I've been thinking recently about who gets saved. There are so many different divisions of Christianity ranging from the Catholics to the "standard" Protestants to the 19th century ones like Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc. Some of the belief systems are quiet different, so I was thinking they cannot all be right but how much does it matter? How much does it affect the long term goal of salvation and getting to heaven? Then I came across John 1:12-13 and I am trying to wrap my head around what it means. At this point I think it may mean that if you follow what Jesus said (regardless of how you interpreted it) and loved him that you will be saved (also noting other verses that say things about you being changed and if you love Him wanting to follow His laws.) What is your opinion on this?
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).
A common problem is that people take a portion of the truth and then declare that this is the whole truth. A half truth is never the truth. "The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting" (Psalms 119:160). If you want to know what saves a person, then you need to read all of what God said about salvation. One verse is not going to give you the whole story.
John said that those who receive Christ are the same group as those to believe in His name. The phrase "in His name" has special meaning. It refers to a person's authority. We still use it in this sense when the police say, "Stop in the name of the law." In doing so, he is saying the order to stop is not because he said so, but because the law requires you to comply. For more on this, see: All in a Name. Thus, John is saying that those who receive Christ are those who believe in Christ's authority.
These same people are born of God. He is not saying that the receiving and believing made them children of God. He said that their belief gave them the right to become children of God and, thus, they became born of God by God's will and not man's. So what does it mean to be born of God? See: What is the difference between being born again and being saved? I hope that when you finish that answer, you will realize that being being born of God means you have been saved. But this text in John 1:12-13 does not tell you how a person is saved, only that belief in Jesus' authority is a prerequisite.
For a more complete picture of what it takes to be saved, see: What Saves a Person?
Yet, in a way you have it. The key is, "if you follow what Jesus said." So many people claim to believe in Christ and yet don't listen to him. "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). Here are some things Jesus said:
- "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).
- "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
- "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Salvation is not found in some denomination, whose roots come from men. Salvation is only found in Jesus and his teachings.