What do you have to do to be saved? By saved I mean saved from eternal damnation. It is a good question that should have a simple answer but in this age of "enlightenment" it is a simple answer that is getting lost in the noise. It is a good thing to refresh ourselves in what the Word says about salvation.
Jesus referred to a second type of birth. He told someone that we need to experience a new birth, into what our Father desired us to become; his children. In our current form we cannot be the children of God. Not everyone in the world is a child of our Father, but he desires them to be:
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. (John 3:16, CEV)
It is the Father's desire that none should perish but he decided from the beginning that he would not force himself on us. The only love he wants from us is what we freely give to him. Our mistake is thinking that we are all born as his children and if we behave ourselves we will all get to go to heaven. It's not the truth. We are all born as enemies of God but he had compassion on his enemy and desired for us to be his children:
Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son’s life. (Romans 5:10, CEV)
But to go from being the enemy of God to being his children we have to experience a new birth. Jesus said:
“I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!” (John 3:3)
When asked how a man can be born a second time Jesus explained:
Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. (vv. 6-8)
And this only happens through Jesus. He is the first born, who opened the way for the rest of us to follow. So this second birth comes down to this, a very simple act of trust:
Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life. (John 3:15)
A voluntary act of trust; an act provoked in us as we accept that God really loves us that much, that we are sinners separated from God and that only Jesus can get us to where we need to be; with our Father. Adopted as "sons" of God; chosen to be loved; transformed by the spilled blood of the Son of God.
However, the cross where Jesus died is not the end of the matter. In fact, the cross is only the beginning; the open door to a brand new adventure.The cross is the beginning of the transformation process, as we go from what we were to the new creation God has destined us to be. We leave the old behind as we take up the new. All priorities and desires change as our destination changes. That is the road we are on now, of this new adventure.
However,new adventures can have difficulties and we can get tired, even weary. But we mustn't. We must rest on Jesus' strength. We must abide in him and he in us. We must remain intimate and vulnerable to God because going part way is not good enough. Close doesn't count. We have to go all the way with Jesus, right to the last breath.
But that is another story for another day. It is enough to know today that you are not saved unless you have made that decision to voluntarily accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, having faith that God loves you and wants you as his children. It isn't yours because your parents are Christians. It isn't yours because you go to church. It isn't yours because you do good deeds and think about God every now and them. It is only yours when you make that decision to accept Jesus, his love, his sacrifice because you know you are an enemy of God and don't want to be any more. Have faith in Jesus and he will do the rest.