"What must I do to be saved?" This is the question the Philippian jailer asked of the apostle Paul after an earthquake had released his prisoners (Acts 16:30). He knew to ask Paul and Silas because he had heard them singing and praying to God. This is, perhaps, the most important question one can ask. Here we want to briefly outline the biblical response to this question.
A Recognition of Sin
The question is based upon the knowledge that one has of a need for salvation. This need for salvation results from the fact that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Sin causes spiritual death, separation from God, and the need for forgiveness from God. But before one can receive God’s forgiveness, there must be a recognition of being in sin – dead in sins and transgressions (Ephesians 2:1).
The Response of Faith
We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is Lord. The jailer was told this is what he must believe if he wanted to be saved. Yet, this is only part of our response. Biblical faith is more than just believing in Jesus. It is trust. It is taking God at His word. In fact, faith comes through hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Once we hear what God’s word has to say, we must choose to believe it and act upon it precisely because it is His word. Through faith, we have access to the grace of God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2).
Repentance of Sin
If we recognize that we are sinners and respond to the word of God through faith, then we must make a decision to turn from sin and strive to live according to His word. God commands all people to repent (Acts 17:30-31). He does not want us to continue living a life that is opposed to His will for us. If we refuse to repent, then we are not responding properly by faith, for if we take God at His word, we will want to remove ourselves from a sinful life.
Confession of Jesus as Lord
The apostle wrote, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). Confession of Jesus as Lord results in salvation because we are declaring that Jesus is now the master of our lives. We are recognizing Him as our owner and ruler, and this implies that we are willing to do whatever He says. If we call Him "Lord," then we must do His will (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-23). If we are not willing to confess Him as Lord, then we are not responding in faith. And we are still not done.
Baptism into Christ
Some of the Jews present on the day of Pentecost asked Peter the same question as the jailer after they heard the truth about Jesus (Acts 2). Peter responded, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (vs. 38). This baptism is immersion in water. Its purpose is "for the forgiveness of sins." In other words, if we want to complete our response of faith so that we can be saved, we must be baptized, immersed in water to have our sins removed. Some argue that this is not necessary because it is a "work," and since we are saved by grace, we don’t have to do it. But this objection is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of grace, faith, and works. It is true that we cannot earn our salvation. There is nothing meritorious that we can do. However, baptism is command of God, and if we are going to respond in faith (take Him at His word), then we are going to do it for the reasons that He Himself states. When we are baptized, we are not relying on ourselves for salvation; rather, we are relying upon the work of God (Colossians 2:11-13). One who responds in faith will be baptized for the remission of sins.
A Faithful Life
Baptism is not the end of obedience. It is the beginning of a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). A Christian has Christ living inside (Galatians 2:20). He/she has called Christ "Lord," and is thus willing to live a life consistent with the teachings of God’s word. This is walking by faith. There are multiple warnings that it is possible for a Christian to drift away (Hebrews 2:1-4). We must constantly strive to grow and live as God would have us. God promises us that He will help (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16). We will always have access to His throne. We can confess our sins to Him as Christians and He promises forgiveness (1 John 1:7-9). But we must never turn our backs on Him. We must never cast away the confidence that we have as His children (Hebrew 10:35). Otherwise, we will have a terrifying judgment ahead.
It’s Worth It
The life of a Christians is worthwhile. As Christians, we can live with confidence and hope. We have the hope of heaven, the help of God, the forgiveness of sins, and the fellowship of godly people. Our goal is to go to heaven and to take as many with us as we can. God does not want anyone to perish. It’s worth it; but we must be willing to respond to His offer of salvation from sin by faith. Have you done this?
Doy Moyer Via Focus Magazine
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