What must I do to be saved?
The coming of Jesus Christ was an answer to the promise that was made to the first Jew named Abraham. This man lived in the post flood world of pagan men who had created their own religions. Abraham rejected their
presumptions and waited for something better to happen. God revealed himself to Abram in ways we can only guess at. However, the word given to this man was for him to move away from the big city to a country setting and in that new land God would make Abraham prosper. The land was promised to him and to his descendants. God and Abraham became friends as much as any God and man could become friends and to him was given a promise; that one of his descendants would be a blessing to all men.
Through the generations, the descendants of Abraham became a great nation and their story is record in some detail in the Old Testament of today’s Bible. This coming of Jesus was the fulfillment of a promise that God had made to Abraham. This man through miracles was proven to be the Messiah, the anointed one chosen by God to fulfill the promise of blessing. By his death, the only sinless man on earth proved himself sufficient to acquit the guilt of the father of the human race, Adam, and so undo the penalty of death for him and all that followed after him with only one provision; that the disciples of Christ would believe in this atonement and obey from the heart the teachings of God.
Therefore, throughout the portion of the Bible called the New Testament many people, both Jew and Gentile
learned of the power of the redeeming favor of God in Christ Jesus and came to believe. In every place the early followers went, they spread the news of this Jesus and the salvation that comes with belief in his authority; salvation from sin and salvation from the tribulation shortly to come on the world of that time, and salvation from the final condemnation in the second death. That is, the death of the soul.
The message of this saving grace was always the same:
Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Acts 3: 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. 17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’[a] 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all
peoples on earth will be blessed.’26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 5: 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive
their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Acts 7: 51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
Acts 8: 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Acts 10: 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He
was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Acts 13: 38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Acts 16: 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Acts 16: 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Acts 17 When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise
from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.
Acts 17: 10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
Acts 17: 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
Acts 18: 5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his
clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Acts 18: 24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 24: 24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.
Acts 26: 19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts
and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” And in every case the way of salvation was the same:
Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Acts 2:37-39 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Acts 2:40-42 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this
corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 8:11-13 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 . And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 8:37-39 37 Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] [a] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Acts 9:17-19 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul,
the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Acts 10:47-48 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Acts 16:14-16 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us
Acts 16:32-34 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that
hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
Acts 18:7-9 7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized. 9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
Acts 19:4-6 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Romans 6:1-4 6 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Galatians 3:26-28 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The elements leading to forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Spirit and a place in the eternal life of God are repea
ted so often in scriptures it is embarrassing that any could miss them, or chose to minimize one over another. In every place and at any time the early disciples preached Christ and the freedom from sin and shame and to everyone who asked for this gift was given the reply, believe that Jesus is the Christ, repent of your sins and be immersed in water and your sins will be forgiven. For this belief would not be possible save for the preaching of Christ crucified. Repentance from sinful living was the reason for the preaching of the crucified Christ; a promise to live in sin no longer for the sake of the crucified Son. And this simple Jewish tradition of being dunked in water – baptized as an appeal to God for a conscious clear of guilt and shame and fear.
It has been this way ever since even though some do not believe repentance is needed. Even though some say water baptism is not needed. Even though some go so far as to suggest that even faith in Christ is not a decision that people make; saying it is the irresistible grace of the Spirit. This New Covenant with God was made for the human race and stands as the means to life everlasting now and for all time. No changes are needed. Nothing less or more is required. The grace of God and the life of a new born is granted to those who will accept the simple teaching of the Bible. A Testament stands for every one that believes. It is the legal guarantee of freedom from sin and shame and a place among the throng of eternal beings in the spiritual places.
But men never make it that easy. Today baptism which means to dunk, plunge, immerse has evolved into sprinkling of water. Belief and repentance is not needed by the new follower as God parents have replace perso
nal responsibility. Those who do immerse in water for the forgiveness of sins take infants and immerse them for something they haven’t done wrong. And the few who will baptize an adult tell them specifically that baptism plays no role in their redemption from sin. Why is this so? Who has the right to augment the simplest of teachings about the salvation that belongs to Christ?
I was once approached by a friend who said, “I suppose your going to tell me that baptism is necessary for salvation?” My answer was simple, “I don’t look for things in the Bible that I don’t have to do. I do what I am told for my salvation and that is sufficient.” After all, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Faith in Christ leads to repentance from dead works, which leads to immersion in water for sins to be “washed away”. And all this is in preparation for the Spirit to take up residence in my life…not as a miraculous possession but as a spiritual guarantee of the promise of eternal life. Why would anyone, knowing the edits and deletions and misgivings concerning the Bible look for things they don’t have to do? This is the very definition of irresponsibility.
What must I do to be saved? Isn’t that the question? Has the answer changed over the past 2000 years? Is there something hard about doing or understanding the commands of God to receive this forgiveness and a place among those who are being saved? Doesn’t the same admonition apply to us that applied to Paul? He was told, “Now why do you linger? Get up and be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”
What is your answer?