On the dusty ground in front of an old home in Moldova, I had the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the woman who lived there. She had heard about Jesus but she did not know that her sins could be forgiven and that she could be permanently reconciled to God and guaranteed eternal life. She had been taught that she must work to earn her salvation. Once I had finished sharing the good news of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and promised return and explaining that one must be saved, she responded in a way that I have never seen in the United States. With great anticipation, eagerness, and concern for her eternal state, she inquired, “How can I have that? How can I be saved?” She invited us in and we explained to her the process of receiving salvation. There, on the rug of her living room floor, with no further instruction, she knelt down and cried aloud for God to save her because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Have you been saved? Do you know how to be saved? Do you know how to lead someone else to salvation? A few weeks ago I wrote about the grand narrative that runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that God sent His Son to save a sin-fallen world. This article is where the rubber meets the road. How can someone receive salvation?
First, one must hear the gospel message. No one can be saved without hearing the gospel message of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return which enables salvation. Paul, speaking about the necessity of faith in Jesus for salvation, says, “But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15). Apart from a knowledge of Jesus Christ and His ministry, no one can be saved. If we want to see our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers escape the fires of Hell and be reconciled to God for eternity, we must share the good news of Jesus with them.
Second, one must acknowledge his or her sinful and condemned state. This is what I call the bad news of the good news. Unless you acknowledge the bad news about yourself, you will never be able to accept the good news about Jesus. The Bible is clear that we are all sinners; that we all start out life opposed to God. Isaiah says that even our attempts to be good are tainted by sin and seen as unclean in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6) while Paul says that we all have missed God’s mark of righteousness (Romans 3:23). Paul, speaking to Christians, says that there was a time when we all were spiritually dead because of our own sins, we all used to walk the direction of the world and of Satan, we all followed our sinful and selfish desires, and we all, at one time, were under the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:1-3). Paul warns us that the punishment of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and God’s condemnation to “flaming fire” and “eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-12). Jesus tells John likewise, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). As Christians who care for those around us, we must gently and lovingly warn those who have not been saved of this imminent eternal danger.
Third, one must realize the great love of God expressed through Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus’ death and resurrection on behalf of sinners for their salvation is the heart of the gospel message. Jesus has always existed as God but He also became a man in order to represent mankind before God (Hebrews 4:14-16). As the God-man, He died on the cross as a substitute, taking the eternal punishment for the sins of others. Because of Jesus’ perfect obedience, God the Father raised Him from the dead and returned Him to His exalted place in Heaven (Philippians 2:5-11). We know that God the Father expressed His love for us by sending His Son (John 3:16). We know that God the Son considered the result of His dying to save us a joy (Hebrews 12:2). God’s love for mankind is so great that Christ died for us even while we were sinners; while we were His enemies (Romans 5:6-11). The message of God’s love must always be on the lips of Christians. Will you share the message of God’s love with someone this month?
Fourth, one must respond to this news about Jesus with faith and repentance. Paul tells us that eternal salvation can only be received by grace through faith and that it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace is undeserved and unearned favor or gifts. Faith is placing a trust in someone or something in such a way that the way we think and act changes in light of that person or thing. But what is the nature of saving faith? Saving faith exhibits two characteristics. First, saving faith trusts Jesus as the sufficient Savior who did everything required for salvation so that nothing else is needed. A faith that requires more than what Jesus accomplished is not saving faith but a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). Second, saving faith trusts Jesus as authoritative Lord of one’s life. Lord means “master” or “king” and speaks of one who has the right to direct others. Paul says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Saving faith trusts Jesus both as Savior and Lord; as the One who saves your soul and directs your life. Upon placing faith in Jesus, God sends His Holy Spirit into the believer to change the believer’s beliefs, desires, and actions (Ezekiel 36:24-28). At that moment, the Holy Spirit causes repentance in the believer’s heart which expresses itself in prayer asking God for forgiveness. Paul says, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). The gospel of Jesus is a message that calls for a response of faith leading to repentance. Let’s encourage those around us not only to hear the good news but to respond to it appropriately.
We have such a great message to share: That God sent His Son to die and rise to save us! That by trusting Jesus, God mercifully forgives us! That by trusting Jesus, God graciously adopts us as His children! That “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)! Have you trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Will you share with others so they may be saved also?