What did Jesus say about being saved?
Is there such a thing as a ticket to get to heaven to be saved? No, tickets are not allowed.
The term getting saved by Jesus is often mocked, but that cannot remove the nagging feeling of how to be saved and go to heaven.
Nicodemus was a respected religious leader at the time Jesus was preaching and healing people. But what Jesus was saying made Nicodemus have doubts about how to get saved by God.
This article shows his struggle on how to be saved according to the Bible – according to Jesus’ insight that came from being God’s Son.
Table of Contents menu
1. Nicodemus; ‘What must I do to be saved?’
Can you pay at heaven’s door? No!
Many believe that by being ‘good’ and perhaps giving some money to the Church they will be saved.
Nicodemus was shaken in his faith by Jesus’ teachings, so he came to Jesus at night so as not to be seen by his religious peers.
He (Nicodemas) came to Jesus at night and said;John 3:2 NIV
‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.
For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
In reply Jesus declared,
‘I tell you the Truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ “
Being born is all about being in a family, so by looking at the verses above, we could conclude that all places in heaven are reserved for family members only.
So only those born into God’s family can go to heaven, but how?
Nicodemus could recite all the religious answers to ‘How can I be saved?’
He also believed that he had the credentials to go to heaven because he was important within the community and he was very religious.
That is why Jesus confronts him with:
I tell you the Truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”John 3:3 NIV
How about us, how can we be saved?
Do we hold onto certain credentials like that, for getting into heaven?
Jesus presses home his point:
I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit”John 3:5 NIV
2. Spirit gives birth to Spirit, so we can be saved.
Notice from the verse above that there is no halfway house, no patch-up job.
Why is that? Because:
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit”John 3:6 NIV
The Apostle Paul expands on this:
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them”1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV
There is a massive gap between human nature (flesh) and Spirit.
That is the same chasm that is between here and heaven.
Even if we do the best we can, it just won’t get us across the chasm and we won’t be saved to get to heaven.
Spirit gives birth to Spirit.”John 3:6 NIV
Notice the author of this change is the Holy Spirit.
To be born again is to be born of the Spirit, to be born from above.
Jesus describes the Spirit by joining Him to two elements:
a) Being saved is being washed.
No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”John 3:5 NIV
This could be talking about water baptism, but more probably, Jesus is describing the Holy Spirit working like water.
John the Baptist spoke of the baptism of the ‘Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Matthew 3:11)
The Holy Spirit and the fire were not two separate things. It meant that the Holy Spirit came like fire.
So Jesus probably was saying that the Holy Spirit works like water.
Water cleanses, by washing away the filth.
In the Apostle Paul’s letter, he says:
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”Titus 3:5 NIV
Paul talking about fleshly people says:
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”1 Corinthians 6:11 NIV
In Ezekiel where the new birth is foretold, it says:
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit within you.”Ezekiel 36:25 NIV
b) Describing the Spirit like the wind.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it’s sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.John 3:8 NIV
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
He blows not to our command. He comes when and in what measure He pleases.
The wind can blow with power and we see the effects of trees broken in a particular area.
So it is with the Spirit:
- The stubborn will of a person may be broken
- Some are mourning their sins.
- A life turned around to now follow Jesus.
- Someone who was once a blasphemer now crying out ‘Father God!’
These are the sounds of the Spirit moving.
3. Nicodemus still couldn’t see how to be saved.
Nicodemus says: ‘How can these things be?’
He kind of believes that Jesus is a Teacher from God, but it seems no clearer to him.
Some of Christ’s teachings help him, but he has to dodge around the more difficult bits.
Many people today may receive some comfort from attending a church, but what a dangerous place to be, if they just submit to what they please.
There’s no halfway ground, Jesus Christ says ‘You must be born again’.
George Whitefield, a great preacher in the 18th-century revival was asked why he based so many of his sermons on ‘You must be born again’.
George Whitefield, with a twinkle in his eye, said: ‘Because you MUST be born again!’
There is no other way into the Kingdom of God.
4. Jesus knows how to be saved and about heaven.
Some people foolishly say ‘I will find out when I die, but for now, I will do the best I can’.
But why do that?
Jesus has come from heaven, so he knows what heaven is like and how to get into it! He said:
I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.John 3:11 NIV
I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe;
how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
No one has gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven – the Son of Man.”
(Jesus often referred to Himself as the Son of Man.)
Here is a mystery; God’s Son descended from heaven, but the Godhead cannot change places, they are all everywhere at the same time, all of the time and outside of time.
The persons of the Godhead are Spirit, without physical bodies.
But Jesus was given a body so that:
- Jesus as the Son of Man was talking with Nicodemus.
- But as God, he is everywhere, but particularly in heaven.
God could not be crucified, nor shed blood, but because He lowered Himself to be the Son of Man Paul recorded that the rulers:
crucified the Lord of Glory”1 Corinthians 2:8 NIV
And Luke tells us that He purchased the church:
with His own blood.”Acts 20:28 NIV
What a mystery, what a wonder!
5. Jesus was sent by God so that we can be saved.
We now move on to the heart of the whole gospel. Paul says:
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ came into the world to save sinners.”1 Timothy 1:15 NIV
The great design of Jesus coming into the world was to save people from death.
And there are two aspects to this:
- Everyone needs healing from an incurable disease called sin. Someone in that state can be described as a dead person.
But Christ came to save us from this death.
- Everyone needs to be pardoned from the condemnation and guilt that hangs over all people.
The whole human race is sitting on a spiritual death row waiting for the final death sentence.
But Christ came to save us from this death.
How does anyone know that God loves them? Because Jesus left heaven to become a baby to fulfil God’s plan of salvation.
Jesus begins to explain these two aspects of us having an incurable disease and that everyone needs to be pardoned to Nicodemus;
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.”John 3:14 NIV
How interesting Jesus refers to this incident in Moses’ life. [See Numbers 21:9]
The people sinned, and God in response to this sin sent venomous snakes to bite them and many died.
Other translations call them ‘Fiery Serpents’.
But God enabled a way to be saved from death, when bitten by these snakes, by having a bronze snake on a pole at which the people could look to it and be healed.
It seems strange to look at a bronze snake, which represented the real snakes that were causing death, and be healed from the deadly bite.
In a similar way Jesus took upon himself the thing that was killing us – our sin, and the remedy for us is to look at Jesus upon the cross carrying our sin.
What an amazing solution!
6. How can I know that God loves me?
The Bible tells us that God loves the world so much that He put a plan into place to save us so that we can go to heaven.
John tells us:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16-18 NIV
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
God made the first move, even when we were rebellious, evil and in a despicable state He established His plan of salvation.
He did not save us because we were good, or that we were doing better than others, He saved us because of His love and mercy:
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.Titus 3:3-5 NIV
We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.“
‘How can I be saved?’ well this is how God does it:
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.Titus 3:5-7 NIV
It is not down to us, we have to acknowledge that God has done it and we believe that He can save us.
7. Does God still love us when we sin?
The question; ‘Am I still saved after falling into sin?’ has the same answer as; ‘How can I be saved?’ because both rely on God’s strength, love and mercy, and not our efforts.
The verse below shows that nothing can break the bond that God has with us.
The only thing that blurs that relationship is when we turn our back upon God and walk away from Him.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:38-39 NIV
8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Who does God choose to become saved?
1. In the Old Testament God chose Israel, not because they were good or great, but because they were the fewest of all peoples and because He loved them. (Deut. 7:7)
2. In the New Testament, we see that God is pleased to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21), even if they were:
a) not wise by human standards,
b) not influential,
c) not of noble birth.
d) But God chose the foolish things of the world,
e) the weak things of the world,
f) the lowly things of this world,
g) the despised things,
h) the things that are not,
i) so that no one may boast before him.
j) It is because of Jesus that we become saved: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
Does God allow anyone to be saved?
One thief on the cross was hurling insults at Jesus, but the other thief could see God within Jesus and he said to the other man: ‘Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus, who was also hanging there on a cross answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ “
The thief was not a good person, and he could not prove his conversion by doing any good deeds and yet Jesus freely pardoned him and saved him. (Luke 23:42-43)
How do I pray to be saved?
The most important thing to realise is that we cannot save ourselves – only God through Jesus can save us. Salvation is God’s work. A good prayer to say would be:
“Lord Jesus, I have done many wrong things and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and that you rose from the dead. I turn from my old way of life and I invite you to come into my heart and life as my Lord and Saviour. Help me to walk in your footsteps daily by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord, for saving me and for answering my prayer. Amen”
Can you go to heaven without being baptised?
Even though it says “Repent and be baptised” in Acts 2:38 baptism is not a necessity to be saved and get to heaven.
One reason we know that is the thief on the cross who turned to Jesus while dying and said; “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus did not say “I cannot let you into heaven – you have not been baptised!”
No, Jesus said; “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
Baptism for a believer is a matter of obedience and is helpful for them, but it is not a requirement for salvation.
See the meaning of baptism.
Images: thanks to The Pictorial Dictionary published by The Educational Book Company, London