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Have you ever been saved?

By REV. DANNY GODDARD - For The Courier-Times

I think everyone wants to go to heaven! Yet, many Scriptures warn us, verses like, “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Apparently, in order to one day get to heaven, something must happen today on earth!

Jesus instructed Nicodemus, “You must be born again!” (John 3:7)

The Apostle Paul shows the Romans that salvation is by faith and is for everyone. In Romans 10:9-10, he wrote, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

There must be a decision, a turning point, a crisis in one’s life! This usually begins with an overwhelming feeling of guilt!

HAVE YOU EVER FELT THE CONVICTION?

We’ve heard about amazing grace—grace that saves, sanctifies, and sustains. But that all begins with “prevenient” grace, “grace that goes before” salvation.” Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44)

An important ministry of the Holy Spirit is that of conviction. (John 16:8) What does conviction feel like? It’s the pounding of the heart! It’s an overwhelming awareness that all is not well! It’s the feeling that the preacher is preaching right at you! It’s that desire to stay away from church!

Once convicted, one must do something! “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37-38) The thing to do is to pray the prayer of repentance.

HAVE YOU EVER PRAYED THE PRAYER?

After the convicted people had asked Peter what they should do, he responded, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38)

John the Baptist was put out with his baptismal candidates, even calling them a “brood of vipers!” (Luke 3:7) They had not repented. It doesn’t matter who my Grandma was, or how much I tithe, or how faithful to church I am, or how often I read my Bible! To be saved, I must pray the prayer confessing my sins, admitting I am wrong, and asking God for forgiveness. My fear is that some of our churches have “Christians” who never prayed the prayer!

I was preaching this one night and stressed that whether you remember the date or not, you should recall that at some point in your life, you prayed the prayer. At the close of that service, I had the entire congregation stand and repeat the sinner’s prayer after me. The next week a longtime, 80-some year old church member came to my study. Tearfully, he said, “For over 50 years, I’ve been living a lie! I had never prayed the prayer!” He went on to say that when he prayed that prayer along with everyone else in that service, he sensed a peace that he had never experienced before.

We are to “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) Discipleship is simply a journey with Jesus, bringing me to my last question,

HAVE YOU EVER STARTED THE JOURNEY?

Some think living for Jesus will be easy, but remember, our new life is Satan-opposed! It’s important that we don’t get saved, then quit church! We don’t get converted, then turn our backs on God! We don’t repent, then retreat! So how do we actually live the Christian life? Paul said, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) Jesus lives the life through us, as long as we trust Him.

I hope you’re among the saved today. If not, pray that simple prayer, invite Jesus into your heart, find a church, and make a difference for Him!

The Rev. Danny Goddard is senior pastor at New Castle First Church of the Nazarene. He is a regular contributor to the Faith Perspective column.