I have been pondering the “ABCs of Salvation” and whether or not there are some shortcomings there. This is the clever method of expressing the basics of being saved and coming into Christianity used by many mainstream churches. It includes some important information, but seems to be missing some basic facts from the New Testament about how to become a Christian. I know it was meant to be concise, but there has to be a more complete approach. It is important to communicate the gospel message in total and with clarity.
I have come up with an alternative approach. It is similar to the traditional ABCs (some information overlaps), but it should add clarity. This approach is intended to be direct and more thorough.
Admit that you have sinned and acknowledge your need to be spiritually born again (Romans 3:23; John 3:5–8). This sin involves breaking God’s commands or falling short of His expectations. Acknowledge that everyone has sinned, that there are consequences for this sin, and that the only bridge to get us back to God is through Jesus (Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23–26). God’s favor on us, or grace, is unmistakably connected with Jesus’ indescribable gift of love. Acknowledge the essentials in salvation: God’s love, Jesus’ atoning sacrifice including His blood shed for us on the cross, and His subsequent resurrection (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:14–18; 1 Corinthians 15:12–22). Acknowledge that we respond to God’s grace in faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). Our faith in Jesus is the key to salvation (Romans 5:1,2; Acts 16:31, John 20:31). Faithful obedience is part of uniting with His death and resurrection—explained further in Romans 6:3–10. Accept the gospel and be fully aware of the Holy Spirit’s powerful work in your conversion. (See Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:11.)
Broadcast, or make the declaration widely known to others, that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9–10). Peter in Matthew 16:16 expressed his belief that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But, even beyond that, we need to profess that He is now Lord of our lives. If we don’t give Him lordship, then we are still living a self-centered life. In Acts 3:19 the command is given to repent (change and turn from sin). As part of this repentance, we experience a transformation—exalting God to rule on the throne, not self. He is now Lord.
Call on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). The Lord’s servant Ananias gave some instructions to Paul during that Damascus-road experience: “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Peter makes reference to similar ideas in 1 Peter 3:21. The teaching here is that baptism, in water, “does also now save us.” It is accomplished “by the resurrection of Jesus” and is “the answer of a good conscience before God.” This calling upon the name of the Lord is an outward expression. It likely has a lot to do with the confession mentioned above, something like: “I believe that Jesus is Lord.” Calling out could also include something like: “Hosanna, Jesus saves!” It seems to me that an outward expression is also made when people witness our baptism (Acts 22:16 includes baptism). In New Testament examples of conversion, faith is typically expressed immediately in baptism. Galatians 3:26,27 reads: “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” We have been raised with Christ (Col. 3:1) to walk a new life. Perhaps an ABCDs of salvation would be more complete because parts of both B and C appear to overlap with the idea of Death to sin.
So my prayer for you today is that you will immerse yourself in the issues of Jesus Christ. He provides hope for tomorrow. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus gives us assurance, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”