DO you know if salvation is yours and are confident that you have the friendship of our Lord, Jesus Christ? If you are not sure, this is the time while there is still breath within you, to make a commitment to God to live the life He has set, to enable you to get that rare ticket for entrance to Gods kingdom. After all, "What is your life? It is (even) a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). So the most important question one can ask is Am I saved?
MOST of us are baptized and trying to live the life that God has planned for us. But there are those who have not experienced the saving power of Jesus, the wonderful grace of God, or known the cleansing Sacrament of Baptism. And then there are some of us who have moved away from the circle of Gods love and do not realize by doing so have left the protection of the Heavenly Father. These Catholics may be still coming to Church but their relationship with Jesus the Lord has been taken for granted or relegated in order of importance to low level priority.
IT is not how good we are, or if we are a church member. No human being, no matter how great or how important, and absolutely no one who is already in Heaven except the Son can grant us entry to that Kingdom. Top authorities of the Church cannot help us, for they too must gain that same ticket which is offered free without benefit of status, money or origin. Only our Lord Jesus can give it. And if we have accepted Him as our Lord, have faith in Him and follow His teachings we are promised Heaven. Nothing else is needed.
What is salvation?
SALVATION means to save from danger or destruction. We are all born to a sinful state and therefore are not in Gods grace unless we have been cleansed by baptism. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Because we are, we are condemned to death and we need salvation if we want to live eternally. "For the payment of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God in Hell. The good news is God loved all of us so much He gave His only Son, Jesus, to take all our sins upon His shoulders and die in our place. Jesus Who is sinless and perfect in every way bore our sins for us that we might be made righteous through His dying on a cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we can believe that He became our substitute, did this just for us and we place our faith in Him we can be positive of eternal life in Heaven. What Christ gave us was a selfless act of sacrifice called salvation.
Why must we go through Jesus for Salvation?
"I am the way . . . no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me," John 14:6.
ALL human beings are full of sin. Not one of us is worthy. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Isaiah 59:2 states Our iniquities have separated us from God, and our sins have hid his face from us. Because God is a Perfect Being we cannot as sinners enter His perfect kingdom with sin on our souls. We, through faith, need to be first washed in the purifying blood of Jesus Christ. This is called the Sacrament of Baptism. Gods love is so unconditional that He came down Himself in the Person of His Son to make a way for us to live with Him. Through His amazing grace and the blood of His Son we are made worthy. No one else on earth can do this for us. Not our President, nor the wealthy, not even the Church or its heads can for they are human beings and subject to human imperfections. Clergy can advise, implore, set an example for us, dispense the Sacraments and help us stay on the right path as the disciples did but salvation is a conscious decision we have to make ourselves to follow Him. John 14:6 is very explicit: Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Why did God send His Son to die for us?
GOD sent His Son to earth because we were disobedient throughout the ages and did not adhere to the laws He laid down for us. We either killed the prophets He sent or did not listen to what they were trying to teach us. We made our own rules and did not care to know about the Heavenly Father. And so, Jesus had to shed His blood and die to rectify this and make us good enough to enter His Fathers kingdom. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11). "...without the shedding of blood there is no payment for our sins. (Hebrews 9:22). So Jesus Christ became the human sacrifice for the sins of all.
How can we get into friendship with Jesus?
WE develop a friendship with our Lord by acknowledging that we are sinners and are completely dependent upon Him to guide us along the path He has set for us. We have faith that He alone can give us salvation. We give our trust to Him, knowing that He, like the Father, is always there for us. If we have not received the Sacrament of Baptism, we publicly proclaim Him by receiving this Sacrament in His name and receive the Sacrament of Communion to sustain us. We confess our sins and grow strong in the faith. We try to give100% of ourselves to this relationship by coming to Him as little children, placing our hand within His and letting Him lead us in all things with a belief everything He told us is true. We hold on to His promise that we shall someday see Him and our Heavenly Father face to face in heaven.
We have all heard that one must be born again. What does this mean?
GOD says in order to go to Heaven we must be born again through baptism. Most of us have been baptized at birth. Being born again means belief that the Lord Jesus can cleanse us and make us like brand new. To those of us who have not been baptized it is a rebirth to remove the stain of sin. When we are baptized we are new creatures, without the original sin that came from Adam and Eve when they committed the first sin by eating fruit from the forbidden Tree of Life. In St. John, Nicodemus, a man of the Pharisees, asked Jesus How can a man be reborn? Jesus answered him saying Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:6 cites: He who is born of the flesh is flesh; and he who is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, You must be born again. Nicodemus asked, "How can a man be reborn when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born again again?" (John 3:4). Nicodemus did not understand that Jesus was saying if he had faith and was willing to be baptized, he would experience a spiritual rebirth through that faith. We too, were reborn through the Sacrament of Baptism.
Have I experienced this spiritual rebirth? What is it?
IF WE received Christ into our hearts in faith, live as our Savior taught us and were baptized, we have been reborn. "As many as receive Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons and daughters of God, even to them that believe on His Name". (John 1: 10-12). When we open our hearts to Jesus and place our complete trust in Him as our Savior, God forgives our sins, saves our souls, and will receive us in heaven. God says, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). And Jesus promises, "He that hears my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life". (John 5:24).
Is this all I need to be saved? How can I be sure?
THIS IS the most important question we can ask ourselves. Our eternal future depends on the answer. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Roman3:23). In Acts 16: 30-31, the Phillippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they answered, "Believe in the Lord and thou shall be saved". This is all you need for once you are in His friendship He will always be with you. Because you love Him and depend on Him, you will want to please Him and do His will and that of the Father. Simply believe in Him as the One who took our sins and died in our place, was buried and came to life again. With this resurrection comes the promise that we too will rise again and the believer will claim everlasting life. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." (John 1:12) "And whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13). Not PERHAPS, not MAYBE , God promises we SHALL be saved. And God does not lie. (Titus 1:2) Take God at His word and claim salvation by faith. Believe, and salvation is yours. It is that simple.
Okay, so how about those who seem to be doing everything right? Are they saved by going to Church every Sunday, taking the sacraments of baptism, communion, confirmation, working for the church, being good, and following all the rules laid down?
The rules that count foremost are God's rules. No other rules or laws can work by themselves. And there is not one of us without sin. But the biggest sin of all is not knowing who Jesus really is, not having a working relationship with Him or placing all our faith in Him. For He is the gateway to the Father. The ONLY gateway. None of the saints can do that even though they have been sanctified by God. Only the Son has the keys to the doors of Heaven and we cannot get in if He does not open them. Some might say "I go to church and live the best I can. What else can I do? I am human and I make mistakes like everybody else. The answer to that is confess our sins as often as we sin, believe completely in the Son and He will lead us in the right direction so we will not stumble. If we believe this, we are saved.
Once baptized, do we still sin and then lose heaven?
WE HAVE all violated God's laws at some time or other. But we make amends as soon as possible. This is what keeps us in God's grace. The Bible states, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no, not one...There is not a just man upon earth that does good and does not sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us...If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (Romans 3:23,10; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 1st John 1:8,10). If we have recognized our sins and asked for forgiveness with the intent of avoiding those sins in the future He will forgive and forget these sins have ever occurred. We must remember to live each day as if there will be no other for none is promised that extra moment so we can confess and be sorry for sins. God's simple palm for salvation is believe in the Son and keep His commandments. If we sin we must confess. If we do not ask for forgiveness we forfeit heaven. If we do not adhere to the teachings of Christ and the Father, we will spend eternity in hell. If we believe in Him as our crucified, buried, and risen Savior, we receive forgiveness for all sins as well as His gift of eternal salvation through faith.
God's plan is be sure you are in good standing in your religious relationship with Him. If you lose your soul, you will miss heaven and everything will be lost to you forever. Once you are in God's friendship, His power will save you, keep you saved, and enable you to live a victorious Christian life. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way for you to escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13). Do not trust your feelings. They can change. Stand on God's promises. They never change. And in addition to receiving the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments, don't forget to pray, to read God's word, and spread the good news of salvation wherever you go.
For those who are reading this and want to repent from sin and receive salvation through Christ, it is time to talk to a priest. If you are not yet baptized in testimony of your salvation, don't delay any longer. "For what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)
ARE YOU READY FOR FOREVER?
"it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)
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