What must we do to be saved?
People at Capernaum asked Jesus: What shall we do, that we may work
the works of God? (John 6:28). A lawyer asked Him: What shall I
do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 10:25). A rich young ruler asked Him:
What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:17). On
Pentecost the people asked: What shall we do? (Acts 2:37). The Philippian jailor
asked: What must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30).
What answers did these people receive from Jesus and His apostles?
A popular answer today, given by evangelicals, is: You do not have to
do anything! I found the following quotations on the Internet: (1) Salvation does
not depend on what you do or dont do; (2) Your salvation does
not depend on what you do.
Did Jesus teach that one does not have to do anything to be
Jesus said: Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the
kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in
heaven (Matthew 7:21). Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them,
I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on
the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew
and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was
founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and
does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his
house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the
winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was
its fall (Matthew 7:24-27).
Thus, to enter Gods kingdom we must do the will of the Father.
We must do what Jesus says.
Evangelicals contradict Jesus when they claim that salvation is not dependent on what
What answers were receive when people asked: What must I do?
At Capernaum people asked: What shall we do, that we may work the
works of God? (John 6:28). Jesus replied: This is the work of God,
that you believe in Him whom He sent (John 6:29).
The first thing one must do to be saved is to believe in
Christ. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life
Jesus then explains that believing or not-believing is related to what one does:
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For
everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light,
lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes
to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have
been done in God (John 3:19-21).
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Only through Christ can sinful man be saved: Nor is there salvation in
any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men
by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). For the grace of God
that brings salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11). Christ died for
all (2 Corinthians 5:15). He gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy
2:6). He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours
only but also for the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Through the sacrifice of his Son, God has made salvation available to everyone.
Whether one is saved or not depends on how one responds to Gods
offer of salvation.
The first reply to What must we do is Believe in Him whom
He sent (John 6:29).
This faith must be confessed. Jesus said: Whoever confesses Me before men, him
I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever
denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who
is in heaven (Matthew 10:32, 33).
And the lawyer then, what answer did he get when he asked Jesus:
What shall I do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 10:25). When Jesus asked
him to answer his own question, he said: You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your
strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27).
Jesus then said: You have answered rightly; do this and you will live
(Luke 10:28). When the lawyer tried to excuse himself by asking, And who
is my neighbor?, Jesus gave the example of the Good Samaritan and said,
Go and do likewise (Luke 10:29-37).
What must we do to inherit eternal life? Faith is the first requirement,
but faith without love is worthless: Though I have all faith, so that
I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians
What did Jesus reply to the rich young ruler when he asked, What
shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:17).
First He said: If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments
(Matthew 19:17). To be saved, we must keep Gods commandments. This was true
under the Old Covenant, and this is true under the New Covenant.
Jesus said: If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). He who
has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And
he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will
love him and manifest Myself to him (John 14:21). If you keep My
commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My
Fathers commandments and abide in His love (John 15:10).
But keeping commandments is not enough. When the rich young ruler told Jesus
he had kept the commandments, Jesus replied: You still lack one thing. Sell
all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me (Luke 18:22).
Although he kept the ten commandments, he lacked something. He had to repent
and follow Jesus. Without repentance, no one can be saved.
Referring to people who had died because of their sins, Jesus said: Do
you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because
they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you
will all likewise perish (Luke 13:2, 3). And referring to others who had
died in an accident, He said: Do you think that they were worse
sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no;
but unless you repent you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:4, 5).
To be saved we must discard everything that separates us from God, and
follow Christ. Jesus says: If anyone desires to come after Me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).
Is there something else that one must do? After Jesus died and rose,
He told His followers: Go into all the world and preach the gospel
to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but
he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15, 16).
In addition to faith, confession and repentance, one must also be baptized to
be saved. That is what Jesus says.
Paul clarifies that baptism itself is a gift of Gods grace through which
He gives us salvation. But when the kindness and the 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, through the washing of
regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us
abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace
we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).
Through what does God save us? Through the washing of regeneration.
There is something wrong with the faith of those who teach: Your salvation
does not depend on what you do or dont do. They reject Gods
gift of saving grace in baptism. They are unbelievers in the sense that
they do not believe what Jesus says about salvation. They claim one can
be saved by faith only, whereas Jesus says, He who believes and is
baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16). Nor do they believe the Holy Spirit
speaking through James: Faith without works is dead (James 2:20); You see then
that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only (James
2:24). People who believe in salvation by faith only do not have a
The apostles preached the same gospel Jesus preached.
When the Philippian jailor asked, What must I do to be saved? (Acts
16:30), he was told: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will
be saved, you and your household. Then 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. Now when he had brought
them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having
believed in God with all his household (Acts 15:31-34).
Paul wrote: With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10).
And what was Peters reply on the Day of Pentecost when the people
asked, What shall we do? (Acts 2:37). 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 (Acts 2:38).
When the apostles were asked: What must we do to be saved? their
reply was the same as that of Jesus. To be saved people must
believe in Jesus, confess their faith, repent and be baptized for the remission
of sins. To follow Christ they must deny themselves and learn to observe
all things that He has commanded them (Matthew 28:20).
God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on
the cross to suffer the penalty for your sins. He offers you salvation
as a free gift of His grace. Whether you are saved or not
depends on your response. You can be saved if you believe in Christ,
confess His name, repent of your sins and are baptized. This is the
good news preached by Jesus and His apostles.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers. Permission for reference use has been granted.