What Must I do to be Saved?
Man's Lost Condition
In the beginning, God created the universe and all that is in it. Mankind was created and given dominion over all creation (Gen. 1:26). God graciously provided man with all that he would ever need, giving him the fruit of any tree in the garden with only one exception. The fruit on the tree of knowledge was forbidden (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan slyly tempted Eve, deceiving her into thinking that she would benefit from disobedience (Gen. 3:1-5). When Eve looked upon the tree and desired its produce, she ate the forbidden fruit and she also gave her husband the fruit to eat (Gen. 3:6-7). Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and death was the consequence (Gen. 3:19). The first couple was banished from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24). The New Testament teaches that we have all followed after the precedent of Adam (Rom. 3:23; 5:12-14). We have willingly sinned against God by transgressing his law, and spiritual death is the consequence of our actions (Rom. 6:23).
God's Part in Salvation
Despite man's rebellion, God was rich in mercy and grace, providing a plan of reconciliation. Because of his great love for the world, God sent His own Son to die a cruel death on the cross as payment for the sins of the world (Jn. 3:16; Heb. 2:9). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have renewed hope of salvation. The blood of Christ can justify us and redeem us from every lawless deed (Rom. 5:9; Titus 2:13-14). Moreover, God proclaimed the great message of Jesus Christ through the gospel (Jn. 20:30-31; Eph. 1:13). We can read the story of Jesus and salvation in the Bible.
Man's Part in Salvation
Embedded within the gospel message is the need for a response. The gospel is more than a mere story or fairy tale. It is a message that must either be accepted or rejected. Man also has a role to play in salvation by responding to the goodness of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, "For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Grace, or unmerited favor, is extended by God to man. Man responds to God with faith, a conviction in God that leads to a life of devotion. Note that a response to the gospel does not negate grace, but it must be undertaken with God's goodness in view. Responding to the gospel is not a reason to boast in ourselves but to glory in God. Along with many examples of conversion, various statements in scripture illustrate what it means to respond to God in faith.
- Hear. The gospel is a message of salvation (Rom. 1:16-17). The gospel convicts the heart and demands a response. Unless we hear the gospel, we will not know about Jesus and His sacrifice.
- Believe. After hearing the gospel, we can either believe in Jesus or not. He is either an imposter or He is the Son of God and Savior of the world. Unless we believe that he is who he claimed to be, we cannot be saved (Jn. 8:24).
- Repent. Sin has brought forth death. If we are to find life in Jesus Christ, we must turn away from a life of sin and pursue a life of godliness. God demands that all men everywhere repent (Acts 17:30).
- Confess. Out of the belief in our heart must spring forth the confession that Jesus is the Christ (Rom. 10:9-10). If we confess Jesus before men, He will confess us before His Father in heaven. If we deny Him, He will deny us (Matt. 10:32-33).
- Be Baptized. The blood of Christ justifies us from sin (Rom. 5:9) and baptism is where we come in contact with the blood of Christ (Rom. 6:3). Immersion in water is a willful decision and an appeal to God for a clean conscience (2 Pet. 3:21). Baptism washes away our sins, creating a new man in Christ (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:4).
Once a person has been baptized into the blood of Jesus Christ, God adds him to the church and his former sins have been forgiven (Acts 2:38, 47). Baptism is not the end of the road, however; it is the beginning. A Christian must serve the Lord for the rest of his life in order to obtain eternal salvation in heaven with God (1 Cor. 15:58; 1 Jn. 2:25).
Don't you want to make your life right by submitting to God's plan for salvation?