True Salvation – What Are The Requirements for True Salvation ?
In the Bible Jesus warns us that many people will think they are saved and have a restored relationship with God, but they are not. He even mentions people that are doing God’s kingdom work and doing ministry work. How can this be ? Today there seems to be a huge misunderstanding of what true salvation is, and especially of what is required for salvation.
In Matthew 7 Jesus makes a very surprising and troubling statement. He tells us that there will be many people that believe or think they are saved and will enter into God’s eternal kingdom, but in reality they are not. He is inferring that most of these will be church people, and Jesus even talks about people that are involved in ministry work and in God’s kingdom work. Here is what Jesus says:
- “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” – Matthew 7:21-23
A couple of years before God called us to sell my business and serve Him in full time international missions, I read an article that at first I thought “there is no way that this could be true.” This was about 16 years ago, and since then things have gotten much worse. Many things have changed since then, including in the church, and not for the better.
The article made an incredible statement… that in mainline evangelical Christian churches in the US, well over 50% of church members are not saved and are lost. I couldn’t believe this at first, but I continues to read about how some very well respected Christian leaders agreed with this statement. Men like Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’ son. Another was Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade For Christ, now know as Cru. Bill Bright stated that they did their own research and they agreed completely.
Things have changed a lot in the last 16 years, and things are a lot worse. The US church has changed drastically since then. Many churches have abandoned God’s mission of spreading the Gospel message & reaching the lost, and making true disciples. Out of fear of offending people, many churches have gone to a different mission of trying to appeal to and attract people to church, so they can have a large church full of people. Then they can have a lot of money and resources, and then they can have programs that can attract even more people to the church.
The bottom line is that the majority of churches these days never preach the Gospel message, because the Gospel has some parts in it that offend people… especially the parts that include talking about sin. These days the problem of having lost people in our churches is much worse than it was 16 years ago. Many people do not hear the Gospel message anymore in churches. Today more positive messages are presented, that are easier to hear and that make people feel good. If the Gospel is presented at all in churches and other places these days, chances are that it is a very brief partial presentation, and the requirements for true salvation are not presented well or at all.
So today there are far more than 50% of the people in churches that are lost. Estimates show that perhaps there are only 25% or less of people in churches today that have experienced a true salvation experience.
Before we talk about what are the requirements for true salvation, which is where most people get off track and are misinformed, we need to talk about what is true salvation. We will find the truth of what is salvation and the requirements for true salvation in God’s Word, and specifically in the Gospel message.
Salvation in The Gospel of Jesus Christ & The Requirements for True Salvation
1: God’s Great Love For You
God loves you very much. You are God’s first love, and He loves you more than anything else that He created.
You are God’s treasure, and you are more valuable and precious than to God than anything else He has created.
You are God’s passion, and He is passionate about you and about having a restored personal love relationship with you.
Because God loves you so much and you are so valuable and precious to Him, more than anything God wants you (and all people) to have true salvation, which is a reconciled and restored personal relationship and then close fellowship with Him. He wants you to have peace with Him, which is a restored personal relationship with God.
- “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1
God also wants you to have eternal life with Him in heaven when your life is done here. He wants you to be a co-heir of His eternal kingdom and spend the rest of eternity with Him.
Many people today think for them to have salvation, a reconciled personal relationship and close fellowship with God, and peace with Him, and eternal life in heaven later, that they need to be a good moral person so that God will want to give them these things. Many people today also think that they need to be a good member of a church or an upstanding religious person so that God will want to give them true salvation and these things. And many others believe that they need to do more good in their life than bad, so their good will outweigh the bad things in their life. Then they will be worthy and God will give them these things.
But the Bible, God’s Word, says something totally different than what most people think or believe. The Bible says that God offers a reconciled and restored relationship with Him, peace with God, and eternal life in heaven as a gift. A gift of His grace and love. Grace simply means that we do not deserve to receive these things, but God offers them anyway.
- “… the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
Even though God offers these wonderful things as a gift of His love and grace, the sad truth is that today in the world most people do not have a restored & reconciled relationship with God, or peace with God, or eternal life in heaven. And most people are very far from God today.
If they are a gift from God and He wants everyone to have them (“God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:4), why do most people today, even most people that are church members, not have them ? Why ?
2: The Problem – All of Us Have A Big Problem
The Bible tells us the reason why most people do not have true salvation, which is a restored relationship with God and peace with Him and eternal life. The Bible tells us that all of us have a very big problem, and this problem causes us to be far from God and to have a broken relationship with Him. This problem causes us to not have peace with God or eternal life in heaven later.
The Bible has a name for this problem, and it is called sin. Sin is anything we do, say, or even think that offends God or is displeasing to Him. Because God is the creator and Lord and owner of all in the heavens and earth, He alone has the right to define what is right and what is wrong. He alone has the right to say what is sin and what is not. And God alone has the right to judge everyone.
God’s Word clearly shows that our sins cause us to have a broken relationship with God and to be separated from Him.
- “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
The Bible also tells us that all of us have this problem of sin and separation from God. No one is perfect, and everyone sins.
- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
We need to understand some things about sin in order to understand why it causes us to have a broken relationship with God, and to be far and separated from Him, and to not have peace with God and eternal life in heaven. Sin is a very serious thing:
1st: When we sin, it is not just breaking some arbitrary man made religious rule. When we sin we are sinning personally against God, and we are personally offending and displeasing God. Because God loves us so much, so intently and zealously, He takes our sins personally.
When King David sinned, he said this to God:
- “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.” – Psalm 51:4
2nd: Sin is kind of like breaking the law. For example, if you are driving your car and you decide or choose to go twice the posted maximum speed, you will be pulled over and receive a fine or a penalty for your infraction. Sin is kind of like that, only much worse.
It will be much much worse because our punishment for our sins will be forever. We will forever, for eternity, be far and separated from God and His love, and we will forever be under the punishment for our sins.
- “For the wages of sin is death (an eternal spiritual death – eternal separation from God), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
- “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – Matthew 25:46
Many people that do not want to experience this eternal death and eternal punishment for their sins try to fix this problem of sin and separation from God themselves. They try to do the things they believe will fix this big problem we all have.
Our Attempts To Reach God:
- Good works
- Giving money to charity
The problem is that none of these things will work. If we want to try to fix our problem of sin and separation from God ourselves, then we will have to be perfect. No one is perfect, and none of these things will solve our problem.
- “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 14:12
So is you want to have true salvation and have a reconciled personal relationship with God, and peace with God, and eternal life in heaven, what can you do ? What does it take to be truly saved ?
3: God’s Solution To Our Problem of Sin & Separation From God:
This is the best part of the Gospel message. Because God loves us so much and so passionately, He sent the solution to our problem. The Bible tells us that God does not want eternal separation from Him and eternal punishment for anyone. He wants all people to be saved and to have a restored relationship with Him and peace with Him and eternal life in heaven.
- “God does not want anyone to perish (to die spiritually and forever be separated from God, and to have eternal punishment for their sins), but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
God’s solution is this: He sent His own Son Jesus Christ to earth in a form that we could recognize and understand… as a human person. God sent Jesus to suffer and to die on a cross. Why would God send His own son to suffer and die such a horrible and painful death ?
God is love and He is a merciful God, but He is also perfectly holy and just, and He cannot let our sins slide without a punishment. Someone has to pay the price and punishment for our sins, and if someone does not help us, we will have to pay the terrible price for our sins against God. So Jesus, out of His great love for us, sacrificed everything including His life, to help us and to pay the price for our sins.
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
Jesus is God’s one and only solution to our problem of sin and separation from God and eternal punishment.
- Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one may come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
- “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” – I Timothy 2:5
- “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” – I Peter 3:18
- “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
Now we will look at something very important – what are the requirements for true salvation ? There are many people today that believe in their heart that they are saved, most of which are members of churches. Even mainline evangelical churches. They are under the impression that because they said a quick prayer about confessing their sins and asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior that they are saved… that they have a restored relationship with God and eternal life in heaven. The Bible clearly shows what is required for salvation.
4: What are the Requirements for True Salvation ?
If you want to be saved… if you want to have a restored & reconciled relationship with God, and peace with God, and eternal life in heaven with God, what are the requirements for true salvation ?
The Bible clearly shows that there are 3 things that are required for a person to truly be saved. Jesus states the first 2 requirements in these verses:
- “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news !” – Mark 1:14-15
What is required for salvation ? Repent is the first requirement in order to be saved and have a restored relationship with God. Repent means to be going in 1 direction, and then to turn around and go the opposite direction. It means that you must decide to turn away from your sins and from sinning against God and displeasing Him and from living to please yourself. Then you must decide in your heart to turn back to God and live to please Him.
When we are living for ourselves and living in sin, we are going down the road of sin. The problem with this road is that it will lead you farther and farther from God, and cause you to have a broken relationship with God. This road will never give you the satisfaction and peace that living for God will give you.
What are the requirements for true salvation ? The second thing that Jesus mentioned in Mark 1:15 is “believe the good news”. The good news (the Gospel) is that Jesus loves you very much and that He came and died on the cross to take away your sins and to pay the price for them, and to take away your punishment. He literally took our place on the cross and took our sins on Himself, and He also took the punishment that we deserve.
The word “believe” in this verse does not mean that you believe in your mind that Jesus exists. Most religions in the world today believe in Jesus in this way in one form or another. Some believe Jesus was a good man, some believe He was a good teacher, and others believe He was a religious prophet.
The word for “believe” in the Bible means that you need to believe with all of your heart that Jesus loves you, and that He died on the cross to take away your sins and your punishment, and that He rose again on the 3rd day and is alive and then He went back to heaven. Believe means that you need to place all of you faith, and all of your confidence, and all of your trust, and all of your hope in Jesus Christ alone.
We do not put our faith & confidence & trust & hope in a religion, or in a church, or in a pastor or church leader, or in our own good works, or in anything else. You must put all of your faith & hope & trust & confidence with all of your heart in Jesus Christ. 100%.
What are the requirements for true salvation ? The 3rd thing that God’s word shows is a requirement for salvation is found in John 1:12 and other verses.
- “Yet to all who did receive him (Jesus), to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12
To “receive Jesus Christ” is the 3rd of the requirements for true salvation. What does this mean ?
First it means that you need to willingly invite Jesus into your life and receive Him as your Lord and Savior.
Savior means that Jesus will forgive you for all of your sins, and He will take away all of your punishment for your sins. And He will give you the gift of a restored personal relationship with God, peace with God, and eternal life in heaven.
Lord means something totally different. This is where most people have a big misunderstanding of what is required for salvation. People say a quick prayer and ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, but they have no idea of what Jesus being your Lord really means. And they have no intention in their heart to really make Jesus the Lord of their life.
Nearly everyone wants Jesus to be their friend. Nearly everyone wants Jesus to protect them, and take care of them and their needs, and even give them things they want and desire. Nearly everyone wants Jesus to be their Savior and save them from their sins and the eternal punishment of hell.
But most people do not really want Jesus to be their Lord. The Lord of their life. Which means to give up control and ownership and the rights to their life to Jesus. It may mean you need to give up your dreams and goals and plans, and accept Jesus’ will and plans instead. It may cost you a lot. Their is a cost to follow Jesus as Lord & Savior and be His disciple (a disciple is a learner & follower of Jesus). You need to commit your life to Jesus, and commit to follow Him as your Lord and Savior.In relationship terms, you need to have a committed relationship with Jesus.
Jesus is not interested in having a casual relationship with you. He loves you too much, and He is totally committed to you. He proved His love and commitment to you by dying on the cross for your sins and taking your punishment for you. He wants you to be as committee to Him as He is to you. And He wants you to love Him as He loves you. Jesus wants you to continually surrender you life and your will to Him, and live to please Him, and follow Him and His word and His ways and His will for your life.
In Luke 9:22-23 Jesus gives us the picture of what it really looks like and means for Him to be your Lord, and for you to be truly saved:
- “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
When Jesus says “if anyone wants to come after me” He is not talking about following Him. He is really saying “if you want to go where I am going”… in other words, if you want to be saved and then have eternal life and go to heaven where I am going…”.
Making Jesus your Lord means you need to deny yourself. You need to deny your will and follow His will. You need to deny control of your life, and let Jesus control your life. You need to deny your wants and desires… and follow what Jesus wants and desires.
“Take up your cross daily” is a very misunderstood saying of Jesus by many people. Many people think that this means that they have to live with some physical problem or illness, or with a person that cause them a lot of trouble and grief. Jesus does not mean this at all.
For Jesus the cross was God’s will for Him. Jesus had to submit and accept His Father’s will of dying on the cross so we all could be saved and have a restored relationship with God. Jesus is talking about how we need to daily submit to His will for our life, and not live to follow our own will. It is a daily act of submission to our Lord Jesus and His will.
After denying yourself and taking up your cross (God’s will) daily, then you can follow Jesus as your Lord. You cannot be a true and obedient follower (disciple) of Jesus unless you first deny yourself and then submit your life & will to Him daily. To truly have Jesus as your Lord and Savior means to faithfully and obediently and passionately follow Him as your Lord… your Master… your King.
Saying this in a quick prayer is one thing, but actually doing it with all of your heart is quite another. The truth is that most people do not really and fully submit their life and will to Jesus as their Lord, and thus do not meet the requirements for true salvation. That is why Jesus said what He said in Matthew 7:21-23, and what He says in Matthew 7:13-14:
- “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
What are the requirements for true salvation found in the Bible ? The 3 requirements clearly shown in God’s word are:
- Believe in Jesus Christ
- Receive by faith Jesus as your Lord and Savior (not just Savior)
When you have truly met these 3 requirements for true salvation, then there is a transformation that takes place in you and your life. Salvation is Transformation. People that say a quick prayer about confessing their sin and receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior but not really meaning it, their life is no different after they say the prayer. There is no change or transformation in their heart, or in the way they live their life. They may go to church, and even be active in their church, but Monday through Saturday their life is no different. True Salvation is Transformation.
If you have never truly repented from your sins and turned back to God, and placed all of your faith & confidence & trust & hope in Jesus, and truly received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, but you are ready to do so, then you can do it right now.
Through prayer, you can talk to God and do the things He says you need to do to truly be saved: repent from your sins, place your faith in Jesus, and invite Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your Lord and Savior, and commit your life to Jesus to follow Him and His will:
- “Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me very much, and for sending Jesus to die for and pay the price for my sins. Lord, I have sins in my life. Please forgive me for all of my sins. I am sorry that I have sinned against you. And dear Lord Jesus, please come into my life, and be my Lord and Savior. I commit my life to you, to follow You and Your will & ways. And I repent and turn away from my sins, and I turn back to you with all of my heart. Please give me peace with God and eternal life in heaven. Please teach me your word and ways, so I can follow You as my Lord. And help me grow closer to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”
If you have done these things – you truly repented of your sins, put all of your faith and hope in Jesus Christ, and received Him as your Lord & Savior and committed your life to Him, and you meant it with all your heart – then you for sure have a reconciled relationship with God, peace with God and eternal life, and new life in Jesus.
- “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:13
- “Those who have the Son (Jesus) have life. Those who do not have the Son do not have life. These things have I written, that you may know you have eternal life.” – I John 5:12-13
If you have met the requirements for true salvation, then you are ready for the next step in your restored relationship with God. He wants you to grow closer to Him and to grow spiritually to be more like Jesus, and He wants you to have a growing close fellowship and intimacy with God.
Pursuing Intimacy With God is committed to helping you with the most important thing in your life… your intimacy with God , your fellowship with Him, and your partnership with God in His Kingdom work & mission.
There are hundreds of Bible verses and great truths & promises in the Pursuing Intimacy With God studies book