God's Plan of Salvation
No greater question could be asked than, "What must I do to be saved?" However, addressing this question assumes that someone already believes in God and the Bible as His word to us. Without this foundation, appeals to God as the authority and the Bible for answers will be in vain. This foundation must be laid first. If you have questions concerning this foundation, please use the index of topics to the right and jump to the appropriate article.
"Who Knows the Answer?"
This great question generates opinions from everybody. But who knows the answer for sure? Does it matter what I think? What your pastor or preacher thinks? Does it matter what your parents think? Well, it depends on who you want to please. It also depends on who will judge us on the last day, Judgment Day. Since God will be our judge, we should then only consider His opinion and do our best to disregard human traditions. However, it is much easier to say that we will block pressure from those around us than it is to actually do it. Therefore, let us turn our attention to the pages of God's Word to find an answer for our question.
The book of Acts is found in the last half of the Bible, the New Testament, and in this book we find the most examples of people being converted, or saved. Let's look through these examples of conversion, and see if we can establish a pattern of how people were saved. If we can establish a pattern, then surely this will answer our question. Along the way, we might also run across other scriptures that will be helpful.
The Pattern Established
If you read through the book Acts, you will find the following, significant examples of people becoming converted:
- Beginning of Church: multitudes converted on Pentecost (2:14-47)
- Samaritan Village (8:4-25)
- The Ethiopian Eunuch (8:26-40)
- Saul: later became the apostle Paul (9:1-19)
- Cornelius: first Gentile convert (10:1-8,24-48)
- Lydia and her household (16:14-15)
- A jailer where Paul was imprisoned in Phillipi (16:25-34)
- Multitudes in Thessalonica and Berea (17:1-13)
- Crispus and his family (18:5-8)
- Some at Ephesus previously baptized in John's baptism (19:1-7)
- Paul retells his conversion (22:1-21; 26:1-32)
Although the above readings may be lengthy, they establish a definitive pattern of requirements for one to receive forgiveness of sins, or to be saved. These conditions have been summarized in the following table:
One observation that can be made is that the Bible often summarizes the conversion process with two, or sometimes, only one action. A single action, such as belief, is used to stand for the process as a whole. Notice the profound absence of statements regarding repentance and confession in the majority of the examples. Moreover, in the account of the Thessalonians' conversion, even "belief" is not mentioned, but just that they were "persuaded" and "joined Paul" (Acts 17:4). Yet, the necessity of these other steps is seen in the first example and the example of the Ethiopian Eunuch (see also Romans 10:9). Therefore, the composite pattern establishes a definite plan of salvation - God's plan of salvation: hear the gospel, believe, repent, confess our sins and Jesus as the Son of God, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. There is no other pattern in the New Testament of one being saved any other way.
Some may wonder if baptism is really necessary. Along this line, some may also wonder about the thief on the cross. If you are interested in these questions, we invite to you examine more Bible passages to help answer these questions. Also, this table only addresses the initial steps to being saved. Living the proper life afterwards is just as important because the Bible teaches that one may fall from grace if he or she becomes apathetic.
Now What? Pressing On...
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