What Does “Saved” Mean?

“That 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.” (Romans 10:9)

My wife recently lost a relative. He was from a denomination that some believe is a cult. I’m not here to condemn them, or any other faith. We have no right to judge anyone. This man was a good man and he was faithful in service for the Lord. That much I know. So when I was asked if his faith would keep him out of heaven, I said “not necessarily”.

What does the Bible say about who gets into heaven? I can tell you this: The denomination to which we belong will not be a factor in that decision. God is not concerned about the labels we wear. He cares about what’s in our hearts, which is exactly why Jesus once said of the Pharisees, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8)

The answer to the question can only be found in God’s Word and man’s heart. The Bible is the gold standard when it comes to answers about how to get to heaven. It is the best source for any spiritual question. That’s why the Apostle Paul once told Timothy, an aspiring pastor who would one day field such questions, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

No one was more concerned about the soul of a man than Jesus. And it is in his teachings where we find the clearest language about what it takes to get into heaven. Jesus left no room for doubt. He said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9) In other words, the only way to heaven is through the saving knowledge of Jesus.

It might surprise you to know that God really doesn’t care whether we call ourselves Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, whatever the denomination to which we belong. All denominations have doctrine that we believe are based on the Holy Scriptures, and some of us are going to be surprised when we get to heaven and find out how wrong we might have been. The important question is do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and gave his life on the Cross so that we could be seen as righteous in the eyes of God? Based on Romans 10:9, if my wife’s relative believed that Jesus was the virgin-born Son of God, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to save us from our sins, was buried and rose from the dead so that he could have eternal life, and is the right hand of the Father interceding for us, and that her relative lived his life showing that belief, then he went to heaven…period. It doesn’t matter what we think. It matters what God’s Word says and what the heart of man believes.

God does not mix words when he talks to us about salvation. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) When I stop to think that it was God himself who made that statement, I become frightened for the unbeliever because I know God’s Word also promises, “…so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

It really doesn’t matter what we call ourselves. Those labels basically define our styles of worship. God has never been concerned with style, but you can believe he pays a lot of attention to substance, which is why Jesus said, “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart…And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:10, 11)

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