By David J. Stewart
There is much controversy today concerning salvation, i.e., "What a person must do to get to Heaven?" Many people are seeking for answers; but few desire the Truth of God's Word. The Bible forewarned us that in the Last Days people would seek out false prophets, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2nd Timothy 4:3). This Scripture indicts nearly every televangelist today, who center their preaching around money, money, money."Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." —Acts 16:31
There is much heresy being taught in churches, on television, on the radio, and in books today. It is my sincere hope to provide Biblical answers to some of the more common questions concerning salvation. The Bible wondrously answers the critical question: "What must I do to be saved" in Acts 16:31... "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
There are many subtle teachings concerning salvation that aren't taught in the Bible. As innocent as some of them may seem, they effectively pervert God's GIFT of salvation into damnable heresy. At a minimum, such misconceptions confuse lost sinners about what God expects from them to be saved. There's a fine line between faith and foolishness; between salvation and damnation. To be wrong about salvation is to be wrong about everything, for one's eternal destiny hinges on it. There is NO controversy if you believe the Bible.
"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ" (2nd Corinthians 2:17).Jesus commanded in John 5:39... SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!!! Thus, the Word of God ought to be our Final Authority in all matters. Here are some common questions about salvation and Biblical answers:
All Scriptures quoted only from the Trustworthy KING JAMES BIBLE:
|Does a Person Have to Ask Jesus into Their Heart to Be Saved?||No! There's nothing in the Bible about "asking Jesus" into one's Heart to be saved. Revelation 3:20 states, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Howbeit, this Scripture was spoken to believers (the church of Laodicea); not to lost sinners. To teach that a sinner needs to "ask Jesus to come into their heart" will likely confuse young children. How do you invite Jesus into a muscle that pumps blood? I do NOT believe it is heresy to teach sinners to ask Jesus to come into their heart to be saved. Not at all. BUT, the bottom line is that a person DOESN'T have to ask or invite Jesus into their heart to be saved. We must not require this of sinners to be saved. Believing is enough. One need only come as a guilty sinner, and BELIEVE on Jesus as their Savior to be eternally forgiven. Salvation is receiving; NOT giving.|
|Does a Person Have to Be Sorry for Their Sins to Be Saved?||No! There is nothing in the Scriptures about "being sorry" for one's sins to be saved. 2nd Corinthians 7:10 states, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." The Apostle Paul was speaking to the church, concerning the man mentioned in 1st Corinthians 5:1-5 who was living in open fornication in the church. He was a believer (1st Corinthians 5:5). The man afterwards repentant, because of godly sorrow, i.e., the convicting power of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:5-8). A lost sinner, who has not the Holy Spirit, cannot reasonably be expected to have godly sorrow before salvation. Being "sorry" for one's sins is a matter of growing in grace, which requires time. The church at Corinth was carnal (1st Corinthians 3:1), and certainly had no "sorrow" over the overwhelming abundance of sins in their church. This is why Paul wrote 1st Corinthians—to rebuke them sharply. Jesus never asked anyone to "be sorry for their sins" to be saved. Rather, one need only come as a guilty sinner, and BELIEVE on Jesus as their Savior to be eternally forgiven. Salvation is receiving; NOT giving.|
|Does a Person Have to Repent to Be Saved?||Yes! Mark 1:15
states, "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of
God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Carefully notice that repentance is synonymous with believing the
Gospel (i.e., the "good news" of God's plan of redemption through
Jesus Christ crucified). There is much perversion today by
unscholarly men, who misrepresent the true Biblical meaning of the
word "REPENT," which is the Greek word metanoia, meaning "a
change of mind." Dishonest men claim that "repent" in the
Bible means to forsake one's sin as part of saving-faith; BUT, such
heresy goes against the plainest teachings in the Bible.
Salvation is of God; not men. There is no self-righteousness
involved. Eternal life is a "free gift" (Romans 5:15), which
cannot be acquired through any amount of self-righteousness
Biblical repentance is "a change of
mind" concerning sin and the Savior, which causes a lost sinner to
believe on the Lord for forgiveness of sins to be saved.
Genesis 15:6 states... "And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Also see Romans 4:3-5. Abraham's faith was COUNTED for righteousness. Why? Because Christ's righteousness is imputed to the believer... "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God" (James 2:23). Abraham was saved by faith alone, and then his faith was "made perfect" (James 2:22) in the eyes of MEN by works.
It is important to make a distinction between a believer who repents FROM sin in one's life (as a part of growing in the Lord); verses an unsaved person who must repent OF sin to be saved. Romans 3:19 clearly tells us what the purpose of God's Law is in salvation... "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." All that God requires to be saved is that one come as a sinner, and trust upon the Lord Jesus Christ to be forgiven.
Romans 3:19 DOESN'T teach that sins must be forsaken to be saved. The whole notion of "Lordship Salvation" is unfair to a new believer, because even mature Christians struggle with the temptations of sin. It often takes years before a believer grows enough in the Lord to be willing to consecrate their life to God.
So, "Yes," a lost sinner must repent to be saved; but not in the sense of giving up their sins and making a commitment to live anew for God. You won't find the phrase "repent from sin" in the Bible. In sharp contrast, Acts 20:21 speaks of "repentance toward God." So Biblical repentance is not the forsaking of sins; rather, it is turning towards Jesus Christ, Who is God in the flesh, to be forgiven from the awfulness, guilt, and condemnation of sin. Certainly, a changed life should result from genuine repentance; but this is NOT a part of saving-faith.
We must keep the FRUIT of the believer's faith separate from the ROOT of the believer's faith, or else God's simple plan of salvation will be corrupted by self-righteousness.
|Is Salvation a Process?||No! Salvation is not a process. There are not 2-steps to salvation; but rather, 2-parts to one step. Repentance and faith are two separate parts of the same step. One who has believed on the Lord for forgiveness has repented of their sins. This is Biblical repentance concerning salvation. The Gospel of John mentions the word "believe" 85 times; yet the word "repent" is never mentioned. Clearly, if repentance were something different than BELIEVING ON THE LORD, then the Bible would have said so. It is obvious that believing on the Lord is repentance. In repentance, one TURNS from the awfulness of sin to the Precious Savior to be forgiven. Some false teachers, like Aiden Tozer, teach that salvation is a process. Mr. Tozer teaches that a person must "intend" to turn from the act of sin itself, before he can qualify for salvation. This is "qualification by works" as a prerequisite to salvation. The plain teaching of the Scriptures is that even the vilest sinner can be saved by simply believing on the Lord... "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).|
|Does a Person Have to Forsake Their Sins to Be Saved?||No! This is perhaps the most popular, and damning, misconception concerning salvation today. Although it is true that "repentance" is required for salvation, the word "repent" doesn't mean what a lot of people think. "Repent" in the Greek (metanoia) simply means, "a change of mind." Thus, repentance is a change of attitude concerning sin and the Savior; and NOT a change of lifestyle or surrender to Christ. The heresy of "Lordship Salvation" requires a lost sinner to be willing to forsake their sinful lifestyle as a prerequisite to salvation. This is unbiblical. In effect, Lordship Salvation combines the FRUIT of one's faith with the ROOT of their faith, which is nothing less than WORKS SALVATION. The FRUIT is a result of genuine repentance; and not a part of saving-faith. Abraham was justified in the eyes of men (James 2:21) when he offered up Isaac in Genesis 22; BUT, Abraham was justified in the eyes of God when he believed on the Lord in Genesis 15:6. A person does not have to forsake anything to be saved, except the sin of unbelief. One need only come as a guilty sinner, and BELIEVE on Jesus as their Savior to be eternally forgiven. Salvation is receiving; NOT giving.|
|Does a Person Have to Pray a Prayer to Be Saved?||No! What if a
person were mute? I've read several
Gospel tracts which lead the reader to "pray a prayer."
Although there's certainly no harm in praying a sinner's prayer for salvation,
it is NOT necessary. The danger is that many people will think
prayer alone can save them. It cannot. Any prayer that
is not based upon faith in Jesus Christ is void.
There MUST be repentance. The
sin issue must be dealt with, i.e., a man must come to Christ as a
guilty, hell-deserving sinner to be saved. Only guilty
sinners who "call upon the name of the Lord" shall be saved (Romans
3:19;10:13). The word "call" in Romans 10:13 is the Greek word
"epikaleō" and means "to appeal unto," i.e., to believe on Jesus for
Romans 10:10 states, "For with the heart man believeth..." Thus, salvation is of the heart. I believe that soulwinners need to teach people that prayer by itself cannot save anyone. There must be belief in the heart. Ritualism cannot save. It is the precious, literal, physical blood of Jesus Christ that washes one's sins away (1st John 1:7), in response to our faith in Jesus Christ. Catholics pray, pray, and pray; but they are wasting their breath (Mark 7:6-13; Matthew 6:7). They only have self-righteousness (Romans 10:3,4).
|Can a Believer Commit the Unpardonable Sin?||No! "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). One who believes on Christ is saved safe and secure. The only "unpardonable sin" is rejecting Jesus Christ as one's Savior, to which there is no remedy. A person who dies in their sins (John 8:24) will burn in Hellfire forever, suffering the wrath of God against sin (2nd Thessalonians 1:8,9). There are numerous examples of believers in the Bible who commit the most horrible sins. David killed Uriah and stole his wife in adultery (2nd Samuel 11:1-24). Samson had sex with a prostitute (Judges 16:1). Noah got drunk (Genesis 9:20,21). Moses murdered an Egyptian and hid the body (Exodus 2:12). Yet, these men found forgiveness in Christ.|
|Can a Person Lose Their Salvation?||No! It is God's
salvation; not ours. How can we lose something that wasn't
ours to give in the first place? If we cannot earn salvation
by good works; then how can we lose salvation by bad works? We
cannot. Jesus promised in John 6:37, "All that the Father
giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in
no wise cast out." To claim that a believer can lose
salvation is to call God a liar.
In Philippians 2:12 the Apostle Paul
states, "...work out your own salvation with fear and
trembling." Carefully notice that the Bible doesn't say to
work out God's salvation. In the Book of Psalm, David uses the
phrase "thy salvation" 21 times. David understood that
salvation was of God alone; and not men.
Some false prophets claim that salvation can be lost by apostasy and sinful living. This is not so. Oftentimes people find churchianity and religion; but they reject Christianity, i.e., Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2nd Timothy 3:5). America's churches are filled today with religious imposters, who are not saved, and are hellbound in their sins without Jesus Christ. They never were saved to begin with.
Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be "born again" to get to Heaven (John 3:3-7). The Bible never speaks of being born again, and again, and again. No, just once! Just as the physical birth is irreversible, so is the spiritual birth into God's family.
In Galatians 5:4 the Apostle Paul states, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." The context of this Scripture is clear... works salvation is a road to Hell. God's grace offers salvation to all men through Jesus Christ: "For by grace are ye saved through faith..." (Ephesians 2:8). If one neglects such wondrous grace, refusing to believe on Christ for salvation, then no grace remains for that Christ-rejecter. This is what the Bible means in Galatians 5:4 when it speaks of "fallen from grace." Anyone who tries to earn their way into Heaven, by self-righteousness, has missed their only way to Heaven through Christ (Romans 10:3,4). Again, salvation cannot be lost for the believer. No believer can "fall from grace"; but an unbeliever can reject the grace of God that bringeth salvation.
Once saved—always saved.
|Does a Person Have to Get Saved More Than Once?||No! This is impossible. Just as it is impossible for a human being to be born twice from its mother's womb, so it is impossible to be born again TWICE into God's family. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 states, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." We read in Ephesians 1:13, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." Every born again Christian is sealed with the Holy Spirit of God at the moment of salvation. God has promised to NEVER leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We may forsake God, and not feel His presence anymore in our life; but God never abandons His own. Romans 10:17 states the cure, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Studying the Scriptures will increase one's faith. You can only be saved once, and you can never lose it. Salvation is a free gift, paid for by Jesus' precious physical blood (Romans 5:15; Hebrews 9:12; 1st Peter 1:18,19).|
|Is Water Baptism Necessary for Salvation?||No! Water
Baptism won't save a person anymore than walking into a garage makes
one an automobile. Water Baptism is an "ordinance" which the
Lord instituted for BELIEVER'S ONLY. The same is true of the
Lord's Supper. I am saddened that so many people today are
following the damnable lies of a man who's been dead for 460 years—Martin
Luther openly taught that "Baptism saves" and that even a person
without faith could be saved through water baptism.
Blasphemy!!! Luther also denied the Rapture, The 7-year
Tribulation Period, the Restoration of the Nation Israel,
and the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem.
Luther was an unsaved heretic!
The Bible plainly states that
salvation has always been by faith. We read in Acts 10:43, "To
him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever
believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." No one
in the Old Testament was baptized, but the Gospel message was the
same then as today. The thief on the cross wasn't baptized.
Paul said in 1st Corinthians 1:17, "For Christ sent me not to
baptize, but to preach the gospel..." If water baptism
were necessary for salvation, then certainly the Apostle Paul
wouldn't have made light of it.
In 1st John 5:13, the Apostle states, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." John wrote his Epistle so that we could "KNOW" we are saved. Interestingly, John never mentions any kind of baptism, nor speaking-in-tongues, et cetera. Obviously, water baptism is not a part of saving-faith.
Baptism is a work. It would be self-righteousness to rely upon baptismal water to wash one's sins away. 1st John 1:7 plainly states, "...and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." It's Jesus' blood that cleanses away our sins.
Baptism is symbolic of the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:4). Water Baptism is one's public profession of faith in Christ, just as a wedding ring signifies that a person is married. Baptism is NOT a Sacrament, i.e., it has no efficacy or special grace it bestows upon the recipient. It is just water.
|Should a Person Experience Feelings at the Time of Salvation?||Not usually.
Some people do experience emotion, joy, and relief; however, most
people don't feel anything at the time of salvation. Remember,
salvation is NOT an experience; it is a lost sinner placing faith in
Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins. Emotions and
feelings are not necessary for salvation.
This is why "feeling sorry" for
one's sins is NOT a part of saving-faith, because sorrow is an
emotion. The Bible simply asks us to BELIEVE on Jesus Christ
for salvation; not get emotional and have an experience.
"For whosoever shall
call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).
That's a promise from God.
Certainly, the Apostle Paul had a remarkable salvation experience in Acts 9; but this is out of the ordinary. One's salvation is not based upon feelings or a past experience; but rather, upon the precious written Promises of God's Word. As the song goes... "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible TELLS ME SO."
|Does a Person Have to Confess Jesus to others To Be Saved?||No! John 12:42
states, "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many
believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not
confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue."
The Pharisees believed on Jesus; but kept it secret for fear of
persecution. This clearly teaches that it is NOT required to
confess Jesus before men to be saved.
But what about Matthew 10:33? ... "But
whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my
Father which is in heaven." Jesus here is speaking about
those who reject Christ as Savior; not believers who remain quiet
about their testimony. Certainly, a mature Christian in faith,
such as Stephen (Acts 7), is going to stand up for the Lord.
However, most believers are apt to fall away during times of
persecution, as the Apostles did when Jesus was arrested, tried and
Thankfully, one's salvation is not dependent upon confessing Jesus to others. If it were, then salvation would be earned by self-righteousness. One's salvation is not CONDITIONED upon anything other than coming to God as a guilty sinner, and believing on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of those sins (John 3:16).
|Does a Person have to Surrender Their Life to Jesus to be Saved?||This is another
popular heresy in ecumenical circles today. I've heard
numerous "Christian" radio personalities lead listeners to "give
your life to Jesus" to be saved. This is a lie.
Jack Chick in his Gospel track, This Was Your Life,
requires lost sinners to "Surrender Your Life To Christ" to
be saved. No Sir! That is damnable heresy!
Salvation is receiving; NOT giving. It is the gift of God
(Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8,9).
Although there must be
repentance concerning sin for salvation; the Bible does NOT indicate turning away from the act of sin
itself, but rather from the guilt and condemnation of sin. Romans
3:19 states, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith,
it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be
stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
The soul that TURNS to Jesus Christ by faith to be forgiven of sin
has repented. The Gospel of John mentions the word "believe"
85 times without ever mentioning "repent" even once. Clearly,
to believe is to repent.
In order to repent, there must be something to TURN "from and "to." Hence, Biblical repentance is TURNING "to" Jesus Christ "from" one's sins to be forgiven. If a person realizes their GUILT and justly deserved condemnation under God's Holy Law, because of personal sin; then all God requires for salvation is to BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST for forgiveness and salvation (Acts 16:31).
Judas gave his life to Jesus as one of His 12 Apostles; but Judas went to Hellfire in his sins. Being saved, born again, is one thing; learning to live a consecrated Christian life is an entirely different thing. 1st Peter 2:2 speaks of feeding on the "milk of the Word" of God. Giving one's life to Christ is a matter of Christian discipleship, and not of salvation. Many people are confused concerning salvation, foolishly mixing up the FRUIT of one's faith with the ROOT of their faith. It is clear from Romans 12:1,2 that the believers at Rome HADN'T surrendered their lives to God yet. They hadn't yet presented their bodies as a "living sacrifice" to God.
So we seen clearly from the Word of God that a lost sinner DOESN'T need to "be sorry" for his sins, DOESN'T need to "ask" Jesus into his heart, DOESN'T need to "forsake his sins", DOESN'T need to "pray" a prayer, and DOESN'T need to "surrender" his life to Christ to be saved. Salvation is receiving; NOT giving. Jesus paid our sin debt in full with His redeeming blood (1st Peter 1:18,19).To be saved, you need HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS... "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). You need Jesus' righteousness, which is by faith alone in Him... "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2nd Corinthians 5:21). "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:3,4).Salvation is not some hocus-pocus. It is not a philosophy that one learns. It is not a mere prayer. It is not a religious experience or ritual. Salvation is a supernatural act of God Almighty in response to our personal faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, Who came to earth as the Godhead in the flesh (John 1:1-3,14; 1st Timothy 3:16; Colossians 2:9). We are the sinners, and Jesus is the Savior. It's that simple. You don't need to give up anything to be saved. Eternal life is a "Free Gift" (Romans 5:15;6:23), paid for by Jesus precious, literal, physical, redeeming blood (Hebrews 9:12; Revelation 1:5).