PO Box 3425
January/February Issue 2011 - Volume 30 Number 1
What Must I Do
Must I Do To Be Saved?
“25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26
Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the
prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and
everyone’s chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of
the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing
the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28
But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we
are all here.’
There are many
different answers given in the world to the question: What Must I Do To Be
Saved? Some say that we don’t have to do anything at all because God
will save everyone regardless of whether they serve God or not. This
doctrine contradicts what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: 13
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is
the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which
leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Jesus
in fact teaches that more will enter the wide gate and be lost than will
choose the narrow way and be saved.
that you just believe in God and Jesus and you are saved, and there is
nothing that you have to do. The Bible actually teaches that faith is more
than just an intellectual assent to the existence of God. The Bible idea
of faith more corresponds to our English word “trust.” When we trust
God we listen to his word and obey him. There is no one who believes more
intellectually in the existence of God than the Devil and his angels.
Notice what James says, “18 But someone will say,
‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your
works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You
believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and
tremble!”(James 2:18-19) The Devil and demons believe in the existence
of God, but they do not trust and obey his word. We must conclude that the
kind of faith the Bible teaches us to have is one that leads us to trust
and obey God.
Still others teach that God has chosen who will be saved and who will be
lost and you don’t have any choice in the matter. All you can do is hope
that God will give you some kind of saving experience that will convince
you that you are saved. Once again this contradicts the principles taught
in various places in the Bible. The Bible teaches that men must repent and
repentance requires that men make a choice between obedience and
disobedience. Jesus taught: “1There were present at
that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had
mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and
said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners
than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3
I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4
Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you
think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in
Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you
will all likewise perish.’” (Luke 13:1-5) Jesus told the people of his
day that they had a decision to make between obedience and disobedience
and it is no different for men today.
There are many today who teach that in order to be saved that one must
believe and then say the Sinner’s Prayer. This Sinner’s Prayer is not
found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, in both places where the Great
Commission is recorded Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world
and preach the gospel and baptize those who believed. (Matthew 28:18-20;
Mark 16:15-16) The only time we find someone being told to repent and pray
is in Acts 8:5-24. Simon had already been baptized, but when he tried to
buy the ability to lay his hands on people and impart spiritual gifts, as
the Apostles did, he was told to repent of his wickedness and pray for
forgiveness. This is a case of a man who was already a baptized believer
being told to pray for forgiveness. We cannot find the Sinner’s Prayer
in the Bible, nor do we find this as a practice of the early church when
people came to obey the gospel. The Apostles taught people to believe,
repent, confess and be baptized for the remission of sins. The Apostles
did not teach people to say the Sinner’s Prayer.
There are other things that men teach regarding salvation, but these are a
few of the major doctrines taught that contradict what the New Testament
teaches on the subject. We want to explore some of the passages in the New
Testament that help us to understand what a man must do to be saved.
There are some
implications in the question that the Jailer asked Paul and Silas. His
question implies that he believed in life beyond life on this earth. He
wanted to be saved so that he could enjoy this other life beyond his
earthly existence. If he didn’t believe in some kind of life after
death, why would he ask this question? From what did he hope to be saved?
He was ready to take his own life when he thought that his prisoners had
escaped. He had been assured that no one had left; they were all still in
the prison. He could not have meant that he wanted to be saved from the
consequences of losing his prisoners, which at that time would have meant
the loss of his life. The prisoners were all there. For what kind of
salvation was the Jailer looking? It must have been the eternal life that
the Apostles preached.
also implies that the Jailer believed he was in a lost condition. If he
didn’t believe he was lost, why did he ask what he needed to do to be
saved? This question implies the basic truth that Jesus taught regarding
the wide gate and the broad way as opposed to the narrow gate and the
narrow way. Throughout the Bible we are confronted with this basic
doctrine about being lost or saved. It is imbedded in the question that
the Jailer asks.
also implies that the Jailer believed there was something he could do
about his lost condition. He was asking Paul and Silas to give him
direction. There was something that he could do. It wasn’t just an
intellectual exercise, but it was an action that the Jailer could take
that would secure his salvation, and not only for him but for his whole
household. We must obey the gospel in order to be saved. Paul teaches in
Romans that we obey a form of the death, burial and resurrection of
Christ: “3 Or do you not know that as many of us as
were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as
Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we
also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have
been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall
be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the
body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of
sin.” (Romans 6:3-6)
Shall They Believe?
The Jailer was
asking what he must do to be saved and he was told to believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ and he would be saved. But
what is he to believe about Jesus? How could he know what he should
believe or what he should do unless someone should teach him? This is
exactly what Paul teaches us in Romans 10:14-17: “14
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how
shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they
hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach
unless they are sent? As it is written:
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who
has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes
by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Paul taught in
Romans 10 that it would come to pass that whoever called on the name of
the Lord would be saved. However, a man cannot call upon a Lord about whom
he knows nothing. So how can he know unless someone teaches him? It is
obvious that the gospel must first be preached before it can be believed
and obeyed. Saving faith comes through hearing the word of God. Paul and
Silas taught the Jailer and his household and what was the outcome?
Immediately he and all of his household were baptized…the very same hour
of the night! Where did the Jailer hear about baptism? When Paul and Silas
preached the word of the Lord to him, they preached baptism for the
remission of sins. They taught him to obey the form of doctrine that has
been delivered (Romans 6). The Jailer didn’t argue or question the
wisdom of this command. He simply obeyed the gospel; he was baptized.
does the Bible say about Calling on the Lord?
Calling on the
name of the Lord does not mean to simply say Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, out loud
repeatedly. We are taught to confess the Lord with our mouths. We should
acknowledge that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. However, calling
on the name of the Lord is a part of obeying the gospel.
The case of
the Apostle Paul is helpful to us in understanding this. This story of
Paul’s (he was previously called Saul) conversion is told in Acts 9. He
was on his way to Damascus to bind Christians and bring them back to
Jerusalem. On the road a bright light blinded him and a voice spoke to
him. Paul asked this question, “So he, trembling and astonished, said,
‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise
and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”
the Lord, “Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were
opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into
Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor
drank.” (Acts 9:8-9) It cannot be questioned that Paul believed the Lord
when he told Paul to go into the city and he would be told what he must
do. Why didn’t the Lord tell Paul right there on the road to Damascus?
Why did he have to go into the city? What will happen when he goes into
visited by a preacher named Ananias in the city of Damascus. In fact,
Ananias had to be reassured by the Lord to go see Paul. Ananias had heard
about Paul’s persecution against Christians. Just as it was true for the
Jailer it was true for Paul, he must hear the gospel preached in order to
believe and be saved. Years later Paul would write a letter to the
Corinthians in which he states, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the
world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the
foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1
Corinthians 1:2) Even the Apostle Paul must first hear the word preached
before he can be saved. It was true for the Jailer; it was true for Paul;
and it is true for us today.
instructive to look back at Paul’s activities in the days leading up to
his baptism. As we quoted from Acts 9 earlier, Paul was fasting for three
days. He neither ate nor drank. In addition to his fasting Paul was
praying because Ananias was told in Acts 9:11, “So the Lord said to him,
‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of
Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.’” So
we find Paul was fasting and praying for three days leading up to the time
that Ananias came to him to preach the word of the Lord to him. Paul still
had to hear the word from Ananias. We note what transpired when Ananias
came to Paul: “17 And Ananias went his way and entered
the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord
Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you
may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18
Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he
received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.” (Acts 9:11)
Paul was baptized as a result of hearing the word of the Lord.
recounts his conversion experience before the crowd as recorded in Acts
22, we learn some additional truth about what Ananias said to Paul. Listen
to what Paul recounts: “’And now why are you waiting? Arise and be
baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’”
(Acts 22:16) This passage is very instructive to us. It helps us to
understand what it means to call on the name of the Lord. It also
demonstrates that even though Paul had been fasting and praying for three
days, he was still in his sins. He had not been saved as yet because he
had not yet obeyed the form of doctrine given to us. He must arise and be
baptized, thereby calling on the name of the Lord. And in obedience to the
gospel command to be baptized Paul also had his sins washed away.
We return to
the question that the Jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs what must I do
to be saved?” As we noted, in the world we may find many conflicting
answers to this question. However, in the word of God we can find clear
evidence of what we must do. It is imperative first of all that we hear
the word of truth. For how can we believe on him of whom we have not
heard? And the word of truth instructs us to believe on the Lord Jesus, to
repent of our sins, to confess the Lord with our mouth and to be baptized
for the remission of sins. This is the form of doctrine that we obey, the
death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are buried with him in
baptism that we might rise to walk in newness of life in him.
obeyed the gospel? If not, why not? The word is near you. Open your heart
to the Lord and his word and obey from the heart the form of doctrine
delivered to us.
the end of the Sunday service, the Minister asked, "How many of you
have forgiven your enemies?"
percent held up their hands. The Minister then repeated his question. All
responded this time, except one small elderly lady.
Jones?" "Are you
not willing to forgive your enemies?"
"I don't have any," she replied, smiling sweetly.
Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?"
"Ninety-eight." she replied.
Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person
can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?"
little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation,
and said, "I outlived all of them."
- Number 1 -
Jan/Feb 2011 BC
is published every other month. Send all inquiries, address changes and
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Gage, PO Box 3425, Fayetteville, AR 72702-3425
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