Really Saved?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10

Ponder these scenarios:

  • A young boy of 13 accepts Jesus as his savior. He is baptized in his church and then gives his faith minimal notice for 40 years. He is aware of God, but follows his own instinct and desire, clearly living for himself until he is spiritually awakened in his 50s. Was he saved before he began living his life for God? If he had died at 35, would he be in Heaven?
  • A man in his late 30s life is sent into chaos with divorce, the loss of his job, and the death of his Father. He dramatically turns to Christ in despair. In an emotionally charged experience, he gives his life to Jesus and relies on the Lord to shepherd him through the ordeal. He finds another wife, gets a better job, and time heals the grief of loss, all blessings from God. Shortly after that, he begins living out his life as most people do, self-focused, and never returns to church again. The notion of prayer no longer crosses his mind, and the bible sits in the bottom drawer of the nightstand until he dies of Cancer at 83. Is this man saved? Would we find him in the paradise of Heaven or in the fire in Hell?
  • A man lives a violent, evil life of debauchery for 60 years. He checks all the boxes of a man to be damned – unrepentant hatred of God and his fellow man, along with rape, murder, and voting democrat. While sitting on death row, a prison ministry brings the message of salvation, and for the first time, he is receptive. He accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior. A month later, he is executed by the state. Was his death bed confession effective? Is this dreg enjoying Heaven while the 23-year-old woman he murdered so long ago endures eternity in Hell because she had not yet been saved?
  • A Catholic woman lives a life of the rituals and sacraments of the church. She prays the rosary, attends mass, and regularly confesses her sin to the priest. She is devout in following the requirements of the religion and in her love and adoration of Jesus Christ. She believes in the depts of her soul that he is the son of God who died on the cross for her sins and strives to make him the Lord of her life. She prays to him many times a day, trusts him, and is quick to tell others of his importance in her life. She never has a transformative experience and dies hoping that she was good enough to enter Heaven. Was she?
  • A pastor of renown builds a massive church and following based upon the spectacular quality of his sermons, teachings, and writings. He is a towering Christian, a bold and relentless evangelist who is blessed with the wisdom of God. He leads thousands to Christ, counsels presidents, and is beyond reproach. A girl from the choir becomes pregnant and says it is his. She is half his age; this cannot be true, but it is. Several others come forward to tell their stories of abuse, harassment, and rape. When our towering Christian dies from a heart attack at 62, is he in Heaven or not? This could have easily been a priest with an appetite for young men. Lots of great things happen in organized religion.

How would you assess whether any of these people or anyone you may encounter is saved or not? Most importantly, how do you know if you are saved or not? Paul is speaking of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in this scripture from Romans. To be justified is to be declared righteous in the eyes of God (this is salvation from the penalty of sin, made right with God and qualified to enjoy eternity in Heaven) by his undeserved favor (grace) through belief (faith) in his son Jesus Christ. Paul tells us plainly how salvation is accomplished.

First, “believe in thine heart” This is to have deep personal conviction. Not an intellectual understanding, but a confident, unshakeable truth held in your heart. It is not trivial; it is a belief that you would die for. To believe is to have faith.

What is it that we are to believe? Verse 9 tells us, “that God hath raised him from the dead.” This is to believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ is true and all the consequences and implications. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important and impactful event in human history. Paramount is that it confirms his deity and affirms that his death on the cross was an effectual, permanent atonement for our sin. If the resurrection is true, then all that Jesus said, did, and promised were acts of God and can be relied upon with certainty. If there was no resurrection, then Jesus was killed for his own sin, and we are all without hope.

Then “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus.” This is the key, presented with such simplicity, as is so common in scripture, that is it often overlooked or misunderstood. To confess is not a mere utterance but a proclamation that Jesus is Lord of your life. An affirmation of the truth that you no longer live for yourself but that you have taken up your cross and now follow him. Jesus must be in charge, not you.

This is a big deal, profoundly transformative, and clearly absent from too many. Some have the knowledge, believe the truth, fear and want to escape God’s judgment, are sorry for their sin, are soaked in pious self-righteousness, live in the confines of religious systems, and are headed to an eternity in Hell. Read Luke 13:23-28 Keeping these poor mortal souls’ company are Satan and his minions. The demons most certainly believe in Jesus, more profoundly than we do. The missing element is the establishment of Jesus as their sovereign ruler. Demons, as with so many professing Christians, believe the right stuff, but they cannot submit to the lordship of Christ.

So, there it is. Being right with God is accomplished by faith and establishing Jesus as your Lord; this is belief coupled with obedient submission.

If you believe in your heart, making Jesus your Lord is possible and desirable. If you believe with your intellect (or not at all), then I think it impossible. The question then becomes – how does one come to “belief in thine heart?” This answer is super simple – belief, or faith, is a gift from God. Pursue God by hearing (or reading) his word to gain faith. Then let the prodding of the Holy Spirit draw you near to him.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

To make Jesus the Lord of your life means to follow his commands, seeking to know and follow the will of God in all that you do. Read John 14:15 Coming to saving faith is a process. There is a moment when you know you believe and accept God’s wonderful gift of salvation. You are determined to change how you live, now to follow the will of God and be amazed as the Holy Spirit works in your soul to sanctify you. This is the transformation, evident to all, that is a testimony to the perfect will of God.

 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

There are unmistakable characteristics of a genuine Christian. These traits are evidence of a life transformed by the Holy Spirit. These desires and habits are present in the saved and absent from the lost.

  • We desire to be taught. We seek it. We study the word of God. We go to church to hear the word of God. Those who are saved love to be in the word of God; the l
  • We are led by the holy spirit. We seek his guidance, and the work of God is evident in the path we have taken. Looking back, we know that we have been led, and amazingly so.
  • We experience the comfort of the holy spirit. We are calm and joyful through the trials of life.
  • We are filled with the holy spirit. We love the worship of God. We are convicted by the Holy spirit about our sin and God’s will.
  • We run to the Father when we need help or are in distress, crying for compassion, mercy, and comfort. Believers look to God, and non-believers tend to blame God.

As you begin your journey in the faith, know that even the most devout will have moments of doubt. Also, know that even those with unwavering faith will fail to make Jesus the Lord of their life one hundred percent of the time. We all sin while living in these mortal bodies in this fallen world. Thankfully, living a perfect, holy life serving Christ is the goal, not the requirement for salvation. Only one man lived a perfect, holy life: that was our savior, Jesus! For us, thankfully, God’s mercy and forgiveness are fresh every day as you bring your sin to him and endeavor to repent. Read Lamentations 3:22-23

Now that we better understand the how and evident signs of salvation, here is the anticlimactic answer to the 5 scenarios. We can ponder the life lived and guess but can’t know for sure. In each scenario, it can be rationalized that the person is headed to Heaven or that they are most likely headed to Hell. Salvation is between each person and God, and it is his domain to judge, not ours. We should work that all hear the gospel, and we should pray for God to do a great work in their souls. Then, we should attend to our own salvation and walk with God in humility and gratitude. If it is God’s will for a person to be saved, then that person will be saved.

. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

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