up to you—especially if you are wearing a Christian symbol—and ask you about it. Talking is easy and fun with God’s family—like you already know them.
Your changed feeling has second evidence. This is how the Bible puts it:
“We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14).
Family life is great anytime. But now you can have family joys that beat anything this world can offer. Why? Because the new family relationships last forever!
CHANGE #3: WITNESS OF GOD’S SPIRIT WITHIN YOURSELF
Planted deep inside is the whispered testimony—“You belong to God.” It exists in the form of growing confidence. Sometimes you may not feel that way, even dispute it, but you cannot change it. It was implanted at salvation and remains unshakeable evidence. The more you understand it, the greater is its power to sustain you.
A miracle happened when you opened your heart. The Spirit of God entered to live inside you. He is the One whispering to your spirit:
“His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). “We know that He abides in us by His Spirit which He has given us” (1 John 3:24).
Until you accepted Jesus’ offer of eternal life, you were resisting the Holy Spirit. Not consciously, perhaps, but you would have been saved before this if it were not so. Now His presence certifies your resistance has ended. What follows the end of any conflict? Peace, of course. And PEACE is something you can feel right away!
SALVATION YOU CAN ENJOY
Animals have no imagination—only humans created in the image of God. And, since we were created in His image, you and I have the wondrous ability to picture things in our minds. Having received Christ, it becomes the task of your imagination to picture Him as He lives within you. He communicates with your spirit.
“His Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:16).
A Spirit to spirit relationship is difficult until the imagination goes to work. Since you are new in Christ, the image will lack detail. Yet, it will be enough to let you enjoy His presence and worship Him.
“God is Spirit and they that worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
It is in the sanctuary of the soul that your dedicated imagination (visualization) is done. Soon you will feel He is there just for you.
To enjoy Him to the fullest, there are some things you would want to do.
1. Have fellowship with Him. The more you talk with Jesus, the more precious your friendship becomes. Many people feel their time of prayer is the best part of being a Christian. Go ahead; He’s waiting there to say “hello.” Talk together in the morning, during the day and have prayer with Him each night. Soon you won’t want to leave Him out of your thoughts. Don’t be afraid. Remember, He loves you so much that He died for you.
2. Study the Bible, His Word to you. Get a good study Bible with lots of insightful footnotes. First, read the four gospels of the New Testament to see what it says about your Savior and Friend. The more you learn about His Words and deeds, the more detailed His picture becomes in your imagination. In time, He is as real as anyone else you know.
3. Do things together. His sense of humor is delightful. He’ll accompany you anyplace and be your personal guide. You’ll thrill to His sweet comfort as you face trials and tribulations of everyday living. Involve Him in all your plans and discover the unique way His ideas reach your mind. He will give you solutions to every problem if you just ask. Then you’ll relax, confident of His leadership of your life.
Do these things and yours will be a salvation you can enjoy!
“Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
Edited by C. S. Lovett
Revision edited by L. Lovett
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