How can we be saved from eternal damnation?
As we explored in the previous post; God, through his son Jesus Christ, offers Forgiveness of ALL of our sins and trespasses and eternal life to each of us. However, we must claim this offer; that is, accept the gift of forgiveness. But how? How can we be saved from eternal damnation?
Believe: Faith and Trust
The answer is complex in its simplicity: believe.
Frankly, I struggled with the simplicity and complexity of the term “believe”. Belief as a simple “mental acceptance” is not enough. We need a practical investment of our belief. To use the vernacular, “we need skin in the game“. We need to “believe in” something (probably why the term “believe in” occurs over one hundred times in the New Testament -AMP).
Webster can help here with a definition of “believe in”:
1: to have faith or confidence in the existence of (something) Do you believe in ghosts?
2: to have trust in the goodness or value of (something)She believes in (the value of) regular exercise. I believe in working hard to achieve success. She doesn’t believe in using pesticides.
3: to have trust in the goodness or ability of (someone)Despite his problems, his parents still believe in him.
So yes, we need to believe; but more importantly, we need to believe-in; that is to have faith and trust (as the definition indicates).
Here are a few verses regarding faith, belief, and trust as they relate to salvation:
And verse that specifically points to “trust”: 1 Peter 1:9.
Therefore, belief (and belief-in), faith, and trust are all interrelated components of our salvation process. How?
An illustration might help clarify.
Assume there is a wicker chair in the room and you ask me to sit in the chair. I’m a big fellow, about 100 KG in weight, and the chair looks rickety. You assure me that the chair will hold my weight and I believe you. This is “mental acceptance”. I do not have to make a commitment or to test my belief. I have no investment in my belief.
When you sit in the chair I gain some small measure of faith that the chair will hold me too, even though you are small fellow. In other words, on the basis of YOUR experience and testimony, I may gain some degree of faith; but, it is not a personal faith. At this point, my faith is based entirely on your experience and I still have no investment or personal experience since my faith has yet to be confirmed or tested.
Now, assume that I look across the room at another large fellow who attempts to sit on another wicker chair that happens to be a counterfeit chair. His chair looks like mine, but in fact is poorly made of inferior materials and only made to look like the quality chair I’m considering. When he sits in his chair, it crumbles under his weight and he is injured. Now, my faith in my chair might waiver. My belief and faith are fragile, transient, and totally impersonal.
At this point, my belief and my unproven faith are inconsequential, dare I say worthless? Why? Because they have no investment. Trust is the investment. Trust involves action – it is an implementation of my faith! I may believe the chair will hold me. I may have faith that the chair will hold me. But only when I trust the chair to hold me by actually sitting on it, is my belief and faith invested in the outcome. Trust is my act of faith which leads to a belief-in the chair’s ability to hold me.
It’s important to note that my belief in the chair’s ability to hold me is secured (sealed) the first time I sit. From that time onward, I have assurance that the chair will hold each time I sit.
Therefore, belief and faith, implemented in an act of trust lead to the assurance.
Salvation from God, through Jesus Christ, is accomplished by “sitting in the chair”, metaphorically stated.
Let’s use our illustration to describe the process.
- The first step is that you must believe that Jesus Christ is fully God, but that he gave up his rights (but not his power) to deity when he came in the form of man. You must also believe that he took on the sins of the world when he died on the cross and that he offers you full and total forgiveness of all sins and life eternal. Based on what you hear and then believe, you may have “mental acceptance” that Christ can give you full forgiveness and eternal life. However, like the chair, this is simply a mental exercise and alone is rather worthless; after all, “even the demons believe”… You need to “sit in the chair” to validate your belief.
- The second step is that you must have faith. This originates from an awareness of God’s presence and his power. Or your faith may result from the testimony of others; however, as with the example of the counterfeit chair, their testimony could be bogus. For your faith to be proven true, you must make an investment of trust. You need to “sit in the chair” to validate your faith.
- The third step is your investment – your act of trust: you “sit in the chair”. You implement your belief and faith in Jesus through your Trust in Him. When you sit in the chair and it holds you up; your belief and faith are cemented in fact. That is, only through your act of trust does your faith become real. You believe in the chair when you sit in trust.
You are Not Saved by simply “Asking Jesus into Your Life”
Confusion on the matter of salvation is common and we spawn this confusion by over simplifying the salvation message.
Too often we hear that a person “is saved” when they pray the “sinner’s prayer” and “ask Jesus into their lives”. Bunk.
Faith without Trust is worthless and a prayer without a subsequent walk of faith in trust is also worthless.
By omitting the key element of trust and a daily walk with our Savior, we doom people to a counterfeit Christian Walk – even while they look and sound like “perfect Christians”. These people are constantly searching for an object of their faith.
This Christmas week, I’ve read several articles in major new publications from professed Christians lamenting their misdirected faith; or who have “abandoned the faith” whatever that means. They might have some type of faith; but what is missing in the TRUST required to assimilate forgiveness and salvation. They never sat in the chair.
In the next post, we’ll dig into what TRUST looks like. To use our allegory of the chair, we’ll explore how you sit in the chair and seal your salvation for eternity.