What do I need to be saved? To listen to a preacher—never mind about the details—and wait for him to invite me to acknowledge that I am sinful and has no power to save myself, and believe that Jesus died in my place for my justification and salvation and after believing, follow the preacher’s prayer wholeheartedly? I wonder where these self-named “Bible Christians” found in the Bible the occurrence of the same activity that they are doing. Did Peter, Paul or James, when their listeners asked them what must they do to be saved, ever answer in such manner, saying “Believe that Jesus died for your sins and accept him as your personal Lord and Savior…Pray this prayer with me”? If ever, I haven’t encountered yet. I think, it is more frequent that you will hear about salvation such lines as “repent and be baptized”, “unless a man is born through water and the Spirit…”, “sell all that you own”, “if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man…” The questions of those who want to be saved all fall down to one short line: “What shall we do?” and it is just fitting to answer them accordingly. “DO repent and be baptized”, “DO sell all that you own”, etc. Besides, to acknowledge one’s own sinfulness is doing; to believe that Jesus died for oneself is also doing; to pray with the preacher is no doubt a deed; and to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior is also one. Working out one’s salvation is not a matter of acquiring a little theoretical knowledge about Jesus combined with a one-time powerful preacher’s prayer. If you cannot know a human person in just 2 to 3 meetings with him, it is much more impossible to know God and Jesus within a short period of time. Eternal life—that is salvation—is to know God and his Christ, not in theoretical sense as if knowing a certain historical event. You don’t know a person just because you know his name, or his family background, or his social background, or his past life; you know a person if you experience his existence. To know God is to experience him in your life; to be aware of his existence all the time; to know his truth and essence. Only through this knowing of truth can one worship God as one ought to—in truth and in spirit—and only through this can one have eternal life. Do not be deceived that God made an instant access to heaven. Jesus is the Way, and how can one claim to know the way if he doesn’t know Jesus? You may have a map of every road in the
Philippines but you really don’t know the way to anywhere unless you took that way. You really don’t know Jesus unless you walk in Jesus.
What if I have gone astray? Let this question be answered by an elementary student: What will happen if you have a map but did not follow the right path unto the end? “Don’t delude yourself into thinking God can be cheated: where a man sows, there he reaps.” Even if you sincerely believed that you were saved by Christ’s death and that you accept him as your personal Lord and Savior, the Justice of God will not change its standard: “He is a God who is always enraged by those who refuse to repent.” No one who knows the truth will apply a Boy Scout motto concerning salvation. “The man who stands firm to the end will be saved.” How about those who will change their minds? The conclusion is clear and self-explanatory. “If after we have given the knowledge of truth, we should deliberately commit any sins, then there is no longer any sacrifice for them.”
Will you honestly believe that God’s Justice will deem you sinless if you believe so—never mind if you’re cooperating or not? Would it not bother your conscience to believe that God will overlook your turning away from him provided that you have once accepted him as your personal Lord and Savior?