|One of the most important questions which needs to be answered today is the title of this article: "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" The answer to this question is important for those professing to be Christians and sinners alike. Why? Because the answer is given in the Bible and it is specific. The main thrust of our ministry is the admonition of those professing to follow Christ to be "Doers of the Word," or as the NIV renders it "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22) Allow me to paraphrase this another way: "Do not listen to what men teach, and let them deceive you. Do what the word says." |
Some men would have you believe that all that you must do to be saved is to "call upon the name of the Lord." They even give you a sample "sinner's prayer" to pray, and having prayed that prayer they declare, "praise God, you are now saved!" But is this what the Bible teaches? The scripture which is used to prove this teaching is Romans 10:13, where Paul says, "For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
I once heard a very wise preacher say, "If you ever put an interpretation on a scripture that makes another scripture appear to be wrong, then you have the wrong interpretation." Let's examine Romans 10:13 to see what Paul is really teaching. First of all you need to know to whom Paul was teaching in the book of Romans. To properly interpret scripture, you must know to whom the message was given. In Romans, Paul is teaching the Christians in the church at Rome which had former Jews as well as Gentiles. Therefore, the book of Romans is a treatise of some things which should be considered by both Jew and Gentile.
Chapter ten teaches that Israel rejected Christ, but this did not mean that Jews could not accept Christ. In verse twelve Paul writes, "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him." In other words, both Jew and Greek (Gentile) can call upon the Lord for salvation. If either a Jew or a Gentile seeks salvation through Christ based upon the New Testament teachings, they shall receive salvation. Then Paul reaffirms what he said in verse twelve by stating in verse thirteen, "For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." In other words, it doesn't make any difference if you are a Jew or a Gentile, if you call upon the Lord for salvation, you shall receive salvation.
Now please note that Paul was not teaching on the subject of HOW you receive salvation, but WHO is eligible to receive salvation.
There are many other "plans" for salvation which have been developed by men. Some say you have to have that "special feeling", others say you have to "pray through," and still others will put some other form of man-made qualification on receiving salvation. No person here on earth will ever produce a plan of salvation equal to, or that will take the place of, that plan which Christ gave us. The New Testament gives us the plan of salvation which was given to the Apostles by Christ, and was practiced by them throughout their ministries.
So what is the plan of salvation? The plan of salvation consists of five steps, all of which are necessary for the person to receive salvation and gain the eventual reward of eternal life with Jesus Christ. Those five steps are: Belief, Repentance, Confession, Baptism, and Faithful Living.
Belief, or faith is the first step in receiving salvation. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans says as much, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed." (Romans 10:14a) How do we develop this faith or belief in Christ? Paul continues the above passage by saying, "And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14b) And, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) So we see that we come to a realization that God does truly exist, and that He is able to do that which He has promised, by hearing the word of God. Of course this usually happens by listening to a preacher, Sunday School teacher, Bible study, or some other means of learning what God tells us in His word.
This should go without saying, but I shall say it anyway, faith (or belief) is absolutely necessary if we are to receive salvation. How can we have dealings with One who is unseen, and whose chief rewards lie beyond this present life, unless we believe that God exists and will bring eternal life. We see this explicitly spelled out in the Bible, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
We also read in the Bible that our faith must be in Jesus Christ, "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:31)
Faith was also preached by the Apostles, "So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'" (Acts 16:31) Jesus Himself emphasized faith when He said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)
The result of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God is repentance. Not just saying, "I'm sorry for the sins I've committed," but a deep feeling of remorse in the knowledge that we have not been pleasing to God. In the same way that faith is not merely intellectual agreement that God does exist, repentance is not merely acknowledging that we have sinned and saying, "I'm sorry."
Let's compare for a moment a child who has been caught breaking his parents' rules. He may acknowledge that he has broken the rule, and he may (probably will) say, "I'm sorry and I won't do it anymore." But his real motive may be to avoid the punishment that his parents have warned him would be given to him if he disobeyed. However, given the opportunity, he may break the rule again, and not feel any guilt unless he gets caught again. This is not repentance.
On the other hand, if the child realizes that his disobedience has caused his parents to grieve (as God does for our disobedience), and he decides that he is going to do his very best to not break his parents' rules again, we would say that he has shown repentance.
It is the same with us when we become Christians. We need to be repentant for our shortcomings toward God, and strive to not repeat our errors in the future.
Repentance then, is a change of heart and mind. Unless we change the way we live, we have not repented. Unless there is a re-orientation of the ethics and values in our lives, there has been no repentance.
Repentance is a command in the Bible: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:30,31) It is also a warning. Jesus said, "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3)
The gospel message produces repentance. When Peter was preaching to the people on the day of Pentecost he said, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) We read in this same account that thousands were added to the church that day.
God's love for us also produces repentance in our hearts and lives. You don't need to study the Bible very much to realize just how much God really loves us. God's love for His creation, man, is all through the Bible. Romans 2:4 brings this into focus: "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
A person shows that he is not ashamed of Christ, or to be know as a Christian, when he confesses Him before men. We see in the book of Romans that the confession should be made with the mouth: "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Romans 10:9,10)
We also see that the confession should be of Christ, or that we believe that Jesus is the Christ. In Matthew, Jesus was asking His disciples who the people said that He was. Then we read, "He (Jesus) said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matthew 16:15,16) It should be before witnesses. "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12)
And finally, confession should precede baptism. In the account of Philip preaching to the Ethiopian eunuch we find that the Ethiopian made his confession prior to Philip baptizing him. This account is in Acts 8:35-38.
You must come into contact with Christ's death. This is done through baptism. Baptism depicts a death to sin or a coming alive in Christ. It also is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Baptism is commanded by Christ as we see in Mark 16:16: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." It was also practiced by the apostles. In the book of Acts (which could also be referred to as the book of conversions), there are eight accounts of people being saved. In each account, baptism was part of the person or persons being saved. For example, in Acts 2:41 we read this passage, "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them."
Read each of the eight accounts:
Jews on Pentacost .......... Acts 2:36-38
The Samaritans ............... Acts 8:12-13
The Ethiopian Eusuch ...... Acts 8:35-39
Cornelius (1st Gentile) ..... Acts 10:34-48
Lydia .............................. Acts 16:14-15
The Jailor ........................ Acts 16:25-34
The Corinthians ............... Acts 18:6-8
The Ephesians ................. Acts 19:1-5
Paul ................................ Acts 22:16
Baptism brings remission of sins: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) And also, baptism saves us: "There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:21)
Through faith, repentance, confession and baptism we receive the salvation promised by God through His son Jesus Christ. But this is not where the process stops. In some respects, it is just the beginning.
We must continue to live faithfully. Faithful living means continuing steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in observing communion, and in prayer. (See Acts 2:42) We should study our Bible. A daily walk through God's word is important to spiritual growth. We should grow in the fruit of the Spirit. (See Galatians 5:22,23) We should be a soul winner, sharing our faith in Christ with others. We should have Christian virtues. (See 2 Peter 1:5- 8) And we should worship regularly with God's people. (See Hebrews 10:25)
So, what must you do to be saved? The answer, as given in the New Testament, is faith (or belief), repentance, confession, baptism, and life-long faithful living. If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please consider carefully what You have read here. Being a Christian is a wonderful life.
All scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
About the Author
Stephen Kingery is an author, preacher, teacher and founder of The Home Bible Study Institute.
Visit our site at http://www.james1-22.org
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