Contrary to the opinion of some, salvation is more than saying a few words or offering a prayer. To become a child of God there are specific ingredients for that to occur.
The best example can be taken from the person we call the penitent thief who along with Jesus was dying on the cross. He had no opportunity to display good works or to impress leaders of the church. Instead, he followed some very important steps.
He recognized the identity of Jesus as the son of God and Savior. Jesus specifically said that no one can come to the father except through him.
He demonstrated faith in Christ for his greatest need. As he faced death, he placed his eternal soul in the hands of Jesus. That meant he trusted Jesus for his very being’s existence.
He requested from Jesus a means by which he could live eternally with Christ. He did not know the full details of his own request, but he knew he wanted to be where Jesus would be.
He repented for his life of sin and acknowledged his history of living contrary to that which would please God. The word repent has several definitions, but the most common is that of turning around. Even on the cross, the penitent thief wanted to turn away from what he once was and turn to whatever future God had for him.
He took great comfort from the words of Jesus that the very day he repented he would be with Christ as a promise from Jesus’ own lips. His past was no longer a troubling issue, instead, he looked for a bright future and whatever God had ahead.
He testified in behalf of his salvation and his Savior. His words were directed to the other thief that was not penitent. However, those standing nearby could also hear what this new believer had to say. He told the other thief that they both deserved the punishment they were receiving. He also told the other thief that Jesus should not be on the cross, however, the only means for the penitent thief to be saved was that Jesus be on the cross next to him.
Whatever person desires a salvation experience with God, that person must follow these steps to belief. A halfhearted prayer means nothing. Church ritual means nothing. It all requires faith and trust with the determination to serve God by turning away from how life was once lived and walking a new path that would bring glory to God.