What Must I Do To Be Saved

Acts 16:25-31
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, "Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!"

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."

Believe in the Lord Jesus... is that it?

Yes... but it isn't what you may think. Your belief in Christ is more than an intellectual acknowledgement. You must repent. Repentance is part of believing. Repentence means "to turn" or "to change your mind". In the biblical sense, it means to turn away from sin and towards God.

If you examine your life carefully, you will probably be able to identify some big things in it that you do that you know are wrong. This could include watching pornography, taking drugs, lying and cheating, stealing (and this include claiming benefits that you are not entitled to, and downloading music, or streaming pirated movies and sports).

To repent means you make a real effort to turn away from those things and do what God wants you to do. However, be wary of justifying your sin. The devil will try and get you to think it is not a big deal. "Everyone else does it" is a typical justification for sin. Some people even seek out churches or teachings that twist what the Bible says to legitimise their sin.

A good example of this is the issue of homosexuality. This isn't the only issue, but is perhaps the one that is most prevalent in our world today. Some churches and people today teach that it is okay to engage in homosexuality. The Bible is crystal clear on this. Homosexuality is sin. If you prefer to believe a lie because it suits you and your lifestyle rather than believe in what God has said, then you will be on very shaky ground when it comes to salvation. You may not be saved if you do this! This applies to everything, from drug and alcohol abuse to adultery and witchcraft and beyond. See the following warnings from the Bible.

2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Acts 20:28-30
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

Repentance is often left out of the gospel message with a focus on just believing in Jesus Christ and saying a prayer. It is also often misunderstood. Without genuine repentance, you can not be saved.

Acts 3:19
Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away.

DO NOT BE DECEIVED! You can’t “believe” in Jesus and continue to wilfully sin against God. People who profess to be Christian, but live sinful lives will go to hell. Jesus confirms this, as shown below..

Matthew 7:21-23
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

So do Jesus and the Bible contradict? Afterall, the Bible says "believe", but Jesus sends away people who obviously "believe" in Him. The answer is No! If you read Jesus' words above again, you can clearly see the reason why Jesus sends these people away to destruction. He calls them "evildoers". In other translations, it says "workers of iniquity", or "you who practice lawlessness". In other words, "you who sin"!

The Bible equates disobedience with unbelief. In other words, if you say you believe, but are disobedient, then you show that while you say you believe, you do not truly believe. Your obedience is the evidence of your belief. It is the fruit of your faith. An important thing to note here is that your obedience does not save you. You are still saved by grace. Your obedience merely shows that you do truly believe and belong to Christ.

You may feel regret and are genuinely sorry that you have sinned. You may even pray tearfully toward God and feel deep shame at the things you have done. Despite all this, you may still be unrepentant. The Bible explains it like so...

Hebrews 4:1-2
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

Repentance is not an emotion, it is a decision. It is what you do that counts. A decision to obey God. To no longer choose your own way, but God’s way. To choose light over darkness, right over wrong, even if it costs you money, time, friends or pleasure.

Doing what is good or right can never save us. Salvation is by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Good “fruit” (works) come after salvation, not before it. Many today profess to be Christian, and say they follow Jesus, yet they live in wilful sin.

Whatever the sin, rather than hating it, if you make excuses and continue to do it and gratify the flesh, only serving yourself and not God, then it is likely that you are not saved. Jesus made it clear that many will try to enter heaven but will not be able to...

Luke 13:24
Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

If simply believing in Jesus Christ was all there is to it, then those who tried to enter would be able to. The reason they can’t is because Jesus is not their Lord; sin is. People love sin more than God. If you have ever tried to stop sinning then you will know that it is impossible.

Thankfully, there is hope in Christ Jesus. You do not need to attain such an impossible standard, but you must REPENT. You must turn away from your sins and submit yourself to the will of God. This means putting God first and making Jesus Christ your Lord. But how?

Find some time and space to think about your own personal sins and about what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross. Then come before God in prayer and confess your sins. The first prayer can be the most difficult. If you don’t know what to say, then the prayer below may help... if you agree with it

Father, I come before you with fear and reverence, knowing that you are the most high and holy God. Yet, I also know that you are a loving and a merciful God. For I believe you sent your only son, Jesus Christ, in to this world. And that He was born in the flesh, perfect in every way, without blemish, and having never sinned.

And that He paid the penalty for my sins through His blood; by His death on the cross. I also believe that He was raised from death on the third day. Father, I confess that I am a sinner. My sins are great and too numerous for me to recall.

Yet I know that you have a perfect record of all my sins. Forgive me Father, for I am sorry and I repent of my sins. I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Lord Jesus, please baptise me with your Holy Spirit. Lord, teach me your ways, so that I may know you, obey you, and serve you with all my heart.

Father, I ask in the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Something also to know is that we can not repent of ourselves. Even repentance is granted to us by God.

2 Timothy 2:25
...if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

So if you are having difficulty in repenting, then cry out to God. Bang on the doors of heaven and ask Him to grant you repentance. Will God not grant it to those who earnestly seek Him? The fact you are reading this may indicate that you are already there. Press in my friend, and "produce works, in keeping with repentance".

Get a copy of the Bible and start reading it. Pray to God every day, and find a good Bible based church in which you can learn and grow in your faith.

May the Lord grant you repentance and show you His salvation!

Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.