“Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter was the first evangelist preaching the message, "You must be saved and this is how to do it!"
Salvation generally means being saved from eternal damnation.(John 3:16-17) But salvation has another meaning for this present lifetime. Jesus said "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). The bottom line is quite simple, believe in Jesus and live an abundant life here and live eternally with Jesus after the death of your physical body.
The key is to believe, by faith, that Jesus is the only source of that exciting promise. A word of warning is in order. Throughout this process, do not get hung upon the many questions arising from those who are struggling with their faith. The simple first step is like that of a child learning to walk. She wobbles away from the chair and trusts her mommy will catch her if she falls. Paul says another way. When I was a child (in the faith), I thought like a child. (1st Cor 13:10-11). The first step is trusting that God's Son, Jesus, can free you from the penalties associated with sin.
Reaching that point where an individual is "saved" can happen in a heartbeat or over a period of years. It can be as simple as John 3:16 or as complicated as a 1,000 page book. In my experience, and perhaps I am unique, there seem to be several steps a person goes through on their journey to salvation.
1. One must believe in God. If there is no God, there is no eternity. If there is no eternity then physical death is the end of being; no memory, no conscienceness, nothing. Thus no need for salvation! Life is what it is, every man for himself and let the chips fall where they may. So belief in God is essential as a first step. My first several posts talk about a belief in God. Select from the list at the right to get my take on the existence of God. I believe strongly there is a God!
2. If there is a God, one has two options about His relationship to His creation. One option is to believe that God created the earth and all that is in it , set up laws/rules to govern the creation and then walked away, never to return. The second option is to believe God created the earth and all that is in it and stayed around to guide His creation.
I believe the second option; there are rules or laws set up by this God determining how we should live on this earth. These rules govern the physical world, (water runs downhill, apples fall to earth not skyward), the feelings world, (human emotions and relationships such romantic love), and the spiritual world, (those things pleasing to God).
All religions, who believe in God, understand there are a set of rules which must be obeyed. In fact, most religions believe in a judgement time where our continued existence will be based on how well we obeyed those rules. Muslins, Jews and Christians understand we are all sinners (those who break the rules). We all understand that because we are human and therefore imperfect, no one person can live pass infancy without breaking the rules. It comes naturally to us!
So we all will stand before the Judge to answer for breaking the rules established by God. And we all believe the results will not be pretty as we have all broken Gods laws, we all will stand condemned. And the punishment will not be pleasant and it will last for an eternity. Not only is our eternal life in danger but our life on this earth can not be fulfilling when we break God's laws.
3. Most religions believe there is a balance sheet showing our good deeds and our evil deeds. They believe you will be okay if your good works outweigh your evil works. Seems fair, right? Christians hold a different view. We do not believe you can ever do enough good works to earn the right of salvation. We believe, all will stand convicted on judgement day and, based on these sins, we will all deserve eternal damnation.
4. At this point, Christians have a different outlook.
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