And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:42-43 NASU.
Perhaps you may wonder what the above verse has to do with “getting saved.” Most of us have come up the classical way of being convicted of sin (being a sinner), wanting to go to heaven, or being scared silly of hell, or first learning about why Jesus died (that was me at age five), hearing repent or else, or going through the standard soul winning methods and the sinners prayer. While our Lord may graciously use any of these, we miss it if we believe they are the ideal.
What happened to the thief on the cross? He acknowledged Jesus as Lord and King even as redemption was being provided because he had a revelation of WHO Jesus was!
In Acts 2:14-36 Peter preached Christ, and WHO he was, to the Jews present, NOT a plan of salvation. After the Spirit had pierced them in the heart (remember they had rejected him as King), they were given instruction to repent and be baptized.
An O.T. example has merit. Consider Isaiah Six. The LORD revealed himself to Isaiah in all of his glory. Then Isaiah got a revelation of his need of change because, “For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." He was then purged of his sin.
Now in Acts Chapter Ten we read about when Peter was invited to Caesarea to speak. It was not to Jews but to Gentiles, and something rather unique happened. He preached Christ, his death, his resurrection and of witnesses to it. He never preached any plan of salvation, or that they must have faith and believe, or that they should repent. Something amazing happened while he was still preaching.
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.” Acts 10:44-46.
Peter had the good sense to recognize God at work. “Then Peter answered, " Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Acts 10:47-48. Why? These folks had received a Holy Spirit revelation of Christ, not doctrine, but pure Christ.
The Christian world, and especially the Evangelicals have put Jesus Christ into a box of do this and that and then only will you be saved. Rubbish! Let me give you some out of the box examples:
1: When my father was confirmed in the Church of England, the bishop said, “Lord bless this child with thy heavenly grace that he may continue thine forever.” Something happened. His heart was touched and a new life began. It was an astounding journey!
2: As a student at a school of evangelism we were told the story of a very fat man who was unreachable with the usual methods. One day he opened a Bible to read, “All the fat belongeth to the Lord.” That did it, he was saved.
3: A friend told me of when his mother, a devote Roman Catholic received her first communion, she believed that Christ had come into her heart. He did! Her son had the same experience.
The issue with regard to receiving Jesus as Savior, is not knowing you are a sinner and the need to repent, not believing, and whatever else. The issue is the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ. You don’t get saved and then choose to make him Lord, rather it is his Lordship that saves you. Because he died, was resurrected, ascended to the right hand of the Father and was exalted as Lord and Christ, with the proof being the outpouring of the Spirit that one is saved.
Here are two statements Jesus made: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. John 6:37. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; John 6:44. There is NO free choice in the matter, it is the sovereign drawing (literally dragging) of the Spirit that brings us to Christ.
This business of the experience of “getting saved” is different than what religion has taught us. It is the unique drawing of the Spirit to the One who is SALVATION. One may be told to say this and that, to call Jesus Lord, however as 1 Cor 12:3 tells us, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.” NASU.
If we only see sin as the salvation issue, or it has become a heaven or hell issue, then we totally miss what it is about. Anyone can repent, but it is the revelation of who Jesus is that is salvation. He is our SALVATION! The one to whom all of creation will confess and bow in worship. Jonathan Mitchell’s expanded translation puts Philippians 2:10-11 this way.
“to the end that within The Name: Jesus! (or: in union with the name of Jesus; in the midst of the Name belonging to [Yahweh-the-Savior]), every knee (= person) – of the folks upon the heaven (of those belonging to the super-heaven, or [situated] upon the atmosphere) and of the people existing upon the earth and of the folks dwelling down under the ground (or: on the level of or pertaining to subterranean ones) – may bend (or: would bow) in worship, prayer or allegiance, and every tongue (= person) may speak out the same thing (should and would openly agree, confess and acclaim) that Jesus Christ [is] Lord (Master; Owner) – [leading] into [the] glory of Father God (or: unto Father God's good reputation; [progressing] into a manifestation which calls forth praise unto God [the] Father)!”
Watchman Nee said, “It is the living Lord who becomes our Savior. Jesus is no longer the crucified but the reigning One, and today therefore we go for salvation not to the foot of the Cross but to the Throne, and to believe in Him as Lord.” End of quotation.
It is the revelation by the Spirit of WHO Jesus Christ NOW is that brings us and will bring all of creation home to our Father.