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"And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here."
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:22-30 KJV)
Sirs, what must I do to be saved? There are many people in the world that have all kinds of different ideas about what you must do to be saved.
There are people who believe in their heart that if they follow certain church sacraments then someday they'll die and go straight to be with Jesus.
There are others who believe in their heart that if they keep the ten commandments then someday they'll die and they'll go on to Heaven and be with Jesus.
There are some that believe that baptism saves.
There are some that believe that simply asking Jesus into your heart saves.
There are some that believe that if you commit yourself to Jesus you can be saved.
There are some that believe if you join the church you can be saved.
There are others who believe that if you live a certain lifestyle you can be saved.
And on and on and on it goes.
But what is our answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" You may like to know the answer to that question. What must you do to be saved? I will lay the answer out as clearly as possible. I will lay it out to you on a shelf where you can reach it. What must you do to be saved?
Salvation: crystal-clear; that's my heart and that's my goal. After reading this it in its entirety, and understanding it, there will be no question in your heart about what you must do to be saved. Having done that, I will be able to say that my hands are free from your blood if you resist the convicting work of the Spirit of God.
I would like to go through five simple segments with you: (1) understanding your sinfulness; (2)understanding eternal judgment; (3) understanding the convicting work of the Holy Spirit; (4)understanding repentance; and (5) understanding genuine belief. I would like to clearly and as best as I possibly can, by the grace of God, present to you how to be saved.
The sinfulness of mankind
The first thing that you must realize if you're going to understand how to be saved crystal-clear is you must realize the sinfulness of mankind. It's often difficult to convince men and women of their sinfulness but you must understand it in order to be saved crystal-clear.
Turn to Isaiah 53. I'd like to show you that, according to the Bible, we are all sinners in the sight of God:
I'd like to draw a few things out of there that we can learn about the sinfulness of mankind.
The root of sin is selfishness
The Bible says all we like sheep have gone astray and I don't care what sin you want to call out to me: whether it's murder, whether it's adultery, whether it's lust, whether it's stealing, whether it's gluttony, whether it's covetousness, whether it's envy or jealousy or something else. The root cause to every sin is selfishness.
Basically, you're saying to God, "I want my own way." This is the problem with mankind: he is inherently selfish, he has turned to his own way.
Jesus was sinless
Notice the example of Jesus who was sinless. In John 8:29 the Bible records that Jesus said to the Father, "I do always those things that please [My Father]." 1 Peter 2:22 records that Jesus "did no sin. "Do you realize that Jesus is the only Person, or the only Man that walked this earth, that could actually say He was sinless? The reason why He could that is because He could say, ‘Father, I have always and every time done the things that please You and never have I done anything that was pleasing only to Me.' Jesus was sinless.
Jesus never did anything selfish
Jesus never did anything that was selfish. Even in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus said, "Father... not My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42).
Jesus said in the book of John, "I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12:49). That's an amazing thing. Do you realize that Jesus never spoke a single word that wasn't given to Him of His Father? Wouldn't that be wonderful if we could speak every word scripted from our Heavenly Father?
I wonder if you could stand up and claim before God, "I have never ever been selfish." If so, I would like to meet you. But I don't think you'll introduce yourself to me with that claim. Selfishness is the root of all sin.
The root of selfishness is in every one of us
I want you to notice something else in Isaiah 53:6. The Bible says there, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. "Notice also that this root of selfishness is in every one of us. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to our own way.
It doesn't matter whether you were born and raised in a Hutterite colony in South Dakota or Montana. It doesn't matter whether you were born and raised in an Amish home in Pennsylvania. It doesn't matter whether you were born in a worldly home like I was in Ohio. It doesn't even matter if you were born in a crack house in the Bronx of New York. You are a sinner. It doesn't matter where you were born. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to our own way.
God's grading system requires perfection
You say to me, "Don't you realize that there are people who have sinned more than I have?" Yes, I agree with you. There are people who have sinned more than you have and yes, you can look around and say, "That guy over there" or "That gal over there.. they've sinned more than I have." And I would agree with you, and God would too.
I went to public school. When I was in school and we took a test we had to make a 60% on the test to get a passing grade. I recall sitting at my desk when I was a young man. They'd pass back the test after the teacher had graded it. If my friend got a 4% on the test out of 100% and I got a 58%, do you realize that my friend got and F and I got an F too? Do you realize it didn't matter whether I got a 58% or a 4% on the test? I failed the test!
You say, "Now wait a minute. You did better than he did." You're right, but I failed. And did you know that God's grading system requires perfection? In James 2:10 the Bible says, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all [the whole thing]."
Are you perfect?
Can you say that you're perfect in God's sight? If you cannot say that then you've failed. Can anyone stand up and say, "I am perfect in the sight of God?"
You say, "But Oh, you don't know: I'm better than most." Yes, but are you perfect? The Bible says all we like sheep have gone astray.
J. Vernon Magee grew up in Santa Monica California. He tells of times when he was a young man and how he and his friends would go out to the pier on the Pacific Ocean. They had a little game that they called "Jumping to Catalina Island." One of the boys would run off the pier and he would jump out as far as he could to try to reach Santa Catalina Island. But Catalina Island was around 20 miles offshore. The next little boy would take off running and he would try as hard as he could to jump to Catalina Island but he never could jump to Catalina Island. When they got back up on the pier, one of them would say, "Hey, I jumped further than you did." He was right, but none of them ever came near to Catalina Island.
Compare yourself to God's holiness
You might be mighty holy in your own sight but you're short of God's glory. The Bible says, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
If you want to compare yourself with someone, the Bible says there is One Person you can compare yourself to: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). If you'd like to compare yourself with someone, compare yourself with your Heavenly Father and see how you do.
Do you realize that if Jesus walked through the room you're in that there's not a single soul that would go up to Jesus and say, "I'm perfectly holy like You"? The attitude God wants from every individual is this: "I am a wretched sinner. I am a wretched sinner."
Look at Luke chapter 18. There Jesus teaches on attitudes toward self:
Now notice to whom the Pharisee is comparing himself. I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are.... comparing himself to men.
"I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other..." (Luke 18:12
If you looked up to Heaven and compared yourself with God, you would turn your face from Heaven down to the ground, and you would say, "god be merciful to me, a sinner."
Do you believe you're a sinner?
There was an evangelist by the name of Eddie Martin in Bloomfield, West Virginia. He preached a sermon one day and after the service an elderly woman came forward to get converted. Eddie met her at the altar and he said to her, "Madam, why have you come forward?" The woman looked up at him and she said, "I've come forward to get saved." Eddie said to her, "Madam, do you believe you're a sinner?" And the woman looked up at Eddie and said, "Sir, I'm not a sinner." And Eddie said to her, "Madam, do you realize that the Bible says if you don't see yourself as a sinner that you cannot be saved?" And this woman looked up at Eddie and said, "Well, Mr. Martin, I may be a sinner, but I'm a good sinner." And Eddie said to her, "Listen madam, unless you see yourself as a wretched sinner before God, you cannot be saved."
The woman was distraught and she went back to her seat. Eddie Martin stood there and he watched her go back to her pew. The Spirit of God got control of her heart and she turned around and walked back up to Eddie. She looked him in the eyes and she said, "Mr. Martin, I see it now. I am a wretched sinner." And Eddie said, "Then you're qualified to be saved."
Likewise, I say to you: "If you don't see yourself before God as a wretched sinner then you're not qualified to be saved." You must see yourself as a sinner. You must see yourself as a wretched sinner in the sight of God.
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Liberty To The Captives Established in June 2001