"WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?" is a question that has been asked by millions just like you, that after hearing the Gospel, i.e. the "Good News" of God, they have been convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin, and of the need of salvation. Now they see themselves as lost sinners, "having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12); and as such, all they can do is cry out, "What must I do to be saved" (Acts 16:30)?
Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" and "not with enticing words of man's wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:4), spiritually awakened sinners will want to know what to do. In fact, when the Holy Spirit does His work of grace in a lost sinner, that lost sinner will not wait for 'an invitation to make a decision for Christ', but will ask what to do. Cp. Acts 2:37,38; 8:35-39; 9:1-6; 16:14,15.
Therefore, if anyone truly seeks an answer to this all-important question, then they can be assured that they won't be disappointed. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners", including "the chief" of them (1Timothy 1:15). The Lord Jesus Himself makes it very clear that He came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). This is a guarantee that he will save sinners; no matter how sinful they are! He promises that He won't reject anyone that comes to Him for salvation; for He says: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).'
So let us see what the Bible says how YOU are saved from your sins; for this is the main issue that has to be resolved between YOU AND GOD before you can enjoy the full benefits of His "so great salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). At the moment, nothing else matters, if you are not saved; for with eternity before you, "what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul" (Matthew 16:26)?
Having said that, let us now consider what we are to be saved from_____
I. YOU NEED TO BE SAVED FROM THE LOVE OF SIN.
When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), something radically happened to the human race: We "were made sinners" (Romans 5:19)! In other words, because Adam, who was the Head of mankind, and our Representative before God, disobeyed and sinned against his Creator, "judgment came upon all men to condemnation" (v.18). This one sin of Adam is what brought the judgment of the most Holy and Righteous God 'to place down (permanently), i.e. to designate, constitute' (Greek) every member of the human race as "sinners" (v.19).
Because of this, now all of us can say with David: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5). Yes, from the moment of conception, we are already sinners in the eyes of God; and He says so in HIs word: "The wicked (that's us without Christ) are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies" (Psalm 58:3); "for I knew that thou wouldest deal treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb" (Isaiah 48:8).
This means that we are born with a sinful nature; a nature that is compatible, agreeable, AND IN LOVE WITH SIN! We sin because we are sinners from conception; and because sin is what satisfies and pleases our fallen nature, WE LOVE TO SIN! This is made clear in the Scriptures, that "the natural man" (1 Corinthians 2:14), i.e. man without the Spirit of God (v.12) and "the life of God" (Ephesians 4:18), is "abominable and filthy" and "drinketh iniquity like water" (Job 15:16), and "thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet" from iniquity and sin (Jeremiah 14:10); for they "hate the good, and love the evil" (Micah 3:2). Refer to Romans 3:9-18.
Thus, it is true of all of us that when "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5); for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). Then, Ephesians 2:3 tells us that before we are saved "we all had our conversation (manner of living; behavior) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind"; and that because "from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness" (Mark 7:21-23).
Now, the ONLY WAY to be saved from the love of sin is to be made free from our fallen nature and to be given a new nature, which will HATE SIN! This is called REGENERATION; or the NEW BIRTH. Without it, man remains "under sin" (Romans 3:9), "servants (bond-slaves) of sin" (6:20), "sold under sin" (7:14), and incapable of pleasing God (8:7,8), but only "add sin to sin" (Isaiah 30:1). But in the NEW BIRTH, a sinner becomes "a new creature (creation)...in Christ", and begins a 'new life'; for "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now he has "a new heart" and "a new spirit" (Ezekiel 36:26) within him so he can now love the good and hate the evil. That's why the Lord Jesus says, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God..., Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the into the kingdom of God..., Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:3,5,7).
The NEW BIRTH is an act of God, which He works in a lost sinner of His grace and power. Man cannot give himself the NEW BIRTH; he is totally dependent upon God to do for him. Since man is spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), he is totally unable and incapable of giving himself spiritual life. Therefore, the sinner's only hope is for God to raise him from spiritual death as He raised Christ from the dead by His mighty power (Ephesians 1:19ff.). Ephesians 2:5,10 tells us that "even when we were dead in sins, (God) hath quickened (made alive) us together with Christ..., For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus". Also the Psalmist reminds us "know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves" (100:3).
The PROOF that you have been BORN AGAIN is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving Him as your Savior. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power (right) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12,13). Before being BORN AGAIN, man does not have "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21), but as soon as they are REGENERATED by "the Spirit of life" (Romans 8:2), they can now hear the Gospel and see their need of salvation, including the 'ability' to repent and believe; for God gives it to them to do so. "For to give repentance to Israel..." (Acts 5:31); "God also...granted repentance unto life" (11:18); "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8); and "unto you it is given...to believe on (Christ)" (Philippians 1:29); and for certain, it's only by the NEW BIRTH that the Lord Jesus Christ becomes "altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5:16) and our "first love" (Revelation 2:4).
The MANIFESTATION of the NEW BIRTH of the manifold, i.e. there are various aspects with respect to it: 1. There is a "newness of life" (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17); 2. There is "holiness" in the new life (Romans 6:22; 1 Peter 1:15); 3. There is "obedience" ((Romans 6:1ff.; 1 John 5:2,3); 4. There is love for God and the Lord Jesus Christ (Philemon 5; 1 John 4:19); 5. There is love for God's Word (Psalm 119:47,48,97,113,127,140,159,163; John 14:13,21); 6. There is walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25,22-23; Romans 8:8-11). We could keep on, but suffice it to be enough for now. Remember, the NEW BIRTH does manifest a different life in Christ Jesus; otherwise, our Christian profession is false!
II. YOU NEED TO BE SAVED FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN.
Not only we "were made sinners" (Romans 5:19) when Aam sinned, but also "by the offence of one (that is, Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation" (v.18). This means that we have been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for our unrighteousness we have obtained in Adam, so that we stand condemned for being "made sinners" (v.19). Since "all unrighteousness is sin" (1 John 5:17), "there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20), "as it written, There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10); "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (v.23). What a horrible picture of mankind before a Holy and Righteous God!!!
Now, because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), and "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (1:18), we have to suffer the penalty of our condemnation (which we are already in if we are without Christ; refer to John 3:18), unless we are acquitted from our guilt and made righteous before God. But the problem with us is that, not only we are "filled with all unrighteousness" (Romans 1:29), but we also have "pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:12), so that we cannot of ourselves do anything of our own for our acquital and to justify us before God. Why? Because "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." (Isaiah 64:6); besides, "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one" (Job 14:4).
The ONLY HOPE that we have is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who not only died and paid for all our sins and unrighteousnesses; for not only "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18), but also by His obedience to the Law of God, "shall many (those that believe in Him) be made righteous" (Romans 5:19). In that Christ Jesus "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (4:25), tells us that in believing in Him, not only are we acquitted of our guilt as sinners, but we are also declared to be righteous by God on the basis of His Son's obedience, death, and resurrection. This is called JUSTIFICATION; and so in justification, God imputes to our account the Righteousness of His Son. In other words, God declares that, not only we have not sinned, but also that we have obeyed His holy Law, "in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness..." (1 Corinthians 1:30). Therefore, we are to "be found in him, not having (our) own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9); "even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe" (Romans 3:22); "for (God) hath made (his Son) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The PROOF that you have been saved from the penalty of sin, or that you have been justified by faith in being declared righteous by God for believing in His beloved Son, is the public confession of the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and in believing in His bodily resurrection. According to the Scriptures, this is not an option; for "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 believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9,10). Therefore, since this "righteousness delivereth from death" (Proverbs 11:4), i.e. from "the second death...in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Revelation 21:8), now you can say with the Psalmist: "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness" (17:5). HALLELUJAH!!!
The MANIFESTATION of being saved from the penalty of sin, i.e. that you have been "justified by faith" (Romans 5:1), is that "if ye know that he is righteous, ye know (or should "know" also) that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him" (1 John 2:29). In other words, being saved from the love of sin, i.e. being BORN AGAIN, ought to be manifested in "obedience unto righteousness" (Romans 6:16); therefore, you are not to let sin "reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof", and "neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (vv.12,13). Why? Because "he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous" (1 John 3:7); "for the righteous LORD loveth righteousness" (Psalm 11:7). Cp. Isaiah 32:17. Besides, He who "is (our) Shepherd", will lead us "in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Psalm 23:1,3); for "their righteousness (whether judicially, positionally, or practically) is of me, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 54:17). Yes, a justified man/woman can now live a righteous life, for they can say: "LORD,...for thou also has wrought all our works in us" (26:12). Praise His Holy Name!!!
III. YOU NEED TO BE SAVED FROM THE POWER OF SIN.
Because all of us are conceived "in sin" (Psalm 51:5), we "are all under sin" (Romans 3:9), i.e. under it's power. So God can justly accuse us: "I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb" (Isaiah 48:8). Therefore, being "servants (bond-slaves) of sin" (Romans 6:20) and "sold under sin" (7:14), that means that all we can do is "add sin to sin" (Isaiah 30:1) before God. Refer to Romans 3:9-1.
Sin dictates to our whole being; it has effected every faculty in our constitution. Therefore, since "sin hath reigned unto death" (Romans 5:21) in our lives, we are "the servants", i.e. the bond-slaves, "of sin" (6:20). Consecuently, Genesis 6:5 tells us that when "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth", He saw "that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". The Lord Jesus Christ amplifies this when He says that "from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness" (Mark 7:21,22). That means that when we were without the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives, we "were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past (we) walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (that is, Satan; refer to Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 4:3,4; Colossians 1:13), that spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation (manner of living; behavior) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Now, the ONLY HOPE that you have to be saved from the power of sin, is the Lord Jesus Christ; for "if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). In other words, if you "be dead with Christ" (Romans 6:8), i.e. in union with Him by faith, you are "made free from sin" (v.22); therefore, "sin shall not have dominion over you" (v.14). This is true of the one who has been saved from the love of sin by REGENERATION and from the penalty of sin by JUSTIFICATION; and so is NOW saved, and being saved, from the power of sin by SANCTIFICATION. But it's important that you understand: At the moment that sinners repent toward God of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, that believer is 'set apart' from the world unto God, i.e. he/she "are sanctified by faith that is in (Christ)" (Acts 26:18); and so are 'saints', as all believers are called; "for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God" (Deuteronomy 7:6). Cp. 1 Peter 2:9. Also, keep in mind that here we are dealing with the process of SANCTIFICATION, i.e. being saved from the power of sin in our walk as Christians. As wonderful as the truth is that all the holy we can be is Christ Himself, "who of God is made unto us", not only "wisdom, and righteousness", but also "sanctification" (1 Corinthians 1:30); yet we are still responsible to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). We are told that we are to "follow...holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14); so therefore, "as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15,16). In fact, "this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3); "for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness" (v.7). To be more emphatic concerning this truth, consider that God "hath chosen us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him..." (Ephesians 1:4), which we are positionally and actually in Christ, but also endeavor to be so, by His grace and Spirit, in practice.
The PROOF that you have been saved, and are being saved, from the power of sin, is that you are NOW living a 'new life' in Christ Jesus; for "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness..." (Romans 6:22). It is not just a 'reformation of life', which even unbelievers can do, but a 'transformation of life', whereas before there was no interest for holiness, righteousness, godliness, purity of life, spiritual and heavenly things, now you delight in them; in "that (you) put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). Yes, "beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2,3).
IV. YOU NEED TO BE SAVED FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN.
Although this is still in the future, you need to know that only those that have been saved from the love of sin, that have been saved from the penalty of sin, and that have been saved from the power of sin, will be saved from the presence of sin. This is that "blessed hope" of those that are waiting for "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13); for "our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20,21); therefore, "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:4).
This is the end of "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24): To bring lost sinners to God so that they will spend eternity with Him in glory "to the praise of the glory of his grace" (Ephesians 1:6). This is called GLORIFICATION; and it is ONLY TRUE in the Lord Jesus Christ. That's why Paul said: "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may be also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2"10); "because God hath from the beginning chosen (them) to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called (them) by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2"13,14).
In the meantime, beloved, you will have to cry out with the apostle: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" i.e. from the presence of "sin that dwelleth in (us)". The victory cry is: "I thank my God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:24,17,25). Yes, HALLELUJAH!!!, on glorious day there will be no more sin in your life; and not only shall there be no more sin, but also "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away"; for "he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new"; and, beloved, you can believe this: "For these words are true and faithful" (Revelation 21:4,5). PRAISE THE GLORIOUS NAME OF OUR GOD IN CHRIST JESUS! AMEN!!!
Now, the PROOF that you will be saved from the presence of sin is that YOU have started a "newness of life" (Romans 6:4) in Christ Jesus by REGENERATION; that you "have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:1) by JUSTIFICATION; and that you are "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1) by SANCTIFICATION. This is what it means to be saved.
What must I 'do' to obtain this "so great salvation"? What must I 'do' of my part so that God will save me? The answer is simply: Nothing, absolutely nothing! You can not 'work' for it; you can not 'earn' it; for that matter, you can not even 'deserve' it! You have to utterly depend upon God to save you; for "salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9); or as the Psalmist says: "Salvation belongeth unto the LORD" (3:8). It's ONLY by the grace and mercy of God that YOU can be saved! "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); and furthermore he says in Titus 3:4,5 - "But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit".
The Lord Jesus Christ is the ONLY ONE who died for sinners on the Cross at Calvary; and so by "redemption through his blood", there is "the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Also, in that He rose bodily from the dead proves that His Blood and Righteousness is All-sufficient for your acceptance by God for all eternity. That's why "he is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him, seeing that ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). The Lord Jesus Himself said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). So apart from Him there is no salvation for anyone!!!
"What must I do to be saved?" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Come with "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (20:21). Cast yourself on Him to be your All-sufficient Savior, and YOU "shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation" (Isaiah 45:17). If this is now true of you, this means that are a 'disciple' of the Lord Jesus; that you are going to 'learn' from Him, and to 'follow' Him. Discipleship is not an option; for if you profess to be a Christian, that makes you a 'disciple of Christ'. Therefore, as you "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18), you'll grow in discipleship. This will take place as you "continue stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" for Christ's sake. Amen.