How do I get Saved?

It would be great if all “Christian” denominations gave the same answer. Unfortunately, they do not. Different groups take what the Bible says about salvation and interpret it in one of two different ways, and you’ll have to weigh carefully which philosophy you’ll accept because your eternity is based on that decision. Some denominations, in particular the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, would say that we are either fully or partially Saved by doing good deeds or obeying various Biblical Commandments. We call this philosophy a belief in being Saved by “Good Works”. Even many non-Christians ultimately believe in this salvation theology without their realizing it. Someone who thinks we’re Saved by Good Works might say things along the lines of:

As long as I follow the Ten Commandments, live a good moral life, and do the best I can, I’ll go to Heaven.”

I know I'm going to Heaven because I’m a good person.”

I don’t smoke, drink, or commit adultery--I go to church three times a week, and honor God and His Commandments, so I’m going to Heaven.”

We’re all children of God, and only really evil people like Hitler go to Hell.”

I belong to the ----- church and so I’m going to Heaven.

As long as your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds--you’re in.”

It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to as long as you’re sincere; whether you’re Christian, Jew or Moslem you all pray to the same God.

You know Mother Teresa and Princess Di are in Heaven--look at all the things they did for people.”

Someone who believes in salvation by Works either thinks we’re born headed on our way to Heaven, and that so long as we live morally “good” lives and don’t do anything really bad we’ll wind up there; or that if we die having done more good deeds than bad deeds God will let us in; or that if we live what they consider to be holy lives of obedience to the Commandments our salvation is assured. While this might sound good, it’s a flawed understanding of what the Bible teaches, and that’s why the Bible says that most people--even religious ones--will die in their sins, never understanding the true simplicity of salvation.

To cover the topic properly, let’s consider what is really involved in the salvation process. First, what is salvation? What exactly does it do?

If nothing else, most all of us can agree that salvation involves God’s either forgiving or overlooking our sins, so that they are not held against us. So here is the first key question: Just how do we get God to forgive our sins? And, once He forgives them, how do we make certain that He keeps forgiving them so that if we commit subsequent sins we don’t lose the forgiveness that wiped the slate clean in the first place?

Virtually all Christian denominations would agree that upon a person’s coming to the point in his thinking when he realizes he has sin that God must forgive, God will forgive that sin if the man asks Him. Where most “Christian” religions diverge from each other lies in answering the second part of the question--that of how we make certain our slate is kept clean once our sins are initially forgiven. Many denominations, while they might agree that forgiveness of sin initially comes through asking God to show mercy, go on to teach that a person must thereafter produce Good Works to guarantee he gets into Heaven. There are a host of problems with this religious-sounding concept, among which is the fact that if this is true, then ultimately it must be by one's own religious lifestyle that he will earn God’s favor and be allowed to enter Heaven.

Actually, the entire Old Testament was written to show men that they could never “follow the rules” well enough, or live lives “good enough” to earn a place in Heaven (see Ezekiel 20:25). Paul, writing in the 4th chapter of the New Testament book of Romans, and the 2nd chapter of the book of Ephesians, had this to say about whether one could ultimately earn heaven by doing Good Works:


King James Bible

New Jerusalem Bible

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

--Romans 4: 1-5

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Not of works lest any man should boast.

--Ephesians 2:8-9

Then what do we say about Abraham, the ancestor from whom we are descended physically?

If Abraham had been justified because of what he had done, then he would have something to boast about. But not before God.

Does scripture not say: Abraham put his faith in God and this was reckoned to him as uprightness?

Now, when someone works, the wages for this are not considered as a favor but as due; however, when someone, without working, puts faith in the one who justifies the godless, it is this faith that is reckoned as uprightness.

--Romans 4: 1-5

Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God.

Not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.

--Ephesians 2:8-9

So we see that a way apart from doing Good Works had to be found for mankind to overcome the penalty of his sins. That way was by placing faith in Jesus Christ, who alone lived a life good enough to meet God’s standard. Our salvation ultimately begins and ends by nothing more intricate than accepting Christ’s gift of eternal life for us through trusting and relying on His sinless life and atonement on the Cross as the price to gain forgiveness of our sins. So, in reality, God at the same time made the standard so high no one could reach it (through the Law of Moses), yet at the same time made it so low that everyone could make it: faith in Jesus Christ as savior! Thus, people who possess a true Biblical understanding of salvation would say things like:

I can never earn Heaven through my own deeds--only through the blood of Christ.”

I am a sinner saved by God’s grace and nothing more.”

In God's eyes I deserve Hell, but God has forgiven me and adopted me as his child.”

It’s not what I have done that’s saved me--it’s what Jesus has done.”

You see, salvation hinges on what you are consciously relying on to Save you. I would therefore ask you to stop for a moment and determine if you are a Saved individual--and if so, on what basis do you say that? Perhaps you’ve never stopped to think about that. Think about it now. Why are you now Saved? In your mind, is it because you go to church on Sunday and live a good life? Is it because you were baptized into a certain denomination? As I pointed out, while these are important things, reliance on those factors cannot really save you from the penalty for sin, so let me help by reviewing the steps that one must take to come into a relationship with God, ranked in order of importance.

1. The most important step of all, is that you must come to the point where you accept that the Bible is the Word of God.

Believe it or not, this is even more important than coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ.


Well, if you do not believe the Bible is God’s word to us, then there is no reason to believe that Jesus Christ is the way. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:18 that not so much as one ‘comma or period’ would pass from the written word until it had been completely fulfilled. He also said that Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matthew 24:35). God has thus chosen to exalt the Written Word above all else in our world. And it is through that Written Word He has chosen to reveal His thoughts and instructions for us.

Yeah, but aren’t there factual errors in the Bible? Are you saying the Bible is perfect and without any error at all of any sort?”

These are fair questions. It’s not within the scope of this document to write an apologetic on the authenticity of the Bible, although fine books already address this subject. (Gleason Archer’s Handbook of Bible Difficulties is a good one, as are the new books on the incredible Old Testament Bible Numeric Codes by Grant Jeffrey and Michael Drosnin.) Having studied the subject over the years, I can tell you that virtually every apparent contradiction or factual error in the Bible is explainable by either a mistranslating of the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, or else a misunderstanding of the cultural phrases used in the writing. The handful I have not seen plausibly explained (yet) were inconsequential. So in determining to what degree the Bible is correct, we must understand that the men who wrote the Bible did so under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit (2nd Timothy 3:16). Inspiration does not necessarily mean dictation! But it certainly means that the influence of God is upon the writer, and because of that Divine inspiration he is writing things that express what God wishes to say through him to us who read his writings. Because of this, at minimum, points made in the Bible regarding prophecy of future events, or the religious concepts and Commandments we are to live our lives by are absolutely correct and not open to debate on accuracy. If it’s possible for anything else in the Bible to be in error, all that remains are extraneous historic details that have no bearing on matters of any importance.

Keep in mind also, that when Christians say that the Bible is infallible, they mean that the original manuscripts were themselves infallible, not necessarily what you hold in your hands and read from. Through the science of textual criticism we can compare existent manuscripts and trace back, with nearly 100% accuracy, to what the originals said, even though we do not have any of those original hand-written copies from the authors themselves. Our modern Bibles are thus translated from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts through textual reconstruction techniques. Where we might make an error in translation, it will not be of great consequence. (One quick example of this is in the supposed food of John the Baptist. All our Bibles mistakenly translate it as locusts and wild honey. In another section I will explain why this is wrong, but I use the example to show that even a universal mistranslation like this has no affect on any matter of true importance.)


2. Acknowledge that you have committed sin, and repent, accepting Christ as savior and lord.

Acknowledging we have committed sin is simple enough. All of us can admit we’ve done some sort of wrongdoing in our past. But Biblical recognition of sin is to understand that we haven’t just done a few bad things here and there in our lives, but that we are living a life that constantly falls short of the Commandments of God, whether we agree with those Commandments or not. Trust me, there are some of God’s Commandments that I, in my natural state of thinking, do not like. But God has established what is Right and Wrong, and I, as a sinner desiring salvation, must yield to God’s views on the subject and admit I have broken his Commandments, either consciously or unconsciously.

Repentance means simply to change one’s mind on the way he has been living his life in rebellion to the will of God and recognize God’s way of living. It does not mean, specifically, to stop sinning, except as our change of attitude prompts us to change some of the things we have been doing that we know God doesn’t approve of. Thus, repentance is a lifestyle, not an event. An outgrowth of that new mindset is that we do begin the process of weeding out the sin in our lives with God's help. Some call this process sanctification. And remember--do not think you are too bad or too much of a sinner to get Saved. If that was true then it would mean that sin is greater than the atonement of Christ, which is impossible.

There are some things we should cease doing immediately--or at least do the best we can to halt them--if we truly desire to follow Christ...murder, for instance, or a sexual lifestyle incompatible with Biblical guidelines. (Including the destruction of any pornography we might own. Trust me--pornography is not harmless and I promise you that these materials will keep you from coming into a full relationship with Christ! In fact, most of the time when you see the word fornication in the New Testament, it is the word porniea in the Greek--from which comes the word pornography.) Other sins or weaknesses of the flesh--everything from lying or behaving selfishly toward others--God often deals with gradually, helping us progressively become “better” persons as we grow in Him, although, no matter how good we ever get, we will never go to Heaven just because we are “Good”.

Some of us have a harder time resisting sin than others do. But all of us have some area in our lives where it is difficult to resist temptation. For guys, it’s usually sexual, which is why Paul spent the majority of his time warning about sexual activities incompatable with Christianity. The key is to do the best we can to resist sin--and when and if we yield to temptation to seek forgiveness and strength to be stronger next time. Only at the point where we accept sin willingly into our life (“I’m this way and I can’t help it, so I’m not going to worry about it,” or “God made us this way, so...”) and begin denying it as sin do we stray into dangerous ground.

Accepting Christ is really pretty simple. You do it by nothing more difficult than believing and relying that Jesus Christ has paid the price for your sins, and that because of His death on the cross you are reconciled to God. The Bible says it this way:

King James Bible

New Jerusalem Bible

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, though shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

--Romans 10: 9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, though shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

--Romans 10: 9-10

“Believing” in Christ doesn’t mean you just mentally think the whole idea makes sense. It means that you consciously trust in Christ and His death on the cross as the payment for your sins. It’s as if a close relative were to promise you that he was going to buy you a new car for your birthday--you would believe that was true and consciously act under the assumption that he will follow through on what he said. Salvation is like that--you take God at His word and then live your life as if you believe Him.

Let me suggest the following simple prayer for you to repeat in order to accept Jesus into your life:

"Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner in need of a savior. I believe that you paid the price for my sins on the cross, and that you arose from the dead to give me eternal life. I reject Satan and any involvement I may have had with him, and I accept you as savior and Lord. I ask you to come into my heart and forgive my sins and deliver me from death. Amen."


It's that simple.

3. Find a church and get baptized.

Some denominations would disagree, but most Christians would tell you that baptism is not necessary for salvation. However, baptism is something God commands, and it is good for us to undergo it. Baptism is a public statement of faith in Christ that confirms our being adopted into the Body of Christ, the Church as a whole, not a specific denomination. You may have been baptized as an infant or years ago as a teenager. If you wonder if it is necessary to be baptized again, pray about it. It certainly won’t hurt anything. If you don’t know of a Christian church, check the phone book. Some denominations that teach an orthodox salvation theology include the Baptists, Evangelical Free Church, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Nazarene church, 4-Square church, Assembly of God, and Calvary Chapels, among many. If in doubt, ask whomever answers the phone whether their church believes in salvation by grace alone, or if Works play a part in it. Regardless of their logic, if the answer is anything but by grace alone through faith alone, politely hang up without listening to their explanation of why they believe that. (They can offer a convincing explanation which someone not well versed in the Scriptures can easily be tricked by.) Avoid churches like the Mormons (LDS), Jehovah's Witnesses, Church of Christ, and Apostolic churches, to name a few with doctrinal problems. Some Churches of Christ are great, but some affiliated with the Boston Church of Christ teach aberrant religious doctrine and a new Christian is not qualified to judge between truth and falsehood.

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