“What must I do to be saved?”
While traveling the Gentile world preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of many, Paul, with Silas, came down to the city of Troas near the Aegean Sea which lies between the modern countries of Greece & Turkey. Here, a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, across this sea in Greece inviting him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. After he had seen the vision, immediately he endeavored to go into Macedonia, recognizing that the Lord had called him to preach the gospel there.
Leaving Troas, he and Silas soon came to Philippi, which was the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and there he began sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. On the Sabbath day they had a worship service out of the city by a river side, where a group of women resorted to pray, after which they had a baptismal service which involved a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira.
Accepting then an invitation to her house for another prayer meeting, they were intercepted by a certain young lady possessed with a spirit who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. She began following Paul and Silas for many days making quite an embarrassing scene, until finally Paul commanded the spirit in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he did come out the same hour.
In retaliation, her masters instigated their public humiliation by having them stripped and beaten and cast into prison, where they were secured in the inner prison with their feet fast in the stocks.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” (Acts 16:25-28)
Relieved that he had been spared the consequential humiliation of a certain execution, the punishment for allowing the escape of a prisoner, “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (vss. 29,30)
And friends, this is the all-important question every living soul should consider today, and it has been clearly answered for us in God’s Word.
However, many, if not most, people wanting to be saved do not really understand what salvation is to be from. The Jewish nation in the time of Christ wanted to be saved from the Romans, from foreign occupation, from the loss of their freedom and independence, from over taxation, from disease and poverty. In other words, they wanted to be saved from the penalty and consequences of their own sin, apostasy, and rebellion.
So it is today, friends, unfortunately, in the hearts of many Christians. People want to be saved from the penalty and consequences of sin, of disobedience, of defiance, and of rebellion. And they want to receive the gift of eternal life. And yet, to change their lifestyle is just out of the question.
In my own experience of struggling to come to the Lord, there were those who talked to me about making changes in my life, and yet they believed, taught, and preached that we would continue sinning until Jesus comes. This raised serious questions in my mind, such as:
Just how much sinning can I get away with and still make it to heaven…?
Which sin is it alright for me to continue indulging until Jesus comes…?
Am I expected of God to be a 50 percent overcomer, 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent…?
At what point is God satisfied?
You can imagine the despair that this confusion would cause someone who really wants to overcome a particularly disgusting besetting sin.
But, friends, Jesus came to save His people not only from the penalty of their sins, but from sin itself, from their sins, whatever that sin happens to be. (Matthew 1:21) Actually, being saved from the penalty of sin is only the first of three phases of salvation.
1) As the all-sufficient atoning Lamb of God, Jesus saves us from the penalty of sin, for the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) But He died that death on the cross for us.
2) As Priest and High Priest ministering in the Heavenly Sanctuary, as can be seen in the book of Hebrews, and as illustrated throughout the entire Jewish economy of old, Jesus also promises to save His people from the power of sin, by forgiving & cleansing them and giving them grace, (divine strength), to overcome sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
3) Thirdly, as King of kings and Lord of lords Jesus promises to save His people from the very presence of sin when He comes to take His children home at His soon second coming. We know this from the parables of wheat and tares, and sheep and goats, and wheat and chaff, and others…
Isn’t Jesus amazing?! Offering to save us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin!
But, and I repeat, too many Christians want only to be saved from the penalty of sin. Therefore, they do not have the promised enmity or hatred for sin in their hearts that Jesus offers in Genesis 3:15, and they want to cling to it still, though claiming to be saved. To such I simply must ask, “What has Jesus been able to save you from…?”
To fully understand what Jesus offers to do for us, we must accept the Bible definition of sin, which is “the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4) To reject any portion of God’s great moral law of 10 commandments is to practice transgression of the law, equaling sin, the wages of which is death. (Romans 6:23) For James tells us in James 2:10,11: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.”
In other words, It doesn’t matter which link in a chain you break. If you break any one of the links you have broken the chain…
Let me say that one more time in a more pointed way. It doesn’t matter which link in a 10-link chain you break. If you break any one of the ten links you have broken the chain…
In the passage we just read, James is obviously talking about the 10 commandments. And we must realize that no one commandment is the law in and of itself. The law is composed of 10 commandments, based upon 2 great principles: supreme love to God and love to man. (Also referred to as the first and second commandments in Matthew 22:36-40. When asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”)
Yet, so many Christians, when faced with one commandment which they do not wish to accept, then turn around and say the law was nailed to the cross. What they really mean is, that one commandment of the law was nailed to the cross…! But nowhere in the Bible can that be substantiated, friends. Yes, the ceremonial law was nailed to the cross, but not the law of 10 commandments. It is just as wrong to murder, commit adultery, and steal today as ever!
Much ado is being made in Christian circles today about the phrase “under God” in our pledge of allegiance, and the right to have prayer in public schools, and the right to post the 10 commandments of God in Court Rooms around the country. Yet we tend to rebel against God ourselves when it comes to “consistently” keeping that very same law, which is but a reflection of God’s own character. Are we “under God” or not…? Are we “under God,” or under the traditions of men…?
OK, What am I getting at?
For me to be consistent in my message and belief in salvation, I must teach salvation from “sin,” victory over sin, period. Just as in the time of war, I must be able to define the enemy if I am to successfully battle the enemy and have victory over that enemy, right? Therefore, I must be able to accept the Bible’s definition of sin. If I am then consistent in my belief in the legitimacy of all the 10 commandments, (not just 9 of them), and if I practice keeping all 10, (not just 9), then I can expect the Lord to supply me sufficient grace to save me from sin as He has promised. If I choose to reject any one point of the law, then I have no assurance that God will grant me the grace I need to consistently keep any other point of the law, or to teach anyone else how to either.
Do we expect God to be satisfied with 90 percent compliance? Would we expect the highway patrolman to be so satisfied…? Suppose we faithfully keep 9 commandments out of 10, but the one we consistently break is the one that says, “Thou shalt not kill…” Why! Neither God nor man would consider us to be good, upstanding, law-abiding Christian citizens, would they? And we can apply this little test to any one of God’s 10 commandments. God says, “Come now, Let us reason together.”
Paul counsels us in Romans 6:1,2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, (in transgression of the law of 10 commandments), that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, (dead to disobedience, dead to breaking the law) live any longer therein?” (Or, continue living in violation of the law)
And in 1 Corinthians 9:27 he says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Now that we understand from God’s own word what it is we are to be saved from, let’s go back to the original question, “What must I do to be saved?”
“What must I do to be saved from sin—from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and from the very presence of sin?”
“What must I do to be saved from disobedience—from the penalty of disobedience; from the power of the habit of disobedience; and from the very presence of a world of disobedience?”
“What must I do to be saved from transgressing the law of God—from the penalty of such transgression; and from the power, or bondage, or addictive practice, or tradition of transgressing God’s law; and from the very presence of a world defiant and rebellious against the law of God?
In Jeremiah 3:13, God pleads with each one of his people, “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, … Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: (:14) And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (:15) Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings (:22) Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: (In other words, from the other gods and human traditions that you practice up in the hills and groves away from my Sanctuary) Truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. (Salvation from the penalty, power, and presence of sin.) (:23)
To the Jailer of Philippi who asked “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was given, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” (Acts 16:31-33)
To the Rich Young Ruler who asked, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? ” Jesus answered, Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (Luke 18:18-22)
To the Scheming Lawyer who earlier had “tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? ” Jesus said, “What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” (Luke 10:25-28)
The rich young ruler wanted to be saved from the penalty of sin. “What shall I do…?, he asks, wanting to earn the gift of God which is eternal life by doing an assignment of works.
The tempting lawyer wanted to trick Jesus into giving a list of things to earn salvation from the penalty of sin, believing that no one could improve on the list the Pharisees had already compiled.
Interestingly, they both asked the same question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
To these questions, several answers have been given. And in examining them all we get a clearer answer than if we look at only one.
Here, friend, we can discover the answer to the desire of your heart and soul as a sincere seeker after truth:
“What must I do to be saved?”
“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
1) The Word says, Believe, and be Saved.
2) The Word also says, Do, and be Saved.
3) And The Word says, Love and be Saved.
4) Jesus the Word says, Come, Follow Me, and be Saved.
1) The Word says Believe & Be Saved:
What does believing on the Lord Jesus Christ mean? “Is it really that simple?” you ask. “Well, I can believe. Anyone should be able to believe.” Let’s explore from God’s word just what it means to believe, for there is a belief that falls short of receiving the gift of salvation. After all, James 2:19 says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
To truly believe on the name, is to hear, believe, and accept His word…
Let’s look at “Lord, Jesus, Christ:”
Lord, Jehovah=self-existent one, or, I AM;
Christ, or Messiah=Anointed
In other words: I AM the Anointed Deliverer; I AM the Anointed Savior.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12)
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
(1 John 5:13)
We read in Matthew 1:19-23: “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled (that the sure word of prophecy might be fulfilled) which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
(Quoting Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”)
2) The Word Says Do, and be Saved:
To the question, “What shall I do to be saved, or to inherit eternal life?” Jesus has given a clear answer: “What is written in the law? how readest thou?”
Yes, friends, believing in Jesus, on His name, leads to doing.
“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23)
“And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him….” (1 John 3:24)
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (Oh, friends, it should be our joy to obey our loving Father) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5)
And from James 2:10-26 we are counseled: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.[Don’t just talk the talk of being a Christian. Walk the walk. Don’t profess to be saved, and then continue in the practice and tradition of breaking God’s law of 10 commandments…]
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.[Liberty from what? The liberty from the bondage of sin, from the power of disobedience, from the habit of following Christian tradition rather than the plainly expressed will of God…]
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.[There is a belief that is insufficient to the salvation of souls…, and this belief the devils have…]
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?[Salvation from sin, salvation from disobedience, results in obedience. Obedience is not the means to salvation, friends. It is the result of salvation…]
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Saving Belief, friends, results in good works, in obedience.
Paul tells us in Romans 10:13-17: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (If we call out to Him who says, “I AM the Anointed Savior from sin”, then the promise is that we shall be saved, from sin—from its penalty, from its power, and from its presence.) “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So thenfaith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
And that faith results in coming into harmony with the will of God in obedience to His law and character…
3) The Word Says Love, and be Saved:
What does it mean to love God and love thy neighbor?
When asked by the tempting lawyer, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered, “What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. Luke 10:25-28)
On another occasion, Jesus stated that “On these two commandments hang all the law and the
prophets.” (Matthew 22:40) The first four of the Ten Commandments define our expected relationship to our God whom we are to love supremely. Commandments 5-10 define our expected relationship to our neighbor whom we are to love even as our own selves.
Again, “For this is the love of God,” John says, “that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3)
And Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
So it is, friends, that true, Godly love, results in “Doing”, results in good works, results in obedience and loving service, both to our loving heavenly Father, and to our fellow man.
4) The Word Says Follow Jesus and be Saved:
When the rich young ruler asked Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life? …Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
(In other words, “Are you acknowledging me as the Son of God, your Savior from sin…? He then refers the young man to the law which reflects His own character and which was written by His own finger at Sinai:)
“Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:18-27)
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
We are told in Revelation 14:4,5 that “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was foundno guile (deceit) : for they arewithout fault (no sin, no disobedience, no transgression of the law) before the throne of God.”
Friends, “The Lord has a people on the earth, who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. He has His thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal. [This text refers to 144,000 who do not yield to the tradition of churches and of men.] Such will stand with Him on Mount Zion, [being saved, from sin, from disobedience, from transgression of the law.] But they must stand on this earth…
“We need not wait till we are translated to follow Christ. God’s people may do this here below. We shall follow the Lamb of God in the courts above only if we follow Him here. Following Him in heaven depends on our keeping His commandments now. We are not to follow Christ fitfully or capriciously, only when it is for our advantage.
“We must choose to follow Him. In daily life we must follow His example, as a flock trustfully follows its shepherd. We are to follow Him by suffering for His sake, saying, at every step, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’ His life practice must be our life practice. And as we thus seek to be like Him, and to bring our wills into conformity to His will, we shall reveal Him.” (RH, 4/12/98)
In Conclusion, as in the words of the Jailor of Philippi, the Tempting Lawyer, and the Rich Young Ruler, you to may be asking:
“What must I do to be saved?”
“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
1) The Word says, Believe, and be Saved.
2) The Word says, Do, and be Saved.
3) The Word says, Love and be Saved.
4) The Word says, Come, Follow Me, and be Saved.
5) And the promise of salvation is that Jesus shall save his people from their sins—from the penalty of sin. Yes, and from the power of sin, as well as from the very presence of sin at His soon return.
It is true that many “Christians” do not believe that overcoming sin and perfection of character is possible. Might I suggest that to them God is not really omnipotent, but rather, impotent; not really able to save “the whosoevers,” nor able to save “to the uttermost,” as the gospel really teaches? Too many “Christians,” sadly, are “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away,” warns the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:5.
When I came to the Lord just a few years ago as a homosexual, I came to Him for salvation from sin, not in sin, from a life of total degradation, not to be left in that life of sin and shame. For, the promise is that Jesus came to save His peoplefrom their sins. In accepting what sin was, not only did I have to die to the transgression of the 7th commandment; in all honesty, I had to acknowledge the validity of all 10 of His commandments. The 4th commandment has to be just as valid today as “Thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, dishonor your parents, covet, have any other gods, worship idols, or take the name of the Lord in vain.”
As stated earlier, Much fuss is being made in Christian circles today about the attempt to remove the phrase “under God” in our pledge of allegiance, yet we tend to rebel against God ourselves when it comes to “consistently” keeping His law, which is but a reflection of His own character. “And his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3)
Friends, are we “under God” or not…? Are we “under God,” or under the traditions of men…?
Revelation 2 & 3 gives a number of promises to those who understand the definition of sin and then become overcomers. And Revelation 21:7 says, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power (grace) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)
I thank God that through His grace, His divine strength, not through our own strength, that you, and I, can be overcomers and can be restored as one of His sons, or daughters, one of His children!
Don’t you…? And that makes us royal siblings…
May God bless and keep you, my royal brothers and sisters!
All Power to you!