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Monday, July 03, 2006

What Must I Do To Be Saved

I have had a difficult time posting new material on a regular basis. I am going to try a new approach. When I am unable to post regular articles of my own, I will feature guest writers. I am posting an article by Thomas E. Broadbent. Thomas is the editor of Footprints In Time.
At his website, he has an archive of numerous articles. The articles are Biblical, and timely. Take out your Bible and prepare to "search the scriptures"!

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

(The Philippian Jailor, Acts 16:30)

Copyright 2006 by Thomas E. Broadbent

“I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps,” (Jeremiah 10:23). “Man's steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 20:24).

If we, as God’s creatures, can neither direct our steps nor understand our way, how can we possibly understand the way of salvation unless it is explained to us by God? It is God against whom we sin; and yet, very ironically, we ask the question, What must I do to be saved?, and then we attempt to answer the question from our own lack of understanding and knowledge, (Matthew 22:29).

The answer to the question, What must I do to be saved?, must come from God; and yet, there are as many ways to be “saved” as there are denominations, cults and religions in the world. All of them cannot possibly be right because “God is not a God of confusion but of peace...” (1 Corinthians 14:33). There is also the mistaken belief that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something. But “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death,” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25).

Mankind has devised a seemingly unlimited number of ways by which he thinks he can be saved; and our imagination toward this end simply knows no bounds. We would expect that any revelation that God might make to us regarding our eternal salvation would be crystal clear. And yet, as stated above, every denomination, cult and religion in the world has its own particular way of obtaining salvation.

However, the confusion that reigns in the answer to the question does not originate with the Creator. It comes from our fertile imagination and its assault on God’s word. We take our ideas to the Bible of what we are willing to do to be saved, and we use them to reinterpret God’s word in order to tell God what He said. But it is impossible to get around His words in Isaiah 43:13: “Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand...”

No one can deliver us from God’s hand but God Himself. We should therefore expect that the wise thing for us to do would be to listen to what God has to say about our salvation and to obey Him, and not man’s foolish ideas. When God tells us in Isaiah 45:22 that we should “turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other,” we must expect that He means exactly what He says. We must, therefore, turn to the Bible for God’s answer to our question, What must I do to be saved?.

In Ephesians 1:3 Paul wrote that God “...has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” He also wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature....” (Emphasis added.) The question that must be asked and answered, therefore, is how does one get into Christ?.

The popular belief is that one is saved by merely believing in Christ. And we have certainly been commanded to believe in Him, just as 1 John 3:23 tells us: “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ....” But although we are commanded to believe in Christ, nowhere in Scripture are we commanded (or told how) to believe into Christ. And this fact tells us that it is impossible for us to do so.

John 1:12 tells us that to those who believe in Christ, “...He gave the right to become children of God...” But this verse does not say that He makes those who believe in Him to become His children, He only gives them the right to become His children. Believers become His children through obedience, not through belief. Jesus obeyed His Father because He is His Son. We, however, must become His children, (obtain our salvation), through our obedience and His blood. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” (Hebrews 5:8-9, emphasis added).

The question we are studying occurs three times in the book of Acts. Each time it varies in form but not in meaning. The question appears as: (1) What shall we do? in Acts 2:37; (2) What must I do to be saved? in Acts 16:30; and (3) What shall I do? in Acts 22:10. The answers are given as follows: (1) “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” in Acts 2:38; (2) “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” in Acts 16:31; and (3) “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name,” in Acts 22:16. But if the questions are similar, why do the answers seem so diverse?

If we follow Scripture honestly, we can readily see that the answers, instead of being diverse, are really quite similar. The group of people who asked the first question on the day of Pentecost were in a different state of readiness for the gospel than either the Philippian Jailer or the apostle Paul. The group of people on Pentecost became believers after they heard the first gospel sermon from Peter and “they were pierced to the heart” in Acts 2:37. Because they had already believed, they were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.

The Philippian jailer had never heard the gospel, so he was told to believe in Jesus as the first step to being saved in Acts 16:31. In the following verse Paul and Silas then “spoke the word of the Lord to him” and to his household. This “word of the Lord” obviously included the gospel of Christ, along with instructions that each of them needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. The evidence of this is that the jailer and all his household were immediately baptized in Acts 16:33.

Paul became a believer on the road to Damascus when he heard Jesus speak to him, prompting Paul to ask the Lord, “What shall I do?” in Acts 22:10. Afterward, Paul was in penitent prayer for three days and nights until Ananias came to him and restored his sight, in Acts 9:9-12 and 22:13. At that time, because Paul had already believed and repented of his sins, Ananias only needed to tell Paul to “get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name,” in Acts 22:16, (see also Acts 9:18).

In the three answers to these similar questions we see the three steps to salvation that are very plainly stated. All people must (1) Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 16:31 and 2:37; (2) Repent of their sins and transgressions, Acts 2:38; and (3) Be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38; 16:33; 22:16; Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:16.

From Paul’s experience it is evident that faith alone does not save, for Paul certainly became a believer when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. Why would he have followed Jesus’ instructions otherwise? But if Paul had been saved by his belief alone, why did Ananias tell him later to “get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins”? The answer is obvious: Paul was not saved by his faith alone, and nether are we.

In Romans 6:3-4 Paul later wrote “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Nowhere does Paul or any other New Testament writer ever write that we are buried with Him into His death through belief. This is accomplished only through the washing away of our sins by being buried into His death through baptism into Christ. We must be buried with Jesus through baptism into His death in order to for us to rise and walk in newness of life.

Paul then sets the condition for eternal life in Romans 6:5, “For IF we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (emphasis added). Paul wrote that we must be united with Jesus in the likeness of His death in order to be raised with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. This is accomplished not by belief alone but through faith working with obedience to the gospel by being “baptized into His death.”

Finally, in Galatians 3:27 Paul writes: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” We cannot clothe ourselves with Christ through our belief alone. We can only be clothed with Christ by being baptized into Christ, as the inspired apostle has written. Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” This is also not accomplished by faith alone.

What must I do to be saved? We must believe, repent and be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Our salvation rests on nothing less than Jesus’ blood, our faith, and our obedience to His commands.

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