What Must One Do To Be Saved?
In today’s troubled and uncertain world, one thing remains true and firm – God and his Word. While many heap to themselves materialistic treasures for this life, too few realize that they will be held accountable to God (Matthew 16:26). Where do you stand? Are you preparing for eternity? “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this comes the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
All of us are sinners: “for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) And we cannot save ourselves. “There is a way that seems right unto a man; but in the end it only leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Yet, “the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise . . . but is patient with everyone, not wanting anyone to perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) Thus our loving God is willing and able to save us!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed
in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of
light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his
deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done
has been done through God. ... Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever does not obey the Son will not see life,
for God's wrath remains on him.” (John 3:16-21,36)
The Bible is the complete, the final, and the only inspired Word of God. Scripture reveals the only Way of salvation. “All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17) We are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 and I Corinthians 2:10-16)
The Old Testament is not the final authority for our faith and practice today because “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4 cf. Romans 6:14; I Corinthians 9:20,21; Galatians 3:23-25; 5:4; John 1:17; Hebrews 1:1-2) The Old Testament is, however, for our learning and for our example (Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:1-11; Galatians 3:24). Christ is our authority (Colossians 3:17) and in the New Testament, we find there is one body, the church, and the saved are in that one body – the church belonging to Christ. (Ephesians 1:18-23; 4:4-6) Christ is “the Head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18); “the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23; Acts 2:47; 20:28) Thus, Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him.” (John 14:6)
What is necessary for one to do in order to be saved, to come to God – in order to become a member of that saved body of Christ? We must do something to be saved, yet our own works are unacceptable: “not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us.” (Titus 3:5) We must obey only those commandments that Christ gave us for our salvation: “He became the author of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9 and Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46; Romans 6:17; I Peter 1:22; James 1:25; etc.)
Consider the commands that we must obey if we are to become a child of God, in order to be saved:
● HEAR THE WORD OF GOD WITH A GOOD AND HONEST HEART – “So faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17; John 6:44-45 cf. Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15)
● BELIEVE (HAVE FAITH, TRUST) IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST – “Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16; Hebrews 11:6; John 8:24) Yet, faith alone will not save. Faith must “work through love” (Galatians 5:6; I Thessalonians 1:3) and if we love the Lord we will “do what he says.” (John 14:15,21,23-24; 15:10; I John 2:3-5; 3:22,24; 5:2,3; II John 1:6; etc.) The only faith that makes us right with God is a faith that does the will of God. (See Acts 10:34-35 and James 2:14-26) For more on faith go here and here.
● REPENT OF YOUR SINS (CHANGE YOUR HEART AND MIND AND TURN TOWARD GOD) – God “now commands that all men everywhere repent.” (Acts 17:30) Repentance is absolutely necessary for conversion. (Acts 3:19; II Corinthians 7:8-11; Luke 13:3; 24:47)
● CONFESS (ACCEPT AND ACKNOWLEDGE) JESUS AS LORD AND CHRIST – Acknowledge before the world, in word and in deed, that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God . . . your Lord and Savior: “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10; Matthew 10:32, 33; I Timothy 6:12-16)
● BE BAPTIZED (IMMERSED IN WATER) INTO CHRIST FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS AND RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ORDER TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST – Jesus said: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:18-20) The New Testament clearly states that baptism (like faith, repentance, and confession) is essential for salvation: Acts 2:38-41; 22:16; Romans 6:1-14; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-29; Colossians 2:9-15; I Peter 3:21. In baptism the “new birth of water and Spirit” is realized: John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5; I Peter 1:22-23; Ephesians 5:25-26. See the special study: “What About Baptism?”
● LIVE A FAITHFUL LIFE as a Christian for the rest of your days until Christ calls you home to live with him for eternity: II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; II Peter 1:3-11. Grow in your salvation (I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:14-16) because it is possible to be eternally lost if we return to a sinful life: II Peter 2:20-22; Hebrews 3:12-14; 4:1; 6:4-6; 10:26-29; Galatians 5:4.
POINT AND COUNTERPOINT: But wait a moment! Is that it? Is this all there is? Well, yes and no. It is difficult to reduce becoming a Christian and salvation to just a few points. Then again, our God did tell us what he wants. In the Old Covenant he tells us this:
“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's command and decrees ... for your own good.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 cf. Deuteronomy 4:44-13:18)
“This is the one I am looking for: He who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my Word.” (Isaiah 66:2 cf. Isaiah 57:15 [Psalm 34:18; 51:17])
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly (i.e., to do what is right) and to love mercy (i.e., grace) and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
and this ...
"This is what the Lord says, 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Our Lord and Savior sums it all up in this way: “The greatest command is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-34 cf. Matthew 22:34-40 and Luke 10:25-37 ... Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:18) Thus this is the essence of our discipleship in the kingdom of God! And this discipleship is clearly defined for us by Jesus and by Paul:
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross (daily) and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me (and the gospel) will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26; Mark 8:34-37; Luke 9:23-25 and compare John 12:23-26)
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 cf. Galatians 5:24; 6:14 ... Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:11-14 ... Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:1-17)
So, becoming a Christian is not just about faith or obedience to God, it is also about loving him with all our heart and it is about discipleship in the kingdom of God. If we love the Lord as disciples we will do anything he asks of us (We will believe, repent, confess, and be baptized into Christ!) and we will never do anything he does not want. That is how love works. And remember, he loved us first! “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. ... This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God has overcome the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (I John 4:9-10; 5:3-5)
All of this and more is certainly involved in what Jesus said in John 17:3 when he defined “eternal life” in terms of knowing the Father and knowing the Son of God. Thus, life is found in the Lord Jesus Christ as we come to God and live in his very Presence through the power of his Spirit. This is made possible only because of God’s love and grace. It is interesting to note the many ways in which salvation is defined in Scripture and the many ways in which coming to the Lord is described. The bottom line is that they all involve the humble obedience of faith that loves God. No other kind of faith is acceptable. No other kind of faith saves.
Thus, as we faithfully obey God, may we always “continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to work according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13) Truly, “all we have accomplished you (Lord) have done for us”! (Isaiah 26:12) Even when we have done everything the Lord has asked of us, we must never forget that we have only done our duty. We have not in any sense merited or earned our salvation. We are still unworthy servants who do not deserve the grace of God. See Luke 17:6-10 cf. Ephesians 2:1-10. (Even when we are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we have done nothing! God has done everything! It is only through the powerful working of God's Spirit that our sins are washed away through the blood of Christ. See John 3:3,5 and Colossians 2:12.)
If you would like to become a Christian or if you would like to study more about your salvation, please feel free to call on or write us. We are simply a church (people) belonging to Christ who are seeking to worship and serve God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). If you have any questions, please let us know. May God bless you as you seek the Truth. Feel free to email us here.