One of the greatest questions ever ask by man is, “What must I do to be saved?” It is great question because what a person must do to be saved is the only thing here on earth one can do for his own soul in the life to come! Jesus said, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26)?
What must I do to be saved is a Biblical question. Acts 16 contains the events of Paul and Silas being in Prison at Philippi. The jailer was prompted by an earthquake to ask, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
Biblical questions demand Biblical answers. A great majority of people have been taught and believe that one is saved at the point of faith without any other acts of obedience. Their false conclusion is based on the partial events of the conversion of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16. Many conclude that when Paul told the jailer to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31) that faith was the only condition of his salvation. However, as one continues to read the story in Acts 16:32-34, he can easily see that the jailer repented and was baptized the same hour of the night! A failure to realize that there are two sides to salvation has caused some to conclude that God does it all and that man has nothing to do.
Some believe that the thief on the cross is their path to salvation. However, before you swallow that false doctrine completely, consider these facts: The thief not once ever said he believed Jesus to be the Christ the Son of God. The thief never asked to be saved. The thief never asked for his sins to be forgiven. Jesus never once said the thief was saved. Jesus never once said to the thief that his sins were forgiven. Jesus didn’t go to heaven when he died. We know this because he told Mary Magdalene when he had risen from the dead, “Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my father” (Jn 20:17). Jesus told the thief on that day he would be with him in paradise. The apostle Peter revealed that when Jesus died he went back and preached to the spirits which were in prison, who had drowned because of the flood in the days of Noah (1 Pet 3:18-20). Thus, paradise was defined. The thief was born, lived, and died under the law of Moses. Jesus’ kingdom didn’t begin nor was the gospel established until Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Why? Because the gospel is aptly defined as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ_the gospel of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). No one was required up and until that time to believe in Christ or be baptized in order to be saved. The gospel was first preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-49). To be saved, the thief would have to have been faithful to the law of Moses. He died as a thief and was punished accordingly. So, if you follow the path of the thief on the cross, who was never used for an example for salvation anywhere in the new testament, you will be lost.
There are some things God has already done to make salvation available to everyone. Let’s take a look at some of these.
1. God gave His Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
2. The grace of God has been bestowed. “For by a. ace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God – not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Paul told Titus, “For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men” (Tit. 2:11). God has bestowed His divine favor upon men, making salvation possible.
3. Jesus shed His blood. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). God’s love for man caused Him to send His Son to die for sinners. “But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
4. The Holy Spirit revealed the truth. The revelation of the saving gospel was made by the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words; whereby when you read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) – as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit -” (Eph. 3:3-5). The Hebrew writer tells us that “God has spoken unto us by his Son. . .” (Heb. 1:1-2) and we need to listen.
God has done His part and requires that man do his part to complete the process of salvation. Here are the essentials God requires of us in order to be saved.
1. Hear the Gospel. At the Mount of Transfiguration God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5). In order for man to know what God wants him to do, he must first hear what He has to say.
2. Faith in Christ. Jesus said, “For if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. . .” (Jn. 8:24). Some teach that man is saved by faith alone, but the New Testament does not teach that faith or anything else by itself will save us. James said, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). Man cannot please God without faith (Heb. 11:6).
3. The Confession. The confession is of one’s faith in Christ. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). Paul said, “That if you shall confess the with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9-10). There is no better example of this confession than that of the eunuch when he said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. . .” (Acts 8:37). You will notice that this was not a confession of sins but a confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!
4. Repentance of sins. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). An example of repentance can be found in Matthew 21:28-31. In regard to working, one boy said, “I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” What did he do when he repented? He changed his mind. So repentance is a change of one’s mind that results in a change of action or life.
5. Baptism. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16). The very purpose of baptism is to wash away sin (Acts 22:16). Peter said that baptism is “for the’ remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). This baptism is a burial or immersion in water, not a pouring or sprinkling. The word baptism means immersion. In Romans 6:3-4, Paul calls it a “burial” and a “planting.” It is at this point that the blood of Christ washes away a man’s sins and we are “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
6. Be Faithful. After one has obeyed the gospel, he then is added to the church (Acts 2:47). As a Christian and a member of the Lord’s church, one must then remain faithful in worshiping God, purity of life, and working for the Lord. It is summed up in these words, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life. . .” (Rev. 2:10). One must “be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. . .” (1 Cor. 15:58).
“Salvation belongs unto the Lord” (Psalm 3:8). Therefore, God has the right to tell us what He wants us to do to be saved. I urge that you to hear and obey the gospel of Christ today, that is, if you truly want to be saved!