One of the classic Christmas movies that some of us watch is A Christmas Carol. You remember that in this story a man named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, as well as by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. By the end of the story, Scrooge is no longer a scrooge. Because of taking a different look at his past, present, and future, Scrooge changes his attitude and his life. I hope that by looking at your salvation past, present, and future, you too will change to be more like that of Jesus.
Let me begin with the obvious question. Do you have a salvation past? Is there a point and time in your past where Jesus saved you? If not, then after reading this article perhaps you will believe in Jesus and be saved. In John 3, there is a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus on how to be saved. Here are four beliefs from their conversation that will help you to be saved.
- In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus came from God.
John 3:1-2 says this. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’” John 3:1-2 (NIV)
This man Nicodemus is the same one that is mentioned later in John who helps to prepare the body of Jesus for burial. As a Jewish leader and Pharisee, Nicodemus says, “We know you are a teacher who has come from God.” Nicodemus was confident that Jesus came from God. His confidence was based upon the teaching of Jesus and the miracles Jesus performed. His confidence led him to seek out Jesus. The Bible teaches us that Jesus came from God. So what do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus came from God? If order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus came from God.
- In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus is God’s Son.
In John 3:16, Jesus says this. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)
This verse is foundational to our understanding of God, his love for us, and what Jesus has done for us. God gave the ultimate sacrifice, his only Son, out of his love for us. God did this so that Jesus could pay the price for punishment against sin. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is God’s Son. Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son? In order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus is God’s Son.
- In order to be saved, I must believe that I am guilty before God.
In John 3:18, Jesus says this. “People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18 (NCV)
John 3:16 above states that we will not perish if we believe. So why are we perishing to begin with? The reason we are perishing is that we are guilty. We are guilty of sinning against God, breaking his commands, and not keeping his instructions. Even if we only sinned one time in our life, we are guilty. Every human is guilty before God. If we refuse to believe in Jesus, we remain guilty. Our refusal to believe in Jesus brings God’s judgment against us. Do you believe that you are guilty before God? If you don’t believe that you are guilty before God, then believing in Jesus will not make sense to you. I encourage you to accept the truth that we all are guilty before God. This belief causes us to seek out help in Jesus. In order to be saved, you must believe that you are guilty before God.
- In order to be saved, I must believe that Jesus died for my sin.
As Jesus was talking with Nicodemus, he gave Nicodemus an illustration from history. In John 3:14, Jesus says this. “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole.” John 3:14 (NLT)
This refers to the story of Moses leading the Hebrew people through the wilderness. At one time, God sent a plague of poisonous snakes to punish the Hebrews for their rebellious attitude. But God also gave a rescue from the poisonous snakebites. The rescue was for Moses to make a bronze snake and place it up on a pole. Then anyone bitten by a snake could go look up at the bronze snake, and believe that God would heal them.
Jesus used this story to say that like the snake on a pole, he too would be placed on a cross and die there. Later, Jesus was placed on a cross and he died. Nicodemus along with Joseph took his body down from the cross and buried him. Three days after his death, Jesus came back to life. If we believe in Jesus, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the grave, then we will be healed of our guilt and sin.
Do you believe that Jesus died for your sin? Do you believe that he arose from the dead? In order to be saved, you must believe that Jesus died for your sin.
These are the beliefs we must agree to in order to be saved. And here are three benefits of being saved.
- I am rescued from my guilt and sin.
“God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 (NCV)
- I become a child of God.
“Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God.” John 3:6 (CEV)
- I have eternal life.
“Everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.” John 3:15 (CEV)
My invitation to you is this. Will you be saved by believing in Jesus? If you don’t have a salvation past, then I invite you today to believe in Jesus. Will you believe in Jesus?
Next week, we will look at Salvation Present.