What Must I Do to Be Saved?
“And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”” (Acts 16:30, NKJV)
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”” (Acts 2:37, NKJV)
“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”” (Acts 2:40, NKJV)
The most important question ever asked is “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30, 2:37) Everyone who believes in God must ask this question at one time in his or her life. Truly, no other source is better able to answer this question than the word of God, for it is able to save and sanctify the souls of men (James 1:21; Jn. 17:17, 8:32). Therefore, what does the Bible teach one must do to be saved?
The first step one must take to be saved is to hear God’s word. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). And, “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). In the past I am afraid that we have under emphasized the importance of hearing God’s word. But what does it mean to really hear God’s word? Does it mean just listening to the word of God? No. By hearing God’s word, two things are meant. First, hearing God’s word means that we recognize its authority. As God said on the Mount of Transfiguration, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him” (Mk. 9:7). The Bible is the ultimate and final authority in all matters of religion (Matt. 28:18ff, Col. 3:17, Jn. 12:48). Second, hearing God’s word means that we give a diligent effort to study, search, seek and test. In the process of hearing, one must use the reasoning capabilities God has given him to discern truth from error (I Thes. 5:21). When hearing we need to be like the noble Bereans who “…received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11, ASV). Let us all be careful and intelligent in how we hear (Lk. 8:18), what we hear (Mk. 4:24), and Who we hear (Mk. 9:7).
The second step in the plan of salvation is belief. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will surely die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). However, belief alone will not save a person. In fact, the word belief never means mental acceptance only. Belief always means an active, obedient trust in God (Gal 5:6). You and I understand this in every day life. For example, if I wake up during the night with my house on fire, and I truly believe that it is on fire this belief alone will not save me. I must take steps of action such as getting out of bed and running out of the house to be saved from the fire. Likewise, there are steps of action associated with belief that one must take to be saved. It is so sad that there are thousands of denominational people who teach that all one must do to be saved is believe in Jesus and accept Him as your personal Savior. Nothing could be further than the truth. In fact, the only time belief/faith only is ever used in the Bible, James says faith alone will not save a person (James 2:24).
The third step in the plan of salvation is repentance. In Luke 13:3 Jesus said, “unless you repent you shall all likewise perish.” True repentance means that one has a changed will (Acts 3:19) that leads to a changed way of life (Lk. 3:8). That means that the person who used to smoke, drink, fornicate or commit other sins makes up his mind not to do these things anymore, then proves it by living a pure life.
The fourth step in the plan of salvation is confession. “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). Unless one orally confesses before men that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, he will not be saved (Matt. 10:32-33). Like Timothy, we must all make the good confession (I Tim. 6:12-13).
The final step one must take to be saved is baptism. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible does teach that baptism is essential and necessary for salvation. Let the Bible speak on this matter. “…Baptism now saves you…” (I Pet. 3:21). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mk. 16:16). “Repent and be baptized…for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). “…Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God “ (Jn. 3:5). “…Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins…” (Acts 22:16). Have you been immersed in water for the remission of your sins? The Bible says you must.
Truly, the Bible is very clear on the plan of salvation. The question we must ask ourselves is “Have we truly obeyed the gospel?” Have you obeyed the plan of salvation as the Bible teaches or is your salvation based on what your creed, confession of faith, pastor, or manual teaches? We would encourage you to examine your salvation to see if you have been saved as the Bible teaches (2 Cor. 13:5).