What must I do to be saved?


"God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only Son,
so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never really die.
God did not send His Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent Him to save them!"

(John 3:16-17 Contemporary English Version)

Two thousand years ago, a Roman jailer asked Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30)

The answer they gave then has been repeated thousands of times around the world throughout the centuries as millions have asked and then come to faith in Christ Jesus. Their answer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household." (Acts 16:31)

In order to understand what it means to "be saved", we need to understand what salvation is. Salvation is the work of God's grace by which He pardons our sins and bestows upon us the gift of eternal life.

God's Word says: "The soul that sins, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4 & 20) So, logically, the question is: "How can God forgive our sins without violating His own law?" He can't! Your and my sin must be punished, and there's one time in history when He punished sin — all sin.

That one time is the first and only time when God ever punished someone who had never sinned! That's when He punished Jesus on Calvary, not for His own sins (because He was sinless), but for ours. And, yes, it was God who punished Jesus, God who crucified Him — not the Romans and not the Jews! Isaiah says, "The LORD decided his servant would suffer as a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others." (Isaiah 53:10 CEV) The King James Bible puts it this way: "It pleased the LORD to bruise Him..."

So then, Jesus paid our sin debt in full and met God's righteous requirement of death for sin. Why would He do this? Because, as it says in John 3:16 above, He loves us! Romans 5:8 tells us: "But God showed how much He loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful." (CEV)

So, what does it mean to "believe on/in the Lord Jesus Christ"? It doesn't mean believing in God or believing Jesus lived. It doesn't mean believing that He's God or believing He died for your sins. All of that is necessary, of course, but that's not what "believing on/in Him" means.

Saving faith means placing our trust in Jesus as the Son of God to save us from our sin — or to save us from the penalty for our sin. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It is . . . but it isn't.

"Faith is hard because it is so easy.
It is difficult because there is no difficulty in it.
And it seems obscure simply because it is so clear."

Charles Spurgeon

I think the hardest thing for us to understand about salvation in Christ is that it doesn't depend on anything we do. It all depends on who God is — on His faithfulness and what He has already done.

We are so performance-oriented that we don't know how to respond to that! From kindergarten on through high school, college, and the workplace, we're evaluated and rewarded or penalized, acknowledged or passed over, advanced or held back — all based on how we perform.

Think about it. It's conditioned into us from birth so that we don't know any other way. Baby Joey smiles for the first time, we get giddy; he never smiles because of some physical problem, we moan and frown. Little Susie says, "Da-da" and we swoon; she never says it because she can't hear or is mute, and we mourn. Mikey takes his first steps and we clap and cheer; he sits with his little legs atrophying from non-use and we dejectedly carry him from doctor to doctor trying to "fix" him. We not only recognize and reward one another for achievements, but we cause those who don't "measure up" to feel defective and not as worthy of love as their "successful" counterparts.

In such a performance-driven culture, is it any wonder that people resist something that requires total surrender and non-action? When someone tries to tell us we can't do anything to earn our salvation, it's so totally opposed to our conditioning that we don't know how to receive it. Many either reject it outright (because, after all, nothing in this life is free). And still others may say they believe and accept it — while continuing to work for their salvation or God's approval.

We don't know how to be passive participants in our own salvation. It doesn't make sense! How can we possibly attain something so great without lifting a finger to gain it?! It doesn't make sense!

There really are only two religions in the world — "DO" and "DONE".

All other religions require you to work for salvation. The obvious problem with having to work for your salvation, however, is, how do you know when you've done enough? Christianity — that is, faith in Christ and the finished work of Calvary — is the only religion that tells you upfront, "You can't save yourself! Don't even try!"

The Bible says, "Yet some people accepted Him and put their faith in Him. So He gave them the right to be the children of God." (John 1:12 CEV) The Bible also says, "God has also said that He gave us eternal life and that this life comes to us from His Son. And so, if we have God's Son, we have this life. But if we don't have the Son, we don't have this life." (1 John 5:11-12 CEV) Could it be any clearer?

The moment you open your heart to Jesus Christ and place your complete trust in Him — and Him alone — as the only One who can save you, then God promises to write your name in the Book of Life and reserve a place for you in Heaven.

Jesus said, "I tell you for certain that everyone who hears My message and has faith in the One who sent Me has eternal life and will never be condemned. They have already gone from death to life." (John 5:24 CEV)

You can receive this free gift by simply admitting that you are a sinner (that means you haven't kept God's laws) and repenting of your sin. Repentance is true remorse or sorrow over your sin and a commitment to turn from it and to follow Christ — to make Him the Lord of your life. Then, you pray and ask Jesus Christ to work His life-giving miracle in your life. If you don't know what to pray, here's a suggested prayer you can use to guide you. Remember . . . it's your heart that matters, not the words.

Father God, I admit that I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus was sent from You, that He died for my sins, and that He rose from death to give me new life. I repent of my sins and ask Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. Thank you, God, for sending Jesus to die for me. Thank you for saving me. Now, Father, teach me Your ways and Your will as I start this journey of a new life in Christ. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ who loved me and gave Himself for me. Amen.

If you prayed that from your heart, and you truly believe that the only way you can be saved is through Jesus Christ, then you are born again! You are starting on a journey that won't always be easy, but Christ promises to give you the Holy Spirit who will be there with you every step of the way!

Now, I encourage you to find a Bible-believing church near you and tell the pastor about your experience. And, although water baptism is not required for salvation, it is an important step in your walk of obedience to Jesus Christ. Do make it your aim to be baptized as soon as you can as a public testimony to the internal work of grace God has done in your heart. And finally, we offer a number of resources that may assist you in this new walk of faith.

  • You might start with the "Psalm 34:1" tab for short, encouraging articles, testimonies, and poetry.
  • Next, have you ever wondered who created God or what this thing called "the Trinity" is? Check out the detailed, but not too heavy, lessons in the My Redeemer Lives Bible School.
  • And, when you're ready for a real challenge and the most rewarding experience ever, learn the name and attributes the Almighty gave us to help us to know Him and draw into an intimate relationship with Him.

Last but not least, I am always available to assist in any way I can. If you need help or have a question that's not answered on this site, feel free to contact me anytime. And, by the way . . . welcome to the family!

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