Chapter 9 It is a Choice

One question often asked at this point is, “Does that mean that everyone now goes to heaven automatically?”  The answer is “No.”  As with any gift, it is not a gift if it is forced upon you.  Likewise, as with any gift, when does it become yours?  I will borrow another illustration to prove this point.

Let us say that I bought a pen and held it out to you and said, “I paid for this.  It’s yours.  It’s FREE.”  I could say this all day, but when does it actually become yours?

When you reach out, and of your own free will, accept it.  Such is salvation.  You must consciously CHOOSE TO accept it.  You take it for your own.

                But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:   (John 1:12)


Notice that when a person RECEIVES this gift, he THEN – at that moment – becomes a child of God.  There is no such thing as always being a Christian.  You cannot BECOME a son of God if you have ALWAYS BEEN a son of God [when we come into this world, we are born as the “children of this world” (Luke 20:34) and “children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), NOT the children of God as we have been led to believe].  A birth is an event.  An event takes place at a particular time and a particular location.  Therefore a birth must take place at a time and location.  (For example – Susan Jones was born on Saturday, August 16, 1986 at 10:21 AM at Charity Hospital in New Orleans).  As with the physical birth of a baby, likewise, would there not be the same requirement for the spiritual birth? A time and location?  A before and an after?

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE. (John 5:24)

Notice in the above verse, the action of passing from one condition (death) to the other (life).  This action takes place at the moment of receiving.  Unlike a baby that has no control over its conception and birth, you are an adult and God wants you to make a conscious choice.  To consciously choose means that you are awake, and are aware of and understand what you are doing, and why you are doing it. This is the biggest choice of all time.  If you are ready, your attitude would not be flippant; but you would desire to do it with all your heart.

(Another analogy regarding the 2nd birth is this.  When a baby is born, he or she passes from the darkness of the womb into the light of this world.  In the same manner, at salvation one passes from the darkness of this world and is born into the light of the “next world” – “the kingdom of God”).

God waits for you to invite Him in.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  (Revelation 3:20)

When is a person ready to be saved?

Jesus said that a man should count the cost (Luke 14:28).   God wants you to be fully aware of what you are doing and make a decision based on what you know (God loves you, and wants a relationship with you based upon your free will.  He does not want you to be pressured, pushed, conned, or tricked).  This involves determining if Jesus is worth more to you than your sin or your religion, or what someone will think about you if you choose Jesus Christ.

If a groom is standing on the marriage altar next to his bride, but looks longingly over his shoulder toward his previous girlfriends, then his heart has not turned away from his relationships.  He has no business getting married.

Likewise, if you come to the “marriage altar” to begin a relationship with Jesus, but look longingly over your shoulder toward your previous religion or your sin, then your heart has not turned away from your previous “girlfriends.”  You have no business entering into an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.  If you are willing to enter into a relationship with the One True God, but are not willing to leave behind your old gods, then you are not yet ready.

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; (1 Thessalonians 1:9)

But Jesus Christ would be flattered if you chose Him over those other “relationships.”  What He wants is for you to fall in love with Him and choose Him no matter what the consequences of your decision may be.  If you do not, He will continue to love you, but He will not force you to love Him.

The following example will demonstrate this.

There once was a young man who toiled and saved for years to start his own pet store business. This store was his life, and by it he made a very profitable living.

But one day, he met the girl of his dreams.  In a short time they fell in love, and made plans for marriage.  There was only one problem.  She was deathly allergic to pets!

What would he do?

He must make a choice.  On one hand, he could have his pets and his money, but lose forever the one that he loved.  On the other hand, he could leave the life he knew for the woman that he loved.  He must choose one or the other, but he cannot have both.  If he chooses his bride, he can never go back to that old life.  He must be willing to leave it all behind without regret.  Which one means more to him?  Which does he love the most?  Until he is ready to leave everything behind, he is not ready to get married.

Now in this illustration, it is an unlikely scenario, and there is nothing wrong with pets or an honest business, but here is the point – if his potential wife cannot co-exist with that which makes her sick, he can’t have both.  Which one will he choose?  You can tell by which one he loves the most.

Friend, if you are not willing to leave behind that which is offensive to God – your sin, your religion, your self-righteousness – you are not ready to be saved.

You cannot have both.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

Which one means more to you?

What if it came down to relationships?  Really, that is what we are talking about here is a relationship.  God loves you and wants to intimately be a part of your life.  But we have other earthly relationships.  What will those people think?  If they didn’t want you to choose a relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be persuaded by them?

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)

Please understand, Jesus Christ is not saying you cannot have a relationship with your parents in order to come to Him, He is simply saying, “Which means more to you?”  If your mom or dad or girlfriend or whoever, didn’t want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ (that is their right to choose), would you then say, “OK, I won’t either”?  Jesus Christ has to mean enough to you to not care what others think.  Would you NOT come to Christ – to TRUTH – simply because you care more about what another person might think?

Let’s say you have 3 friends; Tom, Brad, and Greg.  But Tom and Brad don’t like Greg; he “comes from the wrong side of the tracks.”  They voice their opinions to you.  There is nothing wrong with Greg, he is a great guy, and has great character.  The problem is Tom and Brad’s selfish attitude, their misunderstanding.  He’s not in Tom and Brad’s social status. “What do you hang out with Greg for anyway?”

Now you have a choice.  Will you stand up for Greg, or will you let the foolish opinions of Tom and Brad sway how you feel about Greg?  Will you be afraid to be seen with Greg?  Will you be ashamed of him?  If you let Tom and Brad sway your opinion about Greg, then you are not a true friend.  You would be allowing the selfish opinions of others to influence you into doing the wrong thing.  It would be about you.  If you allow them to influence you, it is because you value self more than a relationship. Because you are afraid you will not be accepted.

But what have you gained?  You have traded two selfish self-centered companions in exchange for a good friend.

If it came down to God or your sin, which one would you prefer?

If it came down to God or your religion, which one would you choose?

If it came down to choosing between God saving you, or attempting to be saved by your good deeds, which one would you choose? (If you choose God, then by doing so, you are humbling yourself and rejecting the good things that you do, admitting that you aren’t good enough to save yourself.  On the other hand, by choosing good deeds, you are rejecting God).

Which do you prefer, God or religion?

(By choosing God, you will reject religion.  By choosing religion, you will reject God).

Does your church teach that salvation is thru water baptism, or communion, or good deeds?  Does it teach that salvation is partly thru a religious act or thru your actions?

If you knew that your church taught a works salvation, and if it came down to God or your church denomination, which one would you choose?

Until you are ready to give up your other “girlfriends,” you cannot get into a relationship with God.

You cannot have both God and sin, both God and religion, both God and good works.  You cannot have both God and your other gods.  Jesus Christ loves you too much to share you with sin.  Jesus Christ left behind all of His riches, His throne, His home, and His Father and made Himself shameful by becoming sin – all for you and me.  The thing that would make Him the happiest “groom” in the whole world is if you would be willing to leave behind all just for Him.

Is a person ready to be saved if he is willing to say a prayer?  Let me hasten to say, anyone can mouth the words.  There has been many a man who has told a woman, “I love you,” for either the wrong motives, or because he knew that was what she wanted to hear.  Simply saying the words doesn’t mean the person meant what he said, or that he was ready to say it.

It is not the prayer that saves you.  Jesus Christ saves you.  A prayer is supposed to be an outward expression of that inner desire.

What matters is if you are ready.  And if you are, He is simply waiting for you to exercise your free will, to in faith, accept the free gift that He is holding out to you.

Here are some things to consider.

Has God revealed to you your condition?

Are you to a place where the little boy was toward his daddy?

Do you understand that you are the one responsible for the way you are and it is not someone else’s fault?

Do you feel that God owes you something?  Do you still think that you are good enough to get to heaven?

Do you feel that you don’t deserve hell?

Do you still feel that there are others who are worse than you?

Have you given up; or is there still a little fight left in you?

Do you really believe that Jesus paid the full price on the cross for your sins and so therefore salvation is a free gift, or do you think you can contribute toward the payment?

Do you believe that Jesus will save you simply because He said He would?

Do you see yourself as someone who is climbing a rope to heaven, and the rope is held by God (you and God are working together to get you to heaven)?  Or do you see yourself as falling and God needs to catch you.

Do you see yourself as climbing a steep hill, and when you get to the top, God congratulates you for your efforts, or do you see yourself as being in danger, hanging from a branch over the precipice, in between two eternities.  You cannot climb out, and if you let go you will fall to your doom.  You need someone to rescue you.

According to the verses that you have read in this booklet, where would you go if you were to die right now?

Now be honest with yourself.  According to these questions, are you ready to be saved?

If you could not answer these questions, then you are not ready to be saved.  You are not ready to be rescued until you see yourself as lost.  God does not look down on you for this; perhaps you simply need to hear more of what God has to say about getting to heaven.  You may be asking “Then what should I do?”


                Seek ye the Lord while he may be found…    (Isaiah 55:6)

                But if…thou whilt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 

                (Deuteronomy 4:29)

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)

                 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:17)

Ask God to show you your true condition.  Seek God and His answers in His Book the Holy Bible.  Attend a church that teaches only the Bible.  Look into the Bible Study offered at the end of this booklet.

If you could answer the previous questions with, “According to the Bible, I am lost; I would go to hell,” then let me ask you this.  Is your only motive for getting saved, just to get out of hell?  Though that should definitely be one of your concerns, it should be accompanied by a conviction over your sin and a desire to be right with God.

Here are some other wrong motives that a person could have:

Are you doing it to make someone else happy?  Is it so you can be a better husband, or because your kids need a better daddy?  Do you simply want to be a better person, but a relationship with God is really not important to you?  Wrong motives!  (Being a better person is certainly a noble desire, but it is not the right motive to be saved.  Some people may desire to be better to get out of trouble, or to impress others, or even to look heroic.  Others may truly desire to be different because they are sick of bad habits, but remember, you are not doing anybody a favor; God is the one doing the favor. Those things will be bi-products of salvation, but the main motive should be to have a relationship with God.)

Is anyone pressuring you?  You cannot get saved for someone else.

Is it simply a head knowledge or is it gripping you?  Do you want this as badly as a drowning person wants air (this might sound kind of dramatic, but the point is, do you truly recognize the desperate need?)

If so, have you settled it in your heart? Have you counted the cost?  Remember, your life will never be the same.

Do you want to be saved more than anything in the entire world?

Are you ready to surrender, and want to be rescued?

Is there anything you are willing to let stand in the way?

Has God convicted you?  Conviction is the word that we use to describe a person’s sense of guilt.  It is the “contrite heart” mentioned on page 19, the reaction to a realization that “Oh No! I have broken God’s Law.”  When God reveals a person’s sinful condition and that person understands that he is guilty (responsible for his own sin), and that the God who loves him and died for him in spite of the fact that his sins put Jesus on the cross – if he cares about this – if this bothers him – then the Holy Spirit is bringing about conviction.

The Bible described this in the book of Acts.  Peter plainly stated to the people who had crucified Jesus Christ.  He said, “Him… ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain…” (Acts 2:23).  Notice their reaction.  “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…” (Acts 2:37)

That “pricking in the heart” is conviction.  A person may feel a turmoil or a wrestling inside, or a soul searching. Don’t run from it!  This “Godly sorrow” gives you an understanding of your true sinful condition.  When you don’t want to hurt God anymore with your sin, when you want to turn from things that offend Him, when you want to be right with Him more than you want your own way, then that Godly sorrow has brought you to repentance.  Remember, this is not something that is brought on by you, or is manufactured by you.  Like in the example of the young boy who felt sorrow over his sin against his daddy and wanted to be right with him, this brought him to repentance.  It was a natural reaction brought about by a tender heart, broken and remorseful over offending, and then wanting to be right with that special person.

Remember, salvation is the simplest thing in the world.  The hard part is seeing yourself as lost.  If you see yourself as lost and God has convicted you of your sin condition, then as stated already, there are 2 things which any relationship requires:

  • That you want to be right with the one offended – in this case, God. That you want to be right with Him more than anything in all the world – to restore a Father – child relationship (“repentance toward God.”)
  • That you trust this person. Do you believe in His ability, take Him at His Word, do you have a total confidence in Jesus Christ’s ability to be the complete payment on the cross to save you (“faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”), and that God cannot lie and therefore will save you when you ask Him?

 So that is how a person is saved.

The question is – do you want to be saved?

If you are ready, God’s greatest desire, and the only thing for which He is waiting, is for you of your own free will to simply ask Him.

Again, be honest.  If you can think about it some more – then think about it.  Let God speak to your heart.  Ask Him to show you.  But please consider the following question, asked by the Lord Himself to the reader of Scripture…

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)

The Creator God is holding out to you the greatest opportunity of your lifetime; of your ETERNITY. He begs you to choose heaven.  He begs you to choose HIM.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that… thou… may live: (Deuteronomy 30:19)

But if there is nothing left to think about, and you cannot do anything else but get saved, then the instructions are in the Bible.  In your own words, just ask God to save you.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  (Romans 10:9-10)

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)

If you were ready, and you did that, look at what Jesus has promised us after we are saved?


                My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,         neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  (John 10:27-28)


                If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1: 9)

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  (Psalm 103:12)           

                AN ADVOCATE

                … if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:  (1 John 2:1b)

 …AND OTHER BENEFITS – Eternal life, free from the enslavement of sin, escape from hell, God is now your Heavenly Father (Rom 8:15 describes Him as a Daddy, a term of closeness and endearment), a relationship with God, etc….

 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.      (Matthew 16:24-25)

 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.       (1 Corinthians 2:9)