Please be aware that various denominations interpret the Bible differently regarding salvation.
Some Christian books or movies like "The Shack" teaches that nobody has to do anything to be saved, and they teach the lie that sin is bad behaviour that only in suffering like unforgiveness, sorrow, depression, revenge and so forth but that it has no effect on your salvation. If this was true, then Jesus' crucifixion would have been pointless and Jesus would have no need to sent out his disciples to spread the Gospel.
Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists... -- Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
However, to know that God exist is not enough to save you.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!” -- James 2:19 (NKJV)
These demons are lost according to Peter and Jude:
For if God did not spare angels (demons) when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment -- 2 Peter 2:4 (ESV); Jude 1:6
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. -- Joel 2:32
Out of context it seems like you only need to call "LORD" then you will be saved, but that is not what the prophet Joel said.
He is talking about the end-time:
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls. Joel 2:30-32
These "saved" ones are the "survivors" who lived under the LORD's authority (protection).
The "sinner's prayer" introduced by Charles Finney, Greg Laurie, Franklin Graham, Bill Bright and Billy Graham and many other pastors today, is a special prayer that unbelievers had to recite so that they think they are saved. Unfortunately, you can say what you want, if you do not at least believe and repent, you will still be lost.
...whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. -- John 3:15-18
Out of context it seems like Jesus is saying you only need to "believe that Jesus had saved you", but that is not what Jesus said.
If you remove the titles from the passage which was added by the translators which is not part of the original manuscripts, you will notice that this section is part of the prior section of the book. A section where Jesus is reasoning with Nicodemus about salvation.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” -- John 3:5-8
Nicodemus was an important teacher in Israel and Jesus did not need to explain everything in detail to him. Jesus was saying that if you want to be saved, you need to be:
- "born again" which means you need a new life
- "born of water and the Spirit" means you need to be baptised by water and the Spirit "to enter the kingdom of God".
- The Jesus continues to explain that when you are "born again" you will be guided by the Spirit which is like the "wind".
Clearly Nicodemus questioned this reasoning, on which Jesus challenged him by saying:
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? -- John 3:12
So the next section (John 3:16-18) Jesus told Nicodemus that people (including Nicodemus) need to trust (believe) him that his teaching are true, so that he could also be saved. Jesus warns Nicodemus that "whoever does not believe is condemned already". The point Jesus make is that salvation starts with faith, and unless Nicodemus did not believe Jesus, he cannot be saved.
Then Jesus continues by explaining:
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
- For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
- But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
-- John 3:19-21 (ESV)
His Spirit will shine the light on the wicked things people do. You will either hate it because it exposes your sin or if you will love it because it reveals the works you have been carried out in obedience to God.
Therefor it is not enough to only "believe you are saved", you have to repent from "the wicked things" you had done in the "darkness".
Another reason why some are deceived, is that they often quote a single verse out of context and some translations like New Living Translation will then read:
People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. -- Romans 3:23 (NLT)
Again, if you read the full passage, Paul is not addressing unsaved people. Paul is addressing his believers who already repented and who were already following God (Romans 1:5-7). Paul is making the point that believers should not try to obtain righteousness (peace with God) through the laws of the Jews, but through faith in Jesus' sacrifice.
One of the most misquoted scriptures are:
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. -- Romans 10:9 (ESV)
Out of context it seems like you only need to say the magic words "Jesus is Lord" and believe that God somehow raised him from the dead, then you will get a ticket to heaven, but that is not what Paul said.
He was concerned about the people who did not hear the Good News and that would be lost:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -- Romans 10:14-17
In this context if you look at the direct translation of Romans 10:9 from Greek in the Interlinear Bible:
That if you (confess / agree / publicly declare / celebrate) the (saying / report / promise) with the (mouth / speech) of you [that the] Lord [is] Jesus, and (believe / trust) in the (heart / mind) of you that God him raised out from [the] dead you
Note that the words "will be" at the end of verse 9 was added by the translator and was not part of the original Greek manuscript.
In other words, this is Paul's expectation from someone that is already saved, but Paul is not relaxing the requirements to salvation.
Paul is writing to his followers, who is already saved and presumably already knows what needs to be done to save people as seen in the beginning of this chapter:
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. -- Romans 10:1
If you read the entire chapter you get the message that Paul is requesting his followers to report or confess by making a public declarations so that unbelievers would understand that the believers:
- trust God that He genuinely raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:11),
- that every nation has a chance to get saved (Romans 10:12),
- and that if they choose to also accepts the Lord Jesus's authority over them, then they could also be saved (Romans 10:13)
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. -- Romans 10:13
Paul did not write that you only have to say the magic word "Jesus" and you will be saved. No, the word Greek word "name" in this context means "authority" according to Strong's Concordance.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ... -- Ephesians 1:3-5 (ESV)
Out of context it seems like some lucky people are loved and is predestined to be saved and some unlucky ones are predestined for hell and this has already been determined and there is nothing we can do about it, but this is not what Paul wrote. Remember this letter was written to:
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus -- Ephesians 1:1 (ESV)
The "saints" were assumed to be already saved and so there are no unbelievers among the people Paul had addressed. In the contrary Paul wrote:
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -- 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV)
This is also what the prophet Ezekiel wrote:
The Lord GOD wants to save everyone, but you have to respond to his invitation by repentance.
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19)
So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?" (Job 33:13)
Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump done vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Proverbs 16:4), in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?
-- Romans 9:14-23 (ESV)
Out of context it seems like God is unjust. It seems like the Pharaoh had no choice and was forced to be a victim of God's wrath, but that is not what Paul is implying.
If you read the whole chapter 9, you will notice the issue Paul is addressing is that he explains how can a "Jewish" God have mercy on non-Jewish gentiles.
They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. -- Romans 9:4-5 (ESV)
Despite the fact that the Israelites had all these privileges they had failed.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. -- Romans 9:6-8 (ESV)
So, Paul asked the question:
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? -- Romans 9:14 (ESV)
... is more likely "Is it fair for God to accept the non-Jewish gentiles who do not even have the blessings, covenants, law (Torah), temple or patriarchs, like the Jews?"
Then Paul answers his own question by quoting Moses own words from the Jews' own Torah (Exodus 33:19):
By no means!
For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
-- Romans 9:15 (ESV)
Then Paul uses the extreme example of the Pharaoh (Exodus 9:16) to proof that God could use anyone to do his will. This could even include a powerful unbelieving gentile leader, like the Pharaoh.
Paul then continues in the same chapter:
... even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” (Hosea 2:23)
And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ (Hosea 1:10)
And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” (Isaiah 10:22-23)
And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)
What shall we say, then?
- That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but
- that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.
Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16)
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
-- Romans 9:24-10:4 (ESV)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ
— by grace you have been saved —
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
-- Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)
Out of context it seems like you do not have to anything do anything to get saved, but is not what Paul wrote. Remember this letter was written to:
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus -- Ephesians 1:1 (ESV)
The "saints" were believers who were already saved and that were reflecting on the grace they had received when their trespasses were forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5-7). In other words:
- God originally predestined us for adoption as sons (Ephesians 1:5)
- But mankind died because of trespasses and sins caused by disobedience and desires (Ephesians 2:1-3)
- But God, being rich in mercy, because He loved us, even while we were dead in our trespasses, had the grace to sent His Son, Christ Jesus to save us (Ephesians 2:4-5)
- Jesus was "raised up" so that we too could be "seated with him in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 2:6)
The point Paul is trying to make is that by grace believers are saved, not because anyone deserved salvation by anything he or she did.
Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, wand walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live.
As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
Yet you say, "Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?"
When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
-- Ezekiel 18:14-20 (ESV)
Bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. -- Matthew 3:8
Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because wall sinned — for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
-- Romans 5:12-14 (ESV)
If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. -- Galatians 2:21 (NKJV)
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?
-- John 5:39-40 (ESV)
Today, many modern Christian churches (including non-Catholic churches like the Protestant and Angelical) still fanatically belief this creed.
The biblical requirements for salvation does not require membership of any church or organization, neither does it required anyone to be called something like a "Christian" nor is it exclusive for any specific culture or race.
Some belief that unless you keep the Jewish feasts, read the Jewish Torah, keep the Jewish laws, and in some cases even wear Jewish clothes, eat Jewish food and even bring Jewish sacrifices when the next Jewish temple is reconstructed, you will not be saved. However, this is not true according to:
“Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” -- Acts 28:28, Romans 11:11