Is "Being Saved" the Same Thing As Being "Born Again"?
Often we hear Christian ministers pleading with sinners to come "get saved". What are these ministers saying? What are such ministers saying occurs the moment a sinner does what they tell them to do, and that minister pronounces them "saved"? Usually, the minister quotes Paul's response to the Philippian jailor in Acts 16, when the man asks Paul, "sirs, what must I do to be saved?", as Paul says: "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house". But what did Paul have in mind when he told the jailor to "believe, and he would be saved"? Is it the same thing that is being taught from pulpits today? Let us search this matter out prayerfully and carefully...
Deep in the heart of the dank, pitch-dark prison, lay the two servants of Jesus, Paul and Silas. The brutal whipping given them the previous afternoon had left them bloody and exhausted, their backs had been ripped, and now were caked with dried blood. Every movement both reminded them of their ordeal and extended its painful effect. Bound hand and foot, they could do nothing but sit in the darkness and think.
Perhaps they thought of their privilege to be sent with the Word of truth. Paul, no doubt, remembered the time when he, too, persecuted those who loved and served Jesus. Maybe Silas asked Paul of his miraculous conversion, and told Paul of his own. The Bible doesn't tell us these things. What we are told is that at midnight Paul and Silas were led of the Spirit to pray, and that, afterwards, they began to sing praises to God.
"And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying 'do thyself no harm, we are all here'... Then he called for a light and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, 'sirs, what must I do to be saved' ". (Acts 16:26-30).
Now, let's pause to consider this frightened jailor's question. What was he REALLY asking? He was altogether ignorant of the gospel of Christ, so HE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ASKING HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN! When the jailor pleaded, with all sincerity and fervor, "What must I do to be saved?" he was not in the least meaning "What must I do to be converted." When ministers quote this verse as the means of conversion, they are quite possibly damning souls, not saving them. The jailor's question really was, "Since I have offended your God by imprisoning you, what must I do to be saved from his terrible wrath?" Paul's answer was short and to the point: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house".
Paul was not telling the jailor to make a "profession of faith in Jesus" so that he could be converted. He was answering the jailor's question. The only way anyone will escape the coming wrath of Almighty God is to be a believer in Jesus. When Paul and Silas told him to believe in Jesus, no doubt the jailor responded, with all his strength, "I will! I will! Just tell me who he is!" And sitting in the jailor's humble house in those early morning hours, that is exactly what Paul did. The jailor washed the torn and bloody backs of the men of God, and then, after Paul had spoken to him and to his house the word of the Lord, the jailor had his sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb. The jailor's question, "What must I do to be saved?" is answered fully by Paul's response, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." But understanding what believing on Jesus means, isn't always easily known. One thing is absolutely certain. We need to understand what "believing on Jesus" means, for whatever it means, we must do it if we would escape the wrath of God.
The Bible teaches us MANY, but not all the things which believing in Christ includes. You will notice that nearly every one of the biblical verses dealing with the "final judgment" demands HOLY LIVING of every person who hopes to be saved from the lake of fire, the second death. Please consider the seriousness and truth of this. When we stand before Jesus, these are the things by which he will determine our eternal destiny. Oh, that God would impress upon our hearts the importance of knowing the truth in this matter! The second death is a place of unimaginable anguish and pain. And eternal life with Christ will be a state of unspeakable joy. Search out the matter. Don't fall victim to the deceivers who speak of a "salvation" at NO cost. Your soul is far too precious not to consider diligently its destiny.
No one on earth is "saved" yet, for "salvation" is synonymous with "glorification". Salvation is something in the future... nobody has attained it while alive on this earth. Salvation is the great hope among the called out ones, a hope the world does not have, because the world does not have Christ living within. Paul, you remember, taught that Christ in a man is his "hope of glory" (Col.1:27). Salvation is God's reward for His children who are faithful to Him. For this reason Paul could make such statements as "...now is our salvation NEARER than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11). Peter, too, years after being born of the Spirit in Acts 2, spoke of looking forward to being saved (Acts 15:11). Not once does any writer of the New Testament books claim to have "gotten saved". They all with confidence waited for the coming of the Lord, "who is our hope". No, we're not saved yet, because we're not home yet. Let us then pray for and encourage one another, and labor faithfully, that we may be found worthy of the salvation that many already allege to possess.
When we read of salvation in the present, it always is speaking of being saved from our lives of sin, but nobody is "always" saved, and nobody is "saved NOW". Those who want to be saved will flee from all such error, knowing that only the obedient will be saved in the end. "Believing on the Lord Jesus" as Paul taught, was receiving the baptism of the holy Ghost (which is when one is put into the body of Christ - 1 Cor.12:13); being LED by that Spirit through this life (Rom.8:14); and living entirely holy (Heb.12:14). Without doing these things, NOBODY will be saved!