What Must I Do To Be Saved?
There is no greater question anyone can ask than what He or she must do to be saved. On the day the church was established, those who heard the first gospel sermon also raised this very question (Acts 2:37). It is a question that still needs to be asked today.
Before this question can be answered, one must know where to look for the answers. Scripture alone is our authority for matters spiritual. Peter reminds us, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Only the Word of God can definitively answer this most important question.
Scripture first of all affirms to us that everyone has sinned, and we all stand in need of forgiveness. We have sinned, not by inheriting sin from Adam and Eve, or anyone else in our pasts, but by our own actions. John tells us "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). Sin is committed when one does what God tells us not to do, or when one doesn't do what God commands. An infant, then, is innocent, as a child is incapable of making such moral decisions. When one matures, understanding right from wrong, but disobeys God, then one sins. Scripture confirms that we have sinned; "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). So, we all need to approach God on His terms for forgiveness, as our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2).
When we seek God's Word, we find He has clearly revealed how we can be forgiven of our sins through His Son, Jesus Christ, who was sent into the world to provide forgiveness for sins (Hebrews 9:28).
You first have to hear the Word of God preached. The Bible asks, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom 10:17)
After you’ve heard the gospel, you have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for you, as well as all of us so that we have a chance to be with God the Father in Heaven. This is important because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Faith isn't a subjective, fuzzy feeling one has, but an objective conviction based on the testimony of the truth of Scripture. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith is established by the evidence Scripture offers, to the existence of God, of Jesus as the Son of God, and of the truthfulness of what Scripture reveals to us as God's will. It's on the basis of faith that one must respond to the will of God. For faith to save, it must not remain an inward conviction, but the motive from which obedience comes. It's an obedient faith that saves, as James reminds us, "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24). Only a faith that obeys God is a faith that can save. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).
By faith, then, one must repent of one's sins. To repent is to change one's mind, which results in a change of heart, which leads to a change of life. Repentance is to determine to turn away from sin, and live the way God wants us to. Jesus tells us, "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).
None of us are perfect— at all. We’ve all made mistakes and haven’t been at our best. So we have to repent of our past sins. The Bible says that “the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:30)
By faith, one must confess Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus said, "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).
If we seek to become a Christian, we have to acknowledge that Jesus will be the head of our lives. We confess that Jesus is Lord, and that he’s the Son of God. There’s a story in the Bible of a man named Phillip who was with another man who wanted to be baptized, which is the last essential step for reaping all the benefits from God the Father. He told Phillip, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, then you may.’ And He answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” (Acts 8:36-37) In Matthew 10:32-33, it states that “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
By faith, one must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. The word baptize, if correctly translated from the Greek, would instead be "immerse, immersion." In the New Testament, one who was baptized was immersed, not sprinkled or poured. This is seen when Philip and the eunuch "went down into the water" where Philip baptized him, and then by their coming up out of the water (Acts 8:38-39).
Lastly, you just have to live a Christian life and be faithful to God’s commandments and do your best to embody the character of Christ. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)
Note: Excerpts taken from Blue Hill Church of Christ, Mattapan, MA, "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" website.
Note: Excerpts taken from Kings Church of Christ, Brooklyn, NY, "Our Beliefs" website.