By Pastor Mike Gudka, St. Paul United Methodist Church

In today’s world, people have turned away from reading their Bibles and have looked for other ways to fill-in their knowledge of Christ. While at the same time, too many of our Churches have wanted to fill their pews by offering bland, happy-go-lucky sermons. And as a result, a Biblical understanding of salvation has been cheapened. And this misinformation is going to lead to many who think they are going to spend eternity in heaven, receiving a big shock right after their last breath.

How many of you have heard, “Believe in Jesus and you will be saved”? Well, on the surface, this statement is Biblically correct.But how much “belief” does it take to be saved? Can you just pray a simple prayer, become saved, and then just keep living your life the way you always have? And can you call yourself a believer and never attend Church?

True belief in Christ comes with eternal salvation that begins the moment we truly accept Him as our Lord and Savior. But salvation to a Lord and Savior must include total surrender. Now our culture teaches that surrender is a bad thing. And in the cultural context of surrendering to someone or an idea that is abusive or evil, surrendering is a bad thing. This is because when we surrender to someone or some concept that is evil, we lower ourselves into believing that we are not worthy, flawed, or not able to overcome. But when we fully surrender to the Lord God of the Universe, it leads to the exact opposite happening. When we say that we believe in Christ, we must surrender our lives to His goodness, His will, and His incredible plan for our lives.

And here is what is really cool. On our own, we cannot surrender to this God that loves us. Instead, once we truly believe, the Holy Spirit begins to fill us with just how special and wonderful God is. The Holy Spirit gives us trust and faith that the more we surrender, the more we will see just how special we are in the eyes of an omniscient God that knew us before time began. And when we see how much God believes in us, then it frees us to take on whatever the world throws at us. It gives us a glimpse of just how special we are and how wrong the world is when it tries to put us down. In other words, the more we surrender, the more we experience real victory.

So to put this simply, there is no salvation, unless we surrender our lives to Christ.

To sum up the last three weeks of what it means to truly believe in Christ and be saved, the Bible tells us that there is no forgiveness, unless we repent; we cannot say that we believe in Christ if we don’t commit our lives to serving Him; and we cannot receive salvation without surrendering to Him.

Now for the good news! You know that you cannot do this on your own. So God is standing ready, right here and right now, to enter into your life and take you through the process of true belief in Christ through repentance, commitment, and surrender. And there is a church near you standing ready to accept you, pray for you, and help you through the same journey that they are on.

My prayer for you this week is that you will be moved to go deeper, much deeper, in your understanding of what it means to truly believe in Christ. And then jump in with both feet and have an awesome time along the journey of transformation!