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A New Beginning!

Adapted from Handbook For Hungry Hearts, by Edmund E. Wells

“What must I do to be saved?”  (Acts 16:30)

    This question from the Philippian jailer is still in the hearts and minds of searchers today. The apostle Paul’s answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved,” was so simple that it’s easy to stumble over just how simple it is. Paul understood immediately that the jailer had laid a proper foundation for faith.

The question, “What must I do to be saved?” did three things:

  • It revealed the jailer’s repentance -- frustration and sorrow concerning the way he had been living, and fear of the consequences
  • It confessed awareness of his lost condition -- a sinner in need of salvation
  • It demonstrated that he was crying out for deliverance
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    REPENTance, according to Webster’s dictionary means: “To change one’s mind with regard to past or intended action, conduct, etc., on account of regret or dissatisfaction,” and “to amend or resolve to amend one’s life as a result of contrition for one’s sins.” It is then, a mental turning from known wrong or sin to righteousness and God.

    For those who find it difficult to make this change of mind, we recommend that they carefully consider Christ’s great love and sacrifice for the world, and then, in turn, think about how they have lived in light of all that He has done for us. This should lead to repentance... “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret...” (2 Corinthians 7:10a). Such sorrow and regret is typically referred to as ‘conviction’.

    Having repented, one must CONFESS his sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). You don’t need to recall or make a list of all of your sins -- this may simply be a collective confession. The tax collector in Luke 18:13 merely prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner,” and the Bible says he “...went home justified before God.” God’s will is not made up of independent units. Consequently, if we break any part of His will, we have broken it all. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10). Therefore, we each confess “I am guilty of breaking the law and will of God.”

    Having repented and confessed, we simply ASK God for forgiveness. This is usually closely associated with confession. The tax collector, previously mentioned, made his plea for mercy and his confession of sin in one small statement. This asking need not be lengthy or repetitious. Luke 11:9 tells us, “Ask, and it shall be given you”, and James 4:2 indicates, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.”  

    After we have done these things we are at the same point as the Philippian jailer and are ready to BELIEVE. Our faith must reflect two essential elements. 

  • First, believe that God exists. By coming to Him, we have already displayed our belief in the existence of God. (Many already have this much faith. But, while it is commendable, it falls short of producing salvation, for “...the devils also believe and tremble.” (James 2:19). 
  • And, we must now believe that Christ rewards us for seeking Him by becoming our personal Savior, “...anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” [emphasis added] (Hebrews 11:6).

    The first four steps to salvation have involved a moving of man toward God; the fifth step is moving of God toward man. “Come near to God, and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8).

    The EVIDENCE of our salvation, like our faith, has two facets. First, we have an inner assurance that convinces us that we are saved. “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart...” (1 John 5:10a). The same Spirit that caused such discomfort by making us aware of our sin, now brings comfort by assuring us of salvation. Finally, our lives reflect an outer transformation that convinces others -- “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    If you will faithfully follow these suggestions you will find a joy that satisfies every longing, and if you continue to walk in the ways of Christ you will find Heaven awaiting you at the end of a happy life. “...he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22).

Here is a suggested prayer...

    Dear God, be merciful to me a sinner, for Your word tells me that all have sinned and come short of your glory. I turn from sin to Your righteousness, for unless I repent I know I shall perish. Because I have confessed my sin, I believe that you are faithful and just to forgive me, and to make me a new creation! Thank you because I can now call you Father, for you have made me your child.

If you prayed that prayer, and meant what you prayed, God has given you a new beginning in life. On the word of Jesus Christ, “...there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10b). We encourage you to find a group of fellow believers to worship God, study His word, and to help you in your new life walking with Jesus! May He richly bless you!

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More helpful information about salvation and the Christian life...

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nothing is impossible with God What is impossible with men

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