What Must I Do To Be Saved?
The prison keeper raised the question of, "What must I do to be saved?" to Paul and Silas. "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:30-31). Unfortunately, many people have misunderstood the answer to the question. Some have concluded that it means that one has to live up to a certain standard to be saved. Others have concluded that one must go through certain religious rites such as water baptism or belonging to a specific church in order to be saved. Still others have concluded that it simply means to give a mental assent to Jesus being the Saviour. None of these are correct!
What must I do to be saved? Look at the word "believe". This word is more than a doctrine. It is faith which requires action. If the president walked into the room where you were sitting and you believed that he was your president, you would immediately rise to your feet in respect of him and his office. Paul and Silas said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." The little word "Lord" means ruler, king, or boss. The title of Lord is given to God, the father, and to Jesus, but NEVER to the disciples of Jesus. "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matthew 11:25). It means much more than "Sir." "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment" (Mark 12:30). The very reason the religious leaders sought to kill Jesus was because he declared that he was the Son of God, making himself equal with God.
What must I do to be saved? Here are some more Scriptures that relate the word "Lord" to salvation. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they" (Acts 15:11). "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8). "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). We must be willing to confess that Jesus is Lord in order to be saved.
What must I do to be saved? What about confession? The word confession means to say the same thing or agree to. If you confess to a crime, your are saying that you agree that you have committed it. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). When we confess Jesus before men, what does this mean? This means that we have changed our allegiance to Jesus as being our Lord. It is more than an outward verbiage. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). It is a change of allegiance. Isn't just believing enough? Not if there is no change of allegiance in the believing. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). The demons know who Jesus is but their allegiance is the to Devil. In contrast, true Believers have given their allegiance to Jesus as their Lord and have be taken out of Satan kingdom and put into the kingdom of Jesus. "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:13).
Where there is a kingdom, there must be a king and also subjects. When Jesus was asked about being his being a king, he said that he was. "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:36-37). Paul spoke of Jesus being the king. "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (I Timothy 1:16-17). He will return in absolute rule. "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14). The rich young ruler asked about Jesus what he must do to receive eternal life, but went away empty handed because he had made his riches king. "Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" (Luke 18:22-24).
What must I do to be saved? I often hear it said that all you have to do is to ask Jesus into your life. However, this expression can be and is often misleading. We find a true picture of asking Jesus into our lives in Psalms 24. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah" (Psalms 24:7-10). This is a picture of opening the doors to the temple to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies. The Ark is a picture of Jesus, the wood, overlaid with gold. The wood is a picture of his humanity, while the gold represents his deity. The Outer Court is a picture of the body. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Place is the picture of the soul (mind, will, and emotions). We may note that there were three articles of furniture in the Holy Place: the lampstand, the table of shewbread, and the alter of incense. The Holy of Holies is a picture of the spirit of man. This is were the Ark was to be placed. We must open the door to allow Jesus come into our lives as the LORD (Jehovah / Yahweh) and King of glory. Jesus must be invited in as KING.
What must I do to be saved? Some may say, "Well, we just have to receive Jesus." Again this expression can be very misleading without explanation. The Word says, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:11-12). However, John began the passage with this explanation about Jesus, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:1-3). Jesus was and is the creator of all that was made. He is God. John throughout his gospel declares that Jesus is the "I AM", thus proving that Jesus is God. When Moses asked God about His identity, God said that He is the "I AM." "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:14). Look at what Jesus said. "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). Jesus is the "I AM" which spoke to Moses. Jesus also declared, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). The pronoun "he" is not in the original manuscripts and should not be here as some other places in the gospel of John. The fact is that if one does not receive Jesus as the "I AM" (the self existing God) which gave his life for our sins, he will die in his sins. Jesus said, "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am" (John 13:13).
Even the name Jesus comes from the old testament name "Joshua" which is a contraction of "I AM" (Yahweh) and Saviour. Jesus is the "I AM" which has become SAVIOUR. Some have declared that one is first saved by accepting Jesus as Saviour and then later, after salvation, growing into making Jesus their Lord. This is impossible! Why? Jesus will not change what he has not been submitted to him to change. Could you imagine me taking my car to the mechanic and asking him to fix it, but not to touch anything? The mechanic would think that I was crazy. God has given us a free will and will not force change upon us, otherwise we could declare, "RAPE!"
What must I do to be saved? We also must see that salvation is much more than a "doctrine." Salvation is a radical change that God does within the spirit of man. Furthermore, when the terms "Lord" and "Saviour" are used together in Scripture, it is ALWAYS "Lord and Saviour" and never ever "Saviour and Lord." Jesus must become Lord before he can become Saviour for anyone. I am not speaking of areas of our lives which are given to Jesus in sanctification after the rebirth. Furthermore, the expression "Lord Jesus Christ" is mentioned eighty-one times compared to only six times where the expression "Saviour Jesus Christ" is used. The term "Lord" is mentioned in relationship to Jesus over five hundred times compared to him mentioned a couple of dozen of times where he is mentioned as "Saviour." We can clearly see that the emphasis of Scripture is upon the lordship of Jesus.
What must I do to be saved? Some have declared that one just oozes into being saved. There is no such thing! Allow me to give a clear illustration. In February of 2001, I went into the hospital to have colon cancer surgery. Before, I had the surgery, I was required to sign a consent form to permit the operation. This meant that I was giving my body to be operated upon for the removal of cancer. The operation was almost "free" for me in the sense that the insurance company would pay for all but small deductible fee when the total of the operation was in the thousands of dollars. However, I still had to make a decision and sign the consent form. In the same fashion, Salvation is a free Gift of God. There is absolutely nothing we can do to deserve it. However, we, in one sense, must sign the consent form. We must be willing for God to do spiritual surgery upon us through our faith in Jesus as Lord. He wants to eradicate the old sin nature and give us a new nature in Christ. We must make a definite decision that we are WILLING for him to do just that. It is DECISION which is made at a given point in time. It is like in a marriage ceremony where the couple says, "I do." If you have not said, "I do" to Jesus, you are not saved. When one says, "I do", he is forsaking all others and committing himself to his spouse. Therefore, repentance is one aspect of the "I do" vow.
What must I do to be saved? There are basically two factors on our part which are involved in salvation. Paul declared, "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). The term "repentance" is a military term meaning to do an "about face." One is heading in one direction and he turns around to head in the opposite direction. Jesus preached repentance in connection to salvation. "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5). Peter declared, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). Repentance comes before conversion. Conversion is more than a change of mind, it is a total change of character accomplished by the work of God. Jesus declared, "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). We must be WILLING for God to change us. Those who are not willing are not changed. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (I John 2:19).
The second aspect of salvation is FAITH toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is more than a belief system. Faith is a spiritual reality which requires obedience. It is more than an intellectual assent to historical facts. Faith is an active verb, not just a noun. "But 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). There is a story of a professional tightrope walker who stretched a tightrope across a portion of Niagara Falls and advertised that he was to walk across the tightrope. A crowd gathered to watch the man walk on the tightrope. He asked the crowd if the "believed" that he could do it. They joined in with an enthusiastic, "Yes!" Being the professional that he was, he got on the rope and walked across and returned with ease. Then he took a wheelbarrow and put it on the rope and asked if the crowd "believed" that he could push it across the tightrope. Again the crowd responded with, "Yes." Again the professional pushes the wheelbarrow across and returns. This time he asks if the crowd "believed" that he could push the wheelbarrow across with a man in the wheelbarrow. Again the crowd responded with, "Yes." Then tightrope walker turned to an unsuspecting soul and asked, "Do you believe that I can do it?" The individual responded with, "Yes, I believe you can do it." The professional then solemnly says, "Step into the wheelbarrow." This is where one puts "I believe" to action. You see, if you really believe that Jesus is the Lord who has become Savior, then you will put yourself into his hands as Lord that he may save you and take you across the gulf to heaven.
What must I do to be saved? Salvation based upon a miracle of God on His part, but a faith COMMITMENT on our part. "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12). We must commit our lives to Jesus as Lord! "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9). He can not keep that which we have not committed to him. King Agrippa understood this commitment when Paul spoke to him. "For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest" (Acts 26:26-27). However, King Agrippa was not willing to commit his life to Jesus as Lord. "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28). Have you at any time in your life committed your life to Jesus as your Lord?
It is also interesting how Scripture lists the order of the seven spirits of God. "And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD" (Isaiah 11:2). Upon first reading from the KJV of the Bible we may overlook the first one. However, the Bible tells us that they are seven spirits of God. We should understand that each of these are a facet of the Holy Spirit. "And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Revelation 4:5). So what is the first one that take precedence? It is the Spirit of the LORD. When God revealed himself as the CREATOR, he revealed himself as LORD (Yahweh). "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens" (Genesis 2:4). Again, when God revealed Himself to Moses as the sovereign God, He revealed Himself as LORD. "And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations" (Exodus 3:15). Therefore, the first facet of the Holy Spirit is that of lordship. Lordship must come before salvation comes.
What must I do to be saved? Here are some examples of salvation in Scripture. Remember that the term "Lord" refers to God and to Jesus. When Saul (later named Paul) was on his way to Damascus and Jesus met him in the form of a bright light, he came to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. "And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:5-6). He submitted himself to be obedient by saying, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" When the thief on the cross acknowledged Jesus as "Lord", he was saved. "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:42-43). Paul later writes, "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" (I Corinthians 12:3).
There is a beautiful example of salvation in the story about Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus was a small man who was up in a tree watching Jesus as he passed. Jesus stopped, called Zacchaeus by name, and told him to hurry up and to come down, for he was going to stay at his house today. At that point Zacchaeus had a choice to make. He could have thought, "Who does this guy, Jesus, think that he is, telling me what to do?" However, he decided to submit himself to Jesus, and to obey him joyfully. Next, Zacchaeus acknowledges Jesus to be Lord. "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold" (Luke 19:8). Now look at Jesus' response. "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham" (Luke 19:9). When Zacchaeus acknowledged Jesus as Lord, Jesus became his Saviour.
Someone may ask, "What about Peter's confession?" "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Let's look at the meaning a bit closer. John records this: "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:67-69). It meant much, much more than a mental assent to who Jesus was, it was a matter of commitment. The disciples (excluding Judas) had already considered the question of whether or not to follow Jesus and DECIDED to commit their lives unto him. Have you?
One day, everyone will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11). You will either do it now on earth or before the judgment in Heaven. If you wait until you get to Heaven, it will be too late to be saved. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrew 9:27). DON'T WAIT! "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)" (II Corinthians 6:2).
Again, "What must I do to be saved?" is the most important question that you can ask yourself! If you haven't already committed your life to Jesus as your Lord are not sure about it, please pray the following prayer of commitment:
1. I confess that I have disobeyed you and that is sin. (Romans 3:10, 3:23).If you have prayed this prayer for the first time today, please contact me at and let me know that you have prayed the Salvation Prayer. I would like to congratulate you on your decision. For an graphic illustrations of what this means see: "Find Life, Purpose, Joy"
2. I understand that there is a consequence for my sin, which is a death on the inside.
(Romans 5:12, 6:23).
3. However, I believe that Jesus, God's Son, came and lived a perfect life, but died in my place upon the cross, and then was resurrected the third day, that he might offer to me eternal life. (Romans 5:10, Isaiah 53:6).
4. Therefore, I commit my life to Jesus as my Lord (rule, king, boss) that I may be saved and receive his New Life on the inside. (Romans 10:9-10, II Corinthians 5:17).