Can we know that we have eternal life? If so, how do we know? We have begun a series in order to explore what the Bible has to say about these very questions. (I encourage you to check out parts 1-4 of Examine Yourselves if you’ve not done so.)
We are continuing our study into how we can know that we have eternal life. We stated in part one of Examine Yourselves that sometimes the way to help discover the reality of what something is, is to first consider what it is not. Previously, we have discussed the fact that salvation is not simply a self-help tool designed to make me the best me I can be. We’ve discovered that salvation isn’t merely keeping a list of do’s & don’ts. We’ve examined the fact that the presence of the miraculous is not proof- positive of communion with Christ. In part four we saw that mere mental assent to the facts concerning Jesus does not mean one is in communion with Christ. And finally we come to our last “Myth Buster,” and like I said; this one may be the biggest of them all. Drum roll please…….. Here it is: Nowhere in the Bible do you find someone inquiring as to how one is born again being told to just “ask Jesus to come into your heart.” Take a moment and Google it- it’s not in there.
Nowhere in the Bible will you find Paul, Peter, or any of the other Biblical preachers in the New Testament telling folks that salvation is merely asking Jesus to come into your heart. After Peter preached his powerful sermon in Acts 2 and the people asked, “What must we do?” Peter didn’t tell them to ask Jesus into their hearts as their personal savior; no, he said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus…” Some are perhaps truly saved after responding to an invitation given in a church , and some are without a doubt truly born again, but; according to the Bible, genuine salvation is a result of repentance and faith. Yes, we must understand that “by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves” (Ephesians 2:8), but; true saving faith is always evidenced by a lifestyle of repentance. Over and over we find the prophets of the Old Testament extending God’s offer of salvation, calling for the people to repent and return to God with honest sincerity. And in the New Testament the apostles, evangelists, and even Jesus himself preached: “Repent and believe!”
So many today have been led to believe that just because at one point in their lives they walked an isle, shook some preachers hand, and prayed “the sinner’s prayer,” and asked Jesus to come into their hearts that they are in Christ. This is not necessarily so. We must understand that true salvation is a response (an ongoing, continual response) to God’s grace in faith and repentance.
We have reached the conclusion of our “Myth Buster” look into what salvation is not. We have seen that while salvation will indeed address the way you feel about yourself, while you will understand why you were created and who you are, while you will keep the commandments, while you will prophesy, cast out devils and do mighty exploits in his name, while all these things are surely benefits/aspects of salvation; they must not be confused with salvation itself. Salvation is not necessarily the result of a prayer prayed at some point in the past when we asked Jesus into our hearts. No, we are beginning to understand that salvation is an ongoing, right now, living relationship with Jesus, and that this is evidenced by repentance and saving faith. As we get into our next segments, we will seek to understand what is meant by the terms repentance and saving faith.
To be continued…