How is a Person Saved?
There is much controversy about how a person gets saved. The Roman Catholics said that it is by faith plus works, the reformers said it is by grace alone through faith alone. However there has now been a change, the Pope has said it is by grace alone while many of the well-known protestants say that is by faith plus works.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones a well-known respected Bible teacher said that if you are preaching the true gospel then you will be accused of the same thing that the Apostle Paul was accused of. What was the Apostle Paul accused of? He was accused of saying that because we are not under law but under grace we can do what we want, sin as much as we like, that by sinning we are proving how great God's grace is. In other words that he was encourageing people to sin by promoting "cheap grace". Absolutely ridiculous of course to accuse Paul of suggesting that, and yet anyone preaching the same gospel will certainly be accused of either the same thing or something similar.
There are four things necessary on our part for us to receive eternal life. Repentance, belief, trust and receive.
The first thing we need to look at is the word “repentance”. What does it mean? The dictionary states that it is to “grieve for sins committed”, “A feeling of contrition or act of penance for sins committed”.
However many well-known evangelist say it is to “confess all known sin and forsake all sin” “To turn the back on everything in our past life that we know is wrong”. This is before one can take the first step towards becoming a Christian.
Now does it mean to be grieved for ones sins or does it mean to forsake all sin?
I would say we have to go with the dictionary definition. Now the problem is this, the New Testament was originally written in Greek (some say that Matthew was in Hebrew or Aramaic) so we need to know the meaning of the Greek word which we translate as repentance. The Greek word is Metanoia and it means to change one’s mind with afterthought or to think differently. So to be correct we must stick with this meaning and not twist it to mean something completely different. However to change ones mind can also imply a change in behaviour, if a person was driving the wrong way down a one way street and he realised this, it would naturally follow that he would change direction as soon as possible. If a person understands what they are doing is wrong and hurting someone, once they feel convicted about it, then hopefully they will be grieved and change their ways. These are all natural reactions to a true change of mind. However any reaction to a change of mind depends on the circumstances involved, what I mean is, did the change of mind happen before or after the intended action? Before the intended action will probably leave no after effect, no grieving or regretting. To "repent" after the action may have an emotional response.
Bible says, "Come let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your
sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red
as crimson they shall be as wool".
God is encouraging us to use our minds to reason with Himself on what
He has to offer. Man has to be in control, so to accept a free
of eternal life when he doesn't deserve it is too difficult for him, he
has to have a hand in his own salvation, he has to earn it in some
way. To recognise that there is nothing he can do except put his
trust in Jesus who has already done it all means a complete change of
mind. Not only that but Christ will save us from the power of sin
as well as the penalty for sin. Do we want a new life? Sin
seperates from God but do we really want Jesus Christ to free us from
its power. It's a big decision that we have to make but if we do
want to be free from sin then we need to put our trust in Jesus.
With salvation a true change of mind will result in a person turning from unbelief and putting their trust in Jesus, this is what is needed for salvation, any reaction will depend on the persons emotional state and the Holy Spirit's convicting power. The natural response , however, is to receive the word with gladness and joy (Acts 2 v 41, Acts 8 v 8). Gladness is the natural response to the gospel message. The gospel message is not, "stop sinning in order to be saved" but rather that God in Christ Jesus has forgiven us of all sin, we need to believe it. It does not necessarily follow that when a person is convinced in the mind that they are a sinner and they need to change that they will be able to stop sinning. Sin is something that a person is slave to and that is why we need Jesus to save us from sin (Romans 7 v 22-25). Sin reigns over a persons life until they put their trust in Jesus to save them, once they have received Jesus as their Saviour they are under grace and no longer a servant to sin. This does not mean that a Christian will not sin but sin is now no longer an issue as far as their standing with God is concerned, they are still justified before God (a lack of knowledge of our position in Christ may result in a guilty conscience which will affect our relationship with God). If a child of God continually sins then God will chastise them, they may even die and also lose their reward in heaven. God's desire is that we mature in holiness.
So biblical repentance means a change in our thinking which will happen when we believe with the heart. Emotional reaction as a result of our change of mind is possible but not necessary to prove our repentance. Repentance is to do with the heart and God alone sees the heart. Repentance might be triggered by a fear of God's wrath and the fear of going to hell, once a person has put their trust in Jesus then their eyes will be opened to the awfulness of sin and the wretchedness of themselves.
The devil blinds the minds of the unconverted (2 Corinthians 4 v 4) so something has to change the mind. It may be something supernatural as in Acts chapter2 or it may be a death bed experience, or the fear of God's wrath, or even through reasoning as Paul did on his missionary journeys. Sometimes it is when a person is seeking as in the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8 v 34 or Cornelius in Acts chapter 10.
So first a person is convinced in the mind that they need to be right with God. Secondly they need to know that there is nothing that they can do as far as good works go that can make them right with God. Thirdly, God has done everything for them through Jesus Christ , now they have to believe on Him.
John 3 v 16 says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. The whole emphasis is on believing on the person of Jesus Christ as the object of our faith. It is not in a set of rules or do’s and don’ts but believing on Jesus Himself as the Son of God.
If a person
truly believes in the heart that Jesus is the Son of God, therefore equal with
God (equal in essence but as the Son He is submissive to the Father) and that He
came and died on the cross to save them from their sins and give them eternal
life. That He is risen from the dead and is now with the Father in heaven. When
they put their trust in Him to save them, then that
person is saved. What they recognise is that they cannot save
themselves, no amount of effort on their part can eradicate sin from
their life, they need someone else to save them from their sins and
that person is Jesus, God's Son, God manifest in the flesh, who was
sent to save us from
sin. He achieved that by taking upon Himself the wrath of God
against sin and dying on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin.
When we believe this and trust Him to save us we are saved. We
receive Jesus as our Saviour when we put our trust in Him.
Christ gives us His Spirit who indwells us.
John 1 v 12 says, "But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name".
Colossians 2 v 6 says, "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in Him".
Romans 8 v 9 says, "But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His". Galatians 3 v 2 says, "This only would I learn of you, received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?". Galatians 4 v 6 says, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father". Ephesians 3 v 17 says, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith".
John 3 v 3 says, "Except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom
John 3 v 6 says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit".
person needs to know is that when we have
faith in Jesus we receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 26 v 18, Acts 13 v
38, 2Corinthians 5 v 19, Colossians 2 v 13, 1 John 2 v 12, Ephesians 1
v 7, Ephesians 4 v 32), all our sins are forgiven and blotted out, we
are a brand new creature and have a brand new start.
What happens when a person truly believes with their heart and puts their trust in Jesus Christ to save them is that the Holy Spirit comes into their heart and makes them a brand new creature, what we call being born again of the Spirit. It is at this point, when the Spirit comes into their heart that they are saved.
By receiving Jesus Christ as their Saviour they are automatically forgiven of all their trespasses, God has forgiven them but they need to receive that forgiveness, when they receive Jesus as their Saviour they also receive forgiveness of sins.
Finally, concerning salvation, repentance, belief, trust and receive are all the same thing.