Are We Asking The Right Question When We Ask Christians Are You Saved
Today the main goal of many Christians is to get to heaven, and they believe they have to be saved to get there. Therefore the main goal of their spiritual experience is their personal salvation.
I remember going on evangelistic outreaches where we would visit neighborhoods or go on the street corner to pass out flyers or tracks. Before we would go on these outreaches we were instructed to ask people do they want to know Jesus and become saved. If the person to whom we were speaking to would get excited and say they wanted to know Jesus or to be saved we would lead them into a simple sinner’s prayer. At that point we would go away happy believing that God has used us to save them. The problem is we did not know if they were truly saved or not, and we would probably never see them again.
I also remember at the end of many church services or meetings the speaker would ask if anyone wanted to be saved. People would come up and be led into a sinner’s prayer and they would be counted as saved. It is during those meetings the people I would meet would ask me do I know Jesus and am I saved. All of this led me to ask the question is this process the right way to God.
At that point a question crossed my mind. Did Jesus tell us we must be saved? After searching the scriptures the answer is Jesus did not tell us we must be saved, He said He came to save us. He told Nicodemus in John chapter 3 we must be born again.
3 There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2 One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!”
4 Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”
5 Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. 6 Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7 Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. 8 Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied: How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? 11 I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. 12 If you don’t believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?
13 No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. 14 And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. 15 Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! 18 No one who has faith in God’s Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn’t have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God’s only Son.
19 The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light. 20 People who do evil hate the light and won’t come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done. 21 But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do. (John 3:1-21, CEV, www.biblegateway.com)
So as you can see Jesus never told us we must be saved to see the kingdom of God, He told us me must be born again. For you see Jesus came to do the work for us to be saved from a world of SIN and destruction into His everlasting light of love and peace.
This means we must be born of a new spirit and attitude. We must be changed from within. Paul said it this way:
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2nd Corinthians 5:16-17, NLT, www.biblegateway.com)
For you see our salvation process to God is actually a conversion process in our souls. It is a process where we are changed from within to the point where we become a new person altogether. This means there has to be some outward change as well. During our change we become more patient, kinder, more generous, longer suffering, more compassionate, more giving.
In essence we exhibit the behavior of perfect love found in 1st Corinthians 13 just like our Father in heaven.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1st Corinthians 13”4-7, NLT, www.biblegateway.com)
Do you notice how this kind of love does not demand its own way? It is not a self-seeking kind of love, it is a love that seeks to find and build others up. For you see before Jesus came we all lived out of a self-centered kind of love, always looking to fulfill ourselves first.
Before Jesus came it was impossible for us to live the way God wanted; to deny our own needs and always put others ahead of ourselves, We needed a transformation from within. We needed a way to overcome the beast within us that forces us to want to fulfill our own desires ahead of everyone else. This was the point that Paul got to in Romans 7 when he knew he was powerless to control his own selfish desires. He knew he needed Jesus to help him.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (Roman 7:18-25, NLT, www.biblegateway.com)
For you see just saying a prayer does not change us from within. We must be transformed by the Spirit and love of Jesus Christ. That is why I believe we have the process backward somewhat. I believe that once we are transformed from within by Jesus we will testify to others of our change. For the bible says in Luke chapter 6 we testify what is in our hearts.
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45-45, NIV, www.biblegateway.com)
Not only will we testify to others with our mouths, our actions will line up too. We will begin to demonstrate the kind of perfect love found in 1st Corinthians 13. Don’t you know that our lives are witnesses of who we really are? Our lives act as a living letter that demonstrates who is controlling our souls. It will demonstrate our own control over our lives or demonstrate the power of Christ and His Holy Spirit ministry living within us.
3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2nd Corinthians 3:1-3, NIV, www.biblegateway.com)
This transformation is why I believe Revelation 12:11 precede Romans 10:9-10. Revelation 12:11 speaks of our change from within, and Romans 10:9-10 speaks of our testimony about the change.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11, NIV, www.biblegateway.com)
” 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, NIV, www.biblegateway.com)
To prove my point further, I am sharing an excerpt from the third book of my Keys to Restoring America book series called God’s Plan of Salvation – 3rd Informational Key.
Introduction – God is faced with a Dilemma
Before we get started, I want to ask you a couple of questions. What is true salvation? What are we saved from? What are we saved to? How are we saved? What does it really mean to be saved? What are its components? What is its process? How do I know if I am truly saved? With so many religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Ying Yang, etc.) each having its own tenets of beliefs and salvation stories, it is hard to determine which one is true.
Answers to these questions are the main reason for the first three books in this series. These books lay out the foundation for personal salvation. When I was getting ready to write about the mysteries that the Lord showed me about America and its end-time purpose, the Lord told me it was important to build a foundation to help people understand personal salvation. He showed me how many believe they are saved but are really not. He said they have a form of godliness without experiencing the true power of His love. “Having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5a). He went on to show me how it would be impossible for people without true salvation to understand America’s end-time message because it is written from a different point of view. He also told me that true salvation is the ultimate purpose in what America is going through today.
The Lord reminded me of the time that He explained to me the true components of His salvation plan with such simplicity. He told me it was important to write His plan down so that other people can understand it and experience the power and love of His salvation. That plan is what this third book is about. As you read this book and begin to understand the components of God’s salvation plan, I believe you will come to an understanding of where you are with God and your destiny.
Today’s Mainstream Salvation Process is different from God’s Salvation Process
In early 2000, the Lord woke me up and told me that if He were to come back, He would not accept many of the people in America, including His people in the Church. I questioned Him, and He quoted Matthew 7 to me, highlighting the words, “I never knew you.”
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
I began to cry and question the Lord, thinking I must be hearing wrong. Each time I questioned the Lord, He said to me, “I never knew them, declaring they claim to know me but their hearts are far from me.” From that point on, every time I spent time with the Lord the question of salvation came up, and the Lord and I went through this process. Finally, after weeks of me crying, the Lord expounded further and showed me it was people’s Selfish Inward Nature that remained unchanged and prevented them from entering heaven. The Lord went on to explain that unless we overcome the selfishness within us, we refuse to walk in oneness with Him or anybody else. This is how it is with most of America, including the people who go to church religiously. He then went on to say, “With man salvation is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26)
The Lord then went on to show me a vision of people walking in the ocean and drowning. As I was watching them drown, the Lord asked me what a parent would do if they saw their children walking into the ocean and drowning. I told the Lord that I believed parents would physically stop their children if they had to in order to save their lives. The Lord told me that I had answered well and explained to me that He, just like a parent, had devised a plan to save His people from the ocean of selfishness. He went on to tell me that the salvation plan many use today does not allow His people to overcome the selfishness within them because it does not allow them to deal with it properly. He showed me how Jesus fought this nature in the Garden of Gethsemane alone, making a decision to give up all His rights and abilities and follow God’s plan for His life. The Lord went on to say that every human must face their Selfish Inward Nature alone and make a choice between their own abilities and God’s abilities to save them. The Lord said that once people have made the choice to place their dependency upon God and look to Him alone, their selfish nature will be exchanged for a nature of unconditional love. They will be changed from within. The Lord said that every new person will testify of the change within them and what Jesus has done to free them from a life of selfishness. That is why the Word of God says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).
Today’s Salvation Process
Today, in many churches and at evangelistic meetings many are invited to come up and repeat the sinner’s prayer, get sprinkled, take the right hand of fellowship, or have ceremonies believing this process is the way to salvation. For the Bible declares in Romans 10:10, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” This has led many to believe that they are saved from destruction into everlasting life without having to come face to face with their Selfish Inward Nature in their own Garden of Gethsemane.
Remember, Jesus is our example. He created the process for us to follow. He was the first to overcome His Selfish Inward Nature in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Peter, Paul, and the disciples followed. It is impossible for us to experience true salvation from the nature of selfishness within us if we don’t follow this process.
The problem is not the sinner’s prayer itself, or other ceremonies. It is that someone else is leading us to that decision without allowing us to come face to face with the enemy within us. Unless we deal with ourselves adequately, our confession doesn’t come from the secret place within our hearts and there is no change. We can never overcome something if we never have to face it.
Today, many are deceived into thinking that they are saved just because they say a prayer that confesses Jesus as their Lord in front of other people, or some other religious ceremony, but that is just not true. Remember, just because we confess the Lord does not mean that we are saved (even the demons can do that). It is only the changed ones who walk in unconditional love that are saved from themselves. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Many of today’s salvation processes only create an outward appearance and prohibit many from changing within. Their inward perspective, or nature, never changes. They remain just as selfish and conceited as they were before. Humility is only for a season until they feel that they are safe. They are just like the Pharisees that Jesus was talking about who were focused on their outward appearance but were corrupt inside. “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:26).
If these are not the right processes, then what is the right process? I believe the early saints had the right process. I believe salvation only happens when we overcome our Selfish Inward Nature in our own Garden of Gethsemane. This is where our nature is changed from a nature of selfishness to a nature of love and righteousness that is seeking to connect and build others up. I believe we overcome the selfish nature inside of us when we go to God in a spirit of true humility, recognizing the truth of our deficiencies and inability to save ourselves. It is only at this point that we will allow the Spirit of God’s love to connect and flood our soul with righteousness.
Early Saints Had The Right Salvation Process
As stated earlier, I believe Peter was the first saint to go through the salvation process, making him the first disciple to come to the end of himself in his own Garden of Gethsemane experience. Many believe Peter was saved when God gave him a vision of who Christ was in Matthew chapter 16. But in fact that revelation only brought Peter an awareness of Christ and not an internal change. We need to understand at that point Peter never had the chance to overcome the nature of selfishness within him because he never truly faced his selfishness in his Garden. Remember only the changed ones will inherit the kingdom of God, plus even the demons recognize Jesus.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:12-20)
It is in Luke that I believe Jesus was talking about the salvation experience Peter would have. This salvation experience caused Peter to realize he was unable to sustain his life, and enabled him to acknowledge he needed to place his total dependency upon Jesus (God’s wisdom) instead of his own abilities, saving him from himself.
This happened when Jesus told His disciples that He was about to be betrayed and crucified for everyone’s sake. Jesus knew Peter’s strength was in his own arrogance and told him that Satan had desired to sift him as wheat and that he had his faith to hold him until he repented or was converted into this new way of life. Jesus knew Peter had to die to his own strength before He could live this new life. As we read the story of Peter’s transformation, notice how God allowed Satan to challenge Peter’s strong points to show him just how powerless he really was. Once Peter realized he could not even acknowledge he was with Jesus, he wept bitterly and left in anguish. This is a type of Garden of Gethsemane experience that Jesus had just went through. In short, God was saving Peter from his Selfish Inward Nature.
“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.” The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing. Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. “You have stayed with me in my time of trial. And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or extra clothing, did you need anything?” “No,” they replied. “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.” “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.” “That’s enough,” he said. (Luke 22:21-38 NLT)
So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!” But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!” After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!” “No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted. About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.” But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62 NLT)
God used Satan to reveal the secret sin in Peter’s heart, and Jesus prayed for him to come through this process. Peter had arrogantly told Jesus that he would go to prison for Him if he had to. So, God used Satan to send three people to test Peter and he failed.
This was by God’s design and what Jesus meant when He told Peter that after he repented he needed to turn and strengthen his brethren. They, too, had to go through this process. Let me make this process clear. God’s desire is for us to overcome ourselves, so He uses Satan to unveil the hidden pride in our own hearts and to show us just how powerless we really are. As we come to the end of ourselves and cry out to God with all of our heart, we are transformed from a nature of selfishness and darkness, relying on ourselves, to a nature of love and light, relying on God and others.
After Peter had dealt with himself and repented, Jesus came to him and told him to help the other disciples who would go through this process in the upper room after His death.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:15-19)
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him more than his own his flesh, and finally, Peter, realizing his strength was gone, answered, “Lord you know all things.” Peter was saved from himself at that point. To come to this point, Peter had to go alone and face himself in God’s presence first, realize his strength was limited, place his faith and trust in God for his complete salvation, and walk in humility and truth before God.
This is why I believe the early saints had it right when they had the person come up and kneel before God in spirit and truth in their own Garden of Gethsemane. They had to settle in whose righteousness or ability they would put their trust and allegiance. It is only during this process when we come face to face with our own Selfish Inward Nature that we get the chance to reject the selfishness within us and choose God’s righteousness. This process may take hours or days to complete depending upon the person’s journey. Just like when Jesus told Peter that He prayed his faith would not fail him, many of the old saints prayed everyone through this process. We must be the ones to pray for our loved ones to cross over from a world of darkness and destruction into a world of life and righteousness in Christ Jesus. We need to be like parents and grandparents whose love causes them to pray us through to salvation, just like a mother birthing a baby.
Once this process is complete, then the person will testify in front of the congregation about the experience they had with the Lord. At that point, the congregation will see a transformation within the person to confirm the change. As they interact with the new convert they will notice the presence of joy, piece, patience, a new humility, and innocence that was previously undetected as this person demonstrates the fruits of the spirit.
This is the process the Lord told me that His people must pass through unto salvation, changing their nature from within. As you can see, everyone has to deal with the nature inside them, and that can only be done alone in God’s presence and with someone praying for them to complete the process. Although this process seems hard and difficult, things that are worthwhile are hard sometimes. This is the only way we can truly deal with our inner self. We need our own Garden of Gethsemane experience. I know this process is totally different from someone enticing us to say the sinner’s prayer. This process brings God into play and forces us to come face to face with the only enemy who divides us from God and each other. That enemy is our Selfish Inward Nature. Otherwise, this nature remains hidden, in control, and waiting for the time to eternally destroy us.
The rest of this book brings God’s salvation out into the open for all to plainly see. It is written for you the reader, so you may know with certainty where you are in your journey with God. As you began to read each step in God’s salvation process, please open your bible and confirm everything with an open mind. Pray that God Himself will show you or make real His salvation process for your life. This is the season where we need to be alert and watchful. You may be the one who God is counting on to help your family transition into eternity.
This is the end of the excerpt from God’s Plan of Salvation – 3rd Informational Key by James A. Smith Jr. This book can be purchased from Amazon by clicking on the link above.
These books can be found on our Media page under the Menu heading Connecting To A Safe Place.
So as you can see from the excerpt I believe the early saints had the right process. It is a process where our lives will testify of the change from within. This is a process we all must go through. It is a process where we come face to face with God alone and have to make a choice just like Peter did.
We must understand God wants us to come to Him in in a spirit of humility based upon the truth of our own ability to control our lives. We have to make a choice to give up control over our lives and follow God’s will and change from within; or keep control and remain under the control of the selfish desires from within.
We must also understand that each one of us will arrive at this place differently. For you see we are all on a journey of self-discovery in this world. And no one’s journey is the same. My hope and prayer is when you reach this point of truth in your soul you will make the right choice just as Jesus, Peter, and Paul did before you.
In closing, I want to make a clear statement. These are just my thoughts and opinions I am just a concerned America, a Christian, who loves this nation and wants to see its glory restored.
If you found this blog to be of interest to you, or if you have an opinion, please reply with your thoughts and send it to everyone you know, I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions.
Thanks and God Bless
Jimmy Smith Jr