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Salvation for the Unbeliever – Basics 01



ello, friend.  My name is John McReynolds.  I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to talk with you about the most important decision you can ever make in this life.  Now, I don’t know why you logged onto this web site, or what motivated you to click on this particular message.  Maybe you were just idly curious, or perhaps intrigued by the title.  Or maybe you’re responding to a spiritual hunger—you may not even recognize it as such.  But whatever the reason I want to ask you a rather direct and personal question.  Since we’re not communicating directly you don’t have to answer me.  But you do need to answer yourself—and answer yourself honestly:

If you were to die today do you have any idea where you would go? 

Be honest now—in considering this subject this is one time when you don’t need to play games with yourself.  If you died today would you go to heaven, or hell?  Not sure?  Well you have plenty of company—neither are many millions of other folks. 

Maybe you haven’t worried much about it, or maybe you believe that there is no hereafter—that after you die there’s nothing as far as you’re concerned.  Or maybe you do believe in a hereafter, but there’s not any heaven or hell, just another plane of existence, or maybe you get reincarnated and you get another chance at life. 

Perhaps you do believe in heaven and hell, but you figure if you do more good things than bad things St.  Peter will open the Pearly Gates for you.  Or maybe you’ve done some horrible things and you feel that you’re doomed—that there’s no way that God would forgive you. 

Maybe you just don’t believe in God, or maybe you do, but you think that He doesn’t really care one way or the other what you do—that you have no accountability to God.  Perhaps you think God doesn’t really care about sin.  Well friend, there are multiplied millions all over the world that hold these same and many other beliefs about God and heaven and hell.

But there is a document that has been around for 1900 years—and portions of it are far older than that—and it has something to say about all these beliefs.  We know it as the Bible.  And many millions of people throughout these 1900 years have staked their lives on the belief that the Bible is the very Word of God.  Now I’m not going to get into a discussion as to whether the Bible is or isn’t the inspired Word of God—this isn’t the time for that.  But I would like you, for these few minutes, to just assume that it is, and that what the Bible says is true—just for these few minutes.  If you’ll do that for me I’d like to look at some of those beliefs and show you what the Bible says about them.  Let’s take them one at a time:

·         Do you believe that there is no hereafter—that after you die there’s nothing?  Listen to what Hebrews 9:27 says: “…  man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” The Bible says that there is an afterlife, and that there will be a judgment.

·         Do you believe there’s not any heaven or hell?  Listen to Isaiah 66:1: “This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool …” Not only is there a heaven, but it’s God’s own throne!  And there’s Matthew 5:12 which says, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven …”

And John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Not only is there a heaven, but people will be getting rewarded there and will be living there. 

Now what about hell?  Here’s a passage in Luke 16:22–23 where Jesus, in talking about a deceased rich man said, “The rich man also died and was buried.  In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side …”

In Revelation 20:15 hell is referred to as the Lake of Fire: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” And in Psalms 9:17 the fate of the wicked is presented: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

The Bible presents the reality of hell in no uncertain terms.

·         Do you think that reincarnation will give you another shot at life?  Look at Hebrews 9:27 again: “…  man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” The Bible emphatically denies the existence of reincarnation.

·         Do you think that if you do more good things than bad things you’ll get into heaven?  Here’s Ephesians 2:8–9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” The Bible makes it plain that no one can be saved by anything they can do—the Bible calls that “works”—so doing more good than bad won’t get you into heaven. 

·         Maybe you don’t think you’re really a sinner?  I John 1:8: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Romans 3:10, “As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one …” And Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …”

·         Do you think that you have done things so awful that you can’t get forgiveness from God?  Not so!  The Bible declares in many places that salvation is available to everyone: In John 6:37 Jesus says, “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” Acts 2:21, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 5:18, “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. And just in case you were wondering, that phrase “all men” means all women too!

There is no sin you have committed that cannot be forgiven when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior: The Apostle Paul said in I Timothy 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” Paul wasn’t exaggerating here, he really was one of the worst sinners who ever lived!  Listen to Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

·         Do you think that God doesn’t really exist?  If so I’m afraid the Bible isn’t very flattering toward you: Listen to Psalms 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The Bible describes the atheist as a fool.  But even atheists can be saved—if they change their mind about God.

·         Do you think that God won’t really hold all men accountable to Him?  Don’t kid yourself friend—you will be held accountable.  Ecclesiastes 12:14, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Read Revelation 20:11–15.  It describes the Last Judgment:  Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.  Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.  Another book was opened, which is the book of life.  The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 

“The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

·         Do you think that God doesn’t really care about sin?  Listen to Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” God says the ultimate consequence of sin is death!  But He also says that He has a gift for man, and that’s “…  eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 3:23 says that “…  all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …” And that means you too, friend.  The Bible describes all men as coming under judgment, and that includes you.  And the Bible describes all those whose names weren’t found in the Book of Life as being cast into the Lake of Fire.

So let me ask you again.  If you were to die today, do you know where you would go?  You might not be any closer to an answer than you were before, but perhaps now you’re a little more concerned about it than you were a few minutes ago!  Hopefully by now you have a sense of the terrible predicament that you’re in if you have not accepted God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  So what is this gift of eternal life?  Let’s talk about that a minute.

God the Father, who knows everything—past, present and future—knew who you were back before He ever created man.  Jesus Christ knew you too, and had you personally in mind when He went to the cross.  They knew every sin you would ever commit.  And so when Jesus Christ hung on the cross the Father poured out on Him every sin that would ever be committed by every human who would ever be born—past, present and future—including yours.  God then judged those sins and condemned them, and He assessed the penalty for those sins—death!  And so Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind, yours, mine—everyone’s who ever lived and who will ever live.  And because Jesus died for your sins and mine, He made it possible for us to have eternal life with God, instead of the second death, or the Lake of Fire we read about a minute ago.

So how do we go about getting this eternal life that Rom 6:23 talks about?  Well this is the Good News, my friend.  Because all we have to do to live with God forever is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s it!  We must express faith alone in Christ alone.  Jesus Christ is the only way to God!  Listen to Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  

There’s nothing we can add to faith in Christ, either.  Adding anything we can do is works—remember Eph 2:8, 9?  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.  John 3:16,  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,  that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

What’s the alternative?  John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Friend, if you have never believed in Christ—if you are an unbeliever—then in that condition you are without any hope for eternal blessings.  Instead, eternal condemnation is your future, unless you make the one good decision that is open to you.  God has placed before you today the opportunity to gain eternal life—an eternity of inconceivable blessings in the very presence of God. 

We’ve already read about the alternative to this—eternal separation from Him.  As an unbeliever your eternal future is one of endless regret, misery and conscious agony in the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  You can change this horrible future by one conscious decision.  God has made a way of escape for you, but you must choose to do it God’s way.  Existing in hell forever doesn’t have to be your fate.  Here’s the greatest opportunity of your life, right in front of you.  You can be saved, right now, right where you sit.  How? 

Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved …”

Simply in the privacy of your own thoughts tell God the Father that you are believing in Christ and accepting Him as your Savior.  The instant you do that is the instant that you receive eternal life, and are assured of an eternity with the Lord.  It doesn’t have to be a fancy prayer—in fact it’s better if it’s not, because no one is saved because of flowery phrases.  Something as simple as this will do:

“Father I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins, and I accept Him as my Savior.”

That’s it!  Faith alone in Christ alone.  Are you worried that maybe you don’t have enough faith?  Listen—God knows your heart.  If you truly want to be saved, your simple statement of faith is enough! 

Friend, if you just prayed that prayer in faith, then you are now a child of God.  According to I Peter 1:4, 5  you have just entered “…  into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed …”

Now, if you’ve accepted Christ as Savior, then you’re ready for the next part of God’s plan—which is what we’ll cover in the next several messages.  As a brand new born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you need to immediately begin a diet of spiritual food.  What do I mean by that?  I mean you need to begin hearing, and reading, and feeding on the Word of God just as a brand new baby needs to feed on his mother’s milk!  That’s one of the meanings of the phrase “born-again—you have just been born into the spiritual realm, and you need spiritual food.  We have a number of resources on this website that will help you to get started.

But these resources are not enough by themselves.  You also need to seek a local church that teaches the Bible.    It is very important for your spiritual growth that you have the frequent company of other born-again believers.  God designed the local church to meet the needs of believers—brand new ones, as well as those who have been in the faith for many years.  Ask God and He will lead you to one. 

In the meantime, congratulations on the wisest choice you’ll ever make, and welcome, my brother or sister in Christ, to the Family of God.