Among Christians the term "got saved" is commonly used. The common meaning intended is that once you acknowledge you are a sinner and believe that our Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven you and washed you clean in his blood, you can never, no matter how you choose to live your life, have any risk of losing your salvation. You could accept Christ today, be washed clean and forgiven and tomorrow start an adulterous affair and still be assured of eternal salvation with no fear of ending your life in hell fire. That is an attractive theory to some but is that what the Holy Word of God teaches?
The King James Bible defines it's own words in various ways so an understanding of what various words mean is necessary.
1 John 5:13 - "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." Many words in English have two or more meanings depending on the context in which they are used. The word "believe" in the Scriptures can mean "faith" as it does in this text or a mere acknowledgement that something is true. In James 2:19 it says, "the devils also believe, and tremble." In James 2:19 the context shows that the word "believe" is a mere acknowledgement of fact.
In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul was writing to a church he had founded. In that church were members who believed that Jesus was the only one who could save them from hell fire and they had accepted his sacrifice and his blood to cleanse them from sin. Nevertheless, 1 Corinthians was not complimentary to them. The whole book of 1 Corinthians is well worth reading again and again but I'll list a few texts.
Romans 8:38-39 - "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." I agree that nothing can separate us from the love of God unless we, in the exercise of our free will, choose to follow Satan's leading.
John 10:27-30 - "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." Where I live there are many trees and each year bunches of robins and other birds build nests in the trees. There are also predators such as feral cats, raccoons, foxes, hawks and coyotes. The young birds are safe as long as they stay in their nest. Unfortunately, many times in their exercise of free will, they choose to leave the nest before they can fly and become a predator's meal. Though "no man" is able to pluck one of Jesus' sheep out of His or His Father's hand, His sheep in the exercise of their free will can choose to follow Satan's leading.
First Corinthians 5:1 says, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife."
If you read the King James Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, you will find many warnings against sin and its consequences. You won't find any place where it says you can accept Jesus' sacrifice once and continue to sin and still be "saved." In 1 Corinthians 6:11 it says church members had been "sanctified." How do we become sanctified?
First Corinthians 3:16-17 says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
First Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Notice that the members of the Corinthian church had accepted Christ's sacrifice but were in danger of being "deceived" and were told by Paul that if they continued sinful practices they would not be in the kingdom of God.
Martin Luther was one of the giants of the Protestant Reformation. It is recorded that one of his experiences started a chain of events in his life that led to his eventual separation from the Roman Catholic Church. To earn an indulgence, he was climbing Pilate's staircase in Rome on his knees when suddenly he remembered Romans 1:17 which says, "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Paul, in saying "it is written" was referring to Habakkuk 2:4 which says, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." Most of the time the faith in those texts is emphasized while less emphasis is placed on the just part. Exodus 23:7 says, "Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked." There are NUMEROUS references to "just," "justify" and "justice" in the Bible; much too many to list here. Use a Strong's Concordance and look up texts with those words and you will find that "just" means not sinning. It is fatal presumption to assume your faith will save you if you aren't living a just life.
James 2:20 - "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"
1 John 2:3-4 - "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
Revelation 22:14-15 - "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
Ezekiel 18:24 - "But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die." Notice that Ezekiel speaks of one who has been "righteous," i.e., saved, and says if they become unrighteous they will not live.
John 17:17 - "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." God's Word is the key to being sanctified. If you study His Word and comply with the instruction given with the power given you by the new birth, you will become sanctified.
So, what are the steps of salvation?
Psalms 119:11 - "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." You need to store His Word in your mind.
John 6:63 - "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." Quickeneth in this verse means to be alive and Jesus is saying His words, which are now recorded in the Bible, are both spirit and life.
1. You must be convinced that in your own strength you will be eternally lost and will end up in the lake of fire.
2. You must trust Christ to save you. In Acts 4:12 you can read that Peter filled with the Holy Ghost said regarding Jesus, "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
3. You must be sanctified. Remember that in John 17:17 Jesus said, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." To be changed you must be willing to read and follow the Word he gave you. Remember also what the Psalmist said in Psalms 119:11; "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." You should store the Word of God in your brain as a defense against sin. If you have good thoughts from the Word of God to meditate on, it will help you replace wicked thoughts. If you have time to watch sports on TV, spend an hour watching the news, etc., you have time to study God's Word. At the judgment God isn't going to care at all about how fast your car was or if you kept up on football scores. God also isn't going to accept the excuse that your pastor told you something and you believed a lie. God's Word has warned you not to be deceived. It is your responsibility to study God's Word for yourself.
4. You must daily confess your sins (preferably immediately after you commit them) to God, daily ask God to be converted again and daily ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit to combat sin. In 1 Corinthians 15:31 Paul said he died daily. As long as you live you will have to daily fight Satan and sin.
Before opening your Bible, pray and ask God for the illumination of the Holy Spirit in studying His Word. If you come to a passage difficult to understand rather than saying, "I don't believe," say, "I don't understand." In John 7:17 Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." If your goal is to find fault with God's Word or if you choose to ignore the message He gives you, you will be left in darkness.
© Martin J. Lohne 2018.