We are the raise your hands and say a prayer people, a generation of church-goers who believe their eternal destiny is secure because we once prayed a simple prayer. We bought in because it was easy. The teaching was perpetuated because it removed so much responsibility from our lives. But what does the Bible, and specifically Jesus, have to say about being saved from eternal damnation? If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know there is no mention of the so-called “sinner’s prayer” in Scripture. There are, however, very clear instructions as to what we must do to inherit eternal life.
At one point in His ministry, a man asked Jesus point blank what he had to do to be saved. Jesus told Him that He needed to do the things God told him to do and to sell everything he had and give it to the poor (Mark 10:17-22). It is my firm belief that the reason Jesus told the man to sell his possessions was because all his wealth had become an idol. He esteemed his earthly treasures higher than the things of Heaven. Jesus cut to the heart of the matter. The problem wasn’t that the man was rich, but rather that he put his faith and focus on what he had rather than in God.
In I John 2:3 we read that we can know we belong to Christ simply by the fact that we keep His commandments. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him (John 14:15). We will feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty; we’ll give shelter to strangers, give clothes to those in need, care for the sick, and visit those in prison (Matthew 25:31-46). We will give to everyone who asks and expect nothing in return (Luke 6:29-30). We will forsake everything for the sake of Jesus (Matthew 16:24). If we wish to spend eternity with Him, it matters what we do on earth. We must obey Christ, and do so because we are passionately in love with Him.
Being saved is not the result of saying a prayer once or even multiple times in your life. It’s an endless and relentless pursuit of Jesus expressed by our love for, and obedience to, Him. If you said a prayer, even if you meant it, but do not spend your life doing the things He told you to do, my fear is that you will be one of those who think they know Him but are turned away from His presence (Matthew 7:21-23). If you truly love Jesus, you will want to do what He commanded you to do. Our execution will not always be perfect, but our love will keep us trying over and over again. It is that desire that should provide your assurance. How can you know if you’re saved? Love Jesus with all your heart and do the things He commanded you to do. It’s as simple as that.