What Does It Mean to be Lost?

The story is told of a zealous young Christian who headed out with his Bible to share his faith door-to-door in the country.  He made his way up a half-mile lane to a farmhouse where an old farmer, who had been watching him come with great interest, sat on the front porch awaiting his arrival.  The young man greeted the old farmer with the question, “Are you lost?”  “No, young man”, replied the old farmer, “but you appear to be.  Who are you looking for?  Do you need some directions?”

   Many are like the old farmer.  The idea of being “lost” in a spiritual sense has never crossed their minds.  They have no idea what it means.  Even in religious circles, the idea of “getting saved” is tossed about frequently without much explanation of what it means.  But, no one will ever be “saved” who has not first known what it means to be “lost”.

    To be “lost” is to have gone astray like a lost sheep from God’s commandments (Ps 119:176).  To be “lost” is to have turned away from the Shepherd’s (God’s) way to one’s own way (Isa 53:6).  To be “lost” is to be in need of teaching in order to return to God’s guidance and direction (Mk 6:34). 

    To be “lost” is to be separated from God due to one’s sin (Isa 59:1-2).  This separation from God is called “death” (as “separation” is the root meaning of “death”, Eph 2:1-2).  To be “lost” is to face the wrath of God because of one’s disobedience, the wrath that others have experienced in the past (Eph 2:3, Jude 5-7).  To be “lost” is to be in line for hell, God’s eternal punishment for sin, the punishment of unquenchable fire that everyone should want to avoid at all cost (by hyperbole, even if need be with the loss of a hand, a foot, or an eye (Mark 9:43-48)…

How Do I Come to Realize that I Am Lost?

On page one I explained what the Bible says about being lost.  But, if the Bible is no more than “paper and ink” to you, then just reading the Scriptures I cited will not cause you to accept that you are lost.  You must have faith that the Bible is from God before you accept its definition of sin, accept that you have sinned, and accept that you are separated from God and destined for hell. 

   Most especially, before you come to realize that you are lost you must accept what the Bible says about Jesus, for it says that He is the author of the New Testament which is in force now (Heb 9:15-17).  If He is the Lord and Christ (King), then whether or not you keep His law matters.  If He is not the Lord and Christ (King), then whether or not you obey His gospel is no big deal. 

   The goal of the first gospel sermon was to convince the Jews who had crucified Jesus that He is both Lord and Christ (King).  Peter worked toward this conclusion by the presentation of evidence.  He began with the miracles of Jesus that He had performed in their midst.  He then related the centerpiece of his argument- that Jesus rose from the dead- supporting this by the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, and the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit.  He then argued that Jesus had ascended into heaven and was exalted to the right hand of God by citing another Old Testament reference that Jesus fulfilled.  Peter then concluded, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ- this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:22-36).

   It was at the same instant that Peter’s audience accepted that Jesus is Lord and Christ (King) that they realized that they were “lost”- “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, what shall we do?” (2:37)  Before their belief they had no awareness of sin, no pain of conscience. But, after they believed, their hearts were cut through with guilt, shame, and humiliation as they realized that they were “dead”, separated from God and doomed to hell because of their sin, most especially the sin of crucifying the One whom God had made both Lord and Christ (King).

   Have you studied for yourself to see if there is enough evidence to support faith in the conclusion that Jesus is Lord and Christ (King)?  Study Jesus’ miracles in Matthew through John.  Study the Old Testament prophecies about the coming “Christ” (King) to see if Jesus fulfilled them.  Examine the eyewitness testimony of the apostles to see if it is reliable.    Read about the miracles that supported the first gospel sermon and the continued preaching of Jesus’ message around the world.  

      If and when you come to believe in Jesus and His authority as Lord and King, you will be smitten with guilt as you realize that you have broken His law and that your sins were some of the sins for which He died.  You, as that first audience who heard the gospel, will realize that you are lost and you will cry out, wondering what you can do to restore your relationship with God and to escape His wrath and His eternal punishment of hell…

So, How Can I be Saved?

   So, based on the evidence in the Scriptures, I believe that Jesus is the Lord and King.  I know that I have sinned by dis-obeying His law and my conscience is filled with guilt.  I am grieved that my actions have destroyed my relationship with God and I am very much afraid of God’s wrath that will result in me suffering eternal punishment in hell.  Now I see that I need to be saved.  So, how can I be saved?

Jesus died for my sins.  He took the punishment for my sins so that God could be both just and merciful.  This truth was beautifully foretold by Isaiah who wrote, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa 53:4-6; see 1 Pet 2:24).

God provided a way for me to be reconciled to Him.  God wanted to have a relationship with me, so through the death of Jesus His Son He made this possible- by not counting my sins against me (2 Cor 5:19).  Although I showed myself to be God’s enemy by violating His will, He made peace through the blood of Jesus’ cross and the death of His fleshly body.  Through Jesus’ sacrifice I can be presented before God as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach- no longer God’s enemy, but now His friend, no longer dead or separated from God, but made alive because of His mercy, love, and grace (Col 1:20-22; Eph 2:4-5). 

Jesus saved me from God’s wrath.  If Jesus paid for my sins so God can see me as holy and as His friend, then I no longer have any reason to fear the Judgment Day.  Jesus has saved me from the outpouring of God’s wrath that will be poured out on the unforgiven sinner. He has saved me from the dread of eternal punishment in hell (Rom 5:9).  He made it possible for me to live my life free from guilt and fear, but instead to live it in peace, free from condemnation (Rom 5:1; 8:1).

   So, how can I be saved?  The means of my salvation is what God has done through Jesus’ cross.  Without what God did through His Son in an act of mercy, love, and grace, I would be helpless and hopeless.  I would be lost and dead and doomed to hell and there is nothing that I could do about it.  My conscience would daily plague me with guilt and I could give it no relief.  I would live in fear of God’s wrath and there would be nothing that I could do to turn it away from me. 

   But, with this said, will God’s work through Jesus save everyone?  Is salvation conditional or unconditional?  Is there anything that I must do in order to be saved- in order to benefit from the means of salvation that God has provided through the death of His Son?  What answer was given to the Jews who heard and believed the first gospel sermon and, realizing they were lost, cried out, “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) ...

Save Yourself!

   Peter told those who realized they were lost and wanted to know what to do about it to “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).  God provided the means for everyone to be saved through the death of Jesus.  However, He set down conditions for those who believe in Jesus to meet in order to be saved- repentance and baptism.

   I repent when I, as, a lost sheep, make up my mind to stop straying by going my own way and return to the Shepherd of my soul and let Jesus lead me (1 Pet 2:25). 

   I am baptized when I am immersed or buried in water in order to receive the benefits of Jesus’ death and wash away my sins (Acts 8:38-39; 22:16;  Rom 6:3-4).

   After stating God’s conditions of salvation, Peter exhorted his audience with many other words to save themselves from their wicked generation.  Those who received his word were baptized. About 3,000, who realized that they were lost and that Jesus had provided salvation, met God’s conditions and therefore they were added to His people (Acts 2:40-41).

      Do you understand what it means to be lost?  Do you realize that you are lost?  Do you believe that God made a way for Him to save you through Jesus?  Have you repented and been baptized so that you may be forgiven of your sins?    If not, save yourself!  Repent and be baptized before it is too late and you have to face God’s wrath and pay the eternal penalty for your sins in hell.