What must I do to be saved?

This is a question that has been asked many times by many people who are convicted of their sin. It is also a question that we all must think about very seriously. Where you will spend eternity depends on what you will do with the answer.

Where do we find the answer to this question? Is it what most churches proclaim? They teach that all one has to do is “accept Jesus into your heart” or “pray a sinner’s prayer” and you will be saved. Is this taught in the Bible? Is that all the Bible says on this subject? What were Christ’s commands on this matter?

The problem is that the churches today have dropped the ball in their response to this very important question. The reason I am writing this is because it is a question that needs a true Biblical answer to it and not what some tradition of the church says. We are talking about the eternal state of a person’s life and their final destination at the Judgment. I hope to show in the next few pages the whole of what the Bible teaches on the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

We first need to look at why we need to be saved, what do we need to be saved from, how we can be saved, and then we can ask “What must I do to be saved?” We will first deal with the question:

What do we need to be saved from?

Before we find out what we need to do to be saved, some might ask; “What do we need to be saved from?” The answer to this is our sins. What is sin? The Bible defines sin as the following:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” -1 John 3: 4

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines sin as “The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty prescribed by GOD; any violation of a divine command; a wicked act. Sin comprehends not actions only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts, purposes, words, & desires, whatever is contrary to God`s commands or laws.”

So we see here that sin is defined as breaking the Law. Whose Law are we breaking in committing sin? God’s law as it is found in His Holy Word, The Bible. Throughout the whole Bible, we find the commandments of God, and how we are to live or lives in compliance to them. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” So we see that everyone is a sinner and that none of us are righteous in ourselves.

So where did sin come from? When Adam sinned in the garden, it brought sin into the world. The penalty for disobedience of God’s commandment brought the curse of death as we see in Genesis 2:16-17.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

God gave Adam a command not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then in Genesis 3:17-19 we see the consequences of his disobedience:

“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Why did Adam and Eve do that which God had commanded them not to do?

Because they believed the lie the serpent told them in Genesis 3: 4 “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

God, as a loving parent warned them of the consequences of their disobedience, but they, as rebellious children thought they knew better than God. They thought they could be like gods.

Not only was he and his descendants cursed, but the earth was also cursed. Then in Romans 5:12 and 19 we see this repeated.

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

Adam’s sin brought sin and the curse of death into the world. We, being the children of Adam, share in that curse. But why is it so easy for us to commit sin? Some would claim that the “devil made me do it,” but where does the desire to sin come from?

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” -Jeremiah 17: 9

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” -Matthew15:18-20

Sin has also alienated us from the relationship that God wanted us to have with Him. So, what was His plan for bringing us back into that relationship with Him and save us from the curse of death?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” -John 3:16-17

God loved us so much, that He took on the fleshly body of man, died in our place, and took away the curse of sin and death for those who believe in Him and do what He commands us to do.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5: 8

It was for our sins, He died. 

That is a sobering thought. He took our curse, the penalty for our sins, on Himself and died so we would have everlasting life with Him in His kingdom. It was a free gift to us. There was nothing we could do to save ourselves. He had to sacrifice Himself, according to the Law of God, to save us from the curse of sin and death, but also to bring us back into a relationship with our Holy and Righteous God, the very relationship He wanted with us from the beginning. So the question arises again:

What must I do to be saved?

Most churches today will answer this question with “accept Jesus into your heart”, or “pray the sinners prayer”, or “just believe”. The first two responses are not even found in the Bible. No where in Scripture, did anyone asking this question ever received this response.

The third response I mentioned is only partially correct. Faith is the cornerstone upon which the whole Gospel rests upon. However it is not the only requirement. In Psalms 119:160(New American Standard Version) it says, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

The sum or whole of what God says is Truth. The “just believe”, or faith only belief is only part of it, it is not the sum of what God has commanded. So again we ask:

What must I do to be saved?

The answer Jesus the Christ gave was:

You must be born again!

We must look at everything Christ commanded us to do to be born again. So what did He say?

When AA is trying to help an alcoholic recover, the first thing they say is “You first must admit you are an alcoholic and need help”. Likewise, we as sinners must first admit that we are sinners, that we all have sinned, and are condemned to the judgment of death unless we are born again as Christ commanded, and that we cannot save ourselves, as the verses below state.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;:

Romans 3: 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Hebrews 9: 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

John 3: 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Then we need to believe, or have faith in the fact that Jesus, being God manifested in the flesh or the Messiah, loved us so much that He came to die to buy our pardon from the curse of sin and death.

There are 5 basic principles to salvation:

1. Faith

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.:” -Hebrews 11: 6

“I said therefore unto you, 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

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” -Acts 16:31

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” -John 3:16-18

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”-Ephesians 2: 8-9

So we see first that without faith we cannot please God, and we will die in our sins. But with faith we are saved from our sins and receive eternal life. As I said earlier, faith is the cornerstone the whole doctrine rests upon. Without faith, you will not take the next step that Christ commanded which is:

2. Repentance (confession of and turning from sin)

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” -Matthew 4:17

“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” -Luke 13:5

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” -Acts 3: 19

“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” -Acts 8:22

If we have faith in what Christ did for us, it will convict us that we are guilty and must ask forgiveness or repent for the sins we have committed. We simply tell God that we admit we are sinners, and ask Him to forgive us of our sins, through the shed blood of Christ our Savior.

At this point, if you have had faith in who He is and what He has done for you, and have confessed your sins, as Acts 3:19 states you are converted, but there are still a few things left to do to be born again.

3. Make a public confession that JESUS is LORD

Matt 10: 32-33 Whosoever 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.

Romans 10: 9-11 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Acts 8: 36-38 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

We see here that our public confession is a necessary step in the being born again process. Christ said that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. We should openly confess Jesus to those around us so through us, others might come to Him. The last passage above also shows us that combined with faith, our public confession is necessary before the next step.

4. Water Baptism (immersion)

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” -Mark 16:16

“Then Peter said unto them, 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.” -Acts 2:38

“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” -Acts 22:16

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” -Romans 6:3

“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” -1Peter 3: 21

This is the one step that most churches today reject as a “act of man” or a “ritual of man”. They mainly say that baptism is only for an “outward sign of an inward grace” or strictly for “membership of a church” and that it isn’t necessary for salvation. These two reasons are not found anywhere in the Bible, and are thus simply excuses not to obey what Christ commanded. Acts 2:38 clearly says that baptism is for the remission of sins and necessary in receiving the Holy Spirit. And in Romans 6:3 we are baptized into His death. We contact His blood through baptism

The way we are baptized also matters. We are to be fully immersed (or dunked) under water in the name of Jesus the Christ for the forgiveness of sins. 

The word translated in to English baptism, in the Greek means to dip. So not only is the reason important, but so is the method. With that we are Biblically born again.

5. Continuing in the Faith

To remain part of the Kingdom of Christ we need to continue in the faith.

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” -Romans 6:4

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” -Luke 9:23

“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” -John 12:26

When we repent, we are shunning the way we lived, and are promising God we will live according to the way He wants us to live. The way we find out how He wants us to live, is by daily reading His Word, the Bible and prayer to Him for His help in our daily walk. The more we do this, the closer we get to Him, and the better we are as a person. Don't worry if you stumble. Just admit your error, ask Him to forgive you and don’t do it again. He knows we are not perfect, but we should strive to live as pleasing to Him as we can. If you know something is wrong, don’t do it.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:8-9

Don’t be discouraged if you cannot remember every sin you have committed. If you are faithful in living a Godly life, and read the Bible daily, as you read, His Holy Spirit will convict you of sins you may have forgotten about, and at that time you can be specific about the sin you may have not remembered in the beginning.

Finally, He has given us a choice. We can accept the gift of eternal life with Him in His Kingdom, or we can reject Him and His sacrifice, continue in our sin and be condemned to eternal damnation, out of the presence of God.

We must decide what we will do. Will we obey His clear teaching on this matter and have Him say to us on the Judgment day, “…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21 ).”

Or will we hear Him say of our rebellion, as He will tell ALL the disobedient on that day, “…I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:23).”

What will YOU choose?





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Ed Glasgow is a pastor of Union Christian Church in Martinsville, Indiana. You can visit their web site at www.theonomy.org. Pastor Glasgow can be e-mailed at Pastor Ed Glasgow




The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

                                                                                             John 1:29 (KJV)