"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." John 3:16-17
Jesus is the Way to the Father
For years it seemed during every major sporting event, whether attending in person or watching on TV, I would see a sign in the audience with John 3:16 in plain view. Several years ago, while attending a Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International (FGBMFI) New York State Advance, I met a man who said he started the ministry that arranges for the signs to be presented at these events. He told me he was living in a commune in Canada when he was saved and his life changed so drastically that he wanted to do something that would lead others to salvation. I never checked out his story but it did make me ponder this scripture verse.
One of the requirements for salvation is to know Jesus exists and God loves us and saves us through His Son, Jesus. The book of Romans quoting the Old Testament states that it was written that the feet of those who bring good news of good things are beautiful and asks these questions:
- How can anyone call on someone in whom they have not believed?
- How will they believe if they have not heard?
- How will they hear without someone telling them?
- And how can someone tell them if they are not sent?
I'm not sure how much good the "John 3:16" signs do in bringing people to salvation but I can't fault the group of men and women who embrace this ministry. In their own way they are being obedient to the call to preach the "Good News."
Understanding Our Need
It is necessary to know we are all guilty and Jesus is the only way to the Father. If we do not understand our need for Jesus we will never accept what He has done for us. Why would anyone want a Savior if they do not believe they have a need for one? If we believe there is a way to God through some other means why would we consider receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior? If we refuse to believe salvation is a free gift from God, in our pride we would try to earn it. The Word of God states we have new life in Jesus and we are new creations in Jesus but this is true only if we do it His way. God doesn't give us any other alternative.
But what is His way? Some ministers insist we need to proclaim Jesus as Lord publicly in order to be saved. They remind us that Jesus called all of the disciples in the Bible publicly. Others give us a step-by-step process, and still others say it is an individual matter between God and us.
When I accepted what the Lord had done for me I did it alone. I have heard numerous witnesses attesting to similar scenarios, some in their car, some in their homes, some while camping in various places. I do believe there is a time when the Lord requires us to go public but I do not believe it is a requirement to receive His grace. A short time after my encounter with the Lord I publicly proclaimed Him. I first did this by answering an "altar call" in front of most of my peers from work. The occasion was a funeral service for a friend and coworker who died prematurely. This friend knew and served the Lord and asked that an "altar call" be given at his funeral. I knew the Lord wanted me to proclaim Him in front of all of my peers as soon as I heard the minister asking people to come forward but I have to admit it was nevertheless difficult to respond.
Now I proclaim the Lord with boldness whenever I know He wants me to do so but then it took all of my inner strength to do it. Just before the altar call it seemed to me the Lord whispered in my ear "everyone who confesses Me before men, I will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God." (See Luke 12:8,9). How could I deny His request after receiving His grace in such abundance?
Confessing and Believing
What do the scriptures say about salvation?
"THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, in your mouth and in your heart - that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." Romans 10:8-13
"AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU." Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION" 2 Corinthians 6:2
When I am speaking to someone who has not proclaimed Jesus as Lord I recommend they take the time to pray and ask Jesus to be Lord of their life. My recommendation to anyone reading this is that they take the time right now to say out loud the prayer at the end of this message. Remember God used words to create the world and He instructs us to use words to exercise our faith. After you say the prayer tell someone what you have done. The Lord promises He will answer your prayers in His time and His way. Our responsibility is to trust Him to do so. Serving God is the most exciting and rewarding thing you will ever do in your entire life.
The word of God admonishes us to count the cost before we make such a commitment. Because of this we need to realize committing our lives to the Lord is a necessary but serious commitment. But being serious does not mean being perfect it only means we are willing to do whatever God asks us to do. In other words we are willing to be obedient. God knows our weakness and the fact we will fail but He promises the grace to overcome our weaknesses and failures. The bottom line is simply an answer to the question "Who do we want to serve, God or Satan?" The truth is when we fully commit to the Lord, counting the cost becomes a non-issue and the real issue becomes how do we best serve and love the Lord more and more.
- Pastor Tom McDonald
PRAYER FOR SALVATION
Heavenly Father I present myself to You. I pray and ask Jesus, Your son, to be the Lord over my life. I believe in my heart, so I say it with my mouth. "Jesus has been raised from the dead." This very moment I make Him Lord over my life.
Jesus come into my heart. I believe I am saved. I say now: I am reborn, I am a Christian, and I am a child of Almighty God.
I thank You Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for accepting me into the family of God. Praise and glory to God.