Now that we have proven the Bible to be the only valid record of God's will available to us, what does it tell us about salvation? Let's begin in the book of 1 John: "These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13, ASV) Here John answers our question: it is possible for you to know you’re saved. He also tells you the only way to know the answer to this question: it must be found within the written pages of the Bible. What do the scriptures say about salvation? What must you do to be saved?
What must you do to be saved?
I'd like to answer this question by asking a series of questions, then looking to the scriptures for their answers.
Question 1: Can you be pleasing to God without faith?
Hebrews 11:6: “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.”
Question 2: Where does faith come from?
Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Answer: By hearing the word of God. Faith does not come by hearing the words of men. Men may (and actually must) teach me what God’s word says, but I must confirm the truth of their teaching by studying the Bible myself. (Reference Acts 17:10-11: “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”)
Question 3: Can you be saved if you don’t believe in Jesus?
John 8:24: “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.”
Acts 4:10-12: "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Answer: No. You must believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be before you can have your sins forgiven. There is no salvation in any other name given among men (Mohammed, etc).
Question 4: Can you be with Jesus if you die in your sin?
John 8:21: “Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.”
Question 5: Where is Jesus?
John 20:17: "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."
Matthew 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Answer: In heaven, with His Father. Since you cannot be with Jesus if you die in your sins, and Jesus is in heaven with His Father, you cannot go to heaven if you die in your sins.
Question 6: What must you do to have your sins forgiven?
Acts 2:38: “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.”
Mark 16:15-16: “And he said unto them, 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.”
Romans 10:10: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Matthew 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.”
Answer: You must believe the gospel that’s been preached to you, repent of your sins, confess before men your belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and be baptized to have your sins forgiven. "And" is a very important word. "And" is used in two ways: to connect words or phrases of equal value, and to show logical progression. When Jesus says “he that believeth and is baptized” He makes believing the gospel and baptism of equal value. When Peter says “repent and be baptized” he makes repentance and baptism of equal value. You are saved when you’ve heard the word of God, believed it, repented of your sins, confessed before men your belief in Jesus as the Son of God and have been baptized for the remission of your sins.
Question 7: How many gospels are there?
Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Answer: One. When we speak of “the President of the United States”, we are speaking of one person. “The” limits the scope of that which we are discussing to one definite thing. Paul said “the” gospel is “the” power of God unto salvation. There is only one gospel that will save.
Question 8: Are perverted gospels being preached today?
Galatians 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Answer: Yes. Paul warns the Galatians (and us as well) to be on guard for those who preach perverted gospels. The fate of one who preaches something other than the gospel of Christ is eternal condemnation (translated “accursed” in the King James version).
Question 9: What should you do if you now believe the truth, but earlier believed a perverted gospel and were baptized after believing it?
Acts 19:1-7: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”
Answer: You must be baptized again. Your first baptism was a response to a perverted gospel. Jesus said you must believe “the” gospel and be baptized in order to be saved (Mark 16:15-16). Your baptism after believing the perverted gospel did you no good.
Question 10: How are you saved?
Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
Answer: By the grace of God.
Question 11: Where is grace found?
2 Timothy 2:1: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Answer: In Jesus Christ.
Question 12: Where is salvation found?
2 Timothy 2:10: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
Answer: In Jesus Christ.
Question 13: Since grace and salvation are found in Jesus Christ, how do you enter into Jesus?
Romans 6:3: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"
Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Answer: You are baptized into Jesus Christ. There is no other way to get into Jesus. Since salvation is found “in” Jesus, until you’re “in” Him you are not saved. You get “into” Him by baptism. Therefore, you are not saved until after baptism. Praying the “sinner’s prayer” will not result in your salvation.
Question 14: How are you baptized?
Romans 6:1-7: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
Answer: By immersion. Baptism is a burial, as Paul notes in the passage above. When Jesus died His body was placed in a tomb. A large stone covered the opening of the tomb. Therefore, when He was buried He was completely surrounded by rock and earth. When you are buried with Him you, too, are completely surrounded by water (the material into which you are buried). Jesus changed while He was in the tomb. His body was dead when it went into the tomb and alive when He left it. You, too, change when you are buried with Him. You are spiritually dead when you enter the water, change while you are within the tomb of water, and are spiritually alive when you leave the water (to walk in newness of life, as Paul states in the above scripture). If you have been “baptized” by any method other than immersion you were not buried with Jesus and are not walking in newness of life. Pouring and sprinkling are two methods of “baptism” commonly used today. Neither of these methods is a burial. (For more details regarding baptism, please review the article I've published to this site.)
Question 15: Can you fall from grace after you’ve been saved?
Galatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
Revelation 2:10: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Answer: Yes. The letter to the Galatians was written to the churches of Galatia (“And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:”, Galatians 1:2), and only saved people are added by Jesus to the church (“Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”, Acts 2:47) Paul tells the Christians at Galatia who felt they were justified by the law of Moses that they had fallen from grace. Just as it is possible for those Christians in that day to fall from grace, it is possible for Christians today. Jesus says that He will give you a crown of life if you have been faithful until death. If you become unfaithful, Jesus will not give you a crown of life should you die in that unfaithful condition. (For more details regarding one's possibility of falling from grace, please review the article I've published to this site.)
Question 16: Is there a scriptural example of someone who thought he was saved but was actually lost?
Matthew 7:21-23: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Answer: Yes. At the day of judgment there will be people who professed the name of Jesus but were never known by Him. These people thought they were saved, but were actually lost. To put it in the present tense, these people think they are saved but are actually lost. The truth regarding these people is that they are workers of iniquity and will not spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.
Question 17: Do you have a responsibility for your own salvation?
2 Peter 1:10-11, ASV: "Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Philippians 2:12: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always
obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Answer: Yes. However, "work out your own salvation" does not give you the freedom to establish the rules whereby you will be saved. John tells you that you know you are saved by the things that are written. To work out your salvation means that, with fear and trembling, you look to the things that are written and make sure you've obeyed them.