What Must I Do To Be Saved?
BaptismProof That Baptism Is Necessary For Salvation by Thomas B. Warren
Two Parts of SalvationEvidence For the Inspiration of the Bible
The Bible is Genuine and Authoritative
The Bible Confirmed by Archaeology
The Bible Confirmed by ArchaeologySome Suggestions For Bible Study
Help In Understanding the BibleA Synopsis of the Books of the Old Testament Between the Testaments
This question is important because it has to do with eternity. It has to do with the soul and it's relationship to God. The Jailor recognized that he was lost and asked Paul and Silas, his prisoners, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
The first step in coming into a state of salvation is to recognize that one is lost and is in need of a savior. The Jailor had come to this point in his life. Paul and Silas began to answer the man's question by saying, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized"(Acts. 16:31-33).
Please consider some salient points regarding the salvation of this man and his family.
1. Salvation is personal. He asked "What must I do to be saved?" He didn't ask about some deceased ancestor who perhaps had never heard of Jesus. He recognized that he was in need of salvation.
2. Salvation requires obedience. The Jailor knew there was something required of him. Many religious leaders deny that man has any responsibility in his salvation. To many the word"obey" is a "four letter word" to be avoided. The Bible is clear that there is something about the gospel one must obey. (See Matthew 7:21; Acts 6:7; Romans 6:16-18).The Jailor knew there was something to do. Later,when he learned the truth of the gospel from Paul and Silas, he complied with its demands (see Acts 16:33).
3. Salvation is from above. Salvation does not come from man but from God. Men have devised their own systems of salvation rather than submitting to God's plan for redeeming man (see Romans 1:18-32; 10:1-3). The ancient prophet Jeremiah exclaimed, "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps."(Jeremiah 10:23).
4. Salvation requires both belief and baptism. In answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?", Paul and Silas told the Jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." The Jailor took the two prisoners, cleaned their wounds and listened to their answer to his question regarding his salvation. Following this study session, "immediately he and all his family were baptized." A meal followed the baptism as they rejoiced in the salvation of this fine family (Acts 16: 34). Notice, "having believed in God with all his household." It is clear that the comprehensive expression "having believed in God" includes repentance as well as baptism and faith. Frequently in the New Testament believing and obedience are used to represent the same idea (see John 3:36; Hebrews 3:18-19; 4:3-6 and compare John 3:16 with Hebrews 5:9).Other examples of how people were saved include:
1. The Jews at the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2).
2. The Samaritans (Acts 8:5-13).3. The Etheopian (Acts 8:35-39) 4. Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-18; 22:3-16; 26:1-23)
5. Cornelius, the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:34-48; 11:1-18)
6. Lydia (Acts 16:13-15)
In each case of New Testament conversion, we note the following: 1. One must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "...if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." Jesus also said,"...he who does not believe will be condemned." Belief in Christ implies complete reliance and surrender, not just a mere "mental acceptance." 2. One must repent of sins.Repentance is a "change of mind" that results in a change of conduct. Jesus said, "...unless you repent you will all likewise perish."(Luke 133,5). In the first gospel sermon recorded in the book of Acts, the apostle Peter, by inspiration commanded repentance "for the remission of sins"(Acts 2:38).
3. One must confess the name of Christ. Jesus said, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." Confession, therefore, is not a confession of sins, or some kind of a testimonial. Biblical confession is exemplified by the Ethiopian convert as he asked "What hinders me from being baptized?" Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the the Son of God.'"Evidently the young preacher Timothy, upon his conversion, had made the same confession. The apostle Paul reminded him of this when wrote, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12).
4. One must be baptized into Christ. Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved..."(Mark 16:16). Many who heard the apostle Peter preach the first gospel sermon, "...were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."Ananias told Saul to "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).
Please search each case of conversion given in the Book of Acts and notice that not once is anyone told to "pray the sinner's prayer." No one is told to "just ask Jesus to come into your heart" and you will be saved! In every case of conversion, recorded by inspiration, people were converted by believing the facts of Gospel,i.e. the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), obeying the commands of the Gospel, i.e. repent of sins,confess the name of Jesus, and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:1-6; 6:16-18; Matthew 10:32-33).Upon obeying the Gospel, one receives the promises of the Gospel, i.e. salvation (remission of sins) and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:39; 5:32).
Those who thus "obeyed the gospel" (cf. Acts 6:7) were added to the Lord's church (Acts 2:47). Having experienced the "new birth" (John 3:3-5, compare Romans 6:3-6) they became "new creatures" (2 Corinthians 5:17). When people today do what they did, they can become what they became --"Christians" (Acts 11:26), members of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
If you have any questions concerning this most important of all questions, "What must I do to be saved," please let us know. If we may assist you in your obedience to Christ, we would be happy to do so.
Acts - Proof That The
Penitent Believer Must Be Baptized In Order To Be Saved
obedience to Christ's instructions given in the Great Commission (Matthew
28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:44-49), under the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, on the day of Pentecost the apostles preached for the very first time
the gospel of Christ as a law in force (Acts 2:1-41). While all of the apostles
preached on that first day (Acts 2: 1, 14, 37), only the sermon of Peter is
recorded in the New Testament. In that sermon, Peter gave proof that the Jews
(to whom he was speaking) had crucified, not a mere human being who falsely
claimed to be the Messiah, but the very Son of God, the Christ. In closing what
can be termed the evidential part of his sermon, Peter said, "Let all the
house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and
Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified" (Acts 2:36, cf.: 2:22-23).
Peter's sermon convinced the Jews; they came to realize that they were guilty of the terrible sin of crucifying the Christ (Messiah). Out of that conviction, they said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
What were they asking? They were asking to be told what they must do in order to have their sins remitted (forgiven). It is clear that, in spite of the fact that, at the time they asked the question, they were already believers in Jesus Christ, they were not yet saved; they were still in their sins! Men are not saved at the point of faith.
What did Peter tell them to do? Did he say, "Since you are already believers, you have nothing to do - you are already saved"? No. Both Peter and his auditors knew that they (the auditors) were not saved. So Peter (guided by the Holy Spirit) told these believers, "Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (, A.S.V.)
The meaning of Peter's reply to their question should be easily understood by all. He simply tells these lost believers that they must (1) repent and (2) be baptized so that their sins will be forgiven.
Opposition To This Clear Truth
In spite of the simplicity of Peter's answer to such a simple question, there arc many people now living who reject the truth that penitent believers are to be baptized (immersed in water) in order to be saved by the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7). But, in order to deny this necessity, they must reject the obvious truth of Acts 2:38. What tactics are used by some in making such a rejection?
Two Basic Elements Of The Plan For Rejection Of The Truth Of Acts 2:38
Since Acts 2:38 so obviously teaches the necessity of baptism, if one is to hold (and/or convince anyone else of) the view that the lost man is saved the very moment he believes in Christ as the Son of God, then he must find some means of denying (to his own satisfaction at least) the obvious import of this passage. So, to avoid the force of Acts 2:38, some religious leaders have done two things; (1) they have come to hold that "unto" (A.S.V.) and "for" (K.J.V.) mean "because of" or "on account of" in Acts 2:38, and (2) to avoid the resulting implication in regard to repentance, they have come to hold that the prepositional phrase "unto the remission of your sins" cannot modify both "repent" and "be baptized."
Why have they come to hold these two positions? For these reasons: (1) if they can prove that "unto" (from the Greek eis) here means "because of" they will have shown that Acts 2:38 does not teach that baptism precedes the remission of sins, and (2) holding that "unto the remission of your sins" means "because your sins have already been forgiven," then, unless they can prove that "unto the remission of sins- cannot modify both "repent" and "be baptized." they would have espoused a position which implies that one is saved before and without repenting.
In other words, if one holds both (1) that "unto" means "because of" and (2) that "unto the remission of sins" modifies both "repent" and "be baptized" then he would be saying not only that one is to be baptized because he has already been saved but also that one is to repent because he has already been saved. But even Baptists, who oppose the essentiality of baptism so strenuously, know that repentance is necessary to salvation. So, since they know that repentance is essential to salvation (II Peter 3:9-10; Luke 13:3-5; Acts -31), they make the effort to prove that "unto remission of sins" cannot modify both verbs.
In the remainder of this editorial it will be shown that a negative answer should be given to each of the following questions: (1) Does "unto" mean "because of" in Acts 2:38? (2) Is it the case that there are grammatical grounds which absolutely forbid one to hold that "unto the remission of your sins" can modify both "repent" and "be baptized"?
The First Question: Does "Unto" Mean "Because Of' In Acts ?
Sound scholarship answers this question with one voice: "No! 'Unto' in Acts does not mean 'because of'." When the apostle Peter told the believers to be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins," he was telling them to submit to the rite (i.e., to obey Christ in being baptized) in order to be forgiven of their sins!
And, it must be noted, the penitent believer is saved (when he is baptized) not by water but by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Acts ; Hebrews ; Romans 5:8-9). But the blood of Christ will not be used by the Lord to forgive the sins of anyone who is not "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5). Salvation is in Christ (II Timothy ) and one is baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians -27).
The Second Question: Can The Prepositional Phrase "Unto The Remission Of Sins" Modify Both Verbs ("Repent" and "Be Baptized")?
Since the words of Peter were given in answer to the question, "What shall we do?" the context indicates that the phrase "unto the remission of sins'' not only can but should be tying both "repent" and "be baptized".
Even outstanding Baptist scholars recognize this truth. In opposing the contention of Methodists that babies should be baptized, J. M. Pendleton said, "It is clear as the sun in heaven that the same persons are commanded to repent and be baptized." (Three Reasons for Being A Baptist, p. 20.)
Another Baptist scholar, H. B. Hackett, said, "We connect naturally with both the preceding verbs." (Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, p. 53.)
J. H. Thayer, outstanding Greek scholar said, "I accept the rendering of the revised version 'unto the remission of your sins' (the eis expressing the end aimed at and secured by the repentance and baptism' just previously enjoined" (quoted by J. W. Shepherd in Shepherd, Handbook on Baptism, p. 356).
This editor sent a diagram in English to English scholars and a diagram in Greek to Greek scholars in some of the most prestigious universities of this nation. The diagram indicated that the prepositional phrase "unto the remission of sins" modifies both "repent" and "be baptized." These scholars were asked if there is any reason, grammatically speaking, why the sentence should not be thus diagrammed. Not one scholar gave a negative answer. They all agreed that "unto the remission of sins" can modify both "repent" and "be baptized."
When the people who had become believers in Christ as the Son of God (Acts -37) asked, "What shall we do?" they had just been convicted of sin and, thus, wanted to know what to do to be saved from sin. Peter plainly told then to repent and be baptized unto the remission of sins. Clearly, these lost believers are here commanded to do two things in order to be forgiven. But this truth Baptists (and other "salvation is by faith only" advocates) must deny, if they are to be consistent with their view of salvation. But it is also clear that in denying that "unto the remission of sin" can modify both verbs, they deny what clearly is true: the believer is instructed to both repent and be baptized in order to obtain (by the blood of Christ) the remission of his sins.
One cannot be saved without being baptized in the name of (by the authority of) Jesus Christ. and one cannot be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ unless he is baptized in order to be saved - not because he thought he was already saved before he was baptized. Obedience to the gospel of Christ will save a lost person, but obedience to a mere human doctrine will not save anyone (Hebrews 5:8-9; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 7:13-23; II Thessalonians 2:10-12).
(January, 1979 Volume 10 Issue 2 - Baptism Is Unto Remission of Sins)