What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus or to be “saved?”
What am I “saved” from?
How do I know I’m really a follower of Jesus?
Is eternity real?
Are heaven and hell real?
Doesn’t just being good get you into heaven?
Why did Jesus die on the cross?    

Have you ever asked or wondered any of these questions? In Root 1 of Get Rooted, we are going to understand what salvation is all about.

What is salvation?

Salvation is the redemption of humanity from the bondage of sin.

Here is an analogy— we are all in an ocean drowning without a life jacket. We are all in a car on a one-way crash course. We are all sick with a disease. Many people don’t know why they are drowning or why they’re about to crash. Many also don’t know that they are sick because they have never been to a “doctor” for this problem. This problem torments people, destroys families, and brings shame into people’s lives.

The problem is sin—the three-letter word that no one likes to talk about. The reality is, we all have it, we are all sick with it, and we are called to repent of it.

What is sin?

Sin is anything that does not meet God’s standard; it creates a barrier between God and us. Sin can be something we do, like lying or cheating or stealing. Sin can also be our words or our attitudes or what we think; it can be something like lust or pride or jealousy.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 NIV).

Every person has committed sin—everyone you know at your school, at your church (even the pastor), and everyone on this planet. Sin keeps us from having relationship with God. We are all guilty and in need of a savior.

Why should I care about sin?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23 NLT).

The consequence for sin is death. Sin places us outside of God’s destiny for us because it separates us from God. Genesis 3 explains how sin came into the world and how humanity became separated from the love of God. God is perfect, holy, and just, so no sin can be in his presence. Without a solution to our sin problem, we will experience eternal separation from God. If we continue to walk in the pattern of sin and ignore salvation, we will invite God’s final judgment and wrath.

A sacrifice of blood was the only way sins could be forgiven. Back in Old Testament times, people sacrificed animals to pay the price for their sins. But the Scriptures promised that one day a Savior/Messiah would come and would be the ultimate sacrifice for all sins.

If we all sin, what’s the solution?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 NIV).

God chose to save us because of his LOVE for us! This is a key element to understand: God loved you enough to send Jesus. No matter where you have been or what you have done, Jesus is the author of another chance. God is so radically in love with you that he was willing to send his only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for your sin. God did this all out of love of you. Jesus carried out the mission to glorify the Father.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 NLT).

Jesus is the only solution for sin. Jesus is the “seed” that died for our salvation. As we’ll discuss in just a moment, Jesus gave his life as a “seed” and planted it so we may live for eternity.

Quick info about Jesus

·    Christ is not his last name; it’s a title that means The Anointed One or Messiah
·    Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary
·    Jesus is Son of God and came to the earth as God in human form
·    Jesus lived a sinless life
·    Jesus performed many miracles—gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, made the lame walk, and much more, which all was to affirm and confirm who he was and signs of the kingdom of God
·    Jesus was crucified on a cross for our sin when he was about 33 years old
·    Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, he reappeared to his followers, he is alive today in heaven, and he promised to come back to earth one day

Why did Jesus die on a cross?

As we learned, sin comes with a penalty, which is death. But Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we wouldn’t have to pay the penalty; he willingly took our punishment. He gave his life as a seed and planted it so we can live for eternity. He suffered the wrath of God that was intended for sin and was the ultimate sacrifice for sin. Jesus became the bridge that connects us to God. This salvation from sin is a gift that God offers to anyone who believes and trusts upon his Son, Jesus. The greatest demonstration of love was Jesus’ decision to die for us and pay the price for our sins.

What’s the greatest sacrifice you’ve made for another person? What’s the biggest sacrifice another person has made for you? Take a moment and write down your thoughts on those experiences.                                                                                                                                                  

What does a relationship with Jesus save us from?

One day we will all die and stand before God, and we will be judged for our sin. The Bible reveals that those who have not accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation will spend eternity in hell, separated from God. Eternity means that we will all live forever. We are human beings that have a soul, and one day our bodies will die, but our souls will live forever. Hell was never a place intended for people but for Satan and his demons (Ezekiel 28:13-19). No sin can be present in the presence of God. God is perfect, without sin. He doesn’t punish sin because he is bad; rather, God punishes sin because he is a good/fair judge and must bring justice. We are the ones who turned our backs on God, as revealed in Genesis 3.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous (Roman 5:18-19 NLT).

It’s not about us running from hell; it is about us running to Jesus because he is worthy!

What is heaven?

It is the place where God lives. There is no pain in heaven; instead, there is joy and happiness forever. Jesus is in heaven right now preparing a place for his people. Heaven is so amazing that our brains can’t even fathom it! It is so awesome—even the streets are paved with gold. Now that’s some bling, bling! Heaven is not the prize but rather Jesus is, and one day we will worship him forever singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord”!

What do you picture heaven being like? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.

How do I get to heaven?

It happens by putting your faith in Jesus , confessing that he is Lord, and believing that God raised him from the dead. Choosing to become a follower of Jesus opens the door to heaven. Following Jesus opens the door for that arrival upon death. It is not so much about just going to heaven as it is being restored with our maker now and then. Being completely whole with the one who made us and loves us. We exchange our sin and fully get Jesus' righteousness...that is grace!

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1 NLT).
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9 NLT).
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people (Titus 2:11 NLT).

Can I just be a good person and get to heaven?

No, we cannot be good enough on our own. Being good doesn’t get rid of sin. God sent one Savior, his Son Jesus , who was without sin, to be our bridge and mediator to God. You can do nothing through your own efforts to earn heaven. You just can’t be a good person and earn salvation, because even good people sin. Having faith in Jesus is the only solution for sin. We are imperfect and will continue to sin until the day we die, but Jesus’ forgiveness pays the price for our sins. It's not about being good, it is about accepting his forgiveness and becoming brand new.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).

What are some of the sins that create walls between God and you? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.

What happens when I follow Jesus?

You experience salvation and a new life; you become what the Bible calls “born again” (John 3:7), and spiritually you become a new creation in . That means that all of your sins are washed away and that Jesus is now your Lord and Savior. No matter what you have done, God is willing to forgive you. That is awesome news! God no longer looks at you and sees your sin; God sees Jesus and his perfectness. This is the gift of God in other words grace.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity” (John 12:24-25 NLT).

God cares about your relationship with him through Jesus, not some forced religious practices. God looks at your heart condition—in other words, your inward thoughts and beliefs.

Just like a seed, we must die to ourselves and die to sin, and we must pursue Jesus and pursue a lifestyle built on him. We plant our seed (our lives) in him and grow in the eternal ground (Jesus).

Have a thankful attitude

I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love (Luke 7:47 NLT).

A person who has been forgiven of much is capable of loving much. Once we recognize the awesomeness of God’s forgiveness, we can focus our love on the one who scored a 100 percent for us: Jesus! Instead of pursuing sin, we choose to pursue God and his way for our life. Sin may be fun for a season, but growing in God is a blessing for eternity. We can choose to serve God and become rooted in him because of love not fear.

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT).

Maybe you’ve been reading this Root and you feel God revealing himself real to you, but you haven’t turned from your sin yet. Don’t wait another second; this is your opportunity for a new life. God is choosing you. You can call out to God right now; use this simple prayer as a guide.

God, please forgive me for my sins. I recognize my sin, and I need your forgiveness and salvation. I realize that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven, and I know that Jesus died in place for my sin. I choose to follow Jesus today. God, you are awesome, holy, and perfect. Help me to grow deep in you today and for the rest of my life. Jesus, I thank you that I am becoming a Jesus follower not because of anything I can do, but by what you did for me by grace. I thank you that I have a home in heaven because of your sacrifice. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen!

What does this decision mean to you, and how will your life be different? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.

The Cost of Following Jesus

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake. Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:18-22 NLT).

Wow, the cost of following Jesus is intense! Imagine having no place to live and not getting to bury your dad. Was Jesus being mean? NO! He was saying that he is worth more than everything and that we need to be willing to give up anything and everything in following him. In fact, he said we will be persecuted and face many trials. In other words, storms are coming. We like this quote: “When a storm hits, where will your Roots grip?”

The Narrow Gate

 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 NLT).

The question is which road will you choose from here on out? Jesus demands our whole lives but promises that we will find life. Following Jesus may cost us everything, but what does it cost to not follow him? Think about that before you continue; you can turn back now.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25 ESV).

In closing

Pursue God with the same love he showed for you.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT).

Love causes people to fight through obstacles, stand up for something or someone, reach when they can’t, stay in the gym at all hours of the day to get better, and give when they shouldn’t or can’t. There is power in LOVE. Jesus demonstrated love for us by laying down his life and taking the wrath of the God for sin; we pursue God with a deep love toward him by laying down our lives. Love is much more than a feeling; it is an action. Actions do speak louder than words. If we truly believe our sins are many and we have been forgiven, it will naturally cause us to love Jesus deeply. Let’s now take action with our love for Jesus.

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47 ESV).

This journey won’t be easy; it will require sacrifices and tough choices along the way. But it is so worth it! Jesus gave up his life so you and I could have true life. Let’s pursue him relentlessly and become all he wants us to be. God has big plans for you, and this will be a lifelong journey filled with adventures, obstacles, joy, tears, and laughter—but it’s all part of the process of growing radically deep in God!

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:8-11 ESV).

Let’s pursue God with a deep love and passion. We no longer are falling in love with sin; we desire to know God more because of our love for him. He is worth it and better than anything this world has to offer! Jesus was the “Seed” that lay down his life to die. When a seed dies, it grows. We must continue to die to ourselves daily to live in Jesus.

What you sow does not come to life unless it dies (1 Corinthians 15:36 ESV).

Quick Review

·    Eternity is real; heaven and hell are real places
·    Salvation means confessing and believing that Jesus paid the price on the cross for our sins and following him. We exchange our lives by faith for his!
·    We are all sinners, and the punishment for sin is death
·    I am in need of a savior
·    Jesus is the only Savior God sent, and the only way to get to heaven
·    I can’t earn my way into heaven; faith in Jesus alone gets me to heaven
·    God wants a relationship with me through Jesus
·    We pursue God because of love; if we’ve been forgiven of much, we can love much
·    Following Jesus costs everything, but is so worth it!

Growth Steps

·    Tell someone that Jesus is your Lord. REPRESENT!
·    Get water baptized A.S.A.P. as an outward expression of your commitment and inward change in Jesus.
·    Watch the movie The Passion of the Christ.
·    List any questions you may have about this Root, and bring them up with a leader or a close friend in the faith.

A Prayer for Today

God, I love you, and I want to grow deep in you and be built up in my relationship with Jesus. Help me to be focused, guide me in your ways, and give me strength as I begin this lifelong journey of being rooted in you and pursuing your plans for my life! Amen.