Many people profess to be christians and it seems in Zimbabwe it is the in thing to do at the moment, to be seen going to church on Sunday, posting on FB etc. Most are not saved. They don’t know what they have to do to be saved. On the surface they seem knowledgeable about christianity dropping a verse or two. Beyond the parroting what the pastor or prophet says, there is no biblical foundation in their faith. Some are actually sincere and looking for salvation while the majority only seek to worship God on their conditions, what suits them and most of the ‘churches’ sprouting around are now customising the message to cater for this ‘please me first’ majority.
It is imperative to go back to the bible for the standard of salvation, so that we do not worship ignorantly. Feeling in your heart that you are saved is not a truthful gauge and can lead to deception. So what must one do to be saved and to be sure that they are saved?
Hear the Gospel (Romans 10:13-17)
One must first hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the good news. The good news being that Jesus Christ is the son of God. He gave up up his seat at the right hand of God and he came to earth and lived in the flesh. Being in the flesh he was tempted by the devil and suffered trials and tribulations just like any other person.
His sole mission on earth was to be a sacrifice for every single person in the world. He died for our sins. He was buried and was in the grave until the third day. But he conquered death by being raised from the dead on the third day. And through his death we now have life. After raising from the dead he went back to heaven and he has promised to come back and take all those who have believed in him.
Believe in Jesus (John 8:24, Romans 5:8:)
Believing is not just an acknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of God, or that he died for our sins. It involves much more than that. The demons also believe and tremble.
What sets us apart from demons who also believe in Christ? We must put our trust wholly in Jesus Christ by being obedient to his commandments. In believing this message of the gospel it also leads to an understanding that one is lost in sin and only Jesus Christ can save him from this treacherous state.
Much of the preaching in the multitudes of ‘churches’ that have sprouted up in Zimbabwe no longer depend on the simplicity of the gospel to ‘cut to the heart’ of its hearers. Instead there seems to be a quest to shock and awe by ‘miracles, signs and wonders’ so that the people are not convicted by what they hear but by what they see, which they perceive and are led to believe is the ‘manifestation of God’s power’. They believe ‘because they saw’. This foundation of faith is false, hence all that will be built on such will be false and will not stand. Faith comes from hearing the word of God.
Repent of your sins (2 Corinthians 7:10)
On the day of Pentecost when Peter preached to the multitude of nations present. Many who heard this sermon believed the message of the gospel and they were ‘cut to the heart’. They then asked ‘What shall we do?’. Peters answer was repent and be baptised everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Why must they repent and be baptised? For the remission of their sins. To repent is to change, to turn away from completely. We have grown up under different cultures, adopted certain lifestyles and developed various traditions. If these come in conflict with the teaching of Christ then we must change. Repentance is probably the most challenging step in being saved. Because we have to let go of ideas and habits we have held on to for maybe decades, things we have done every day of our lives that it has become our second nature. Re evaluate the company that we keep, our conduct. This may leave us at par with those closest to us.
Confess Christ (Romans 10:10)
After making a commitment to change, one must then confess that Jesus Christ is the son of God. He must make this declaration in public, by his own mouth in front of witnesses. Unfortunately some are teaching that this confession alone is what saves. One such belief is in the form of the ‘sinners prayer’. A prayer that an unbeliever is instructed to recite. After which he is told that his sins have been forgiven and he is now saved. But no, their sins are not forgiven at that point nor are they forgiven from just hearing the word or believing in Jesus. They are only saved, forgiven of their sins after baptism.
Baptised in Water (Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21)
Once you have heard the gospel, you believe Jesus is the son of God, you have repented of your wrong doing and have confessed, then you show your obedience first through the act of baptism.
Baptism is a complete burial in water. It is not walking underneath a waving flag or being sprinkled on the head with water.
When Jesus Christ died he was buried and he rose on the third day from the grave to assume his position at the right hand of God where he rules his kingdom. When we are baptised we are putting to death the old person who we were, burying the past and being washed clean by the waters of baptism. When we are raised from the waters we come out a new creature, and we are added to God’s kingdom which is the church and assume the position of his children. No longer will our past sins be recalled. They are wiped away.
God seals us as his own with the Gift of the Holy Spirit which each believer who has been baptised receives immediately after baptism as an anointing. There is no other time where you will miraculously receive the Holy Spirit eg after praying for it or having hands laid on you to receive it, or any work that you have to do to earn it.
No person is saved before baptism. Baptism comes before the forgiveness of sins. Jesus himself makes it very clear when he says “he who believes and is baptised will be saved – Mark 16:16: ” He doesn’t say he who believes or has faith is saved and may be baptised.
Remain faithful (I Corinthians 9:24:, Revelation of John 2:10)
Once you have been baptised you have been saved. Your sins have been forgiven. You have been born to a new life. However there is a condition to this salvation. It is not automatic that once you are saved you will go to heaven, that you can live your life any way you like because you are ‘sealed’.
It is the beginning of a spiritual journey of which it is likened to a race. Only those who partake in the race and finish the race will be rewarded. You must run the race according to the rules, and you must finish the race. You must continue in the faith being obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ until the very end. Trials and tribulations will come to discourage you but you must persevere to the very end.
Conclusion (Acts 17:30, II Peter 3:9)
The word has gone out to all corners of the world. Today God calls all people to repent, we are without excuse. In the past he winked at ignorance but today he calls all men everywhere to repent. The day of salvation is now. If this has just been a reminder of what you already know and are practising then continue in the faith. If not, do not delay. Get up and be baptised for the remission of your sins.