“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9).
A pastor visited a friend of mine who’s been in church all his life. He calls himself a Christian, but confessed that he often felt empty and hopeless.
As they talked, it became evident to the pastor that my friend might very well have looked like a Christian on the outside, but had never asked the Lord to come and live in his heart.
“Have you ever said the Sinner’s Prayer?” he asked.
“You know, I don’t think I ever have,” he answered.
He then took my friend for a walk along the Roman road, a trail of verses in the book of Romans commonly used to lay out the plan of salvation. Afterwards, they said the Sinner’s Prayer together, and as the popular television chef Emeril would say, “Bam,” he was saved.
Jesus once explained to a prominent Jewish leader named Nicodemus the same thing that my pastor explained to my friend. “I tell you the truth,” he told Nicodemus one night, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again,” (John 3:3).
There are a lot of folks, just like my friend, who have been going to church for years, but never have had a born-again experience. In fact, that truth is borne out in some research I ran across. George Barna of the Barna Group, who tracks religious beliefs and behavior, reported in the early 2000s that 85 percent of all Americans identify themselves as Christians. Yet, only four out of 10 believe that people who do not consciously accept Jesus Christ as their savior will be condemned to hell.
But that’s not what the Bible says. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6). It just can’t get any plainer, can it?
Have you ever thought about the meaning of the parable Jesus once told about the wheat and tares? It seems the enemy came one night and sowed tares (weeds) in the farmer’s field where wheat also was planted. When everything came up, you couldn’t tell the difference. They look the same on the outside, but only the wheat has the kernel inside.
How about you? Do you have the real thing inside? Maybe you’ve grown up in church and can walk the walk and talk the talk as good as the next guy, but when you lay your head down on the pillow at night, do you feel empty inside? Have you ever asked Jesus to come live in your heart?
If you don’t know, let me invite you to make sure. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23). In other words, it doesn’t matter how good you are because if you don’t have Jesus in your heart, you haven’t got a chance.
Pray this prayer with me: “Jesus, I know I’m a sinner and realize that there’s nothing I can do in exchange for my own salvation. I feel your call on my life, know that you died on the cross to save me from my own sin, and rose from the dead three days later so that I, too, may walk in the newness of life. Come into my heart, Lord, and work the miracle in my life that I’ve seen you work in the lives of so many others. Save me now Lord Jesus. Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer and really meant it, the Word of God says you’re saved. You can go to bed tonight with the assurance that your name is written in the Book of Life. Relax. You will soon see that tomorrow really is a new day.
Write to Mike Ruffin at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is devotions.com.