The Gospel Plan of Salvation: “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”

Evangelism

          “What must I do to be saved?” How would you answer that question? If you are engaged in a spiritual discussion with a close friend, and they ask this question, do you know what to say? This is the most important question any person could ever ask, but it is not a question that someone is going to ask out of the blue.
          When the question is asked in the New Testament, it is because people are motivated to ask. On the Day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, the apostles are speaking in languages they have never studied. Peter tells the crowd that they are witnessing the fulfillment of prophecy! Joel had foretold the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the wonders and signs and the coming salvation. Peter says, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel!” He then talked about Jesus, and how David pointed to Jesus, and how they had crucified Jesus. Peter declared, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” The Jews listening to Peter “were cut to the heart,” and they asked him the most important question ever: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
          Acts 9 tells of Saul of Tarsus, who was traveling to Damascus on a religious mission: he was going to identify followers of “the Way” and bring them bound back to Jerusalem. Along the way, something happened. A bright light from heaven caused him to fall to the ground, and he heard the voice of the Lord ask, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul realized that he had been on the wrong path and asked, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
          Saul of Tarsus became Paul the apostle, and is known for his evangelistic efforts among the Gentile world. Luke writes in Acts 16 about Paul and his teaching companion Silas getting arrested in Philippi. They were in the jail, singing and praying, when an earthquake hit. All the chains fell from all the prisoners, and they were free to go! When the jailer realized this, he drew his sword to take his own life. But Paul called out and prevented him, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” The jailer, trembling, asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
          Three very different situations, all leading someone to ask the most important question. What’s the answer?
          The answer is one that all Christians should memorize. We are commanded by the inspired apostle Peter, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Do you know the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

        1) Hear (Romans 10:17)
        2) Believe (Mark 16:16)
        3) Confess (Acts 8:37)
        4) Repent (Acts 3:19)
        5) Be Baptized (Acts 2:38)
        6) Be Faithful (Revelation 2:10)

          Many Scriptures can be used in place of the ones listed. You might see different wording, or some may put repentance before confession, but the answer is generally the same. Even if you do not memorize the text of each verse, at least memorize the reference so you can find it quickly. It is not our aim to share our opinions on the matter of salvation, but to point honest hearts to what the Scriptures reveal.

Discussion and Action

1. Will everyone respond in a positive way? What are some of the objections your religious friends may have to this answer?

2. Memorize the six steps of the gospel plan of salvation and where you can find Scriptures for each step.

3. Take an index card and write the names of three non-Christian friends. Include them in your daily prayers, and look for opportunities to turn your discussions with them to spiritual matters.

Love and Truth in Evangelism

          Jesus said in Mark 12:31 that one of the greatest commandments is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He said this is the “second” of the great commandments, the first being, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Jesus explained what it means to love Him in John 14:15, when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
          Would it not follow, then, that loving your neighbor would involve encouraging them—gently and tactfully—to obey God? Certainly, we must consider our words carefully, refusing to compromise while maintaining God’s loving message of grace and mercy.
          Paul encourages his readers to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). May we never forget there are two parts to the admonition: speak the truth, and speak in love. There are too many religious types that leave out one or the other. Some, full of what they believe is love, teach about God’s grace and mercy but ignore the need for obedience. Others are full of vitriol as they point out God’s disdain for sinful activities and lifestyles.
          The point of teaching the truth is to bring sinners to repentance, patiently presenting God’s will (2 Timothy 4:2). We must make them aware that their actions are not approved by God, whether it is covetousness, homosexuality, fornication, hatred, or any of the other sins exposed by inspiration (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21).
          We cannot force anyone to obey Him, but we can point them in the right direction. Our Lord said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). When that last day comes, not one soul that is alive today will have an excuse for disobedience and rebellion.
          Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). There is no other option but Christ.

The Purpose of Baptism

There are many opinions about baptism in the 21st century religious world. Most recognize that baptism is important but disagree on its place in God’s plan for saving man. Since it is an important topic, we would be wise to seek the counsel of God on baptism.

“For the remission of sins”

Acts 2:38, 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.”

According to this passage, Peter says that baptism is “for the remission of sins.” What does that phrase mean? In English, we recognize that “for” can have a few different meanings. It could mean that baptism is done with a view toward, or in order to accomplish the remission of sins. Another way to understand it is that baptism is done because of the remission of sins, or because remissions of sins was already accomplished. So which is it?

This is not the only passage in the Bible that uses the phrase, “for the remission of sins.” I am a firm believer in the idea that the Bible is its own best commentary, so let’s look at the other passage in which the phrase “for the remission of sins” is found.

While instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said about the cup, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Now, apply the above meanings to this passage. Was Jesus’ blood shed with a view toward, or in order to accomplish the remission of sins? Or was His blood shed because the remission of sins was already accomplished?

Obviously, the first view is correct. If remission of sins was accomplished before His blood was shed, then why was His blood shed? Just as Jesus’ blood was shed in order to accomplish the remission of sins, likewise we are baptized in order to accomplish the remission of sins.

Not baptism alone!

Let us pause for just a moment to clarify that the Bible does not teach salvation by baptism alone. The Scriptures are clear that one must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe (John 3:16), repent (Acts 2:38; 3:17), and confess his belief in Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37). All of these things work together with baptism to bring about God’s grace in a person’s life. It is neither faith alone (James 2:24) nor baptism alone (Mark 16:16) that saves, but an obedient, active faith.

“Wash away your sins”

When Jesus appeared before Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). For three days Saul fasted and prayed (Acts 9:9,11) until Ananias came and said, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

So follow the events: Saul believed, then started fasting and praying, and then Ananias said stop praying, be baptized, and wash away your sins. That’s a lot different than what many say today! Many teach that when you believe and say a prayer, you’re saved at that point, and then later you can be baptized if you want. But Ananias placed baptism before the washing away of sins!

Necessary or not?

The North American Mission Board, an organization of the Southern Baptist Convention, says, “While baptism is important, it is not necessary for salvation.” They argue against the clear statement of Mark 16:16, in which Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” NAMB argues, “Mark 16:16 is silent concerning whether the person who believes but is not baptized is saved or lost.”

Jesus is clear in His command. Why must man take His plain statement and twist it and make excuses and try to find loopholes? Jesus said believe, be baptized, be saved. Nothing is said about belief without baptism because there is no such thing; if one truly believes and understands, he will simply obey what Christ commands without looking for a way out.

Where do you stand?

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died so that your sins could be forgiven? Have you had your sins washed away by the saving blood of Christ? Have you been baptized for the remission of sins?

If you need assistance in obeying this simple command of the Lord, the only One who can save you from your sins, please contact your local church of Christ today.

Announcing the “Events” page

Gospel meetings. Lectureships. Seminars. Ladies’ Days. Youth Events. There are many things going on in the brotherhood, and sometimes it is difficult to keep up with everything. In an attempt to facilitate that to some degree, I have created a new page for “Events” (handlingaright.wordpress.com/events). This is meant to be a chronological listing of brotherhood happenings that are open to the public, such as gospel meetings and lectureships. You are welcome to suggest an event for the page here (handlingaright.wordpress.com/events-add).

I have started the page with a few events that I have seen advertised elsewhere, but will gladly update any of the information if it is incomplete or incorrect. I am sure the page will evolve over time if it is used, and I am open to any suggestions you might have.

Will this page be helpful? Only if it is used. Bookmark the “Events” page, tell others about it, and submit information for the brotherhood to see.

New links added

I have not updated this page in some time, and the “blogroll” has remained virtually unchanged since this blog debuted. I do intend to post more in the future when I finish some other projects I am have undertaken. However, I decided to add a few more sites to the “Links For Further Study” section to the right. Some of these sites I have been reading for many years, but did not initially come to mind when I started this blog. Others are new to me but contain a lot of useful information.

Disclaimer: Including a link does not indicate an endorsement of all that is posted on a particular site. Whenever you are reading the thoughts of uninspired man, even someone you trust, always verify the veracity of their studies with the Word of God.

The links just added are as follows:

Fervent in Spirit, Serving the Lord

          No matter what one’s role is in the church, he is expected to be zealous in performing the will of God in that role. In the words of James Burton Coffman, “A lazy Christian is a contradiction of terms. Having been saved from the guilt and ravages of sin, the Christian is man at the zenith of his best powers.”
          It is not possible for one who truly understands what God has done to be apathetic. Christianity is not a hobby; it is a way of life. The church is not a social club; it is a spiritual family.
          The elders are not overlords; they are shepherds who care for your soul. The deacons are not junior elders; they are servants who carry out specific works in the church. The preacher is not a performer; he is a student and messenger of God’s Word.
          Members are not spectators; they are essential parts of the body, and if the church is going to be healthy, every member must be just as fervent in spirit as the elders, deacons, and preacher as they serve the Lord!

Let This Mind Be In You: Confidence in the Power of God

Confidence in the Power of God

Matthew 17:22-23

I. CONFIDENCE OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES

    A. Jesus had confidence in the power of God to establish and sustain His church (Matthew 6:13; 24:35; 16:13-18)
    B. Jesus had confidence in the scheme of redemption (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23)
    C. Because of His confidence, the apostles developed a similar confidence (Acts 2:22-36)

II. CONFIDENCE OF DISCIPLES TODAY

    A. We can have confidence in what God has done (Romans 6:1-10)
    B. We can have confidence in what God will do (2 Corinthians 4:13-14)
    C. Humility is needed to acknowledge God’s power (Psalm 44:6-8; James 4:10; Philippians 4:13)

III. WHAT CONFIDENCE CAN DO FOR US

    A. We can approach His throne in prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 5:14-15)
    B. We can boldly proclaim His truth (Acts 4:29; Ephesians 6:13-20; Romans 1:16)

Are There Degrees of Reward and Punishment in Eternity?

Degrees of Reward and Punishment

Matthew 6:19-21

I. Degrees of Reward in Heaven

    A. All who remain faithful will receive an eternal reward (Revelation 2:7, 10; 3:5, 21; Philippians 3:12-14)
    B. We cannot earn entrance to heaven, but we will be rewarded for what we have done (Luke 19:12-26)
    C. The teacher is rewarded for the faithfulness of converts (1 Corinthians 3:5-15)
    D. Wayne Jackson: “The implication is plain – the more of our converts who endure and finally arrive in heaven, the greater our joy and reward will be.”

II. Degrees of Punishment in Hell

    A. “More tolerable for Tyre and Sidon” (Matthew 11:20-24)
    B. Guy N. Woods: “The greater the responsibility, the greater the guilt; the greater the guilt, the greater the punishment, in the day of final accounting.”
    C. “Of how much worse punishment” (Hebrews 10:24-29; 2:1-4)
    D. “The latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20)
    E. Many stripes vs. few stripes (Luke 12:41-48)

Let This Mind Be In You: Peace

Peace

Luke 2:8-14

I. PEACE WITH OUR FELLOW MAN

    A. We cannot control how another person acts, but we CAN control how we react (Romans 12:17-21)
    B. We cannot be apathetic about peace – PURSUE IT! (Romans 14:19; 2 Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:11)

II. PEACE WITH GOD

    A. There is a connection between faith and peace (Mark 5:24-34; Luke 7:36-50)
    B. Through Christ we can have peace not only with each other, but with God Himself (Ephesians 2:11-16)
    C. Does this mean our lives will be free from conflict when we obey the Lord? (Romans 5:1-4; Matthew 10:34-39; John 16:33)

III. WE SHOULD BE SPIRITUAL PEACEMAKERS

    A. Lead others into a peaceful relationship with the Almighty (Matthew 5:9; Ephesians 6:14-15)
    B. You know someone who needs the peace of Christ – what are you doing about it? (Romans 10:13-15; James 3:18)

Not Lagging in Diligence

          In Romans 12, Paul offers a number of short exhortations to his readers. The King James Version translates the first part of verse 11, “Not slothful in business.” The Christian should be diligent for his employer, but the context this verse has more to do with the business of the church.
          We sing a song, “I want to be a worker for the Lord.” Do we mean those words when we sing them? Do we truly want to “be busy every day in the vineyard of the Lord,” or are we just giving lip service?
          All disciples are to be actively engaged in the work of the Lord’s church. We should be busy making disciples (Matthew 28:19), encouraging each other (Hebrews 10:24-25), and helping the needy (Galatians 6:10; James 1:27).
          We do not always see the fruit of our labors, but we must not give up. If we are mocked or rejected or persecuted by those around us, we keep obeying God (1 Peter 2:19-20). The things we do in the name of the Lord are not done in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). May we never lag in diligence when it comes to the Lord’s work.

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)