Chelsea church of Christ . . .
How Does God Save Us Through Christ?
You may be saying to yourself, "This is not what I have heard other religious groups teach about salvation." I know that his may be true and I simply want to challenge your understanding of Christianity in light of Scripture. If you would describe yourself as being familiar with Christianity, or even as being a Christian, then maybe it is time to compare what you believe, what you hold as truth, to what is in the Bible. But you may be saying, "I know I am a true Christian, holding true Christian beliefs!" If that is true, and Jesus Christ is truly your personal Savior, then this kind of comparison should not make you uncomfortable. If you are in the faith, a challenge to look in the Word of God should not be intimidating. So let's look at just a few items of interest.
What if the Bible nevers says, "Ask Jesus to come into your heart and you will be saved"? The truth is, it doesn't. It is a relatively modern teaching with no Biblical support. The verse most preachers will use to support this teaching is Revelation 3:20 where it states, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me."
But take a good look at what it actually says. Nowhere does it mention your heart. In many other places salvation is described as hinging on faith, responding obediently to God's calling, repentance and a commitment to follow Him. In Revelation 3:20 none of these things are mentioned, so it should be obvious that to turn this into a formula prayer is a dangerous things. The Holy Spirit does indeed come to reside in a person after conversion, but to limitl the conversion process to a simple prayer is putting the cart before the horse. This seemingly harmless teaching turns one of the effects of salvation into a formula for salvation. All of this aside, the fact is that nowhere in all of Scripture is "asking Jesus into your heart" mentioned. Not in the Old Testament, not in the symbolism of the Passover, not in one single instance in the New Testament. Nowhere. That alone should set off the alarm bells that this teaching is not Biblical (and if it isn't Biblical, it isn't Christian).
The closest teaching involving the heart is found in some statements the Apostle Paul penned in Romans 2:28-29. He writes about the sign of the covenant (circumcision) that the Jewish people had with God. Applying that to the fact that Gentiles in Christ are now part of the covenant people, he writes, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." Then in Colossians 2:11-13 he explains when this circumcision of the heart takes place for all Christians; "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism in which you also were reaised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses . . . "
What if the reason you know that you are saved is because you have prayed the "sinner's prayer"? You might want to be a little concerned, because the Bible doesn't have any teachings on this--anywhere! The Bible makes it very clear that there will be many on judgment day who will argue with the Lord saying, "We called You our God and lived our life working for You, and now we find out we weren't even saved!?!?" Read this troubling passage for yourself in Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"
The challenge to take a Biblical look at whether you are truly saved from sin and Hell may seem offensive to you, but it shouldn't be! You might say, "I don't need to examine anything. I am saved! I don't need a test!." That is probably just what the people apostle Peter was writing to said as well when he wrote, "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure . . . " (2 Peter 1:10). If the apostle Peter urged them to examine themselves, we probably should also. We need to be sure that what we are clinging to is really the truth.