"What must I do to be saved" is perhaps one of the most important questions that anyone could ask that has any bearing upon their spiritual condition. This statement presupposes the fact that one recognizes that they are lost. But how does someone learn that they are spiritually lost and in need of salvation? One must also recognize that the only document in the world that can answer this question from a spiritual standpoint is the one document that reveals God and reveals that we are indeed lost apart from God. That document is the Bible. Let us go back to the beginning and see the purpose of God for man and go from there.
Genesis 1:27 reads: " And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them". Many people have tried to explain how mankind is created in the image of God. While we cannot fully comprehend the complete concept of God and all His attributes, we know that people are different from the other living beings of this earth. We are the only creatures that have emotions and thoughts that we can control. Not only that, we have the ability to view an action with the resultant consequences.
A dog may be trained that if he has an accident on the carpet he knows a punishment will be forthcoming, but that is a behavioral modification more than it is a thought process of looking ahead to future consequences. Humans are the only creatures that can distinguish right from wrong from a morality viewpoint. Humans understand the diversity in their surrounding culture and are capable to look out for others, unlike the animal that seeks it's own interest.
Created in the image of God, man had the perfect relationship. In the Garden of Eden, we know that God walked and talked with Adam. Knowing that God is a spirit, we must assume that God used a force to declare His presence to Adam, for remember after his sin, Adam heard the Lord coming and hid himself because of his nakedness. This is what happened when Eve ate of the fruit that God had forbidden them to partake.
As a result of this sin, mankind was introduced to death and decay and a life of hardship. We read about this in Genesis, Chapter Three. Because of Adam and Eve's sin, spiritual death entered the world and along with it came physical death. And we know that everyone dies. The Bible tells us about two people that did not see a physical death, but they still left their physical existence. (Enoch, Genesis 5 and Elijah, 2 Kings 2) The Bible also tells of the One who died, and yet arose and was ascended up into the heavens. (Jesus).
The Bible also says in Hebrews 9:27 "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment," So we see that a judgment awaits all souls. The Bible speaks in many different places that we will all stand before our Maker when we die to give an account of our lives and what we did in our lives. (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Jeremiah 17:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
We read in the Bible that those who have not lived in a way that God is pleased with will be cast into a horrible place called Hell, but those who live righteous lives and have a relationship with God will be allowed to enter Heaven, the abode of God and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
The key to salvation is having a right relationship with God. How do we get to be in this relationship? Well, we must first answer the question of how we left our good relationship with God in the first place. One passage of scripture says it better than most in my opinion. Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear," Another word for iniquities is sin.
Sin separates us from God, and unless we can find a way to be reconciled to God, we will be lost eternally. So what can I do to be saved? Sadly the answer is NOTHING. Now before you get all upset about what I just said, we must look to see what I mean by that statement, for I will also be teaching that we must do many things in order to be saved. So what do I mean by "nothing"?
Man cannot save himself, and nothing man can do will be able to merit his own salvation. God recognized this fact and God also knew from before the creation that man needed a savior, a redeemer, a means by which they could return to a proper relationship with God. God proved this via His Son Jesus Christ who ventured into the realm of humanity and offered an example of perfect living and obedient dying. This Jesus made and offered a sacrifice that would be sufficient to appease God and allow God to look upon us with favor once again. This is what we call "The GRACE OF GOD". (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Now the question arises: if Jesus did this, is there nothing for us to do? Well, actually God teaches that there is much to do on our part to receive this salvation and even more that we must do to retain this salvation which is given freely to every human that ever lived. Because God is not willing that any should perish in Hell, God made it available to everyone. But not everyone will accept the offer from God and sadly these will go off into everlasting darkness away from the presence of the Lord. (2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23)
The Bible also teaches us "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). So in reality, everyone sins. Not that they have to, but because they choose to sin. Every sin that has ever taken place and that ever will occur has a common ingredient. That component of every sin is "me", "I", or "self". Interesting that the middle letter of sin is "I", for no sin takes place without the "I" being involved.
Jesus was different. Jesus lived His life without any consideration of self, but always sought to serve the God of heaven and He also knew that He was serving mankind as a bondservant. Jesus employed Himself as your servant and mine by providing what was best for us. That is why we must believe that Jesus is the son of the living God and that Jesus is our Savior and only through Him can we hope to obtain salvation. For salvation can only occur in the name of Jesus and by His will. (Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 3:2-6; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Acts 4:12; John 14:6)
So, since we sin and Jesus died upon the cross for us, we should learn what God desires from us so that He can give us the salvation, which we desperately need. How is this accomplished? By entering a relationship with God once again. How do we do that? This is where our part comes into play concerning the grace of God. God provided the means, and we offer our acceptance of God's grace by obedience.
Upon learning of our need for salvation, and we definitely need salvation if we want to enjoy Heaven, we must learn what God expects from us. The simplest answer is "FAITH". This faith is not just a belief but also an active living faith that causes us to act in obedience knowing that if we do our part with the intent of pleasing God, then God will respond by saving us. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
Obedience to the commands of God is required for this to happen. So what commands are we to obey? (John 6:29,40; John 14:15; Matthew 28:20)
I already said that faith in Jesus, as the Son of God is important because we must recognize that ONLY through Jesus the Christ can we be saved. (John 14:6; Ephesians 1:7-10).
Another thing we must do is to repent of our sins. It was our sins that separated us from God and so we must determine to change our ways and not do those sins anymore. Repentance is also composed of the sorrow that we should feel knowing that we were not pleasing to God, but our repentance changes that, so that we will do everything in our power to serve God and keep His commandments from now on. (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30)
Another component of our salvation is our willingness to declare to the world that Jesus has become the Lord of our lives. Sometimes we make a verbal confession before men, and that is because Jesus asked us to. But our everyday life must be one of which the people around us know that we have a relationship with God. This is the best way to confess Jesus as Lord, by living godly in this present world. (Matthew 10:32; Titus 2:12)
Now, many people discount baptism as being essential to salvation, and their reasoning is that it is a work (and works do not save). Well it is a work, but it is also a command of God and Jesus. So how can someone NOT obey God and still be right with God? It cannot be done. Baptism is our act of faith that submits to the command of God. By that action we have allowed God to enter our lives and our aim and goal from this time forward is to be pleasing to God. (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21)
Baptism coupled with our obedience to His will is what puts us into this relationship with God. It cannot happen any other way. But that does not end our quest for salvation. This baptism only puts us into the relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. What we must do to insure the hope of our salvation is remain obedient to all the word of God. That means we must study and learn about God's will and we must apply the principles of His word to our lives. (Romans 6:3-6; Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 John 1:7)
God never promised a life of ease when we become a Christian, but God does provide a hope beyond compare. An eternal existence in Heaven with God that will be joy everlasting, free from sorrow, pain and all the bad things that occur in our feeble existence upon this earth. 1 Peter 1:3-4; Philippians 3:10-14;Revelation 21:4)
So now the question comes about, do we have to do this alone? Yes, nobody can do this for us. We must obey God ourselves for nobody can obey for us. It is one of those "do it yourself" things. But do we go through our relationship with God alone? Of course not. That is why God set up His church. By becoming active in your local church of Christians, you can assist each other to get to heaven. I know that every church that I have been associated with, had the goal of everyone helping everyone else get to heaven. God was sure wise to establish a church where this could be accomplished.
If you have not obeyed the gospel message of Christ and submitted to Him, you must recognize that you are lost and in need of a savior. You must make the choice for nobody can make it for you. If you are not in a relationship with God right now, you cannot possibly enter a relationship with Him after your life is over, and that can happen anytime. So before it is everlastingly too late, please inquire with the words "what must I do to be saved" and do them.
I am sure by now you have heard someone tell you about salvation and how you can receive it. The Bible warns that there will be many false teachers in the world and their false teaching will lead people astray and away from the presence of God. To be sure, we must look to God's word and see what the Bible tells us about how we can and must be saved. (2 Timothy 2:15: 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; John 12:48-50)
By Carey Scott 08/31/2004
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