Most people think that the message of the Bible is that if you believe in Jesus you will go to heaven, and while somewhat true, this is not the whole picture. The whole picture can be understood from the Greek word sozo, which is used at least 90 times in the Bible. Taken together, these tell us that what God offers is more than just a ticket to heaven after we die - it is also referring to rescuing us from danger and destruction here and now.
Sozo is the word used in the (original Greek language) Bible to describe what is offered to every human through Jesus. Sozo means to save, to keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to rescue one (from injury or peril), to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health, to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue, to deliver. It is available to all who believe in Jesus and what He did.
We don’t have to wait to benefit from his power and love. We get to be made well, delivered, set free, kept safe and sound, while here too. In fact it is partly through us that God seeks to achieve this, instructing and equipping us to operate in His name, to be ministers of reconciliation and bring heaven to earth.
God will radically change the life of anyone who comes into agreement with Him and accepts His full benefits as his or her rightful inheritance. It's not about joining a club. It's about starting a relationship.
God created us with free will, with the ability to choose Him or reject Him. Which you choose will dictate where you spend eternity; heaven with God or hell in never ending torment with out Him. He honors the choice He gave us. But the consequences of rejecting love and safety and the author of all that is good - are bad. God gives us a plan of how to be safe/saved. His plan is simple. Choose Him.
Without personally choosing relationship with Him we will be eternally separated from God in hell. Jesus has given us a way out. To repent means to change your mind. So we must change our mind to agree with God and believe that Jesus is who He said He was and accomplished what He said He did. And then apply this to our lives.
Of course, to truly know who He was and what He did, YOU are going to have to start this journey with Him. Don't listen to information about Him second-hand from others. They can get it wrong. Find out for yourself. He wants to know you and be known by you. He wants relationship. The word 'know' used below doesn't mean know about Him. It means to know him for yourself. I can tell you a piece of chocolate cake tastes good, but you wont truly know it does in this sense, unless YOU taste it for yourself. Same applies here. You can't stand on the sidelines and listen, you have to jump in with your heart.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.
No church, no man, no good works can save you. Nothing is good enough except knowing Jesus personally and then we get a guest pass because of Him. An example of this is found in the story of the thief on the cross who was able to go to paradise because he believed /realized Jesus was Lord.
Most people are taught to begin this process with a personal verbalized prayer, a conscious decision to "accept" and follow Jesus Christ. This idea comes from the Bible.
'for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved' (romans 10.13)
'if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.' (romans 10.9)
True "confession before men" occurs when someone in your daily life asks you a question whereby you can say "Yeah, I have a new life, I am safe and new and it’s because of Jesus". When you are discipled and other believers help you to mature in who you are in Christ then when a situation like that arises you are simply telling them the truth and not trying to pass some test. Telling God that you believe in Him is only the very beginning to a new relationship and way of life.
Here is an example of such a confession:
God, I know that I have sinned against you by rejecting you and that my sins separate me from you. I am truly sorry. I now want to turn away from my sinful past and turn to you. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. I open my heart to You and ask You to take control of my life. I invite you to be my Savior and Friend and the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me, guide me and empower me. I commit to growing in love and knowledge of you. My greatest purpose in life is now to follow your example and do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
The essence of this prayer is "use me, teach me, make yourself known to me. I choose you. I surrender all." If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised. If you invited Jesus Christ into your heart and life, He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you'll experience life to the fullest. Once you've received Him, as believers now we need to spend time with Him and put what He teaches you into practice.
It is said that this kind of prayer is meant for individuals who feel convicted of the presence of sin or the absence of God in their life and desire to form a personal relationship with the only true God through his son Jesus Christ. The prayer can take on different forms. There is no formula of specific words which are considered essential. The prayer is nowhere found in the Bible, but proponents often point to Romans 10: 9-10 as their source.
It is not just about reciting some words. (Reading my washing machine's Operation Manual doesn't get the clothes cleaned -Tony Finis) It should be about beginning a real relationship with a real and living God. Just saying the words without meaning may create a false sense of security. This should not be the case. It should not be a fear based or cynical, shallow or insincere decision. Even the demons know who Jesus is and that He is real. But they are not going to heaven! Because they do not choose Him as Lord nor are they in a relationship with Him.
The other critical element in this process is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the actual Spirit of God, which Jesus (after completing his assignment on earth and returning to heaven) enabled to be sent down to dwell in believers. If you doubt whether or not you have this, simply ask to receive the Holy Spirit into your heart. The Holy Spirit is the one who is sent by God to teach and guide and empower you.
(a) are a believer (believe God, and believe in His Son)
(b) have the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit
(c) read a bible (so that you can learn more)
(d) apply all this to your life
then you have all the tools you need to succeed and grow. Being around other believers can help. But don’t be fooled into thinking someone else’s opinion is more valid than your own. If you have the Holy Spirit and a Bible you have ‘the Guide’ and ‘the Instruction Manual’. Be confident in what you discover. Be lead by that and not what the Bible calls ‘the traditions of man,’ meaning the rules and routines and standards that men have come to suggest.
The Bible tells us to make disciples not converts. So the point of this is as a starting point for you to walk in relationship with Jesus and to get to know him (through the Holy Spirit, prayer, reading the bible, being around other true believers). Many may "say a prayer asking Jesus to save them. But not many embark on a life fully devoted to the love of God, the love of neighbor, the moral practice of God's will, and radical, costly discipleship." (David P. Gushee).
We encourage you to enter into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.