“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:8 (NLT)
The first step to ultimate success is a personal relationship with God. I say “ultimate success” because it is completely possible to be successful without being a Christian. That just feels so wrong to say that, almost sacrilegious, but it’s true. People do it all the time. Ultimate success though includes life to the fullest both here on earth and in eternity. Life simply cannot be the best that God intended for us apart from relationship with Him.
Now, I don’t mean a going-through-the-motions kind of relationship. I mean a real, genuine, personal relationship where you truly know each other (like a good friend). Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s like I’ve heard Joyce Meyer say: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car!” There are a lot of un-Christlike people in church in case you haven’t noticed. On the flipside of that though, that’s good! That’s where they need to be. I love the quote I saw once: “not going to church because of the ‘hypocrites’ is like not going to the gym because of the ‘out of shape people’”.
The first step to that relationship is what we, Christians, like to call “Salvation” or “being saved”. “Saved from what?” you might ask. Well, saved from eternal separation from God and all that entails. It’s so much more than I have room here to explain, but there’s this really great book that explains it all. You may have heard of it—it’s called the Bible. 🙂
To receive salvation the Bible clearly spells out what you need to do in Romans 10:9 (ESV) “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.” I also like the New Living Translation of the following verse (Romans 10:10): “For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
Simple as that…Here are your steps to be saved:
- Confess with your mouth (say out loud) that “Jesus is my Lord”
- Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead
- You will be saved
Here is an example prayer that you can say out loud:
I know that I am a sinner, and I admit it. I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that Jesus is Your Son and that He died on the cross for my sins. Jesus, please forgive me for my sins and come into my heart and life and become my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you for hearing my prayer and for saving me. I am saved!
Is this the only way you can be saved? Yes. John 14:6 (NIV) states: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The only way to God is through Jesus. Period.
By the way, don’t feel weird if it seems like you’re not doing it right. I think that’s natural because it seems too easy. One time when I was leading a very special friend through this process, I was a little freaked out. We said the prayer out loud together, and even though I’ve heard the same prayer said probably over thousand times in church I still questioned myself. So I actually pulled out my iPhone and just read Romans 10:9 directly from my Bible app, and then I googled it to make sure we did it all right!
Being saved or receiving salvation is only the first step. Having a genuine relationship with someone is more than surface level stuff. To really have relationship with someone (and with God) is to know them and spend consistent time with them. Many people say they know God when really they just know about Him. An analogy I sometimes give is this…I may have been an academic advisor at the same university where Carrie Underwood went to school, and I may have even met her once or twice. I might even know a lot about her because I watched American Idol, read some things about her, or talked to people she knows. However, that doesn’t mean I really know her because there’s no relationship there. I can’t truly claim a connection there or reap any benefits from a relationship like that because it’s not really even a relationship at all.
To have a close, personal relationship with God means making Him more than just an acquaintance to you, more than just somebody you see on occasion (like only at church for a couple of hours on the weekend!). To have a relationship with God where you can gain all of the benefits of success that accompanies it would require spending regular, consistent time with Him.
The Formula for Success is a good process to utilize here once you’ve been saved and you want to cultivate your relationship with God. You need to learn, take action, be persistent and have support.
- Find a good church home with sound, bible-based teaching where you can learn and connect.
- Spend DAILY time with God. (subscribe to this site to get a free download: 10 steps to an Effective Quiet Time) Learn by reading your bible (I love YouVersion!), reading books, and listening to podcasts. Pray and talk to God and listen to Him.
- First, put an action step to your confession with your mouth and get baptized. Peter said in Acts 2:38 (NLT) “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19 (NLT), “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Even Jesus was baptized—follow His example. This serves as a public example and expression of your decision to follow Christ. Baptism (being completely immersed in water and being brought back up) symbolizes a couple of different things. The first is that you are being washed clean and that your sins are being washed away. The second is a picture of what Jesus did for us—he died and was buried (immersed in water) and was resurrected (brought back up from the water). The third is a representation of your old self or your old, sinful nature dying (like Jesus did) and then a new you being born again or resurrected (like Jesus was). Read more about baptism here.
- Additionally, start putting into action what you are learning in church, in your bible-reading, in your quiet times, in podcasts and books, and in the instructions you are hearing from God.
- It will not always be easy living a Christian life. Persist. Don’t give up.
- When you mess up (and you will!), don’t quit. Proverbs 24:6 (NLT) says, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”
- God will be your strength to help you persist when you don’t have the strength on your own. He makes up the difference.
- You need people! Stay connected with people and don’t withdraw or isolate yourself (in good times OR bad). Have people that will be there for you when you need them.
- Again, find a good church home and get involved.
- Surround yourself with other believers, with “like-minded” Christians.
- Hang around people that are stronger than you in faith. Let them rub-off on you and learn and grow from being around them.
- Find support in community groups, volunteering or serving, learning communities, and/or sites like this one!
- Know that God, Himself promises that He is always with you and will NEVER leave you.
Doing these steps will help you grow in your relationship with God. You will gradually get closer to Him. James 4:8a “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” Throughout this process, He will become a dear friend to you.
If you prayed the above prayer to be saved, please send me a message and let me know. I’d love to celebrate with you and pray for you and your future success!