Chapter OneHow "Being Saved" Makes
Welcome to the family! You are a new believer, and
you have joined the family of God! We're glad you're
here. Now maybe you're wondering what exactly has
happened to you. Well, I'm glad you asked!
You have been "saved"! That means you were
headed toward death, but now you're safe and sound.
We can probably all remember someone coming
up to us sometime in our life with a wild look in his
eyes and exclaiming, "Are you saved?"
We may have laughed it off, thinking it was such a
sensationalistic term to use. After all, before coming
to Jesus you weren't in a burning house or lost at sea.
You were just living life one day at a time. Sure, it
wasn't as good as you wanted it to be, but you weren't
in a desperate situation.
Or at least you didn't think you were.
But in reality, the term "saved" is a very apt description
of what happens to people who put their faith in
Jesus Christ. Your real situation was actually worse
than being in a burning house or a stormy sea. Before
coming to Christ, you were separated from God and
on your way to a certain judgment in a very real place
called hell! But God reached out to you and, quite liter-ally,
saved you. The Bible uses that word to describe
• Jesus came to "save his people from their sins"
• "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is
the power of God for the salvation of everyone
who believes" (Romans 1:16, NIV).
• "There is salvation in no one else! There is no
other name in all of heaven for people to call
on to save them" (Acts 4:12).
• "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved" (Acts 2:21, NIV).
Saved . From What?
Have you ever heard someone's dramatic story of
coming to know Christ and, in telling it, his old life al-most
sounds more appealing then the new one? He
will describe in vivid detail all the adventures and exploits
of sin and then, as sort of a P.S. say (yawn), "But
now that I'm saved I read the Bible, go to church, and
If this is the case, you are dealing with a person
who does not really realize the significance of salvation,
someone who does not understand what he or
she has been saved from.
Do you really know how significant salvation is?
Do you realize what God has done for you?
Do you know how powerful and sufficient Jesus
Christ and his salvation really are?
Okay, so what does it actually mean to be saved?
To be "saved" means you were in a serious, life-threatening
situation. You were facing judgment and
eternity in hell. But salvation, bought for you by the
death of Jesus Christ on the cross in your place, has
saved you from judgment and from hell. Romans 5:9-
Since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us
from God's judgment. For since we were restored
to friendship with God by the death of his Son
while we were still his enemies, we will certainly
be delivered from eternal punishment by his
life. [emphasis mine]
Saved . For What?
Not only has Christ saved you from a future judgment,
he is offering you abundant life. You don't need
to live day by day as you were before you were saved,
for now every day is filled with adventure for God.
Everything you need in life is found in a relation-ship
with God! Paul wrote to the Colossians, "For in
Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, and
you are complete through your union with Christ"
(Colossians 2:9-10). The word "complete" could be
translated "to satisfy, to cram, finish, to fill up." In
other words, through salvation, God is giving you
more than you could ever fully utilize.
Often new believers (and sometimes older ones
too) initially doubt that salvation has really come to
them. The devil whispers, "Do you really think God
would save someone like you? You psyched yourself
into this. It's not real. You can trusssssssst me!"
This is nothing new.
Satan has been using this routine since the Garden
of Eden, when he essentially said to Eve, "God did not
say what you think he said."
Once you have trusted Jesus, you must realize that
your salvation is not based on how you feel, but
rather on what God has said.
Here are a few verses assuring you of your salvation.
• "All who believe in the Son of God know that
this is true" (1 John 5:10).
• "For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our
hearts and tells us that we are God's children"
• "I assure you, those who listen to my message
and believe in God who sent me have eternal
life. They will never be condemned for their
sins, but they have already passed from death
into life" (John 5:24).
• "I write this to you who believe in the Son of
God, so that you may know you have eternal
life" (1 John 5:13).
Notice that the last verse does not say "that you mayfeel that you have eternal life" or "that you may hope
(if God is in a really good mood) that you have eternal
life." It says, "That you may know you have eternal
You have been given the certainty of a new life, but
that may mean some changes from how you used to
live. But God also gives you a new power to live a new
life. Romans 8:11-12 says, "The Spirit of God, who
raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as he
raised Christ from the dead, he will give life to your
mortal body by this same Spirit living within you. So,
dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation whatsoever
to do what your sinful nature urges you to do."
God wants to give you a complete and abundant
life, but like light and darkness, God and sin will not
coexist. You cannot continue in your old sinful ways
and be pleasing to God. Your sin nature still exists,
and you will sin at times, but your desires and attitudes
need to change. This may mean making some
drastic changes in order to let God's light shine into
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing
salvation to all people. And we are instructed
to turn from godless living and sinful
pleasures. We should live in this evil world with
self-control, right conduct, and devotion to
God He gave his life to free us from every
kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his
very own people, totally committed to doing
what is right. (Titus 2:11-12, 14)
A truly saved person is "totally committed to doing
what is right." Notice, you do not need to be a perfect
person always doing what is right, but one who is
committed to trying, by the grace of God, to change.
When Christ lives in you, you are a different person!
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "What this means is
that those who become Christians become new per-sons.
They are not the same anymore, for the old life
is gone. A new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
As a new believer, there simply must be changes in
your life. Some people think that because they have
"prayed to receive Christ," they can pretty much live
as they please. They think they have taken care of
heaven, so they can "live like hell." Some try to straddle
these two worlds, but that just doesn't work. It's a
lot like getting in the ocean when it's really cold. It's
easier just to dive in or not get wet at all.
How do you know if you have truly become a
Christian? What's going on in your heart? What do
other people see in your attitudes and actions? God
sees your heart, but people around you see how
you're acting and if you're changing. James wrote,
"Now someone may argue, `Some people have faith;
others have good deeds.' I say, `I can't see your faith if
you don't have good deeds, but I will show you my
faith through my good deeds.' Do you still think it's
enough just to believe that there is one God? Well,
even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!
Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that
does not result in good deeds is useless?" (James 2:18-20).
Your faith must result in a changed life. Simply
believing is not enough; actions will prove your faith.
Unfortunately, some want to claim to be believers
but refuse to obey God's Word. Jesus made this
searching statement about the Pretenders out there.
"Not all people who sound religious are really godly.
They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't
enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is
whether they obey my Father in heaven" (Matthew
But what does this mean? It means if you are really
saved, there will be clear results in your life. Works
don't save anyone, but they are a good indication that
you are saved. Some of these "works" will be discussed
in the following chapters.
A Spiritual Check-Up
Let's do a little "Spiritual Check-up" on our lives. Following
are six indicators that you are living life as a
new believer. (All of these come from the book of
1. You confessed Jesus Christ as Lord.
"All who proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God have
God living in them, and they live in God" (1 John
Obviously, this is important. You don't go any-where
without this first step. You accepted Jesus
Christ. Now you need to tell someone else. You need
to openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is now your
Lord and Savior.
2. You are seeking to obey Christ's commands.
"This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his
commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of
God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has
overcome the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:3-4,
This is a problem for some people. They obey the
commands they want to obey, the ones that don't
conflict with the way they want to live. But Jesus said,
"You are My friends if you do whatever I command
you" (John 15:14, NKJV). You are to do whatever God
commands-not whatever you personally agree with
or whatever you find easy, but whatever he says.
Note also that verse 3 in 1 John says that "his commands
are not burdensome." You will not find the
Christian life to be miserable and confining. You will
not discover that God is out to spoil all your fun. In-stead,
when you truly know Jesus, you will have a new
outlook on life. You will have new God-given desires
to please him, and you will want to avoid that which
would displease him. Why? Because you love him.
And because you love him, you will be seeking to
obey his commands. You will not find them "burden-some."
In fact, obedience will bring you the best joy
3. You love and obey God's Word.
"But those who obey God's word really do love him.
That is the way to know whether or not we live in him"
(1 John 2:5).
In order to "obey God's word" you will have to
read and study it. You will need to develop the habit of
both Bible study and memorization, committing
yourself to learning the Word of God. Sadly, many
who have made commitments to Christ have never
developed a good habit of Bible study. If you do not
do that, you will be easy prey for the devil. The psalmist
wrote, "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I
might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11). I still have
permanently etched in my mind verses I committed to
memory as a teenager (which was a long time ago!).
Paul gave these words to a young man named Timothy.
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one
approved, a workman who does not need to be
ashamed and who correctly handles the word of
truth" (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV). You will find a later
chapter in this book that will help you learn how to get
into God's Word. It is important that you learn to love
the Bible, that it becomes a familiar book. God will
speak to you through his Word. You will need to be
4. You are miserable when you sin.
"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, be-cause
God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on
sinning, because he has been born of God" (1 John
The Greek translation of this verse would read,
"Everyone who has been born of God does not habitually
sin because his seed remains in him. And he is
not able habitually to sin, because out of God he has
Of course, this does not mean that you, as a Christian,
will be sinless. But you should be sinning less and
less. The Bible says that you need to repent of your sin.
The word repent speaks of changing the direction in
your life. This means when you really come to know
Jesus Christ, you turn from all known sin. Only you
can repent of your sin, and only God can forgive it.
Many have not taken this first, elementary step to-ward
Christ. They say they have "received Christ,"
but they have not repented. In order to truly receive,
you must also repent, because you must let go of one
thing in order to take hold of another. If you commit
a sin, and you feel miserable inside, then you can be
sure that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in
your life and is doing some housecleaning!
5. You keep yourself out of Satan's way.
"We know that those who have become part of God's
family do not make a practice of sinning, for God's
Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get
his hands on them" (1 John 5:18).
You are part of God's family and you are held securely,
but you do need to protect yourself. Some
people, places, and activities make it easier for the
devil to tempt you. Now that you've been delivered
from the kingdom of Satan, you have no desire to deliberately
get back into his clutches. So you may need
to change some ingrained patterns. Some friendships
will change or end. Some recreational activities need
to be replaced with something more wholesome. Re-member,
you're not giving up anything except what
tears you down and seeks to destroy you. And you can
replace all of those things with new friendships, new
activities, and new desires and goals that will be better
than you ever imagined!
6. You love other Christians.
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a
child of God. And everyone who loves the Father
loves his children, too" (1 John 5:1).
You might say, "Well, I haven't found a church I
like yet, and besides, I work all week and Sunday is my
only day off."
That's nothing more then a shallow excuse. You
will find the time for what is important to you. And if
you have truly been saved, gathering together with
God's people for fellowship will be a priority in your
God says, "And let us not neglect our meeting together,
as some people do, but encourage and warn
each other" (Hebrews 10:25).