In Acts 2, the people that were gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost turned to Peter and asked, “What must we do to be saved?” It’s a question that all people should seek the answer to at some point in their life. The Bible tells us that all people have sinned (Romans 3:23) and that sin will lead to spiritual death (Romans 6:23). However, we are blessed in that Jesus Christ was willing to come to this earth and die so that our sins can be washed away (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). So the question becomes, as it was asked by the people in Acts 2, “What must we do to be saved?”
We must understand that while we cannot do anything to earn our own salvation (since it is a free gift from God), it most certainly requires our obedience. The Bible explains that we must be obedient in several ways in order to receive that salvation.
Hearing – It is impossible for anyone to believe something unless they first hear it (Romans 10:14). Naturally, hearing must be the first thing that occurs in order to receive salvation. The Bible explains that we cannot have faith without first hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17).
Belief – Once a person has heard God’s message of salvation, it is necessary for that individual to believe. John 3:16 states that those who believe in God shall be saved from condemnation. We read the same thing in John 5:24, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:31 and several other places. Salvation through Jesus cannot come to those who have not put their faith in Him. That means believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that salvation can only come through Him.
Repentance – It’s not enough for us to simply believe in Jesus. We have to turn away from the sin that filled our life and turn towards God. In Acts 3:19 we are told to repent so that our sins can be wiped away. If we believe that Jesus is God’s Son but are unwilling to turn our lives towards Him, salvation can never come to us. Everyone who looks to Christ for salvation must be willing to repent of their sins and dedicate their life to God. Other passages: Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Acts 17:30.
Confession – Salvation also requires us to confess Jesus as the Son of God and Lord of your life. Romans 10:9 states that we must confess Jesus as our Lord so that we can be saved.
Baptism – When the people asked Peter, “What must we do to be saved,” he told them that not only was repentance necessary, but also baptism. The Bible is clear that only those who are “in Christ” can be saved by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7). Naturally, we should want to know how someone gets “in Christ.” Galatians 3:27 and Romans 6:3 explain that we are baptized into Christ. Therefore, if we want to come in contact with Christ’s saving blood, it must be through baptism. 1 Peter 3:21-22 states that it is baptism that saves us. Not that there is anything special about the water. However, it is only through baptism that we can be washed by the blood of Christ.
Live Faithfully – Once we have been baptized into Christ, our sins have been forgiven by the blood of Christ. However, this doesn’t mean that we can then live our life in any way we choose. There will no doubt be times that we fall short and sin after becoming a part of Christ. Thankfully, Christ’s blood will wash those sins away too if we are willing to repent from them. If we choose, however, to turn back to the world and we refuse to repent of those sins, Christ’s blood will no longer save us. It’s important to do all the things mentioned above but we must strive to live faithfully all our life.
I know there are many who do not like to use a list like this to explain how we receive salvation. They feel as if we have reduced salvation to a check list. However, as mentioned before, I don’t believe that we can ever earn our salvation. I don’t write these things so that we think that we can follow these steps and suddenly become deserving of forgiveness. It will always be through the grace of God that we receive our salvation. We simply cannot be fooled into believing that it requires nothing on our part. Yes, it’s important that we love Christ. But Christ said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). I believe the verses above clearly show the actions that are required on our part in order that we might receive the gift of salvation.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.