From my YouTube channel, TheMetalHero94 writes:
Hi, really interesting topic. I’d like to know something. Many Christians talk about salvation saying that the only way to be saved is by proclaiming Christ as lord and savior. However, I do not really understand how that works. I’ll explain, most of the believers I know have said that to me, you know, that you must accept Jesus as your savior. However, this same people are always spreading hate, judging others, complaining about everything, etc. It surprises me they say something like that and do not even practice what Jesus Christ teaches, how can you be saved by accepting Jesus and not even working on your own behavior? When it comes to accepting Christ, I’ve always thought it was about applying his teachings to your life, and man, I’ve got really interesting experiences, a feeling of relief, love and happiness that cannot be found in the material world.
Would you mind telling what “Accepting Christ as lord and savior” means to you? :) Cheers.
Sure thing, MetalHero!
Before I answer, let me get grounded on a couple things.
We Are All Lost
First, let me say we ALL need saving. We all fall grossly short of the glory of God. We all have sin. Per Paul’s letter to the Romans 3:9-18:
“For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.'”
Keep in mind, as Paul quotes from Psalms 14 and other Old Testament verses here, he was including himself in this description of our fallen state.
Our best deeds are as filthy rags before our Lord’s holiness (Isaiah 64:6). As we continue to grow in our relationship with God, we begin to more clearly comprehend his magnitude, power and love for us. As we begin to get a glimpse of this, we also begin getting a sense for our smallness, dullness and pollutedness. The more you know God, the more humble you become, ultimately.
It is from this spirit of humility that true Christians should be operating from–not from a spirit of haughty self-righteousness sometimes seen in unregenerate Christians (Matthew 7:5). Now, I’m not saying Christians who are experiencing regeneration in meaningful ways can’t falter or backslide; they certainly do. Cling to Romans 12:2:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
You’re likely already experiencing this, as can be seen by your statement, “I’ve got really interesting experiences, a feeling of relief, love and happiness that cannot be found in the material world.” If materialistic concerns are beginning to lose their grip on you, this is evidence you are moving away from the physical and beginning to answer the spiritual call of the Father. This is fantastic! You may be interested in reading St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle for a good map of the soul’s evolution toward God.
I believe this renewal Paul speaks of is where many folks stumble. If you go through a regenerative experience and allow yourself to be pulled back into degenerative living, your fall will be even greater than if you hadn’t been saved at all. This is why it is so important we dig into Scripture and seek baptism upon being “born again” in Christ.
Be careful to avoid the trap of discarding the truth of Jesus Christ because you see self-professed “Christians” behaving badly. That is to fall prey to what’s called an ad hominem fallacy. “Ad hominem” is a Latin term that means “against the man” and an ad hominem fallacy is where we discount a message based on the character or circumstances surrounding the person delivering the message. Again, I’ll bring you back to the verses I opened this message with, Romans 3:9-18. Not one of us is worthy. “No, not one.”
Why Do We Need A Savior?
Secondly, sometimes, folks ask why we even need a savior. Surely God wouldn’t have made mankind so completely broken and faulty if he was a perfect God, right? Well, as we see in Adam’s fall, things were made perfect, however once Adam and Eve chose against God, sin entered the world. God gives his created beings free will. The choirs of angels have struggled with this. Humanity has struggled with this. Certainly there is a purification that happens through this struggle, but there is also a sifting between those who cleave to God and those who reject him. According to Romans 1:18-25, all know him in their hearts:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Why Doesn’t God Just Make Us in a Saved Condition?
So, let’s answer the question why would a perfect God make imperfect wretches like us? Instead of his perfection being passed onto us, could it not be implied our imperfection is a reflection of God’s short-comings? Essentially, the notion is, “If the design is flawed, the Designer is flawed.” This is a funny one I’ve seen atheists use. The argument is a reversal. It subjects the perfect and holy Father to our own reptilian wisdom and sense of justice.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Meditate on that for a second. “As the heavens are higher than the earth.” How big is the universe? Those heavens. Soak in that for a moment.
Back to Adam and Eve. They walked with God himself. They were pure creations in a “saved” condition. If angels (also created beings with free will) can err, apparently so can mankind. And so we did. And so we do.
What Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior Means to Me
So the foundation has been set. We are all sinners. We all need saving. We cannot save ourselves.
For many years, I maintained a relationship with God but I went around Jesus to do it. I thought Jesus was a great teacher and a great example for us to follow. I knew God wanted a personal relationship with me but I still wasn’t clear on the Trinity, so I simplified things and just focused on God the Father. Then one Sunday morning, my pastor’s sermon slapped me awake with:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
That sermon brought out in me a hunger to know Jesus–to study his example. As I reacquainted myself with Scripture, it became painfully obvious there was a huge gap in the account of Christ’s life in the Bible. Only now do I realize this is by design. (Matthew 24:35 is proof of this.) If we could follow Christ’s path step-by-step, we would continue to chase him under our own power instead of allowing ourselves to be shaped by God through faith. This is why so many other methods or false religions for reaching God lead to destruction.
In John 14, Jesus is very clear:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
In my three-day salvation prayer experience, I had to understand this and renounce my previous errant attempts. Certainly there was more renouncing than understanding when I first moved through this, but the more I get into God’s Word, the more I understand this. Even writing this response to you has helped me soak in this truth more. So, thank you for asking!