Today many people are deceived into a false sense of security about their salvation. This is because many have responded emotionally to an alter call, or someone told them to ask Jesus into their heart and if so they’re saved. People who come to Jesus like this are always false converts because they either never heard the full message of the Gospel or they were never discipled (taught what it means to be a Christian, how to live as a Christian and things to expect in the Christian life.)
So what does it mean to be truly saved? And why is it wrong to tell people to “ask Jesus forgive your sins and ask Him into your heart”? True salvation isn’t cheap and it isn’t that easy. Jesus said in Mathew 7:14 that the “gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and FEW find it.” Few being able to find true salvation is not what we commonly hear today. Luke 13:23-25 is an even more startling passage which says, “ And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’” How often in church, from pastors, evangelists or even average Christians do you hear this from- that the way to salvation is HARD??
Okay then what makes true salvation hard? First if a person has been inoculated from the Gospel by being told to ask for forgiveness and ask Jesus in our heart and they get involved in church, bible reading and prayer but never found true salvation to begin with they come into the “Christian Life” deceived already making it hard for them to accept that they are a false convert. Second is the issue of repentance. An unsaved person or a false convert needs to be made to understand that they are an enemy of God, that He is holy, righteous and pure and that no matter how much a person tries through good works or self effort they cannot ever meet God’s righteous requirements. And what are those requirements? To keep his laws perfectly without fail in their heart, motives, actions and conduct for their entire life without ever failing to do so.
God’s law is strict, rigid and unbending and those who think they can come to God based on them keeping God’s laws have a few deadly serious problems. First of all we are humans born into sin – it is in our nature, its what do naturally and instinctively. But just because we cant help but sin is no excuse to God. The other problem is that the harder you try to keep God’s law the more you fail. The first part of Romans 5:20 says. “the Law came so that transgression (sin) would increase…” In James 2:10 it gets even worse, James says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” Did you read that? If you break one of God’s commands, even a tiny one then you’ve broken them all. What it means is that if you think you can please God through your effort to keep his law then you are DOOMED! What’s worse is if you die like this then no matter how good you’ve been or how many good works you’ve done, your ultimate destination is HELL!
A sinner or false convert must see their true state, and it’s not a pretty one. They are a sinner no matter how good or bad they’ve lived their life and they are storing up God’s wrath for themselves for the Day of Judgment. They will face God in terror, anxiety, dread and deep distress because his eternal vengeance is about to be poured out on them for all eternity! If a sinner or false convert faces their true state now they should be afraid, even terrified, which is better by far now while there is hope than when in eternity when all hope is lost!
Once a person hears the Good News that Jesus came and paid the costly price for their sins with his life and that by turning away from and renouncing their sins and trust in Him alone for salvation that they can escape the coming wrath of God. Now this brings up two more things that can keep a person from entering the narrow way. The first is an unwillingness to forsake whatever sins you wish to hang onto. This will absolutely keep you from entering true salvation. In Luke 18:18-27 we see Jesus having a conversation with a rich young ruler about what he must do to attain eternal life, ” A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to [a]go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
What is it that you’re holding onto or love more than you love Jesus? Is it money, success, family, sex, security, relationships, pleasure, entertainment or drugs? If you are not willing to let go of anything and everything to cling to Jesus then you cannot enter the narrow way. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his [a]life will lose it; but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Jesus is not an addition to top off your life like a cherry on top of a nice sundae, he must be the whole Sunday!
Fnally the last thing that can keep people from the Kingdom has to do with faith. True faith is not mere mental ascent, must be a combination of both belief and action to be real. James 2:19 says “You believe God is One, you do well, the demons believe and shudder.” Do you think that demons will be in heaven because they believe in God? Is their belief enough to truly save them? No! That verse says they shudder. Why? Because they know the doom that awaits them!
There is also a certain quality to faith that is required for salvation, Jesus called it child like faith. In Matthew 18:1-5 the disciples were asking Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus responded in a suprising way, , “And He called a child to Himself and set him [b]before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you [c]are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” What is unique about babies and very young children that is absent in older children, teenagers and adults, and how does this relate to faith? Babies and young children are completely dependent on their parents for everything, in fact a newborn will die if he or she are not tended to. The other aspect of young children in receiving what they nedd or desire from their parents is they have no pride in asking and no doubt in believing their parents will respond to their need. Even if a baby or young child is cranky because of hunger or they need changed or they’re sick, at the sight or sound of a parent they will put out their arms for the parent to receive them. These qualities are what is required for real faith.
If you are a sinner or a false convert the first thing you need to do is realize the terrible state you’re in and admit it to both yourself and to God. You must be willing to let go of everything in your life that can keep you from the Kingdom, then like a young child humbly cry out to your Father to save you and depend and rely on him to do so. When all of these issues are address then, and only then can you be saved. You will know it when it happens. It’s more than an emotional experience, its and experiential experience. You will feel a burdensome weight lifted off you (the weight of sin and guilt) then you will experience true peace as the Holy Spirit seals your spirit for the day of redemption. Then you can know you’ve entered the narrow gate, but remember the path forward is narrow too, so you’re going to need that child like faith we discussed not just for true salvation but for living out the Christian life. May the Lord shine on you as you earnestly seek him for eternal life!
Elder of Spiritual Life