Chapter 1.
What Happens When You Receive Christ

1. You Are Saved—Set Free from Sin and Death and Given Eternal Life.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Eph.2:1-5, NLT).

What was your life like before you received Christ? When God looked down upon you, what did He see?

a. Before conversion, you lived a life that was separated from God, lived as though you were dead toward God. Note the words in the above Scripture, “you were dead” (v. 1). How can you be living and yet be dead? To answer this question, you need to understand that death, in Biblical terms, means separation. It never means extinction, annihilation, non-existence, or inactivity. Death simply means that a person is either separated from his body or from God or from both. Holy Scripture speaks of three deaths:

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Heb.9:27, NIV).

But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives (1 Ti.5:6, NKJV).

The Lord Jesus [will be] revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (2 Th.1:7-9, NIV).

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Re.21:8, NIV).

b. Before conversion, you lived a life in disobedience and sins (Eph.2:1-3). Note that it is disobedience and sins that separate you from God. To disobey means to turn aside or wander away from God and His Holy Word.

To sin means to miss the mark. It is what is meant by coming short of the glory of God, short of His perfection and righteousness (Ro.3:23). God is perfect, but you are imperfect. You sin; you miss the mark. You may be respectable, but you are imperfect. You are never all that you should be.

Before conversion, you lived just like the disobedient of the world (v. 3). You followed the desires and passions of your flesh, gratified the longings and cravings of your sinful nature. Therefore, you were destined to face the wrath of God, doomed to eternal separation from Him.

c. When you are converted, you are redeemed and forgiven your sins through the death of Jesus Christ. To redeem means to deliver, buy back, or set free by paying a ransom. For example, a prisoner of war or a kidnap victim is ransomed or redeemed—saved from the threat of death. In every case, the person is powerless to free himself. He cannot make the payment demanded to liberate himself from his bondage or fate. Someone else has to pay the ransom to redeem him.

When God redeems you, the most wonderful thing happens: your sins are forgiven. The word forgive means to pardon, to release, to let go. Your sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ. How? Jesus died for you. He took the penalty of your sins and bore the punishment Himself. Consequently, your sins are removed—washed away, erased—forgiven forever.

d. Now, you claim to be converted—saved from sin and death and given life through Jesus Christ. There is no question, if you have truly trusted Christ as your Savior and Lord, God will give you a full and satisfying life, both now and for all eternity. This is His wonderful promise. In light of this, you should always remember how God saved you: through the death of His Son:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro.5:8, NKJV).

When Christ died on the cross, He died for you. He was bearing the penalty and punishment of sin for you. He was dying in your place—as your substitute—so that you would never have to face eternal death. Remember...

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 (Jn.3:16, NASB).

What you must do is make sure—absolutely sure—that your faith in Christ is genuine, the right kind of faith. The right kind of faith is known as a saving faith. But how can you know whether or not you have saving faith? One way to measure is to know what saving faith is not:

The right kind of faith, saving faith, is two things. First, saving faith is believing in Jesus Christ, believing in who and what He is, that He is truly the Son of God, the Savior and Lord of life. It is believing that Christ died in your place—for your sins—on the cross, and rose again (1 Co.15:3-4). It is fully trusting Him and His sacrificial death as payment for your sins. You must confess or acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and turn your life over to live for Him.

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Ro.10:9, NIV; see Ac.16:31).

Second, saving faith is the surrender of your life to Jesus Christ. It is the surrender to live for Christ—to obey Him and to live righteously as you walk through life day by day. Anything less is not true saving faith. True saving faith is obedience to God’s Holy Word.

And having been perfected, He became the author [source] of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb.5:9, NKJV).

As a professing believer, you must make absolutely sure that your belief in Christ is genuine and wholehearted, that you have a true saving faith, a faith that obeys God. If you do not know Christ personally and intimately, you will come up short.

If you sense that you do not have a true saving faith, just call upon the name of the Lord to save you and He will. He cares for you this much. No matter what you have done or how unworthy you feel, if you ask Him to forgive your sins and to save you from eternal death, He will. And the life that He gives you will be both abundant and eternal.

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Ro.10:13, NKJV).