You have heard the Gospel, the Good News of Salvation! You have believed in Jesus Christ and asked Him to be your Savior. Hopefully, you have talked to someone about salvation, and they have shown you, out of the Bible, some of the verses that tell what we must do to be saved. They answered any questions you had, and then you prayed:
1. Admitting the fact that you are a sinner;
2. Telling God you believe that Jesus, God the Son, has
died for your sin and has risen from the dead;
3. Asking God to forgive your sin for Christ’s sake, and
4. Asking Jesus to be your Savior and God, and to give you a new heart.
This article has been written to help you understand more about the decision you made.
It is very important that you know it is not a prayer that saves you. There isn’t some magic formula or a secret password that will open the
gates of Heaven for you.1 No, it is not the prayer that saves you, but the change which occurs inside of you, in your heart or spirit, when you pray.2 Salvation is not just a belief in Jesus Christ,3 but it is trusting your eternal life to Him. It is putting your life in His hands to keep and change and direct.4 It is opening your spirit and mind to the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, to come into your life5 and to give you a new heart and spirit–a clean, holy spirit.6
Why is this important? It may be you have “prayed” because a friend did or just to see if something would happen, or just on impulse. You may have prayed but not really meant it. You prayed, but you did not want to and had no intention of changing your life. Perhaps you prayed to be “saved” from some problem: an illness, a financial problem, a bad relationship, a desperate situation like a car accident or war, etc. Perhaps the thought of death and hell scared you–and if a prayer would keep you out of hell, well, you did not mind praying. There could be other reasons why you prayed, but you know you have no desire to change and there is no commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. “If He can keep me out of hell, then that is okay–but I do not want Him telling me what to do. I will not call Him ‘LORD.’”7 If that is your attitude, then you are not saved. God looks on the heart, and your words do not fool Him!8 We do not want you to think that because you have said a prayer, been baptized, or joined a church that these actions can save you. It is true belief in Jesus Christ and a resulting change in your spirit, heart, and mind that saves you.
How can you know whether you are really saved or not? Some illustrations might make it clearer to you:
Salvation is like being married.
Think about marriage. The Bible calls the church the “Bride of Christ” and compares salvation to being married.9 The desire to be married does not make you married, nor does the desire to be saved make you saved. To be married you must commit yourself to the one you love in a formal and legal way before an authority with witnesses. Your marriage is not official until you say “I do” before a preacher. To be saved, you must pray to God. He is the Authority. You go before Him. Jesus is waiting for you just as the groom waits at the front of the church. There Jesus says, “I am willing to take this person as one of my people.”10 You respond by saying, “I take the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.” When you do this, you enter into a “COVENANT”11 –the Covenant of Salvation. Just as in marriage you promise to “forsake all others” so that this one will be the most special person in your life, in salvation you forsake “all others” [all other gods, works, organizations, etc.] as a way to be saved or as your master,12 and Jesus Christ is given the most special place in your love and affections.13 After all, Jesus Christ died for you!
As you left the place of prayer, you should have had a sense that Jesus Christ was with you, just as newlyweds leave the church together! You should have had a sense of beginning a new life with Jesus Christ just like newlyweds go on to build a new life together. You should have had a sense that things will begin to change and to be different because of your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, just as life changes for newlyweds. Everyone feels differently when they get married. Some are happy, some are scared, some are numb, some are dazed, and some feel sick! Feelings do not matter much, as long as you go through the ceremony and make that commitment which binds you to the other person. The word “commitment” sums it up. You have committed yourself to Jesus Christ and entered into a personal relationship with Him. As a bride trusts herself to her husband to provide for her and to protect her, and as she follows him where his work leads him–so you have committed yourself to Jesus Christ.
Salvation is like joining the Army.14
When you sign up and take the oath of service, you are voluntarily surrendering your personal freedom to the officers of the Army. You might not know all that is involved, but you do know that you no longer have control over your life. You have given that to the Army so they can train you and discipline you and make you into a good soldier. You have given them the right to use you in the fight for the things you love and believe in. In order to do this, they can tell you everything from what to wear to where you must live. When you get saved, you join the Lord’s Army and He is Commander-in-Chief. You may not understand everything that’s involved, but you are voluntarily giving Jesus Christ the right to control your life. If you meant business about salvation, you have the same feeling a new recruit has–a sense that you are in the Army and things are going to be different as the officers begin to remake you into a soldier.
A prince in India once described his decision to be saved in these words:
I have decided to follow Jesus . . .
No turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me . . .
No turning back, no turning back.
Though no one joins me, still I will follow . . .
No turning back, no turning back.
Those words describe belief that acts in trust and commitment. If you meant business when you prayed, then you, too, will sense you have begun a new life in which Jesus Christ is all important.
Salvation is like getting a heart transplant.
Another illustration of salvation would be a heart transplant. You find you have a bad heart and death is sure! But there is good news: a heart transplant can save you! Now, a heart transplant is not a “do-it-yourself” operation! You are going to have to trust the doctor and yield yourself completely into his care. This is exactly what you do to be saved : you have a sinful heart15 and death is the certain result!16 But if you ask God to give you a new heart (Jesus has paid for it) He will!17 You come out of this “surgery” with eternal life!
If you don’t understand this, come to Faith Independent Baptist Church again and again where you will hear these things preached. Read the Bible (the Gospel of John and the Book of First John are good places to start). Read this article over and over. Pray and ask God to show you salvation. Jesus promised that if you will seek, you will surely find.
Now, if you are saved, you need to know what to expect to happen next. Jesus told us what happens wherever the Word of God goes.18
Right away, you can expect doubts to come into your mind. The devil wants to make you doubt the Word of God, to forget it, to decide it is not really important or does not work or that you do not really need it. You are going to read the Bible, and it is not going to make a lot of sense or may seem confusing or useless. Some person may tell you the Bible is not true and ask a silly question to “prove” the Bible wrong. They may show you a passage that seems wrong or unreasonable when you read it. Whatever happens, the purpose is to get you doubting the Bible and what you have done, quitting, and going back to the way you were before. But if you are really saved, you will keep on! No turning back! You know that if Jesus would die for you, He would never lie to you. He will teach you about these things in time.19 You believe, and then you will not doubt.
Next, you can expect JOY! You can expect to feel happy. It is like a blind man seeing for the first time! There is excitement and everything is new and there is lots to do. You feel free and clean and hopeful! You are going to expect others to want to be saved and to be happy for you. It will not happen. Instead, Jesus said people will persecute you! They will laugh at you and tell you that you are stupid. They will quit being your friends. They will try to get you to do the old things you used to do. It will be plain–if you want their acceptance and friendship, then you will have to “give up this religious stuff.” It will be like something drying up inside you. It will be like being out in the sun on a very hot, dry day, and you will want to get out of the heat and into the shade and rest, if only for a little while. But if you are really saved, what Jesus thinks about you is more important than what your friends or even your family think of you. If you have to choose between Jesus and them–Jesus is your choice! You will stand the heat! No turning back!
Another thing you can expect is all kinds of things to start happening to keep you out of church and Christian activities. It will seem like work and opportunities to go places and do things will have doubled! More people will want you to do things. More things (grass, car, house, your clothes, family, pets, job, …) will need more attention than ever before. The best things will always happen in such a way that you will have to choose between them and some Christian activity. You can expect many activities to come along which are not exactly “Christian,” but they are not all bad or wrong. This is called compromising. You feel like you have to do something just a little wrong. You will feel you just have to do this other thing, and God will understand. But if you are really saved, you will say, “No! Jesus is my Savior. Because He did so much for me, I will do the things He says are important! I will try to please Jesus and not myself.” No turning back!
If you are really saved, you will grow and bear fruit. That means your life will change as you learn the Bible. The Bible will make sense and “speak” to you about actions, attitudes, goals, right and wrong habits, and even things like the words you use, music you listen to, humor, how you dress, etc. You will want to be with other Christians and will begin to do things in the church and for others. You will want to tell others about salvation!
Now, if you are really saved, there should be a question in your mind, “What do I do next?”
1. If you really mean to live for Christ, the first thing you should do is be baptized. In the Book of Acts you will find this is the first thing new believers did because Jesus had commanded it.20 And this is where you should begin. What is baptism? Well, baptism is many things…
… Baptism is a public testimony of your decision to trust Christ as your Savior. “Secret believers” never amount to much. If you are saved, you will not mind others knowing you are a Christian.21
… Baptism is the Bible way of joining the church. If you are really saved you will want to belong to a church.22
… Baptism is an object lesson about salvation.23 We believe in baptism by immersion. That means you get dipped all the way under the water. This shows we have joined ourselves with Jesus Christ. After He died on the cross, His body was put in a tomb. When we are dipped under the water, we are saying we died with Christ on the cross and were buried with Him. The penalty for sin (death) has been paid for us! We are dead as far as God’s Law is concerned. We are dead to our old life! [No turning back!] And then, just as Christ was raised from the dead and came out of the grave, we come up out of the water to live a new life–a life filled with the Holy Spirit and resurrection power! [I have decided to follow Jesus!]
… Baptism also teaches us how to have victory over sin. This is found in Romans 6: our old nature died with Jesus on the cross and by faith we “reckon” (believe, act on) this spiritual truth. So even though old thoughts may persist (they have to be replaced, Romans 12:1-2) and old habits may exert a physical “pressure” (they have to be replaced, Ephesians 4:20-5:11), we are no longer held by their power. We have a New Power in the person of God, the Holy Spirit. When we find ourselves tempted we “yield” ourselves to the Holy Spirit, call upon Him to enable us to resist, and then we obey–do what the Bible commands. Before we are saved we are under the law of God which only condemns–tells us we are wrong. After we are saved, we are under Grace–God Himself gives us the power to do what the Law says. This is the way of victory over sin.
2. The next thing you should do–and this will be different for different people–is quit those thing you know are sin!24 For example, if you have been smoking pot or telling dirty jokes or listening to music that is violent and satanic…quit! If your old friends are doing things you know are wrong, then stay away from them! Make new friends with real Christians, those who want to live to please Jesus Christ.
3. Before you leave those old friends completely, “witness” to them.25 Tell them you have become a Christian, why, and how you did it. Give them a tract. Invite them to church. This will be one of the best opportunities you will ever have to tell these friends (who are bound for hell) about Jesus.
4. Get into a good church. Find a church which believes the Bible and seeks to obey all the Bible. There are plenty of churches with big congregations, family-life centers, youth programs, and activities. But do they encourage you to talk, dress, work, study, live like a Christian?26 Do they encourage you to witness? Is “having fun” the main attraction? Is the life they teach just a clean life like any respectable person would live, with the Gospel tacked on? Is there real concern and pressure to do right? A good church will preach and teach the Bible and challenge you to do more for Christ! You will not grow as a Christian without the preaching and fellowship you get in a good church. Attend all the services…Sunday School, Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, Wednesday night, and any special programs!
5. Read your Bible and pray.27 Scripture will seem strange at first, and you may not understand a lot. (It is good to start with the Gospel of John and the Book of First John.) But keep reading and ask God to help you under-stand. Ask other Christians about things you do not understand. Try to share with other Christians what you do understand and seek to put it into practice.
If you meant business, you will want to do these things. You may try, fail, and make mistakes; but you will not quit! No turning back!
It is our hope and prayer that what you have done is real! That it is the beginning of new life, everlasting life, for you. If you have any question, please ask someone to give you an answer. Do not let an unanswered question keep you from salvation and God’s best for you!28
1Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
2II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
3James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
4John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
Jeremiah 18:1-6 “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
5Revelation 3:20, “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.”
Romans 8:9 and 11, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
6Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Ezekiel 36:25-27, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
John 3:5-7, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
7I John 2:3-6, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
8Jeremiah 17:10, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
9You will find this in Revelation 21:9 and Ephesians 5:22-32.
10John 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.”
11Jeremiah 31:31-33, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
12Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
I John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
13Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
14Revelation 19:14, “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
15Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
16Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death….”
17Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
18See Matthew 13, verses 1-9 and 18-23.
19John 16:23, “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”
20Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Acts 2:41, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”
21Matthew 10:32-39, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
22I John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”
23Romans 6:1-13, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
24Ephesians 4:21-24, “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
25Mark 2:13-17, “And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 8:37-40, “Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him. And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.”
26I John 2:18-19, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
Ephesians 4:11-13, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”
27I Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”
I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
28Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Luke 9:62, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”