Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Fr. Dale Matson

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”(Acts, 30b-31a, NASB).

There are two obvious questions that flow from this passage. What is the Jailer asking to be saved from and who is going to do it? Although theologians may quibble with me about this, salvation, conversion and being born again is essentially the same. Because of original sin, humans are born estranged from and enemies of God. It does not matter what the Jailer meant with his question because the answer of Paul and Silas understood it to mean saved from eternal separation from God. Salvation is obtained by turning over our will and life to Jesus Christ. Salvation is both a specific event and it is ongoing. (“…work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12b, NASB). The specific event is often referred to as a “Decision for Christ”. We usually think of Christ the Son as the one and only way to God the Father which is correct but Peter’s Confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” is followed by this statement from Jesus. “Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17, NASB). It is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who all witness to us about each other and themselves.

I believe human hearts are prepared by God through Holy Scripture, events (good and bad), the lives and witness of Christians and the beckoning of the Holy Spirit to call upon Christ for salvation. God creates a hunger for Him in our hearts that only He can fill. A good example of this preparation of the heart is When Phillip is prompted by the Holy Spirit to approach an Ethiopian official who happened to be reading a prophesy from the Old Testament about Christ at the same moment (Acts 8:26-40).

When Paul states in Romans, “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13), it is not intended as a formula for salvation but a believing response to the Gospel message. The Gospel message offers us an opportunity to believe that Jesus Christ is who He says that He is and His redemptive sacrifice of Himself on the cross applies to all humans in general and you and me in particular. Finally, it is a turning over your life to His authority. In this we are reconciled to God and restored to relationship with Him. All Christians are prodigals who have been reconciled to God the Father through the person and work of Christ and the witness of the Holy Spirit.

I think the key decision for most folks does not begin with a “yes” to the existence of a God. At some level most believe that there is a God. Many folks begin with unbelief in the person and work of Christ but a desire to believe. Here the desire (will) to believe demonstrates that God has already begun a work in the heart of the individual. Others may call out to Christ, like the father of the demoniac, “Lord I do believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24b, NASB) Christ asks all of us the following question. “Who do you say that I am?” Thomas the doubter finally stated, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) to the resurrected Christ. Is this your answer also? I pray that God would give you the faith to receive the truth of this message. Amen.

“There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NASB).

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