Salvation is not automatic nor universal. There are conditions attached. No, I am not talking about earning salvation through works or going to church.
The Bible makes it very plain. Even though Christ died and rose from the dead, that does not mean that everyone is automatically saved through His grace. However, I think that many people believe that that is the case.
Sometimes, at a family reunion where people are not all Christians, I have heard them sing, "Amazing Grace." Other times at secular concerts the performer will sing the hymn. Even if we were assume the perfomer is a Christian, the mass audience will get caught up in the hymn as if they are all saved. It is a very popular song, with everyone, period.
At Christmas and Easter, many people attend religious services, the only times some do. They hear the message of salvation portrayed in a sermon, drama production, or concert, but unless they are specifically told that salvation is conditional, they may go away with the belief that it applies to everyone.
To take this a step further, we always hear people at funerals say the deceased is in a better place or in the presence of Jesus. That is what people all want to believe.
So many people believe they are going to heaven when they die, but if you were to ask them what they base that belief on, could they tell you?
As a result of all of this, many people have a false concept of what a Christian is and a false hope of eternal salvation.
Here is the basis of salvation: accepting by faith through God's grace, his free gift of eternal life, not conditioned by works, to those who personally make a conscious choice in their mind and heart, to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It is also recognizing that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness. It includes repentance, which is turning from your ways to God's way. This means believing that Jesus is God in human flesh. It means confessing Him with your mouth, that He died and rose from the dead for you, personally. Salvation is a personal decision. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." For salvation, you must become a "whosoever." The Bible also says that to be saved one must call upon the name of the Lord.
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Yes, very sad so many believe in universal salvation. "Oh I'm not as bad as so and so, oh I haven't killed or raped anyone". almost like God will be required to accept them. Folks, God DOES NOT grade on the curve. He grades on from the standard of perfection. Not perfect, better get to know Him. I wish pastors and SS teachers would quit propogating this universalism. Often they do it simply be NOT pointing out the IF. See John 3:36, 5:24. Also, the Lord said "broad and wide is the path that leads to destruction and MANY there are that enter in, narrow is the path that leads to life and FEW there are that enter in". THAT is a s CLEAR as it gets and right from the Lord's mouth. Consider rightly....