Religiously Saved or Truly Saved?

By David W. Foster





“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

                                                                                                                                                           -John 3:1-3



   Are you really saved? Do you know beyond a shadow of doubt that if you died right now, you’d go to heaven? Most of you reading this may give a reluctant, unsure yes; but when it comes to talking about your eternal destination and being in a place of torment throughout eternity don’t you think you really need to know beyond a shadow of doubt? There are a lot of people who think they are saved but are not. They attend church Sunday, Wednesday, and various other times throughout the week. They give tithes (10% of their income), give into building fund programs, don’t swear, drink, or smoke. They’ve even been baptized in water, but still are not saved!


   True Salvation is not in how good you treat or don’t treat people. It is not living a morally good life as many may think. Moral living is good but it is not salvation. Moral living is something you do because you are saved, not to get saved. Salvation is not how many good deeds or charitable acts you do. It’s not in singing in the choir, being on the trustee board, or joining a particular church or denomination. It doesn’t matter if you’re Baptist, Assembly of God, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Catholic, Charismatic, Non-denominational, or whatever (if I missed yours I intended to get it); joining a church doesn’t make you saved anymore then owning a piano makes you a musician.


   A lot of people have a religious idea of salvation. They don’t know what true salvation is: In talking with certain people, again and again the general consensus is that salvation is in your conduct (how good you treat others or how many good deeds or charitable acts they have done). All of these things are bi-products of salvation, but they’re not what the Bible describes as real salvation.



Except Ye Be Born Again




   I always knew God was real even as a sinner. I knew I wasn’t right with God, and deep down inside I knew I had to get right before I died. One thing that always made me feel good about myself even as a sinner was doing good deeds. Every time I did a good deed I thought it was going down on my record. I thought that every time I got a chance to do well and did it; it would pacify this feeling of not being right with God, but it didn’t. You see, I thought like so many others that your conduct would get you into heaven. John 3:3 say, “…except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” People read over this verse of scripture and miss what Jesus was saying altogether. Many think Jesus was using these words (born again) metaphorically but He wasn’t. He literally meant you had to be born again.


John 3:4-7

4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7   Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.



   Notice the sixth verse again, “That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.” He wasn’t talking about a natural birth but a spiritual one. What Jesus was actually telling our friend Nicodemus was that he had to be born again spiritually.



A New Covenant




   In Ezekiel 36:25-27 you’ll find God foretelling about a new covenant or a new agreement He will make with His people:



Ezekiel 36:25-27

25  Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

26  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

27  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.



   I want to call your attention to the fact the Bible uses the words “heart” and “spirit” interchangeably. When God says “heart” He’s not talking about your blood pump. He’s talking about the spirit man, the real you. What throws a lot of people off is their lack of understanding concerning the total man. According to the Bible, man is a spirit, he has a soul, and he lives in a physical body. I Thess. 5: 23 say, “…and I pray God your WHOLE spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You’ll notice the Bible said, “…your whole spirit, and soul, and body…” Many think the soul and the spirit are the same, but according to this verse of scripture they can’t be. Notice the conjunction “and” before spirit, and soul, and body. They couldn’t be the same. Man is a three part being just like God. He is a spirit, has a soul, and lives in a physical body. The spirit of man is the real you; not the body and not the soul. Notice the duo conversation the writer of Philippians has concerning his own spirit and body.



Philippians 1:22-24

22  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

23  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

24  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.



   Did you notice he started out by saying, “…if I live [stay, abide, dwell] in the flesh…”? There are two distinguished personalities under discussion in this passage of scripture. “I” (his spirit) and the flesh (his body). He went on to say he wanted to depart and be with Christ. You know he wasn’t talking about his body (that goes back to the earth from whence it came), but rather his spirit, which came from the Lord.


   So maybe you can understand what the Lord meant when He said in Eze.36, “A new heart and a new spirit will I put within you… …and I will take the stony heart out [your sinful nature] of your flesh.” Verse 27 of Eze.36 tells us exactly why God wants to take the old heart out, “…and cause you to walk in my statute and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” In other words the Lord was saying this new spirit that I put within you would actually allow you to keep my laws without breaking them. For you see it’s the spirit of man that causes or leads him to do evil. Jesus said, “ For from within, out of the heart [spirit] of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, and evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mk.7:21-23) You see, if we get the inside right the outside will take care of itself. You can dress that outward man up in a choir robe, clergy collar, pretty suits, and nice dresses, but it will all be for naught if you have not been born again.



Living Above Sin




   This is why people join the church with no noticeable change in their life. If I could only get people to see that when they accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior there was literally an actual change that took place on the inside of them. Even though they had the same body they are not the same person. It is generally accepted that no one can live above sin. And this is why a lot of unsaved people think they are saved. Their reasoning is, “God knows you can’t live above sin.” God back to Eze.36 and you’ll see this is the main reason God puts a new spirit within man; so he can keep God’s laws and commandments. Once you receive this new spirit or become born again, if you will feed this newborn babe on the sincere milk of the word of God you’ll be able to keep from sinning. Notice Psalms 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”


  As a sinner I was an alcoholic and drug addict. I smoked almost two packs of cigarettes a day for seven or eight years. I tried many times over to stop on my own but couldn’t. Some mornings I’d get up feeling like I was having a heart attack from all the cigarettes I’d smoke the day before. I knew I was killing myself with all of the smoking and drinking, but I felt very helpless to do anything about it. I was ashamed to seek help because I saw a close friend of mine die from drinking alcohol and I said I would never die like that, and almost did.


   One day a close friend of mine I use to drink and smoke dope with came by and invited me to church. I went forward and accepted the Lord, but I didn’t stop the smoking, drinking, and drugs over night. One Sunday night at church I was standing and clapping my hands as the choir sang. All of a sudden it appeared a light hit me in the center of my chest and spread all over my body. I couldn’t begin to tell you how good it felt. That night I went home feeling cleaner than I ever felt in my life. I couldn’t sleep that night because I felt so good. I didn’t know it then, but I had just gotten born again. I knew a change had taken place on the inside of me, but I didn’t know what. But now I know God had just given me a new spirit, I’d just been born again! Hallelujah!


   Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not just talking about getting a good feeling, because I know a lot of people that get a good feeling every time they go to church, but still live the same way. This change that took place on the inside of me eventually showed up on the outside. It didn’t take two to three years to do it either. If you’ve really been born again it will only take a matter of days, weeks, or months and you’ll see a change. It was approximately nine months after that night at church that I was completely free of drugs, alcohol, and cigarette smoking, and was preaching the gospel! Glory! Until that date, I had never been able to quit on my own. God delivered me! “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Col.1:13&14)


Many say they are going to wait until they stop drinking, smoking, doing drugs, and so on before they give their life to the Lord. But if you can do it on your own, what do you need the Lord for? Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If you take care of the inside, the outside will take care of itself.


Many would like to give their life to the Lord, but fear they can’t stop doing what they know is not right towards God. When you really accept Jesus into your life, you’ll find it easy to stop those things if you want too. As a matter of fact, you wouldn’t have a desire to do some of them. Notice II Cor.5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, He is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” To create something infers no previous existence. The word itself means to introduce into existence. The reason God said He would remember your sins no more is because you don’t have a pass He can charge you with. Once you get born again you have no previous past. And if you have sinned since you’ve been born again thank God for I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


   On judgment day many will say, “Lord I didn’t sin much. I may have lied some and played that dirty trick on Sue in high school, maybe stole a little, but over all I’ve lived a pretty clean and decent life.” Others will say, “God I’m sorry, please forgive me; I stole, robbed, and killed; could I please have another chance?” God will reply, “For all the wrong you did I will not judge or condemn you. My Son paid the price for every man’s sin and wrongdoing. The reason you must bare the penalty for your sin is because you never accepted the sacrifice of my Son who was judged and sentenced to die on your behalf. If you had accepted Him, and what He did for you, your sin debt would be paid in full.”


   It’s like coming before a judge and having all these charges read off against you: murder, liar, stealing, dope dealing, drunkard, and so on. The judge asks you how do you plea? You can’t help but say guilty for you were caught in the very act. What’s the sentence? Death! Just when they were about to take you away, someone steps up and says, “Judge charge all of that to my account.” The judge says, “Do you have a clean record, are you in debt to this court?” The clerk runs a file check on his record and it’s clean; no stealing, lying, murdering, no drinking or so on. “Well” the Judge says, “Do you know the penalty for this man?” He answers, “yes.” The Judge says, “Are you willing to pay the price?” He says, “I am.” The Judge says,” Only on one condition, the defendant must accept your offer.” So you see, it’s up to you. The price has been paid; will you accept what has been done and provide for you through the sacrifice of Jesus? Now be honest with yourself as I ask you again, are you saved? Have you really been born again? If not and you really want to be, repeat this prayer after me out loud:



Prayer For Salvation



God, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I admit that I am a sinner and cannot help or save myself. I repent of all my sins and ask your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God, and that you sent Him to die on the cross for me and raised Him again from the dead when He had cleared me of all guilt. I now accept what He did for me and confess with my mouth His lordship over my live because I believe this in my heart. I now ask you to come into my heart and rebirth my spirit according to your word. God I thank you now that you have become my very own Father, and I your very own son. For you said in your word that as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God. Thank you that I am a Son of God! Thank you for saving me in Jesus name, Amen!



     Now give Him praise and glory for saving you. That’s it, just take a few moments and thank Him for delivering you out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. Glory! Welcome to the family of God, you are now saved and don’t let any devil tell you that you are not. If you haven’t already, do your best to find a good church home, where you can grow and be nourished in the Lord. Within three months time (if not already) you won’t know yourself. Hey, go out and tell somebody what great things the Lord has done for you. If this writing has helped you, please let us know. I’d love to hear your testimony. God bless!


  August 2021  
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