For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Since Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to pay for all sin, God is now able to make you a wonderful offer. He wants to forgive your every sin—past, present, and future—and to stamp the record of your sins PAID IN FULL. He wants to break the power that sin has over you, make you a new creation, and change you into the likeness of Christ. He is ready to bring you into his family and have you live with him in heaven forever.
God is willing to do all this for you “by grace.” Acting out of his love, generosity, and kindness, he wants to bless you beyond description. This great salvation, the above verses tell us, is “the gift of God.” It costs you nothing, for Christ has already paid its awful price. You do not have to earn it. It is “not by works.” What could you do to earn forgiveness and eternal life in heaven anyway?
“I think I’ll make it to heaven,” a Catholic woman told me as we stood in front of her parish church, “by going to church, living a good life, and keeping the Ten Commandments. I think I have a pretty good chance.”
That poor woman hasn’t any chance at all. The Bible says that no one will get to heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments. That is not their purpose. God gave them to us to show us how far short we fall of his perfect standard. Through the law “we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20). It helps us to see that we need a Savior, that we need Jesus.
“I think the good in my life will outweigh the bad,” a man told me outside the same church.
That poor man hasn’t a chance either. All the good works in the world can’t make up for one sin. Neither can suffering for a time either here on earth or later in some imaginary place, like purgatory. The penalty for sin is death, eternal separation from God.
Don’t even think of trying to work your way to heaven. It’s hopeless. Instead, praise God that he sent his Son to die for you! Thank him that he is willing to forgive your sins and give you eternal life as a gift.
A lost sinner once asked the apostle Paul life’s most important question, “What must I do to be saved?” Peter replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). Here the Word of God tells us what we must do to receive his gift of salvation: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
Maybe you are thinking, What’s new about that? I’ve always believed in Jesus.
No doubt, you accept the basic historic truths about Christ. You have probably recited the Creed at Mass more than a thousand times.
Believing in Jesus for salvation, however, means more than agreeing with certain facts about him. It is to rely upon him to make you right with God. It is to place your faith in Christ as the one who died in your place, taking your punishment for you. It is to trust him, and him alone, to rescue you from the coming wrath. God’s Word says that salvation is in Jesus and “no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
If you have never trusted Jesus to save you from the punishment of sin, you can receive him as your Savior now. Here’s how.
- Salvation starts with repentance. If you have not done so already, humble yourself before God, admitting your sin and guilt. Express your desire to do his will, trusting him to give you the ability to do what is right.
- Next, place your trust in the Lord Jesus to save you. Tell God you are relying on Christ’s death on the cross as the complete payment for your sins.
- State before God that you are not going to depend upon anyone or anything else for your salvation—not yourself, your priest, Mary, the saints, the Church, your baptism, your participation in the other sacraments, your attempts to obey the Ten Commandments. Not even your good works. Tell God you have decided to trust Jesus, and him alone, for your salvation.
- Thank God for his free offer of forgiveness and eternal life. Acknowledge that you do not deserve such generous treatment, but humbly accept it as a gift from God.
You can do this today, speaking to God in prayer, using your own words. Once you do so, tell your family and friends of your decision to repent and trust Jesus to save you. Encourage them to do the same. The Bible says that God’s offer of salvation is for “you and your household” (Acts 16:31).