Acts 16:30-31; John 3:16; Rom. 6:23; 10:9-10, 13
I went back and forth on whether or not to write today’s devotional. On one hand, it’s likely that most everyone who reads this is already saved. If so, and if I’m telling you what you already know, then I’m sorry. I told you that soteriology encompasses a lot more than merely how to get saved, and that’s true. But no study of this subject would be complete without spending some time on it.
We looked at our problem a couple of days ago, and we went over what Christ did on the cross on Good Friday. But how do we appropriate this?
Leave it to God to make our salvation so easy to grasp and leave it to man to screw it up. He made it so simple that a child of six can understand it. And yet humanity, under the influence of the Enemy of our souls, has clouded the issue.
The title for today comes from the passage in Acts 16. A simple Roman jailer, saved from suicide a moment earlier, framed the most important question ever uttered by human lips, or at least one of them: "What must I do to be saved?" We’re separated from God, condemned by his judgment on our sin. We’re destined to die and then spend eternity in a hopeless darkness. So what can we do about it?
Simply put, you believe in Christ. You abandon all efforts to save yourself through good works of any kind. You formally place your trust in Christ to save you. You can also look at it as receiving a gift, since that’s how Romans 6:23 puts it. Romans 10:9-10 says that you can formalize it by proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and that you believe that God raised him from the dead.
You might have heard of a “sinner’s prayer.” There are different versions of it, but most of them go something like this: “Dear Jesus, I know I’m a sinner, that I’ve done wrong things in your sight. I place my trust in you as my Savior and my Lord, and I accept your free gift of salvation. I know that you’re the Lord, and that the Father raised you from the dead. Please save me, Amen.”
Is this Biblical? It would seem so. Jesus told us about a tax collector (considered scum by his fellow citizens) who went to a worship service, asked the Lord to "have mercy on me, a sinner," and went home "justified before God." This sounds like a pretty good description of what we're talking about. But we need to make clear that the exact words aren’t like some magical incantation in which you have to get every word right. Romans 10:13 says that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” and I'd submit that this prayer would be a good way to express that.
But I'd also submit that to focus on the prayer itself, like some well-meaning Evangelists do, is to miss the point. It’s good to have an official “turning point” in your life, just so you understand what’s going on. But again, it’s the trust in Christ, not the exact way in which you express that trust, that’s all important. Ruth, the wife of Billy Graham, couldn’t remember a specific time in her life in which she didn’t trust in Christ. She had Jesus as her Savior as far back as she could recall.
Of course, as I’ve said before, mankind is an expert at screwing up what God has done. Our sinful nature tells us that we’re really not that bad. Our self-righteousness tells us that there must be something we can do to add to our salvation. It can’t be just simple trust in a Person. But it is.
If you’ve read this and you realize that you’ve never received Christ as your Savior, then today’s the day. You can’t get saved yesterday, since that’s gone. You can’t get saved tomorrow, since you’re not there, and it may never come. The only day you can receive the gift of salvation is today. Why not do that? Please read this. Today.
And if you are a child of God (which I would assume describes most my readers), then this is a great time to thank him for that. He didn’t have to do it, you know. He could've just left you to your own devices and then finally give you what you deserve. Aren’t you glad he didn’t?
Lord Jesus, you’ve given your life for me, and I reject with scorn any attempt at self-righteousness. What more could I possibly add to what you’ve already done? So. . . what do I do now?