Recently, we held a revival at our church in Evarts. It was a wonderful time, with the Holy Spirit moving and reviving, in all who attended, the flame that should burn in us all. As we heard messages about sin and how it separates us from relationship with God, and how we need to release the sin to God to be restored, I was reminded of the basics for us as Christians. They are as easy as A, B, C. The ABC’s of salvation is the end-all for us to reach complete renewal in our lives.
We all probably know the “ABC song.” It was only one of two that I could ever think of singing when my son was a baby, the other being “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” along with the occasional hymn. But as we look at the alphabet, we find our first step toward salvation in the letter A.
A stands for admit. We have to admit that we are all sinners and sinful beings. We have all done things in our lives that separate us from a right relationship with God. Paul writes to us in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I stand before my congregations each week a sinful man, but I thank God that He has forgiven me of my sins.
Sin is a serious and horrible thing if we let it grow in us. Revelation 21 reminds us that no sin can enter into Heaven. Each of us needs be honest and admit our sin to God.
Following our admitting we are sinners, we have to move to believing. Believing in what? In Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ was the incarnate God who came and took our place as the sacrifice. That one statement, that Christ was God incarnate for us, is what separates Christianity from all other religions in the world — that our God cared enough for each of us that He came to be like us, endure life like us and die for our sakes so that we can have eternal life. Out of His great love for each of us, God sent Christ to wash away our sins by His precious blood that flowed from the cross.
Believing is more than just seeing or being told — we have to take it to heart. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” We have to believe that Christ came, took the punishment that we so rightly deserve and rose again on the third day. That has to become the center of our life for us to function.
I recently read a devotion with my son about a boy who was frustrated as he went home from school one day because He was trying to be better in his life, but he still kept getting into trouble and he figured he was hopeless. It just so happened that he was passing his Sunday school teacher’s home and was talking with the Sunday school teacher about this. The Sunday school teacher picked up a dead branch from his yard and invited the boy to come around back and help him plant the dead stick along with some fruit trees he was planting. The boy and the man both knew the stick would not produce fruit, and the man reminded the boy that as long as we do not have Christ as the center of our lives, it doesn’t matter how much we go to church, read the Bible and pray.
That is so true. Going to church and reading the Bible doesn’t make us a Christian, it shows we want to learn and change, but until we accept Christ in our hearts, we are still empty and vacant. We are not Christians just because Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa are — we are Christians because we choose to let Christ in our lives. We need to be part of the church and attend for Christ, not because of family or friends or because you like the preacher. To be a Christian is to want to have Christ be in your life.
The third thing we must do after we admit to being sinners and believe in Christ in our lives is to confess. Paul reminds us in Romans 10:9 and 13, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. … Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” We have to confess and repent of our sins; we need to turn away from them.
In Psalm 51, David pours out his heart to God after Nathan confronts Him for the sins he committed with Bathsheba and the whole story around that. He asks for mercy as he confessed his sins. He asks God to blot out his transgressions and to wash him thoroughly so that his sin is cleansed from him. Later in the psalm, he asks God to create in him a clean heart and a new and right spirit so that he is not cast away from God’s presence but restored to the joy of God’s salvation. David’s example is, for each of us, a model in confessing our sins to God.
Our confession doesn’t have to be a grand announcement before the world. It can be a simple, yet sincere, call from our hearts. All we have to do is ask God, in the words of Luke 18:13, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”
When we gather with other Christians in church or elsewhere, we expect to find God there. Many times we come expecting a miracle in our lives, but the garbage in it keeps God from moving. When we toss out the sin is when God can enter in by the Holy Spirit.
Many of us keep trying to walk with God but keep falling down. We need improvement in our lives that only God can create. Nothing can take away sin in our lives but the blood of Christ. If we truly want to have a right relationship with God, then we need to let go and let God be the center of our lives.
We can no longer be dead branches in the living vine of Christ. We need to allow God to move and let the Spirit nourish us to good life in Christ, or we face being pruned from the vine for not bearing fruit.
Take these ABC’s and teach others how to know Christ so they, too, may come to know the love, joy, peace, grace and knowledge of Christ in their lives. Go and be fruitful parts of the body to those you know who need to be refreshed.
Robert Amundsen is the pastor of the Evarts Congregational United Methodist Church and the Wallins United Methodist Church. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com