HOW TO RECEIVE JESUS AS YOUR LORD & SAVIOUR
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:37-39
You might say to me, “I want to be saved, what shall I do?” The apostle Peter gave the following instructions to the very first converts to Christ:
-Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
-For the remission (forgiveness) of sins
-Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
Let’s look at each of the above four points, one at a time.
First, “repent” means to turn from your wicked ways. You don’t have the ability to make these changes by yourself, and God knows this. But you do have the ability to recognize that your life and ways are wicked and evil. (You may not know it, but even this understanding came to you from God’s Spirit.) Whether it is pride or sexual sin which would include adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality; whether it is arrogance, self-righteousness, anger, violence, unforgiveness, bitterness, greed, deception, lying, envy, strife, reviling, outbursts of anger, drugs, alcohol, marijuana or God knows what else it could be; you need to repent. You don’t just make mistakes here and there; you are a problem; you are sinful. Stop kidding yourself. God really can’t help you unless you are WILLING to walk away from these awful ways, practices and sins. You need to be willing to partnership with God to make serious changes in your lifestyle. God knows that you cannot save yourself. But, you can sincerely WANT to change, and you can sincerely ASK and BELIEVE God to help you change.
We are not talking about a band-aid for your problems; we are talking about a heart transplant. We are talking about a serious, resolution in your HEART to follow Jesus. You can’t follow Him by relying on yourself, but you can determine to try to follow Him with God’s help. You can make this decision from your heart. Your heart is where you make decisions and determine which direction you will take. In Acts 2:37 the listeners were cut to the heart. Hebrews 4:12 says that the truth of the word of God exposes the thoughts and intents of your heart. Decisions from the heart go deeper than word games and intellectual smoke screens. Are you willing to let God help you seriously change your life in a way that is pleasing to Him? Are you willing to make a determination from your heart to let God help you follow and obey Him?
The next thing Peter preached to his listeners was to be baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. Being baptized in Jesus’ name has great meaning for the new believer. Of course, just dunking someone in water will not save them. But the meaning of baptism (of being dunked or immersed in water) if received, has life changing consequences for the believer.
Being baptized in Jesus’ name means identifying with Him in a very specific way. It means more than just declaring that the believer is now a Christian in a general sort of way, although it does mean that also. But it means identifying with Christ in an important way. It means identifying with Jesus in His death and resurrection.
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also SHOULD WALK in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. Romans 6:3-5
The apostle Paul in the above verses, is instructing believers using the meaning of baptism; and what it should have meant to them when they were immersed in water during their baptism. Paul is clearly showing the believers what they agreed to and believed when they were baptized.
When the believer is baptized in Jesus’ name, he declares that he WANTS to identify with Christ in His death and resurrection. The believer is also declaring that he BELIEVES that somehow,by grace he is identifying with Christ in His death and resurrection. The believer BELIEVES that by grace he is and will be dying to his old ways and life, so that he can live a new life. He might even at this point have some sort of understanding that Jesus set him free from his old ways and life through Christ’s death. The believer is also declaring that by being raised up out of the waters of baptism, he is being raised up by God’s grace into a brand new life of following Jesus. Romans 6:4 states that the believer is raised up to WALK IN newness of life. This all is a solemn COMMITMENT and BELIEF.
Now, maybe, all the new believer understands is this, “With Jesus’ help, I’m getting rid of the old life and ways, and somehow Jesus is going to help me live a new life. I’m going down with Jesus, dying to the old ways; and I am going to rise with Jesus, living in His new ways.” This simple understanding means plenty. This is a huge part of what it means to be saved. This theme also dominates New Testament teaching. As time goes on, the believer will get greater and greater understanding of what this theme means.
Along with baptism is the truth that we are forgiven for our sins and evil ways through Christ’s death. Peter preached to his listeners “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness) of sins” Acts 2:38. Forgiveness COMPLEMENTS the meaning and picture found in baptism. Not only is God through Christ going to help me live a new life, but He is also going to forgive me for the whole awful mess that I created living my old life and going my own way. He is forgiving me, not only for this sin or that sin, but for the whole pastlife. Not only am I dying to my old ways and old man as pictured in baptism, but I am forgiven for it all in Christ, also.
This forgiveness was accomplished by Jesus paying the penalty for my sins by His death on the cross. I can’t earn this forgiveness; it is freely given. Jesus took the judgement and punishment that I deserve onto Himself. This means that I am forgiven . In a general sort of way, He stepped in the way of the bullet meant for me. He gave His life for me.
And, with God’s forgiveness, I can immediately expect that I will be with Jesus in heaven when I die. For however long I live on this earth, I expect to be with Jesus in heaven when I die. Also, for however long I live on this earth, I expect to become more and more Christ-like, and I will eventually die and be transformed into the perfect image of Christ, and be with Him forever. I will experience eternal life in Him.”At His right hand are pleasures forever more”(Psalm 16:11). I will get my HEART’s desire: righteousness and life.
11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
And finally, with all of the above promises, Jesus promises to give me His Holy Spirit whom He puts in my heart. His Spirit lives in me to lead and help me live like Jesus. His Spirit encourages me in my daily walk with God. He is called in Scripture my Helper (John 14:26). I choose to partner with the Holy Spirit. I make room in my heart and life for His Spirit to lead and empower me. I invite His Spirit to have free reign in me. I accept Jesus as my Lord. The Christian life is lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s miracles in my life are by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that “those who are lead by the Spirit, these are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
Therefore, invite the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Christ to have complete control in your life. Ask Him INTO your heart; and declare Him as your Lord; and determine to follow Him. Declare your willingness to yield to Him. The Holy Spirit always leads in unison with the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible through human beings.
Do you believe and want all of the above with your whole HEART? If you do, welcome to the kingdom of God. Welcome into the body of Christ, which is the true church. Welcome to the brotherhood and sisterhood of believers. Welcome into a life of service to God, lead and empowered by His Spirit. Welcome to genuine life. Welcome to the hope of eternal life.
In Acts 2: 41, 47; the new believers were added to the number of true believers. In other words, an import indication that a person is saved is that they want to join a church of people who follow Christ. If you love God and want to follow Him, you should have a strong desire to be connected to a group or church of fellow followers of Christ.
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