What does it take to be saved? The answer that I most want to give to that question is “the marvelous grace of God”. No one can be saved without it. But I also realize that my salvation, in the end, is a process. No one moment in time defines it. 1 Cor 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. There is a real sense in which we are being saved.
- Romans 1:16 – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. The gospel message is the source of the power that saves me. But just hearing the message will not save me. I must respond, and my response is not simply the decision of a single moment. Consider these necessary steps we must all take to be saved:
I. Conviction. The gospel is a message that demands conviction. Are you convicted?
A. The word “conviction” issues in two different directions:
1. First, it’s being convinced or fully persuaded. The KJV uses the English word “convince” in Titus 1 while discussing the qualifications of elders: Titus 1:9 – Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. The elder must be able to make a case for the gospel message. Paul says he does this convincing with sound (healthy) doctrine. This is sometimes viewed as belief. A person is either convinced that God’s word is true, or he is not convinced. Do you believe?
a. Conviction is developed through hearing the words of God, and thus it is foundation of our faith. Romans 10:17 – 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Hebrews 11:6 – 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, It is essential that every person who would come to God must be taught. John 6:45 – It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Who are you teaching? What are you learning?
2. “Convict” can also indicate a persuasion of guilt. It can mean to be convicted by the law, as one who is guilty of a crime. This again is an intended result of the message of the gospel. Those who come to God must first realize their lost position before Him.
a. Acts 2:37 – “pricked in their hearts”. The words of Peter cut deep into their conscience, and evoked an emotional response. This “godly sorrow” worked repentance (2 Cor. 6:10),as they responded to the commands of Peter. Any message that does not call on people to turn from their sinful practices is not the gospel of Christ. Conviction is a fundamental step of our salvation and a necessary result of hearing God’s word.
II. Conversion: Conversion indicates a change. I remember being told when I was in middle school that the U.S. would be converting to the metric system very soon. They gave us “conversion” tables so we could learn how to switch from inches to millimeters. That conversion has not been complete. Although I do have metric sockets in my toolbox, I still buy my gas in gallons and measure the distance I drive in miles. Fundamentally the gospel message is about conversion, or change. And the change that God brings is comprehensive.
A. John 3:3 – 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” These words must have been perplexing to a well-educated religious leader such as Nicodemus. Did he really need to start all over again? “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
1. The word conversion is only used once in the noun form in the N.T.(Acts 15:3 – So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. What did Paul and Barnabas describe? They had witnessed a change in the Gentiles. Paul also described this “conversion” in Ephesians 2:11-13 – 11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Through the power of the gospel sinners are changed. Paul goes on to say they had been forgiven of their sins, and reconciled to God. They had become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit (v. 22)
B. But conversion also depicts a turning. The verb form (convert) is found many times and is translated as “turn. It points to what a person does in response to the gospel. He turns around.
- 1 Thess 1:9 – 9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
1. I Like ISBE definition of conversion… Thus, conversion denotes the human volition and act by which man in obedience to the Divine summons determines to change the course of his life and turns to God. Arrested by God’s call man stops to think, turns about and heads the opposite way. The gospel message calls for a response biblically known as repentance. Jesus said, “…unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) What have you turned away from? Have you been converted?
III. Consecration: To consecrate something is to set it apart, to make it sacred. The child of God must consecrate himself to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Consecration involves purpose. That which is consecrated to God serves His purposes. In the O.T. both things and people were consecrated, or sanctified, for God’s purposes; such as the tabernacle and the priesthood. In fact, the sanctification, or consecration of N.T. Christians is described within the O.T. figure.
A. 1 Peter 2:5 – 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Every Christian is a priest. Not is a physical or ecclesiastical sense. But as one who is consecrated to God’s work alone. He has no other business or pursuit. Peter goes to describe this purpose: 2: 9-10 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Notice that their conversion, or change of state, necessitated a change in purpose. True conversion demands consecration.
1. In Romans 6 Paul describes the Christian as dead to sin (turned from it) and alive unto God. He lives for Him (v. 11) Rom 6:18 – …having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
2. A consecrated Christian is singularly focused on spiritual things. “Set your affection on things above, not on things of the world” (Colossians 3:2). He values relationships more than money; truth more than compromise or comfort; God’s approval more than man’s applause. He is willing to suffer to secure these spiritual blessings for himself and others. 2 Tim 3:12 – All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
3. A consecrated Christian is also evidenced by a sincere desire to be pure. He seeks to abstain from every vestige of sin in his life. John 3:2-3 – Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
- Again notice the O.T. imagery in Paul’s admonition to Timothy: turn to 2 Tim 2:19-22 – 9 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Are you a useful and consecrated vessel, or do you resemble the common and secular?
IV. Consummation: Consummation is to bring something to a conclusion. It implies the fulfilling of an intended purpose. In order to be saved we must finish. Our successful finish is not secured through perfect law-keeping, but through faithful (trusting) service.
A. After Peter describes or hope of a coming reward as “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:4), he tells how it is attained. 1 Peter 1:6-9 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.
1. Our salvation is the “end of our faith” – meaning that it is both the purpose and ultimate conclusion of our faith. Our faith is being tested until the end.
B. Paul said, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12). Peter said in his second epistle, “Give diligence to make your calling and elections sure” (2 Peter 1:10). God does the calling through the message of the gospel. Those to whom Peter was speaking had responded to that call, as they were Christians. Peter says they must make that calling sure (or secure) through continuing obedience in the exercise of the virtues that he had just catalogued.
C. There is no teaching that is more contrary to the whole tenor of N.T. writing than the one that declares once a person is saved, he can do nothing to be eternally lost. The scriptures are filled with earnest admonitions and warning against apostasy. There is no greater tragedy than the one who starts but does not finish.
- 2 Peter 2:20-21 – For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
- Heb 10:28-29 – 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
Conclusion: Are you a Christian? Are you saved? Consider the fundamental steps:
- Have you been convicted? Are you convinced that Jesus’ words are true? Are you pricked in the heart with your own sinfulness, and convicted of your sins? Do you believe?
- Have you been converted? Have you turned away from sin, and towards God? Have you repented of your sins?
- Have you been consecrated? Do you belong to Christ, and have you been purified through the blood of Christ? It is through baptism in water that one contacts the blood of Christ. You are baptized into His death, to rise in a newness of life (Rom. 6:4) have you been baptized?
- Are you being faithful today, or have you turned away from God and become disobedient? Are you insulting the spirit of grace by the life you are now living. Get back in step.