God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. - Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. - Acts 16:31 (NIV)
Writers abhor clichés. “Old as the hills,” “cool as a cucumber,” “sweating bullets” are all examples of phrases so overused, they’ve lost their impact and effectiveness.
Christians also too often resort to trite language to explain their faith. Take, for example, “being saved.” What exactly does it mean? How does one go about “being saved”? Oh, I know the routine—the “Roman Road,” the “Four Spiritual Laws,” yada, yada, yada. It seems as though there’s a formula to getting right with God, which includes reciting word-for-word the prayer of salvation. Me, I’d worry that if I left out a step of the process or omitted a word in the prayer, I’d miss out on heaven.
There is no 12-step formula to becoming a Christian. Simply reciting a prayer word-for-word won’t do it, either. Becoming a Christian is a matter of the heart. Remember what God told the prophet Samuel when he was sent to Bethlehem to select from the sons of Jesse a king to replace the willful Saul? “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV).
When the Philippian jailer asked the apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” the answer was simple: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
No 12-step program, no formula prayer. Just believe. And believing is a matter of the heart.
While there are numerous Bible verses that tell us to simply believe (see list below), I haven’t found any Scripture that tells us we must “accept Christ” (another Christian cliché) in order to have eternal life. Here’s what the late A. W. Tozer, renowned preacher and writer, said about the phrase: “The . . . whole ‘Accept Christ’ attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ applying to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us.”
Contemporary author, speaker and founder of Grace Walk Ministries Dr. Steve McVey agrees: “The Sovereign God of the universe . . . is not sitting there, on His throne in heaven, hoping with all His might that we will be so kind as to invite Him in our lives.”
Neither is becoming a Christian “giving your life to Christ.” McVey writes, “Salvation . . . has nothing whatsoever to do with what you have given God. Grace revolves around what He has given us . . . You receive eternal life not because you gave your life to Christ. You receive eternal life because He gave you His Life.”
The gift of salvation is all God’s doing. All we have to do is believe. When we come to the “aha” moment—when we finally get it—and what we know in our mind sinks into our heart and plants itself firmly there, we receive this gift and are changed. And that’s no cliché!
Thank you, God, for Your gift of salvation, and thank you for making the way to heaven so simple. Amen.
“Believe” verses: Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16; John 3:36; John 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:16; Romans 10:9-10 (the entire book of Romans!)
A.W. Tozer quotation taken from The Best of A. W. Tozer, Compiled by Warren W. Weirsbe, Baker Book House, (c) 1978.
Steve McVey quotations taken from 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday by Steve McVey, Harvest House Publishers, (c) 2011.