The Baptist Beacon
What Must I Do To Be Saved?
by Elder Lynn Stapleton, Huntingdon, TN
From the time infant children come into the world and their minds begin to develop, they begin asking questions about everything. Their questions are simple at first, but as they mature their questions become more serious and complex. Solomon said he gave his heart to seek and search out answers for everything that is done under heaven. He said God had set the world in man's heart and that man's quest for understanding would be a strenuous exercise. (Eccl. 1:13, 3:10-11)
Men have sought for and found answers for some of life's most perplexing questions. David asked, "What is man?" Job asked, "If a man die, shall he live again?" Everyone will ask similar questions at some time in their life.
Of all the important questions, there is none more important than the one recorded in Acts 16:30, "What must I do to be saved?" Finding the answer to this question is no simple task when we consider that there are eleven major religions and more than three hundred Christian denominations in our present world. Many answers are being proposed and the potential for deception is great. In this article we will examine five commonly accepted views being taught by Christian denominations today.
In John 14:6 Jesus said, I am the way." All Christian denominations believe the Bible and all certainly believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior, but their understanding of what must be done to be saved by Him is the question under consideration.
The first commonly held view is ACADEMICS, or education. Some religions believe one becomes a Christian through religious education. If becoming a believer is possible through education, why did Christ condemn the Scribes and Pharisees, the most religiously educated people of His time? In spite of all their knowledge of the Scriptures (God's word) they were ignorant of God's message and His Messiah. It takes much more than knowledge of God and His word to become a believer. Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life." John 5:39-40)
A second commonly held view is BAPTISM. There are a number of denominations that believe one must be baptized in order to be saved. In Matthew chapter three, John refused to baptize many Pharisees and Sadducees who came to be baptized and his reason for doing so is that they had no evidence of repentance. John 4:2 says that Jesus did not baptize anyone and Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach that gospel. If baptism really saved lost souls from sin, doesn't logic demand that John, and Jesus and Paul would have baptized everyone they could? The reason they did not is plain. Baptism will not save anyone.
Some believe taking COMMUNION (eating and drinking the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper) is what men must do to be saved. So strong is their belief in communion they will attempt to give it to people in their dying hour if they can. But a clear example in Scripture that communion will not save is found in Luke 22:21. While Jesus was serving the first communion supper, He said the hand that would betray Him was with Him on the table. Jesus was speaking of Judas the most notable traitor of all time. Surely if communion would save anyone, Judas would have been saved at that instant and would not have sold our Savior for thirty pieces of silver. (See also I Cor 11:23-29)
A fourth view, and perhaps the most widely accepted view is that of making a DECISION. Clearly, the lost sinner must make a decision to accept Christ. However, the Bible gives far too many examples that salvation is more than making a decision. In Matthew 15, the Syrophoenecian woman made a decision to seek Jesus' help for her dying daughter. Her decision did not obtain the healing she desired, but her faithful persistence did. In Mark 5, the woman with the issue of blood believed if she could just touch the hem of Jesus' garment she would be healed. The woman was not healed at the moment of decision, but at the moment of reaching the Lord. Bartimaeus has a similar experience recorded in Luke 18. He decided to call on Jesus when he learned Jesus was passing through Jericho. But why wasn't Bartimaeus healed the moment of decision instead of having to endure the humiliation of repeated begging? The logical answer must be that the Decision is not the end, but is only the beginning of the sinner's conversion.
A fifth answer, the one I believe the Bible supports in every case is that one must have an EXPERIENCE with God. Jesus said in John 17, "This is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again." That new birth is a life changing experience that begins when the sinner is convicted by the gospel. Through the power of God's Holy Spirit the burdened sinner repents to God and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and is saved completely by the grace of God. This process can sometimes happen so quickly that the elements of it can scarcely be seen but they are there just the same.
What must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Every lost soul must have a genuine EXPERIENCE with the Savior. That experience comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ not by ACADEMICS, BAPTISM, COMMUNION, or DECISION.