Salvation isn’t complicated, but there is a process. The process has nothing to do with religion, works or tradition. A very good example of just how simple it is to come to a saving faith in Jesus is illustrated by an account recorded in the book of Acts.
An angel of the Lord sent Philip to an Ethiopian eunuch who was trying to understand a passage of Scripture found in the book of Isaiah. This man was trying to understand about the Messiah, but was having difficulty because he didn’t know Christ and therefore he didn’t have the Holy Spirit as a guide.
Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, “And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:31).
The gospel needs to be explained before a person can understand and Philip was eager to teach him. The man was reading Scriptures (Isaiah chapter 53) about the coming Messiah and the fact that He would be led as a sheep to slaughter, but would go silently. To Philip this passage was very clear, but unless the eunuch heard an explanation he could not comprehend the meaning. It still works that way today.
The lost souls of this world need to hear about Jesus and have the gospel explained in order that they will believe.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
If someone you know hasn’t accepted Christ as their Savior, you need to tell them the Good News. Explain why He entered His creation to die on a cross. Everyone sins and that sin separates us from God. Everyone needs to hear that only the blood of Jesus will take sin away. They have to hear the truth in order to accept His grace.
Once they’ve heard the Good News of salvation, they need to believe. A person may have head knowledge of Jesus, but they need to believe the truth of it. We need to believe in our heart by faith. Jesus said that we need to believe in Him…believe that He is God and the only way of salvation.
“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24)
It does matter that you understand that Jesus was and is God. If He was just a man his shed blood would mean nothing. His death on the cross would have just been another crucifixion. He was buried and His tomb was sealed in order that nobody could have stolen His body and faked the resurrection. Roman guards were posted there to guard against anyone who would take Christ’s body from the grave. In spite of all the precautions that were taken, three days later the tomb was empty.
“O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Jesus conquered death. He arose victorious from the grave. Only God could accomplish what Jesus accomplished. Saving faith in Jesus means you believe that He is God and that salvation is only through Him.
Hearing the Good News and believing it are the first steps, then you recognize that you’re a sinner and you need Jesus to forgive you. When we understand that without Jesus we’re eternally lost the first sin we repent of is rejecting Christ.
[Jesus said,] “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)
As you study God’s Word you’ll become aware of the sin in your life and repent of it. Repentance means changing your mind. The word repent is translated from the Greek word metanoeo, which literally means “to perceive afterward.” Once you’ve heard the gospel and believe Jesus is God and the only way of salvation you need to learn what constitutes sin and turn away from it.
As we study His Word we become aware of the depth of our sin and we want to get it out of our life.. This is an ongoing process that draws us closer to our Lord. There are sins that we’re aware of when we first come to Jesus; for instance, we most likely understand that murder is a sin.
In His Word we soon find out that thoughts of hatred or anger are as bad as murder. That’s when we change our minds about being angry with people (repent) and replace the hatred with love toward others. It’s a day by day process that continues throughout life. The conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, Bible study, and a love for Jesus.
If you’re too proud to repent, then maybe you need to step back and hear the gospel message again and believe it. This is an eternal choice and if you won’t serve Him in this life, will you be happy to serve Him for eternity?
It’s important to say out loud that you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Tell your family and friends about the Truth that you’ve found and don’t be ashamed of Him:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
It isn’t always easy to continue in the path of righteousness, but if you’ve told fellow Christians that Jesus is Lord of your life, they will help you. Old friends who don’t understand that you no longer desire to join them in the sinful life you once enjoyed may try to get you to fall back into old ways. Stand firm and confess to them that you live for Jesus.
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is heaven.” (Matthew 10:32)
Don’t be ashamed of your decision to follow Christ and confess Him to everyone. Don’t allow anyone to come between you and Jesus.
A very misunderstood part of salvation is baptism. Let me be clear when I say that baptism is very important, but it does not save you. It’s an act of obedience and an outward sign of faith, but only faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ will bring salvation.
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
Baptism symbolizes our new birth in Jesus…our old sinful nature is put to death and buried, and as Christ was resurrected so are we to a new life in Him; our sins are forgiven. Don’t minimize the importance of baptism. As Philip explained the gospel the Ethiopian eunuch believed it. Then he knew he needed to be baptized.
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:36-38)
There was no hesitation by the Ethiopian but first he had to hear, believe, and confess Jesus. Then Philip immediately baptized him. He didn’t have to learn the rules and regulations of a certain denomination, all he had to do is believe in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t truly accepted Christ in faith, baptism means nothing. An infant cannot make a choice to accept Christ as their Savior, so infant baptism means nothing.
A friend once told me that God doesn’t even know you exist until you’re baptized. He was wrong. There is no record of Abraham being baptized or King David, yet God spoke as He knew them. The prophet Jeremiah reveals that God knows us before we are born, and even prior to conception.
“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
In the account of the Ethiopian eunuch we also understand that God sent an angel to tell Philip to go share the gospel with an unsaved man who was searching for answers.
“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” (Acts 8:26)
God knew the eunuch and he knew exactly where Philip would find him. Another error people make regarding baptism is between the denominations. If a person is baptized by a Methodist pastor then decides to join a Baptist denomination, most likely the Baptists won’t accept the Methodist baptism. This really mocks God. You aren’t, or shouldn’t be, baptized into any denomination.
If you’ve accepted Christ you are a Christian, not a Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc. The exception to this is if you have been baptized into a non-Christian cult such as the Mormons. In order to be baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ you need to know who He really is.
Once you’ve believed it’s time to grow. You do that by studying God’s Word and applying it to your life. Recognize that you continue to sin and confess your sin to Jesus.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
God has given us the Holy Bible as a guide so we are without excuse if we continue to commit the same sins over and over. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you away from sin. You may need to form new friendships and let go of old ones.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
If your friends embrace abhorrent lifestyles, party continually, or generally don’t honor God, then you need new friends. Jesus died a horrendous death in order to purchase your salvation. You owe Him everything. Salvation is only complicated if we listen to man’s doctrines. God’s Word makes it easy to understand and follow.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Amen.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original Scripture is “theopneustos” (God breathed).