FOR CONTENDERS YOUTH GROUP (snapshot)
Someone comes to you and wants to be saved. As a Christian, how would you guide them through this process?
Is it simple? Is it complicated? Is it as easy as repeating a phrase? Reading a scripture? Receiving Jesus into your heart? Doing works? Then what?
It’s simple but it’s not. It’s easy but it’s difficult. It’s believing but it’s doing. I always say, it’s AND/BOTH.
When my two oldest children came to me and asked to be saved, this is how I broke it down to them in a simple way:
Admit that Jesus is your Lord & Savior. Admit that you are a sinner and need a savior. Admit that it’s time to change.
1. Admit that Jesus is your Lord & Savior.
What does this mean? Jesus dying on the cross is the only reason why we get to go to heaven. He did something that we could never do. “Lord” means he is our master and we serve him. “Savior” means he came on this earth as an innocent, perfect God-man to physically die for us, to fulfill God’s plan to redeem us and save us from our sins (imperfections that separate us from God’s holiness).
We do have to admit this. We have to say that we agree that Jesus did what we could never do. This is why we are taught that faith in Christ is how we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). Grace means he gave us a gift that we don’t deserve. We are taught that works (being kind, serving others, even reading our bible) do not earn our way into heaven. This doesn’t mean that we don’t do good works, this means that we understand it’s not our own performance that fulfills God’s plan to restore us. We do good works because we are saved, not to get saved.
Scripture to read:
Confess that Jesus is Lord & Savior. (Romans 10:9)
If you believe, you will die once not twice (you will not die a second death after physical death). John 3:16
He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one gets to the father except through Him. (John 14:6)
2. Admit that you are a sinner and need a Savior.
What does this mean? We are born into sin (because of Adam and Eve). Naturally, we do not have good hearts. Maybe according to the world, but not according to God’s standards. We came out of the womb making bad choices. We struggle our entire lives with bad thoughts. Essentially, no human being is close to being perfect. People don’t like to admit this, but we mess up all the time.
Have you ever stolen? Cheated? Were mean to someone? Lied? Got mad at someone (even in your mind)? Someone might say, well I’m still better than that other person. How do you know? What’s your measurement? God sets the measurement. Humans can’t. And since humans could not get it right for hundreds of years, God decided to do it for us. Innocent blood had to be shed to fulfill his redemptive plan for humanity. That’s why Jesus came. Church word: we call this substitutionary atonement. He substituted His life to atone (sacrifice, absorb wrath) for our sins.
Scripture to read
Read Paul’s summary of the Gospel-Jesus came, died, rose again, reappeared, and ascended. (1 Corinthians 15)
Read Peter’s Sermon and what he says about seeking forgiveness. (Acts 2:37-43)
3. Admit that it’s time to change…and actually do it.
What does this mean? Once you put your faith in Jesus that He is our Lord and Savior, take responsibility for being a sinner, and decide to be “born-again,” then it’s time to commit to a new lifestyle.
Becoming a Follower of Christ is about faith and repentance. We don’t just identify as Christians, we actually follow his teachings. Repentance means to change our mind, attitude, beliefs, & perspectives. Once our mindset changes, so do our behaviors. When we have a heart conversion, we should see a conversion in our actions.
We self-deny. We self-sacrifice. We self-discipline. Just like in fitness, if you value a healthy lifestyle, you change how you spend your time, talents, and treasures to pursue that lifestyle.
I’m not saying it will be easy.
I’m not saying it will happen overnight.
I’m not saying you’ll be perfect and never mess up again.
In fact, it’s a lifestyle, we’ll never get it “right” or arrive. It’s about the pursuit of sanctification for the rest of our lives.
It’s about putting our hands to the plow and never looking back because we want to be FIT for the kingdom of God.
It is about the great commission to make disciples, to teach, to evangelize, to baptize, to spread the message to the ends of the earth. (Matthew 28:18-20)
It is about tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit and using the gifts he gives us. (1 Cor 12)
It is about praying for healing and miracles and for people to be delivered.
It is about doing works because faith without works is dead. And works without faith is not faith. (James 2)
It is about the continual process of examining ourselves, being cleansed by confessing, repenting, and repeatedly asking for forgiveness of our sins. Just like muscles, when we are broken down , God can repair us and make us stronger by his Grace, Love, and Mercy (Psalm 51).
It is about pursuing Jesus through His Word and Spirit.
It is about separating ourselves from the world even while we’re still in it. (John 17:14)
It is about discipleship.
It is about the sacraments of baptism and communion.
It is about being unified with the body of Christ and fully committed to a church community, no matter how big or small.
It is about experiencing and displaying the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
It is about serving others.
It is about giving cheerfully and sacrificially.
It is about praying the Our Father and always submitting to God’s will. (Matthew 6:9-13)
It is about staying connected to the vine because we are the branches and apart from God we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
It’s all of it.
One more thing…
I said I wouldn’t get complicated but I know someone came across this blog and is thinking, what about the thief on the cross? He simply had faith and Christ brought him to paradise.
My response is yes, but you’re not on a cross. You’re not seconds away from dying. You’re alive. And as long as you’re on this earth, it’s time to DO WORK. The gospel did not come to just stay inside of you. Our relationship with Christ is not private. The gospel comes to you, to get through you, to others…in what you say, how you act, and the way you live your life. If you are seconds away from dying, then yes, that’s a different story. Thank the Lord for his wonderful mercy! But if you’re walking, talking, and breathing, then we have a mission to fulfill.
If that thief would have come off that cross for a second chance at earthly life, I’m sure his life would have looked vastly different. If he was saved, then he would have been repentant as he ran around town shouting the Good News and challenging others to accept a new way of life and change their ways too! If he wasn’t fully repentant and did not change his ways, then I would question if he was truly saved.
Hey, I could be wrong. And I’m always open to being corrected. It’s impossible to cover all context in an article. So feel free to email me with any objections, questions, or reflections (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*Maturing in your faith? Yes, the more I get into the Bible, the more I realize how far off I am and I wonder, am I really saved?! Here’s where I’m at: analyze your desire. Do you earnestly desire Christ to be the center of your life? Do you eagerly participate in this commitment to die to self and live in Christ? That desire is what drives our daily, consistent pursuit to genuinely let the Holy Spirit lead our lives so that over time we sin less, and become more Holy like our father, in the way we love Him and Others (the greatest commandments).
Desire leads to putting into place new habits, disciplines, systems, and practices. Just like in fitness, if you truly desire to be fit, you move things around to make room for it in your schedule. You cut back on other things to spend money on a gym membership and healthy food. If you value it, you make it happen. I always say, show me your schedule and your bank account and I’ll show you what you value.
My humble encouragement is that if you are truly saved, and value your relationship with Jesus, you’ll make room for Him. You will desire to continually grow in your knowledge, understanding, and experience of Him through Word, Spirit, and Community. It’s a constant battle. But if those things aren’t happening at least in small ways, consistently over time, then it would make me go hmmmmmm.
**Also, saved from what? Great question. God’s wrath. Eternal judgment. Spending life after death in hell instead of Heaven. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. I wish there was another way too. It’s Christianity. The Word of God. Jesus himself says it.