Articles, Prophetic Articles

HOW CAN I GO TO HEAVEN: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORN-AGAIN AND SAVED?

By Kit Olsen

SALVATION BEGINS WITH BEING BORN-AGAIN: SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST ALONE

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 4:12).

ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

No one is born a Christian. Each person must make a conscious decision to receive Christ as Lord and Savior or reject Him. It is a choice each person on this earth must make. Vast numbers of people do not understand that the entire Bible is a Jewish book and that Christianity has Jewish roots. God used all Jewish men to pen the Bible from beginning to end, both Old and New Testaments.

The first Christians were all Jews. Jews brought the gospel to the Gentiles. And contrary to popular thinking, no one is born a Christian. The true meaning of what or who a Christian is has been often sorely distorted and misrepresented. Scripture teaches that each person must decide to accept or reject the truths of Christ.

God has given us free will to choose and He holds each one of us personally accountable for our acceptance or rejection of Him. Many historical and current portrayals of Christianity have nothing to do with an authentic born-again personal relationship with Jesus the Christ—which constitutes genuine Christianity as intended in the true biblical sense. For example, historically, the crusades have most often been called the “Christian Crusades.” Overall, the men involved in the crusades had little or nothing to do with Christ—the Spirit of the indwelt Savior or His teachings.

The name of Jesus Christ, and the common titles: “Christian,” “Christianity,” and “the “Cross” are commonly assumed by those who are not at all representative of genuine Christianity, in the true biblical sense. Because of this it is easy to misidentify Jesus Christ and the true meaning of Christianity with those in our culture who carry Christ’s name selfishly, inappropriately, and even diabolically to advance their own agendas.

Tremendous misinterpretation and misunderstanding exists as to just what authentic Christianity is all about and who Jesus Christ really is. God’s Word says that we are saved grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not by our own efforts or works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

No amount of good works will ever save us. It is Christ and Christ alone who can save us. The Bible also states very clearly and unequivocally that only Jesus Christ can be the intercessor for the forgiveness of sins. No human, not even one wearing a shirt with a fancy collar can do the job. And no other “spirit” can save us.

If you would like to become a true Christian by making a commitment to Jesus Christ and be born-again, the same way Yossi and his friends did at some point in their young lives, you can say the salvation prayer at the end of this chapter. Please read it before you make a commitment and also read the following Scriptures and explanations first.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. He is the Messiah of the world. Jesus Christ lived a perfect sinless life on earth for us. He overcame sin for us. He died for my sins, and yours, once and for all. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He is alive right now in heaven.

He conquered death so that you and I may have eternal life – for all those who believe in Him and are born-again. Jesus ascended into heaven where He is interceding for all born-again believers. Jesus taught that we should stop sinning and repent (turn away from). But if we do fall occasionally and sin, if we ask for forgiveness He will forgive us. But out of our love for Him we should try our best to obey His commandments.

We can do nothing to earn salvation. It is a free gift from God. Church or synagogue attendance, religious rituals and traditions – nothing else can save us except the blood of Jesus Christ — His sacrifice on the cross. Salvation is about accepting God’s righteousness.

In the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we learn that God created Adam and Eve in a perfect, innocent state free of sin. They both had the power to choose to obey or disobey God. When they chose to disobey God, they brought sin into God’s perfect creation. It led to an overwhelming, chaotic, and devastating change in the entire scheme of creation, including the nature of Man. This is called the, “Fall of Man.” Because of this, Christ came as the sacrificial Lamb to die for our sins and to reconcile us unto Himself.

MAKE CHRIST THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR LIFE: AVOID WORLDLY WISDOM

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.

For it is written, He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

WE ARE RECONCILED TO GOD THROUGH SALVATION IN CHRIST

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We can have a personal relationship with the Lord when we come to sincere repentance and are born-again by the Holy Spirit. The spiritual rebirth Jesus spoke of is necessary in order to be saved, in order to have a personal relationship with Him and to be able to understand the Word of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Before we are saved and do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we cannot always understand the Scriptures. Those who read the Bible sporadically and never take the time to truly study it in its proper context make fun of God’s holy Word and act as if those who stand in strong defense of the Bible are naïve and narrow-minded. But they are very wrong. One day every person on this earth will know that. Each person will have to stand before God one day to give an account of his or her life.

But the natural man [unsaved person] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born-again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born-again’” (John 3:3-7).

When we sincerely accept Christ, and receive Him as our Lord Savior, we are then immediately filled with God’s Holy Spirit and are spiritually born-again. Water baptism is a public testimony showing we have placed our faith in Jesus. Being baptized as a child, a ritual performed by some religious groups will not get us into heaven.

Each person is personally accountable to God and must make his or her own decision when old enough to really understand the seriousness of the commitment – to either accept or reject God’s saving grace. God gave us free will. It is up to each of us to choose eternal life with God or eternal torment and separation from God. Choose Jesus Christ and you will be saved forever. John 5:24 states:

[Jesus said,] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

Christ took on the sins of the entire world through his death on the cross to give us all the opportunity to be with Him for eternity and keep us from hell and the lake of fire (1 Timothy 4:10). He suffered for us, so we won’t have to suffer an eternity of inconceivable torment.

But each individual must choose either to accept Christ by following His commandment to be “born-again,” genuinely repenting and placing Him first. Or face an eternity of horror. Jesus makes references to a real hell dozens of times in the Bible.

If you are uncertain about where you will spend eternity, you can choose to place your trust in Messiah Jesus right now. Tomorrow is not promised to any one of us. Death can be a very imminent event completely out of our control. Please don’t put off the most important decision of your life.

“For He made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we may become the righteousness O God in Him. Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 5:21; 6b).

You can come to faith in Christ, and become born-again by praying a personal prayer of repentance and faith. The words you use are not important. Your sincerity and genuine commitment to the Lord is what counts. Saying a prayer, then walking away and forgetting about the Lord does not count for salvation.

The sincere intent of your heart is what matters to God. There has to be true repentance, a true change of heart so we seek Him first, and leave behind habits and lifestyles that are contrary to His will, His teachings. When we repent we turn away from the things that cause us to stumble and keep us from God’s best for our lives. The Scriptures teach that true repentance will result in a change of actions (a change of mind that results in a change of actions). By our confession of faith and wholehearted belief in Jesus as Lord we are saved:

“That if you confess, with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

If you are not sure what to say, follow this simple heartfelt prayer, but you must mean it with all your heart:

Holy Heavenly Father,

I accept Your Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior. I believe in His death, burial and resurrection and that He lives. Forgive me for all the things I have done that are not pleasing to you. I ask you to come into my life, transform me and fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can be born-again and saved by your grace. I want this to be a new beginning and to have a close, personal relationship with you.

I want to learn more about you through prayer and careful Bible study. Help me to truly repent and live my life in a way that glorifies you. Please write my name into the Book of Life and count me among your righteous because of your Son’s blood sacrifice and atonement on the cross. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you have made genuine commitment to Messiah Jesus by receiving Him as your Lord and Savior, this is the most important day of your life! It is also the most significant event of your life. After all, He is now your heavenly Father (Abba in Hebrew), which means daddy. He wants what is best for you. Go to Him with all your concerns and pour your heart out to Him. Everything that is important to you matters to God. Nothing is too small or insignificant (Romans 8:14-18).

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs the very moment we turn to Christ by faith (1 Corinthians 12:13). At the moment of our spiritual birth, the Spirit of God comes to live within us bringing Christ to our hearts. He then places us (spiritually baptizes us) into what is termed the body of Christ or body of Messiah (His church). He will help you understand the Scriptures.

It is very important to start reading the Bible. Always pray for wisdom and understanding before beginning your Bible study. Find a quiet place away from any distractions. Many audio versions of the Bible are available to assist with the learning process. Add them to your personal library and listen to them often.

Various DVDs of movies relating to the Bible are easy to find. Charlton Heston Presents the Bible is a good example. Other similar DVDs can be found on the Internet or at your local Christian bookstore. Also, try to get into the practice of memorizing Scripture. Memorizing one Scripture a week is a good goal to set; say them out loud. There is power in the spoken Word of God. Let the Holy Spirit lead and teach you as you explore your Bible.

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:16, 25).

As you spend time learning more about God’s Word, you will grow closer to the Lord. Prayer time and Bible study will become very important to you. Getting involved in a good Bible teaching church, a home Bible study group or a Bible-based church youth group where you can have fellowship with others can be very helpful.

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Next, following what you have just read is the chapter: “What About My Life Now That I Am Saved?” from King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Heralding His Soon Return. This book is unique in that it integrates sound biblical teaching about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, the salvation message and godly Christian living through character dialogue. So many positive Christian messages are portrayed that serve as a strong foundation for the Christian faith and can be used as a valuable witnessing tool.

The chapters are filled with hope, encouragement, heroes, villains, spiritual warfare, adventure, solutions to problems, sound biblical teaching and Scripture. Building a strong, personal relationship with the Lord is encouraged by examples given by the characters. In Part One, follow young Yossi and his friends in Jerusalem as they take on a special mission for the Lord. In Part Two, godly Christian living continues to be emphasized.

Notes
1.“How Can I Go to Heaven: What Does it Mean to Be Born-Again and Saved” extracted from Part Two of: King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Heralding His Soon Return, “Jesus Wants You to Spend Eternity with Him,” pp.118-126, World Bible Society, July 11, 2014.

Click here for the “Look Inside” view of the book, Table of Contents, Amazon reviews and more:

King of Kings and Lord of Lords Heralding His Soon Return

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