Covenant Baptist Church

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

— John 3:36 —


What Must I Do To Be Saved?

The above question was asked of Paul by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16, to which Paul replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." This question was asked after the jailer came under conviction for his sins. Faith does not come before God works in the heart of the sinner. If God doesn't work in the heart, then the decisions made by a sinner seeking salvation would be empty. Salvation is of the Lord, not of man. That means a sinner must seek Christ for salvation. But the Bible says "no one seeks after God." That is why Jesus said that for the sinner to seek Him, he must first be drawn by the Father ("No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" — John 6:44).

First, the Word of God is shared. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Sharing of any kind is not necessarily the sharing of the Word of God. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God penetrates to the heart of the sinner, and reveals us as we really are in the sight of God. There are many offers of the gospel that are more about the end while skipping the beginning. They say "pray this prayer" and you will be saved. They skip repentance and make faith nothing more than a mind game. This approach is founded on a belief that a simple decision of the mind is all that is needed to make a man a new creation in Christ. But Jesus said that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3).

Second, the Word of God brings conviction. At Pentecost, when Peter preached Christ to those gathered in Jerusalem after the resurrection of Christ, he proclaimed that Christ, who was crucified by them, had risen and been exalted to the right hand of the Father in heaven. "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37). Being cut to the heart is conviction of sin. When a person is convicted by the Holy Spirit, they realize their sins are clearly seen by a holy God, so they cry out in despair. They do not try to make deals with God, or give some half-hearted, magical prayer. They want forgiveness that can only be gained through Jesus Christ. Without conviction, there is really no known sin, and the sinner has little motivation to come to Christ for cleansing since he doesn't see himself as dirty. Jesus said, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Luke 5:32).

Third, the Holy Spirit regenerates the soul and makes us a new creation in Christ. "If any man is in Christ he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is this new life that enables a renewed person to do the outward acts that accompany the effectual call of the gospel. When Paul preached to Lydia in Acts 16:14 we are told, "The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul."

Fourth, repentance and faith. This is conversion. Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5). When the people in Jerusalem asked Peter "What shall we do," he told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Repentance is eagerly turning from sin to Christ. This is the fruit of regeneration. Baptism is an outward sign of this repentance. Without repentance, baptism means nothing. Baptism is not essential to salvation since it is a human work, but repentance is essential. Faith is the positive aspect of trusting in Christ for salvation. "By grace are you saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). Works follow repentance and faith, but works are not able to save us. James says that we show our faith by our works, but we don't gain faith by works.

As can be clearly seen, salvation is a work of God with results evident in the life changed by Him, in the heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the Word of God.




©2015 Covenant Baptist Church, Orangeburg, South Carolina