#1.5 HOW TO RECEIVE SALVATION
In one sense, there is nothing we can do to receive salvation, as God is in total control, and if he does not put his spirit into us then then we cannot do it. No amount of good deeds can earn salvation, and no amount of money can buy it, it is a gift from God. On the other hand, there are some things that we can do to receive salvation, because God responds to the things that we do down here on the earth, and if we do our part then God will do his. There are two ways we can receive salvation, and the first one is by faith. This is an instantaneous thing when we first believe in Jesus Christ, and what he has done for us. However, "Faith is the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1), so anything we have by faith is not manifested yet. The manifestation of our complete salvation will not happen until Jesus returns.
(1 Corinthians 5:5) "That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord."
There are many scriptures which show that salvation by manifestation is still future.
(Matthew 24:13) "But he who shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved."
Ultimately salvation is a co-operative process between God and man, but what God wills, that will come to pass. This is a bible study which explains what is necessary for us to receive salvation by faith.
JOHN 3:7 (Jesus)
Note: Statements like "he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3), and "he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5), show how necessary the new birth is to a Christian, but the word translated must (John 3:7) is the Greek word "dei" which means "it is necessary", and is absolutely conclusive. Jesus said also, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31), so until heaven and earth do pass away, the new birth will be essential in order to be saved. Jesus" answer to those who say that it not necessary to be born again is this:
(John 12:48) "He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day."
So what is the new birth? Initially we are born again when the spirit of Christ enters into us; not in it's full maturity, but we become what is referred to as "babes in Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:1), and "new-born babes," (1 Peter 2:2). From then on, as we grow as a Christian, the spirit of Christ grows and is formed in us as we go on to maturity, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." (Galatians 4:19). The spirit of Christ in us is essential for our salvation:
(Romans 8:9) "if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his."
Thus in general conclusion, no religion anywhere in the world can produce salvation outside of this new birth experience, which is the spirit of Christ in us. Every religion that does not profess to be partakers of the new birth, as the means of salvation, should be forsaken with all haste. Those who do not teach it are in gross error, and they cannot save anyone:
(Isaiah 9:16) "For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and those who are led of them are destroyed."
ACTS 3:19 (Peter)
Note: The basic meaning of being converted is "being turned". It is different to being "born again" which is to do with believing in the heart, and a person can believe without being converted. An example of this are the Jewish rulers who believed on Jesus, but were not prepared to confess him (John 12:42-43); they temporarily believed, but were not converted. Just as an unfed new born baby would die in the natural, so these rulers would soon die spiritually and lose their temporary belief, being "forgetful hearers" (James 1:22-25). Sometimes conversion and being born again occur at the same time, and sometimes conversion follows the new birth, as a consequence of it. Conversion starts with our will, when we make a personal decision, an act of will on our part, to turn from sin and follow Jesus. This can be instantaneous. It is followed by the process of wholly converting our heart, which follows repentance (Luke 1:17), the renewing of our mind with the word of God (Romans 12:2), the forsaking of sinful ways (Ezekiel 18:30-32), and the full growth of Christ in us. An example of a person whose will was converted, but not his heart, was given by Paul (Romans 7:14-25), and another would be the malefactor on the cross with Jesus (Luke 23:43). The will conversion is certainly required to receive salvation by faith, we have to make a choice:
(Joshua 24:15) "choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Salvation is not unconditional as many teach, we cannot receive it and continue to live our own lives as before, because Jesus Christ has bought us with his own blood (Acts 20:28), and we will now belong to him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God is not mocked by people who try to take salvation as a gift, and then continue their own way, such people are deceiving themselves. Sit down and decide, do you want eternal life or not? Do you want to go to heaven or hell when you die? Will you serve the true God or "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4)? There are no other choices, by failing to serve God we automatically make the other choice. Jesus said:
(Matthew 12:30) "He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad."
How then do we receive this new birth? Sometimes God just does it as we read or hear his word (1 Peter 1:23), an example of which is Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44). If we believe what we have read here in the scriptures, then all we really need to do is confess it, and act upon it; but if we have any doubts about whether we are born again or not, one way is simply to pray and ask for it. God has given us assurances in his word, that if we ask in faith, he will give it to us:
(Matthew 7:7-8) "Ask, and it will be given you; ... For every one who asks receives;"
So you can pray this prayer, believing that God will do his part.
The references on the right hand side show the scriptures which apply to each line.
(John 6:37) "him who comes to me I will certainly not cast out."
A man might say, "I prayed this prayer and nothing happened, I do not believe that God has saved me. What shall I do?" Two things:
(1) Keep on asking until you do believe it; God will not refuse you. The time is coming when salvation will be cut off from the Gentile world altogether (Matthew 25:11-12; Luke 13:24-28), but that hasn't happened yet. There are places in scripture where prayers were prayed more than once before obtaining the answer (Matthew 26:39-45; Luke 11:5-10), and even prayers of long endurance (Daniel 10:1-21; Acts 27:21-24).
(2) Study the word of God (the bible), begin to do what it says, and God will give you the belief according to his word:
(John 7:16-17) "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me. If any man will do his will, he will know of the doctrine, whether it is of God, or whether I speak of myself."
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