Lesson 1 – What it means to be saved
You’ve heard the expression, “God moves in mysterious ways.” As a newcomer to the faith, perhaps you’ve been tempted to add: And Christians rely on mysterious clichés! People of faith often seem to converse in a language all their own. They’re likely to share their “testimony” with you, recount the moment when they were “saved,” talk about having “assurance,” and marvel at being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” They embrace you and your “decision for Christ” and celebrate the fact that you, too, have been “saved.”
Confused by all this jargon? Are you uncertain as to whether you’ve been saved from something or saved for something?
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.
—Romans 10:9, niv
This is God’s assurance that if you believe in Jesus and have faith in the gospel, salvation is yours. But God doesn’t save you merely to take you to heaven. He wants your love, allegiance, and sacrifice while you are here on earth. You have been saved for a purpose, and that purpose is to share your new life in service to Jesus Christ. A relationship to Jesus, described in John 15, is similar to that of a branch and a vine. You are connected to Jesus; your life depends on him. You’ve exchanged your old existence for a new one. You’ve become a new person, as surely as if you have been “born again”—another favorite expression in the Christian vocabulary.
The Bible also says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). This passage sounds easy enough until you consider its implications. The verse is asking you to believe in something that you can neither see nor touch. To believe is to have faith, and faith is sometimes discounted as silly ￼sentimentalism or murky mysticism in this age of research, evidence, facts, and proof “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
The Meaning and Nature of Faith
Read this statement and decide if it is true: “Xdsr xm lkkf ssddkfe nxr, xmz, mckjh, hicaroutu, mpkffge.” Your reply, naturally, is “I don’t know what you said. How can I believe that the statement is true when I can’t understand it?” Here is an essential ingredient of true faith. If you are to believe that something is true, you must know what that something is. You may not understand all aspects of it, but you must know something about it.
Many people say they believe in God, but when asked what they believe about God, they have no reply. Their faith has no content. Saving faith says, “I have put aside all else, … in order that I can have Christ, and become one with him, no longer counting on being saved by being good enough … but by trusting Christ to save me; for God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith—counting on Christ alone” (Phil 3:8–9, The living bible).
You can’t truly believe in Christianity without a knowledge of the gospel and a familiarity with the teachings of Christ. At the heart of the Christian faith is the good news of eternal life in Jesus Christ. You are a Christian if you have heard the good news and received Christ by inviting him into your life, asking him to forgive you of your sins. A second consideration is that you also must see applications for Christ’s teachings in your life. Only when you feel connected to your Savior in every aspect of your daily routine will you know that you have a personal, meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Love Connection
Some people are confused today as to the most important component of the Christian life. They argue that to have a correct theology or doctrine is essential. The Pharisees were classic examples of this type of religious followers. They were very concerned about rules of conduct. Social and political correctness were their specialties. Often their hearts were filled with intolerance toward other people because they hadn’t discovered that the most important aspect of a person’s life can be summed up in one word: “love.” Jesus tells us to love one another, and the apostle Paul repeats the lesson in 1 Corinthians, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1, niv).
The expression of love is positive proof that you have been saved and that you believe in Jesus Christ. John 13:34–35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all [people] will know that you are my disciples” (rsv).
Faithful Christian believers—people who have been saved—are easily recognized by the love they exhibit for one another.