That’s what we always hear, isn’t it? “All you have to do is BELIEVE!”
Well, that’s not quite it. BELIEVE… in what? In God? In Christ?
Okay, yeah, that’s right…. “All you have to do is BELIEVE in JESUS CHRIST, and YOU WILL be SAVED!”
All I have to do is believe what about Him. That He existed? Historical evidence has long ago proven He existed. So what? “Congrats, you believe in history!”
No, no, no! I mean, “BELIEVE in the RESURRECTION of JESUS CHRIST, and YOU WILL BE SAVED!”
What good is the resurrection of Christ? That, too, is a proven historical fact: His death was verified by many witnesses, and His return to life was seen over the course of forty days following His resurrection on what we now call Easter Sunday by upwards of a thousand people! Multiple researchers have verified these facts. What significance do they have for us?
Well, they prove that Jesus Christ IS Who He SAID He was! He said many times, in all the gospels, that He would be captured, persecuted, tortured and killed by the Romans as described in the Old Testament, and then that He would return from the dead “on the third day”, which He did. Only GOD could have known all that in advance and done all that! Doesn’t it prove He’s God?
I’ll grant you that. Yes, it proved that Jesus Christ was God incarnate.
All right, then! “All you have to do to become a Christian is to BELIEVE in the RESURRECTION of JESUS, which PROVED HE IS the MESSIAH, GOD THE SON, and YOU WILL BE SAVED!”
Have you ever read the book of James?
What? Yeah, I think so…
James 2:19 → “You believe that God is one; you do well. (But) Even the demons believe—and shudder!” The problem, my friend, is that believing in the existence of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, or any combination thereof is not the point. The devil believes in all of them – shoot, he has first hand knowledge of them all! – but that doesn’t mean he’s saved. In fact, Hell was created specifically for HIM!!
So… do you want to rethink your easy-salvation sentence?
Umm…. I’m not sure what to say, now…
Come on, my friend. You’re almost there. It’s not their existence that makes the difference in your life. It’s what they do for you in your life and beyond that makes the difference. James goes on to discuss with his Christian readers the needs for some demonstration of the results of their faith – their faith in what the Trinity does in your life! But the key is to have the humility to allow God to take the reins of your life, and help you run your life more in accordance with His Will. And there’s one other detail you haven’t mentioned yet – the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the payment He made on our behalf to cover the punishment due to us as sinners. We must acknowledge that fact, and accept that payment Christ made on our behalf for our sins.
Look. Say you, ah, say you had damaged someone’s property, and they took you to court for it. You’re guilty of the crime. What has to happen?
Umm, I have to pay them for the damage.
True. But suppose someone else volunteers to pay for it on your behalf?
You mean, like my Dad or someone…
Very much like your Father, yes.
Well, then I’m off the hook, right?
Almost. What else do you think would also be demanded of you? Whether it was the person whose property you damaged, or the judge, or your Father… someone would demand this of you, right?
Ohhhhh… An apology.
An apology. An acknowledgment that you committed the crime, that you’re sorry you caused the damage, and some kind of promise that you’ll try never to do it again. Wouldn’t that be reasonable?
Sure. Of course.
Well, this works the same way. God demands an apology – an acknowledgment that you are a sinner, and a way to show that you’re going to improve towards perfection, where you won’t make those errors again.
Wow. So… how do I say that in a sentence? Is – well, is it really still easy to become a Christian?
I would say this: It’s easy to become a Christian, to start with. But it takes something on your part to follow through with becoming a Christian.
How about this? “Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross as punishment for your sins; accept His sacrifice as payment for your sins and ask Him to become Lord of your life. Allow the Holy Spirit to ride shotgun with you, and listen to His guidance as you go through your life. Then, you will be saved.”
Kind of a mouthful, don’t you think?
Well, there’s a lot more to it than what you were implying, friend. It doesn’t take any true work on your part, but there are some important decisions involved.
I can see that. So… one more question.
What about all that “good people go to Heaven” malarkey that we hear all the time? Where does that come from?
I can explain that. What do you think happens to a person who’s actually allowed the Holy Spirit to guide their life?
Well, they… oh!!! THEY START DOING GOOD THINGS WITH THEIR LIVES!!
Exactly. They do good things BECAUSE they’re saved, rather than doing good things TO GET saved.
So, it’s really a cause-and-effect thing! We’ve all had it backwards all along. We see all these Christians doing wonderful, kind, “Christian” things, and we assume that they’re doing them to get INTO Heaven, but the truth is that after they became Christian, that motivated them to DO those good things instead.
Ephesians 2:8-10 lays it all out in black and white for all to read, if only they’d read their Bibles! It says,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are created specifically to DO the good works that GOD prepared for us beforehand, once we had been saved. SO, d’you want one more try at the “easy salvation” description?
No, you nailed it before. Thanks so much, my friend!
“Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross as punishment for your sins; accept His sacrifice as payment for your sins and ask Him to become Lord of your life. Allow the Holy Spirit to ride shotgun with you, and listen to His guidance as you go through your life. Then, you will be saved.”