When someone asks you if you are saved, what do you tell them? Is your answer somewhere along the lines of: “I do a lot of good things” or “I prayed a prayer” or “I was baptized” or “I believe in God”? It turns out that none of those answers explain if (or how) you are saved.
Let’s investigate these claims further.
1. “I do a lot of good things.”
You can do a lot of good things – you can go on mission trips, volunteer to rebuild someone’s home after a devastating hurricane, tithe every Sunday, and volunteer with the children’s ministry – and still not be saved. God clearly states that your works can’t save you from going to Hell.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
– Ephesians 2:8-9
Ephesians 2:8-9 explains that God saves us by grace through faith – and not by any works we do, which keeps us from holding records of every good thing we do and comparing that list to our neighbor’s. Titus also explains that it’s not by anything we do.
“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…”
– Titus 3:4-5a
Titus 3:4-5a explains that any good works that we have done did not save us – instead, it was God’s mercy. After all, if you’ve even broken one of the laws given, you’ve broken them all (James 2:10).
If you answer the question “Are you saved?” and you reply that you do good things, that doesn’t show that you are saved. But surely, praying a prayer will save you, right?
2. “I prayed the sinner’s prayer.”
Many preachers and tele-evangelists ask their congregants to repeat the “sinner’s prayer” after them. They claim that if you said the words and meant it with all your heart, then you are saved. But there are a few things wrong with this. First, our hearts are wicked:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
– Jeremiah 17:9
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,”
– Mark 7:21
The Bible clearly says that we cannot rely on our hearts – for they are desperately wicked. So, meaning something with all of your heart doesn’t really mean anything at all.
Let’s bring back Ephesians 2:8-9 for a minute: salvation is a gift from God, given by grace through our faith in Him, and not of works. Praying a prayer for salvation is considered a work. Now, yes, you are supposed to repent and confess your sins to God and believe that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, willingly died to save you, and then rose from the dead three days later (Romans 10:9). But just repeating the “magic” words of the “sinner’s prayer” will not accomplish that. Of every account in the Bible of someone being saved, not once is some version of a “sinner’s prayer” mentioned as how someone received salvation.
In a broad sense, the “sinner’s prayer” is like plagiarizing someone else’s paper for your assignment. You don’t have any conviction about the topic, you don’t have any facts, and you certainly don’t mean it when you just copy what they’ve already written. The same is with praying to God. Just repeating someone else’s prayer leaves you with a lack of conviction, and you don’t mean what you say. It didn’t come from you. It came from someone else. You can’t use someone else’s repentance and cookie-cutter it to fit you. It doesn’t work that way.
3. “I was baptized.”
You may have been baptized when you were younger and believe that baptism saved you from going to Hell. However baptism has not, and will not, save anyone. You’ve gotten wet before, right? Whether it was by taking a shower, swimming, or getting caught in a rainstorm as you’re rushing from one end of campus to another, you’ve gotten drenched. Being baptized is the same thing – you get wet. The water doesn’t save you from your sins – only God’s grace saves you. Take this for example:
“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
– Luke 23:39-43
Jesus didn’t say, “Today you’ll be with me in paradise…but only if you go get baptized right now.” God’s grace is sufficient enough to save us – getting dunked in some water won’t (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Rather, baptism is a symbol to the whole world that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. After all, Jesus Himself was baptized to set the example for us (Matthew 3). But being baptized does not and will not save you.
4. “I believe in God.”
It is all well and good that you believe in God – as you should. However, demons also believe in God, and tremble at His name.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
– James 2:19
The demons know that God exists and believe in Him…but saying that you believe in God doesn’t prove anything. The demons know that Jesus is the Son of God, as shown below, and yet they won’t be going to Heaven.
“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us along; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.”
– Mark 1:23-24
Just because you believe in God doesn’t mean that you’re saved. However, it is your repentance and belief in His saving grace that saves you – not just your belief in His existence.
So are you saved or are you just playing a religious game? If any of the above examples were your answer, then you are likely putting your faith in something other than God’s saving grace. I, of course, can’t tell you if you are saved (for that is only something I am able to tell about myself – 1 John 1:1-7).
The point is, you can walk the religious walk and talk a good game and fool everyone around you. But there is one person you can’t fool. God knows your heart and He has written the names of those who are saved in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 3:5). Now, the only question is: if you died today, would you go to Heaven or have you just been playing a game? If you have any questions or doubts about your salvation, click here to learn how you can be saved.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version.
P.S. Yes, about 150 photos later, I was able to catch a shot of this gorgeous dragonfly!