There are many opinions about how to be saved, most of them involve saying “the sinners prayer” or having some miraculous experience that you can tell about. Many people will claim a person’s salvation simply by the fact that a person believed or if they really want to get biblical they will take their confession that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:10). There is a problem with all of this however, our salvation is not instructed by someone’s opinion nor is it even based off of what one scripture or even several passages say. We must look at all of the New Testament to get the full picture. If one passage tells us to confess Jesus as Lord to be saved and another passage tells us we must repent to be saved, then we must do both. We cannot ignore one passage just because another passage emphasizes something else. We must also realize what covenant we live in, if the Jewish thief on the cross was saved without Christ’ baptism before it was commanded in the great commission, then likewise we cannot conclude the thief’s conversion is exactly like ours today after Jesus’ resurrection and the establishment of His church.
A summary of what the New Testament says we must do to be saved:
Hear the word – Hearing the word of God, the words we find in the pages of the bible. Whether we read those words on our own or we hear them preached or taught; “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17 NASB). This step seems so obvious we often overlook teaching it, but it is an important step. Most churches have some parts of Calvinism wore off on them, usally they believe we cannot be saved apart from God’s miraculous intervention, (we are totally depraved as Calvin taught). Hence we must witness some miracle when God selects certain ones of us to be saved and testify of that to others to prove our calling, but this is not scriptural. The Bible shows us it is by the word of God that He calls us, through it we have faith and through the word we learn obedience. “And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thess 2:14). “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” (Eph 1:13). Also check out: (II Tim 3:16-17; Matt 13:1-23).
Believe – We all know you must believe, not only in God but also in Christ who is His son. “… for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24). “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb 11:6).
Repent – We all have sins in our past we are sorry we did, ones that hurt ourselves or hurt others. Sorrow however is not repentance but turning from those sins and living differently is. Just as sinfulness consumes some individuals lives, repentance is a state that we me must live in to be in Christ. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (II Pet 3:9). “And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” ” (Luke 5:31-32).
Confess – There are times we need to confess our faults to another we have wronged, but this is not the type of confession the scripture speaks of that we do unto salvation. This confession is the verbal and personal commitment we make to God before men confessing that Jesus is Lord, the Son of God. “Everyone therefore who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 10:32). “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He will also deny us;” (II Tim 2:12).
Be Baptized – Baptism is the point at which a person is saved once having done or committed to these other commands. Jesus said in the great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matt 28:19-20). In Acts 2, the day the church was established and the promised covenant was affirmed by signs of God, the command given by Peter for everyone to enter Christ’ saving church was: “And Peter said to them, “Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). Notice that the baptism is for “forgiveness of sins”, this is something most churches deny today as they falsely teach baptism is not for salvation. Baptism is where we are joined to Christ (Gal 3:27), where we are buried with Christ and raised up in Him (Rom 6:3-8; Col 2:12). It is where our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16, Titus 3:5; Heb 10:22). It is the way we must be born again (John 3:5). Baptism saves us ( I Pet 3:21). Every single conversion example we have after the cross includes baptism (Acts 2:38, 8:38, 9:18,10:47, 16:15 & 33, 18:8, 19:5, 22:16). Have you been baptized for the forgiveness of sins, was it done for simply as an outward sign as some teach, or was it done for your salvation? Make things right. Please if you disagree, simply read all these passages.
Live Faithful – Once we are immersed into Christ, God himself adds us to His church (Acts 2:41,47). A Christian cannot expect to remain in God’s grace if he is added to the blood bought church of Jesus Christ by God but then he choses to no longer assemble with them (Heb 10:24-31). Again the errors of Satan permeate our society, so many churches today teach that we cannot fall from grace, but scripture is so plain that we can (Matt 10:22; II Pet 2:20-21; Gal 5:4). The book of Revelation is full of commands to Christians going through a very difficult persecution, and the message given to them is always the same: “Be faithful until death” (2:10), “Persevere” (13:10), “Overcome” (2:7,26, 3:5,12,21, 21:7), and “Hold fast” (3:11). These brethren were not “once saved always saved”, they had to be faithful even if that meant death to receive the crown of life, they had to overcome the persecutions by faithfulness if they were to be given the white robe in heaven. Their names could even be erased from the book of life (3:5) if they gave in. Jesus commanded us to “obey all that I have commanded” (Matt 28:19) in the great commission. He tells us we must keep His commandments if we are to remain in His love (John 14:15, 15:10, 14). We must strive to live as He did if we are to be forgiven by His blood, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7), we all need that forgiveness. We must obey God to be saved by Him, we must obey God to remain in Him, and we must be part of His church that worships and practices in truth if we are going to be part of the church He died for. None of this denies the grace of God but it is how we enter into His grace by which we are saved.