What Must I Do To Be Saved?
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
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."
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
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
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.