Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1962

What Must Man Do To Be Saved?

Victor H. Sellers, Rogers, Arkansas

To ask the question is but to recognize one of the basic teachings of the Bible, namely, salvation is conditional.

Such a question neither nullifies nor ignores all that the Bible has to say about the role of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the redemption or salvation of man. On the other hand, when the question is properly raised and scripturally answered, it recognizes and accepts the truth that salvation is made possible only by God, through the gift of his only begotten Son, who shed his blood for man's sins. (John 3:16; Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7) What man does is but to "obey" or comply with the conditions of salvation — conditions decreed by God, by means of his Son and the Holy Spirit, as revealed to man in the Gospel or New Testament. (Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 15:1-2)

Hence, we may say that man's obedience to God's commands or conditions of salvation does not destory the doctrine of "salvation by grace," (Eph. 2:8-9) but rather it is how man appropriates the grace of God unto himself.

In one general, all inclusive statement we can sum up every thing that man must do in order to be saved: Man must OBEY God. Let us look at just one passage (one of many) to illustrate this truth.

"Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him...." (Heb. 5:8-9)

Specifics Of Obedience

Let us now see if we can break down this all inclusive term "obey" into specifics.

(1) Faith

Before any one will obey God he must first of all believe "that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11:6) However, before one can believe God, he must hear the word of God, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17)

The above process or steps from hearing to believing to obedience is clearly set forth in Romans 10:13-16.

That the act of faith or belief is a command of the Lord and is essential to one's salvation, no one, who is a student of the Word of God, will deny. Jesus said, "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) Other passages such as John 3:16 and Hebrews 11:6 teach us this same truth.

(2) Confession of one's faith

The faith that one holds in order to be saved must be a confessed faith. Jesus said, "W hosoever 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." (Matt. 10:32-33) This is also taught in Romans 10:9-10. An example of those who believed in the Lord, but who would not confess Him, is given in John 12:42.

(3) Repentence

The sinner, in order to be saved from his sins, is commanded to repent or turn away from his sins. Jesus said, "Nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Lk. 13:3) In Acts 17:30 we read where God "commanded all men every where to repent."

(4) Baptism

That baptism is a part of the COUNSEL of God is clearly taught in Luke 7:30, where it says, "But Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." John's baptism was "for the remission of sins." (Lk. 3:3)

Jesus made the act of baptism coordinate or equal with the act of believing, while at the same time he decreed both acts (faith and baptism) to be conditions of salvation. This he did when giving the Great Commission: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mk. 16:15-16)

The Holy Spirit did the same with the acts of repentence and baptism. Acts 2:38 says: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

In 1 Peter 4:21 we learn that "baptism doth also now save us." In Romans 6:3-4 and Gal. 3:26-27, we learn that one gets "into Christ" by baptism.

The same Bible which declares that faith, repentence, and confession are essentials or conditions of salvation and must be complied with, also declares that baptism is also essential to salvation and must be complied with.

The Question Answered

The question: What must I do to be saved? is found in three different places in the New Testament — not in identical wording but in thought or meaning.

To the unbelieving jailor who desire to know what he must do to be saved, the inspired answer was: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:30-31) A closer look at what happened will reveal he was baptized. (v. 33) Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." This is exactly what the jailor did. Though repentance is not specifically mentioned, who would say that he was saved without repenting of his sins? His actions (vv. 33-34) imply the act.

Believing Jews asked the question: "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) The inspired answer was: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38)

Saul of Tartus asked the same question: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6) The Lord said, "Arise and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Ibid) Though Saul prayed and fasted for three days his sins were not forgiven. When the gospel preacher got there he told Saul what he MUST do. Regarding his sins, Ananias said: "Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16)

Who would say, in light of the command of the Lord, that confession was not made by the jailor, the multitude on Pentecost, and Saul of Tarsus? Without this confession there could be no salvation. Hence, it is implied.

Friend, have you truly obeyed the Lord in all that he has commanded you to do? You must if you are to be saved by the love, mercy, and grace of God.