What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Copyright 2003, David A. Duncan

First, it should be recognized that God wants all men to be saved.

(1 Tim 2:3-4) "... God our Saviour; {4} Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

By Grace, A Gift

It should also be noted that salvation is by the grace of God:

(Eph 2:8) "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"

... purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ

(Rom 5:9-10) "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. {10} For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."


However, if salvation were by "grace only", then all men would be saved, for God desires all men to be saved. It is by grace "through faith" (Eph. 2:8) -- faith is the part that man has.

God saves those whom he "justifies"

(Rom 5:9) "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."

and he "justifies" those who believe --

(Rom 3:26) "To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

The beginning of salvation must be faith or belief in Jesus as the son of God and the Savior of men through his sacrifice for our sins.

Obedient Faith

Salvation is not by "faith alone", but a saving faith is one that is obedient.

(James 2:14-24) "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? ... {17} Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. ... {24} Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

A saving faith is one that is obedient, and therefore produces good works -- not that man is saved by the works, but they are the natural by-product of obedient faith. The "grace of God" teaches us to do this:

(Titus 2:11-12) "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, {12} Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;"


When the first gospel sermon was preached on Pentecost and the people asked "what shall we do?" (essentially the same question as What Must I Do To Be Saved?"), Peter answered :

(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."

Repentance is essential. Jesus taught that failure to repent brings destruction:

(Mat 11:20-23) "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: {21} Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. {22} But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. {23} And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."


Other verses also teach us about the importance of confession:

(Rom 10:9-10) "That 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." {10} "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Jesus himself said:

(Mat 10:32-33) "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. {33} But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."


Baptism is a part of our salvation. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38), Peter answered "Repent, and be baptized", and that is what the apostles continued to teach. A comparison of all the examples of conversion in Acts will show that each were baptized. Acts 2:14-41, Acts 8:5-13, Acts 8:35-39, Acts 9:1-18, Acts 10:34-48, Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:25-34, Acts 18:18.

While many agree that those who were saved were baptized, many teach that they were baptized to show that they had already been saved. This contradicts the plain teaching in such passages as:

(1 Pet 3:21) "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"

The example of Paul, as he recounts his conversion experience, teaches that he was still in his sins, after believing, accepting Jesus, and praying (Acts 9:11) to God with fasting:

(Acts 22:16) "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

If, when baptized, you

  • put on Christ (Gal 3:27)
  • wash away sins (Acts 22:16)
  • have remission of sins (Acts 2:38)
  • are made free from sin (Rom 6:17-18)
  • benefit by Jesus' death (Rom 6:3-4)
  • enter the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13)

Then, What is Your Condition WITHOUT baptism?

Often the above is summarized as Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, & be Baptized. This is not a creed created by man, but simply a summarization of what God, through the scriptures teaches.

The Rest of the Story

These steps are the beginning of salvation, not the end. The Bible speaks of our salvation as past, present, and future.


(Ephesians 2:8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,


(1 Cor 1:18) "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (NKJV)


(Rom 13:11) "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed."
(Heb 9:28) "so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."
(1 Th 5:8-9) "But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. {9} For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

When a man falls off a ship into the water, a life-ring is thrown to him and he takes hold of it -- it can be said that he is saved, is being saved, and as the rope is drawn in he can say his salvation is nearer now than when he first laid hold of it.

Faithful endurance in obedience to God, will bring the desired end:

(Mat 10:22) ""And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved."

(1 Cor 15:2) "by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain."

(1 Tim 4:16) "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

-- David A. Duncan

See also the article on "Once Saved, Always Saved?"

One of the purposes of gathering together for worship is to encourage one another to endure. See the article on "Why Worship?"