Scripture tells us that God loves the world (John 3:16-17), has mercy on us all (Romans 11:32) and wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6), not wanting anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and true belief in His Son Jesus who is the ransoming Savior of all people (1 Timothy 4:10) and who tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9) once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). To activate the free gift and price already paid for our salvation we have to do the work of God, which is to believe in the One He sent (John 6:29). Romans 10:8-13 sets out clearly the requirements for salvation:
“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
Lets look at the two things we must do to activate the free gift of salvation:
1. Declare with our mouth that Jesus is Lord
2. Believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead
SAVED WITH THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
Before Jesus died on the cross for their sins, the disciples accepted Jesus as their Lord and had declared Jesus was the Messiah with the words of their mouth:
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-17
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:13-15
JUSTIFIED WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART
On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus appears to all his disciples for the first time after his death. Jesus appears behind locked doors and the disciples have a personal encounter with the gloriously risen Christ. In that moment the disciples met the second spiritual requirement for New Testament salvation which is: they believed in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:19-23
Because the disciples had already declared Jesus was Lord, and they believed in their heart the God raised Jesus from the dead, at this moment Jesus was able to give their spirits new birth by the Holy Spirit – which is why Jesus said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The disciples became born again (the Holy Spirit gave them a new spirit) at that moment of belief, and they were marked and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14):
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
CUT TO THE HEART
When you look at what the Bible has to say about a believing heart, a dramatic picture develops. When Jesus was in infant, Simeon prophesied over Jesus that He was “destined the cause the falling and rising of many…and to be a sign that will be spoken against, SO THAT THE THOUGHTS OF MANY HEARTS WILL BE REVEALED. And a SWORD WILL PIERCE your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35). By this prophecy over Jesus, we learn that God chose the sign of Jesus to be the litmus test of our heart. Jesus is the sign that when we look to Him, will we believe in Him or refuse Him? Jesus is the method God uses to reveal our hearts. There is a connection here with a sword and our hearts. We learn that the SWORD of the Spirit is the WORD of God (Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12) and when we hear the Word of God spoken to us it can cut our hearts and bring us to belief. On the day of Pentecost, right after the disciples received the Baptism and power of the Holy Spirit, Peter went out into the streets and preached the most powerful sermon he had ever spoken. Before his Baptism by the Holy Spirit, Peter did not have the power to speak so boldly. Three Thousand people heard the Word of God from Peter that day, and when they heard the Word which is a sword, they were “cut to the heart” (Acts 3:37-38) and they believed. This belief is the circumcision of our hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 30:6). When we believe in our heart (Romans 10:8-17), the Holy Spirit circumcises our heart (Romans 2:29).