A Gift is Still a Gift by Bryan Gibson
Baptism is an Urgent Matter by Bryan Gibson
Blind Man Healed; Did He Earn His Sight? by Bryan Gibson
Conversions in the Book of Acts by Bryan Gibson
Do All "Good People" Go To Heaven? by Bryan Gibson
Forgiveness-What a Wonderful Blessing by Bryan Gibson
God's Plan for Man by Dave Brown
Have You Asked Jesus to Come into Your Heart? by Bryan Gibson
If You Are Still in Your Sins ... by Bryan Gibson
Obey the Gospel by Dave Brown
"What Must I Do To Be Saved?" by Bryan Gibson
Why You Should be a Christian by Bryan Gibson adapted from article by Jim Saser
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A Gift Is Still a Gift
by Bryan Gibson
[Editor’s note; as you review the various articles below regarding faith and works, please ask yourself: “Why are some so anxious to make obedience to God a sin?” Do they not have any true scriptural basis for their false doctrines? And thus, is all they can do to justify their false doctrines is to claim that those who contend for nothing other than obedience to the Lord are practicing a works-based plan of salvation? We know what we believe is not works-based, because we know there is nothing that we (or anyone) can do to earn our salvation. But this does not excuse us from doing our best to show our appreciation for God’s free gift by serving Him with all of our hearts.]
The New Testament teaches that baptism is essential for salvation, that one must be baptized in order to be saved (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). Those who believe otherwise will sometimes make this argument: “If one must be baptized to be saved, then salvation is no longer a gift” (Ephesians 2:8). What we want to show in this article is that a gift is still a gift, even when conditions are given for receiving that gift.
The city of Jericho was a gift from God to the Israelites (Joshua 6:2, 16), but there were certain instructions they had to obey to receive this gift—marching around the city a certain number of times, blowing the horns, shouting, etc. (Joshua 6:3-5). The Israelites obeyed God and He gave them the city, not because they earned it, but because they demonstrated their absolute faith in Him (Hebrews 11:30—note the emphasis on faith). Suppose the children of Israel had failed to obey God. Would God have given them the city? Obviously, the answer is no.
In 2 Kings 5, it tells of a man named Naaman who was healed of his leprosy. His healing was clearly a gift from God. In reading the story, though, we see that Naaman had to follow certain instructions to be healed. He had to dip seven times in the Jordan River before he could receive this gift from God, and after some persuasion, that’s exactly what he did. Would anyone look at this event and say, “Look what Naaman did. He healed himself”? Clearly, his healing was still a gift from God—what Naaman did in no way robbed God of his glory.
The New Testament establishes the same principle. Notice the promise given in Acts 2:38: “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.” As you can see, a gift is promised, the gift of the Holy Spirit, but only to those who would repent and be baptized. They had to do certain things to receive this gift from God.
Notice further the following verses from the Book of Revelation: “To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life…” (2:7). “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10). “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat” (2:17). “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (2:26). In all of these verses the Lord speaks of giving certain things to His people, but in each instance, conditions were attached. Was Jesus teaching a works-based plan of salvation in establishing these conditions?
So we should not be surprised at all when the Lord teaches us that there are certain things we must do to receive the gift of salvation. The New Testament teaches that we must first believe in Jesus as the Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10). If we believe with all our heart, we will repent of our sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19); confess our faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 8:37); and be baptized in water (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12-13; Acts 8:37-39; Acts 10:47-48; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Peter 3:21). When Naaman obeyed, God cleansed him of his leprosy; when you obey, God will cleanse you of your sins. What a wonderful GIFT!
[To call our part of salvation “works” is absurd. Suppose someone gave you an inheritance check for $1 million. Would you claim that you earned it because you had to sign your name on the back of the check and take it to the bank? God’s requirements on us are about as easy as signing a check and salvation is worth infinitely more than $1 million. Let us be reasonable. For another article on what the Bible means when it says "We Cannot be Saved by Works," click here.]
Baptism Is an Urgent Matter
by Bryan Gibson
Many people, understanding neither the purpose nor the importance of baptism, put it off. Some, thinking that they have already been saved, wait until the next “baptismal service.” That baptism is an urgent matter can be seen from several examples in the Book of Acts. What conditions have changed that this same sense of urgency should not exist with us today?
When the people in Acts 2 wanted to know what to do to be saved, Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ...” (Acts 2:38). Those who “gladly received his word” did not wait or question if baptism was a work. They were baptized “that same day” (Acts 2:41).
Read carefully what is said of the people of Samaria: “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). There was no delay. When they believed, they were baptized.
The Ethiopian treasurer in Acts 8, upon learning the truth, was very anxious to be baptized. He said to Philip, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). After the treasurer confessed his faith in Jesus, “both Philip and the Eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38).
When Ananias was sent by the Lord to tell Saul what he “must do,” Ananias said to him, “Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). Saul didn’t hesitate. “He arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).
After Paul and Silas preached the gospel to the Philippian jailer and his family (Acts 16:32), the very next verse says, “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33).
Why were all these people baptized right away? It’s really very simple. They had to be baptized to have their sins forgiven, or washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16)—even though they had already confessed their faith in Jesus and repented of their sins. They could not be saved until they were baptized (1 Peter 3:21).
Do you need to be baptized for the remission of your sins? Please don’t wait. Do it immediately; do it today. What basis do we have for ignoring all of the examples given above and establishing our own rules for when baptisms are to take place?
Do you want more scriptural details on baptism? Click here for a comprehensive review of the passages in the New Testament that related to baptism.
Blind Man Healed; Did He Earn His Sight?
by Bryan Gibson
Here’s how the story goes, as recorded in John 9: “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (vv. 1-7).
According to the reasoning of some, this man earned his sight. He healed himself, simply because He did something in order to be healed. He went to the pool of Siloam and washed the clay off of his eyes. So, would he not believe that he had healed himself? Of course, that’s not the way the blind man saw it! In his discussions with the unbelieving Pharisees, this is what he said: “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!” (v. 30). This man gave all the glory to Jesus; he knew that it was by God’s power that he had been healed, and that it was a free gift to him. Keep in mind what Jesus had said to his disciples earlier: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (v. 3). Yes, this man had to do something, but his healing was still completely the work of God. Neither the healed man nor anyone who witnessed the event even considered that the man had earned his sight.
Now, let’s think about how this relates to salvation, to baptism in particular. Jesus plainly taught that one must be baptized in order to be saved (Mark 16:16). His apostles preached the same thing (Acts 2:38). Ananias told Saul to “go wash”—to “arise and be baptized and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). Despite these plain instructions, some object to the necessity of baptism, because according to them, if a person has to be baptized to be saved, he is earning his salvation—in effect, saving himself. Think about the blind man again. He had to do something, but he didn’t earn his sight, and he certainly didn’t heal himself. Yes, a person does have to be baptized to have his sins forgiven, but he is still saved by Jesus. It is without question the work of God (please read Colossians 2:11-12). An individual can believe, repent, confess his faith, and be baptized, but only God can forgive; only God can make alive (please read Ephesians 2:4-6). This writer has witnessed many people being baptized into Christ, but he has yet to hear someone say, after coming up from the water, “Look what I did!”
[We add here that if a person should think that he saved himself by his own works, that would nullify his salvation. But the same thing is equally true of faith-only. If you are proud of your faith because it is faith-only, you are as guilty of working for your salvation as anyone else has ever been. Let us all humble ourselves and recognize how insignificant are our parts of what God has required in comparison to the shed blood of Jesus on the cross for us.]
Click here for the article “Not Saved by Works”
Conversions in the Book of Acts
by Bryan Gibson
[This outline is an excellent start in your study of the conversions. Click here for links to individual articles on most of these conversions.]
Most of you, no doubt, have heard teaching on the subject of conversion, but have you ever really studied it for yourself? The outline that follows is intended to aid you in your study. Examples of conversion from the Book of Acts are given, along with a few key verses from each passage. Study these carefully, noting that while some examples give only a summary of what happened, others provide more specific details. Don’t be satisfied with what you know right now, or what you think you know—study diligently.
1. Jews on the Day of Pentecost—Acts 2:14-41.
- “Know assuredly (believe--BG) that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v. 36).
- “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (v. 38).
- “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized” (v. 41).
2. More Jews in Jerusalem—Acts 3:1-4:4.
- “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (3:19).
- “...God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (3:26).
- “Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand” (4:4).
3. Still more Jews in Jerusalem—Acts 5:14.
- “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord…” (v. 14).
- This happened, despite the recent punishment of Ananias and Sapphira.
4. Priests, among others—Acts 6:1-7.
- “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying…” (v. 1).
- “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (v. 7).
5. People of Samaria, including Simon—Acts 8:5-13.
- “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. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip…” (vv. 12-13).
6. Ethiopian eunuch (treasurer)—Acts 8:26-40.
- Philip “preached Jesus to him” (v. 35).
- When they came to some water, the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (v. 36).
- Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (v. 37).
- “Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” (v. 38).
- The eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (v. 39).
7. Saul—Acts 9, 22, 26.
- Saul came to believe in Jesus on the road to Damascus, after the light shone around him and the Lord spoke to him (9:1-6; 22:1-10).
- He immediately showed signs of repentance by asking, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (9:6).
- “And now, why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (22:16).
- “And he arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).
8. People of Lydda and Sharon—Acts 9:32-35.
- “So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (v. 35).
9. People of Joppa—Acts 9:36-43.
- “And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord” (Acts 9:42).
10. Cornelius, and his household—Acts 10:1-11:18.
- “Send men to Joppa and call for...Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” (11:13-14).
- “Whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (10:43).
- “Then God has also granted the Gentiles repentance to life” (11:18).
- “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? (10:47).
- “He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (10:48).
11. Gentiles in Antioch of Syria—Acts 11:19-24.
- “A great number believed and turned to the Lord” (v. 21).
- “A great many people were added to the Lord” (v. 24).
12. Sergius Paulus—Acts 13:6-12.
- “This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God” (v. 7).
- “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord” (v. 12).
13. Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia—Acts 13:42-52.
- “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (v. 48).
14. Jews and Gentiles in Iconium—Acts 14:1.
- “…and so spoke that a great multitude of the Jews and of the Greeks believed” (v. 1).
15. People in Derbe—Acts 14:20-21.
- “And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples…”
16. Lydia and her household—Acts 16:11-15.
- “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (v. 14).
- “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay’” (v. 15).
17. Philippian Jailer and his household—Acts 16:25-34.
- He asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 30).
- “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (v. 31).
- “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house” (v. 32).
- “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (v. 33).
- 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” (v. 34).
18. Jews and Gentiles in Thessalonica—Acts 17:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; 2:13.
- “Paul...reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (v. 2).
- “And some of them (Jews) were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas” (v. 4).
- “They turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
- “...when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God...” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
19. Jews and Gentiles in Berea (Acts 17:10-12).
- “…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (v. 11).
- “Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (v. 12).
20. Gentiles in Athens—Acts 17:22-34.
- “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (v. 30).
- “Some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (v. 34).
21. Crispus and other Corinthians—Acts 18:1-8.
- “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (v. 8).
22. Twelve men in Ephesus—Acts 19:1-7.
- These men were described as “disciples,” but had only been baptized into John’s baptism.
- “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (v. 6).
Do All “Good People” Go To Heaven?
by Bryan Gibson
The Bible tells us about a man named Cornelius who feared God, was devout and just, gave money to the poor, prayed to God always, and had a good reputation in his community (Acts 10:1-2, 22). Surely this man was on his way to heaven. Right? Wrong! Cornelius was a good man—a very good man—but he was not a Christian. Despite the good this man had done, he was not saved, and he knew it (Acts 11:13-14).
Thankfully, there is more to the story. The apostle Peter was sent to the home of Cornelius to tell him what he “must do” to be saved (Acts 10:6; 11:13-14). Cornelius was eager to hear these words; he even called together his friends and relatives so they too could hear (Acts 10:24). When Peter arrived, he preached Jesus to them, showing clearly that He was their Lord, their Judge, and their Savior (Acts 10:34-43). The intent was clear—to persuade these Gentiles to believe in and follow Jesus.
What did Peter then tell them they had to do to be saved? “He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48)—the purpose of which is clearly stated in other passages: “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); to “wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16); to be “saved” (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21); to enter “into Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:3); to “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). In other words, Cornelius and the others were not saved until they obeyed this commandment to be baptized. They did not put on Christ—become a Christian—until they were baptized into Christ.
What became of Cornelius after this? We really don’t know, but we do know what he was supposed to do. He was now a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, and needed to do what others were urged to do: “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6); “abide in My word” (John 8:31); “keep My commandments” (John 15:10); “continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23); “continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22; Colossians 1:23); “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4); “be faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10); “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4).
What about you? Are you hoping to go to heaven, simply because you are a “good person”? Cornelius was a “good person,” but he was still not right with the Lord. He had to be baptized into Christ, and then live faithfully for Christ. Will you do the same?
Forgiveness—What A Wonderful Blessing
by Bryan Gibson
“If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalms 130:3). The answer is implied in the question—no one. But look at the next verse, “But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” Isn’t that great news? God forgives! To better appreciate this blessing, consider the following:
God delights in forgiving sins. “He does not retain his anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He again will have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities” (Micah 7:18-19). Let’s not get the wrong impression. God does not delight in sin. We do not make Him happy when we violate His law, in fact, we do just the opposite—we provoke Him to wrath (Romans 1:18). But what does make Him happy is when we come to Him seeking forgiveness. That is the very point illustrated by the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The Father was waiting with open arms for his penitent son.
God forgives abundantly. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). God does not measure out forgiveness with a teaspoon. No matter how many sins we’ve committed, no matter how serious they may be, God will forgive. Further assurance is given in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s why we sing about the “grace that is greater than all our sin.” We understand that there is “power in the blood”—power enough to cleanse us from all our sins (1 John 1:7).
God forgives permanently. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). We may have trouble forgiving and forgetting, but God doesn’t. When He forgives sin, He doesn’t bring it back up, demanding that we answer for it again. It’s gone, forgotten, “blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Think of the magic slates we used to write on as children. Remember what would happen when we lifted the sheet up. Everything we had written was erased. That’s what God does with our sins.
However, and this is important—forgiveness is conditional! Read again Isaiah 55:7—“let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts”—only in doing that could one receive forgiveness. We need to clearly understand the conditions of forgiveness found in the New Testament. For those who have never come to Christ, who have never obeyed the gospel, the instructions are clear: one must believe in Him (Mark 16:16), repent of his sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19), confess his faith in Him (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 8:37), and be baptized in water for the remission of his sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). One who is in Christ and sins against the Lord must confess his sins (1 John 1:9), and repent of them (Acts 8:18-24). Meet these conditions and God will not only forgive you, but will delight in doing so. He will forgive you of all your sins, and He will remember them no more. Why are you waiting? Seek His forgiveness now—this could very well be your last chance.
God’s Plan For Man
By Dave Brown
There is nothing more important to learn from the pages of God’s word than His plan for man, the plan of salvation. It should be the very first thing that a bible student looks for. The thread of this plan unites old and new testaments, providing a unified view of God from the creation to the end times pictured in the closing chapters of the book of Revelation. God never intended for man to sin, but His creation of mankind with free will necessitated that possibility. We do not know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before they sinned. But we do know that when this catastrophic event occurred, it changed the very nature of the universe (Romans 8:20f). But God had a plan even for this eventuality (Genesis 3:15). This plan survived the flood in Noah’s time, and eventually was manifested in the faith of Abraham and in the promises that God gave him, the most significant being that “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). This blessing was received in Christ (Galatians 3:16).
Today we can participate in this blessing if we demonstrate the same faith that Abraham had, a faith that is clearly defined in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. This is not a dead faith, without works (James 2:14f), but a living faith that actively seeks after God (Hebrews 11:6): “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Seeking after God requires us to ask the same thing as those on Pentecost who crucified our Lord (Acts 2:38): “What must I do to be saved.” Many today would answer: “nothing,” or “accept Jesus” or “just believe.” These quick pat answers do not show a seeking after God, but the desire for a quick fix, and one that is easy for false teachers to sell. But the salvation described in the New Testament requires us to “obey the gospel” (2 Thessalonians. 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17), and to be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). Do not be deceived by clever words.
Have You Asked Jesus to Come into Your Heart?
by Bryan Gibson
Today, when the question is asked, “What must I do to be saved?” one popular reply is, “Ask Jesus to come into your heart.” It could be that someone reading this article was told those very words, or at least something very similar.
Before we deal specifically with that teaching, we want to make one thing perfectly clear. One who desires to have Jesus in his heart should be commended—that desire is right and good. Look at the promise Jesus made in John 14:23: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” At least three different passages speak of Christ being “in you” (Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 1:27). Ephesians 3:17 is even more specific: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). So on this matter there can be no dispute. Jesus wants to dwell in our hearts, and we should want Him to be there.
But, as right as this desire may be, “Ask Jesus to come into your heart” is NOT the correct answer to the question, “what must I do to be saved?” We know this because this same question was asked a couple of times in the New Testament, and that is NOT what they were told to do. Let’s look closer to see exactly what they were told to do.
In Acts 16:30 a man asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Their reply? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). But that’s not all they said—look at the next verse. “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house” (Acts 16:32). The details of this sermon are not provided, but the response to it is recorded: “And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33). We can safely infer that they were told to be baptized, because that’s what they did immediately following the sermon, and they would have no way to otherwise know about it.
The question is also asked in Acts 2:37, this time by a group of people: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They had actually been told to do something in the previous verse: “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” This was essentially the same thing Paul and Silas said in Acts 16:31—“believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” But again, that is not all they were told to do. Look at verse 38: “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.” The response was overwhelming—“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41).
So to the question—what must I do to be saved—what is the correct and only Biblical answer? Let’s put together what we learned from the passages above. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31; Acts 2:36). Repent of your sins (Acts 2:38). Confess your faith in Jesus (not mentioned specifically in the passages above, but this is clearly what people did to express their faith before being baptized—see Romans 10:8-10; Acts 8:37). Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; Acts 16:33). If you truly want Jesus to dwell in your heart, then you will obey these commandments, and you have His promise that He will do just that.
If You Are Still in Your Sins…
by Bryan Gibson
This article is especially for those who have not yet obeyed the gospel (Romans 10:16)—those who have not followed the Lord’s plan in becoming a Christian. If you are still in your sins, God wants you to understand these basic facts.
Your situation is desperate; in fact, it would be impossible to exaggerate the seriousness of it. Here’s what God has in store for you—if you remain in this condition: “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (Romans 2:5, 8-9). According to Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death,” a death (separation from God) which can become eternal if you remain in this condition (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Without Christ, you have “no hope” and are “without God” (Ephesians 2:12). If you remain in your sins, God will cast your soul into hell. Hell is described in various passages as “outer darkness”; “everlasting fire”; “everlasting destruction”; a place where there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” How would you like to hear these words in the end? “Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). You will—if you remain in your sins.
Now, here’s some good news (which is the meaning of the word gospel). There is a way out. You don’t have to experience these terrible things. You deserve to be punished for your sins, but when Jesus went to the cross, He bore your sins and took the punishment you deserved. He loved you too much to let you die in your sins, so He offered Himself in your place. Please take the time to read the following passages, all of which speak of what Jesus did for you: Isaiah 53:3-6; Matthew 26:28; Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 20-21; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 2:20.
You now know what Jesus did for you—is there anything you need to do for Him? God is offering you salvation through Jesus Christ, but there are things you must do to receive this salvation. Upon hearing the gospel, you must come to believe in Jesus, that He is God’s Son and your Savior (see Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12-13; Acts 16:30-31; Rom. 10:9-10). You must also repent of your sins (see Acts 2:37-38; Acts 3:19; Acts 26:19-20). Simply put, this means that you must turn from your sins and determine to follow Jesus. Why wouldn’t you, when you know where your sins are taking you? Before you can become a Christian, you must also make a confession of your faith (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37), something you will continue to do, both by your words and your actions (Matthew 10:32-33) for the rest of your life. And then you must be baptized, not because you have been saved, but in order to be saved (see Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 8:12-13; 8:37-39; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; 1 Pet. 3:21). Baptism is where you join or unite with Christ (Romans 6:5); it is where you put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). Now that you have turned to the Lord, you must continue with Him (Acts 11:23).
When should you do this? There is no time like the present. According to God, TODAY is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), because there is no guarantee of tomorrow. You don’t know when the Lord might return (1 Thessalonians 5:2), and you have no idea how much longer you may live. When this life is over, you will either go to be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), or with the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Which will it be for you? Will you obey the Lord today?
Obey the Gospel
By Dave Brown
We hesitate to summarize God’s plan in such a short space, lest we give the impression that a person can just press some buttons and manipulate God. It does not work that way. The steps that God requires produce a profound transformation of the nature of the believer who will ultimately become a “living sacrifice” to the Lord (Rom. 12:1).
It is impossible to come to God without hearing the truth, and the hearing of God’s word is the drawing power of God (Jn. 6:44-46), and faith comes by the hearing of the word (Rom. 10:17).
Once one hears God’s word, that truth must be accepted and believed (John 3:16). This will immediately produce a change in one’s life. It is impossible to hear (really, listen to) God’s word and not be convicted of one’s sins (e.g., Acts 2:37).
This sorrow for one’s sins and the strong desire to be free of them is the beginning of repentance. Hear Peter respond to the question of “What must we do?” with the first word “Repent...” (Acts 2:38). Repentance is likened by Paul to the crucifixion of the old man (Romans 6:6): “...that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
The vacuum left with what repentance takes out of our lives can only be restored by a life of confession of Christ (Rom. 10:9). Confession is not a one-time obligation, but evidence of a changed life. The willingness to confess that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is essential to our reconciliation with God (Matt. 10:32; Acts 8:37).
Those who had satisfied these conditions were commanded to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 8:12; 8:38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15; 16:33; 18:8; 22:16). That this was a command of the apostles in the first century is not arguable. Consider Acts 2:41: “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Then ask yourself: what should you do when you “receive his word?” Consider: Rom 6:3: “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” How does one get into Christ?
Baptism is the only command of God that we do only once. Being “faithful until death” (Rev. 2:10) includes continuing to hear, believe, repent and confess Christ for the rest of our lives.
“What Must I Do To Be Saved?”
by Bryan Gibson
Of all the questions we might ask, this is the most important one. What could possibly be more important than the salvation of our soul? Jesus said, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). A good job, a nice home, a nice car, a good education—these all have a place, but if you have all these and lose your soul, you’ve got nothing.
But to whom should this important question be directed? Should we look to God for an answer, or to men? Obviously, a question of this magnitude must be directed to God. We must let God answer this question, because we know He is the One who determines who is saved and who is lost. Here is God’s answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Read it carefully.
Upon hearing the gospel, you must believe. You must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that because He died for your sins, He and He alone can save you from your sins. There is simply no way you can be saved without first believing in the Savior (Mark 16:16; John 8:24; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:36-37; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10).
You must repent of your sins, or turn away from them. If you truly believe that Jesus died for your sins, then you should not want to live in them any longer. Repentance is a decision, a decision to turn away from sin and live for the One who died for you (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
You must confess your faith in Jesus (Acts 8:36-37; Romans 10:9-10).
You must then be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ. Sprinkling or pouring will not do. You must be buried or immersed in water. When you do this, your sins will be forgiven, washed away by the blood of Christ. You will now be “in Christ”—a Christian (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12; 8:35-39; 16:30-34; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Peter 3:21).
Now that you’re a Christian, you must continue to live faithfully for Christ (Acts 2:38-42; 11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Revelation 2:10).
That is God’s answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Is that what you’ve been told in the past? Some of our readers may have been given a different answer. You may have been told that all you had to do was believe. You may have been told to ask Jesus to come into your heart. You may have been told to pray the sinner’s prayer. Please understand, you cannot be saved by obeying man’s plan; you can only be saved by obeying God’s plan. If we can help you in any way to obey God’s plan, please let us know.
Why You Should be a Christian
by Bryan Gibson adapted from an article by Jim Sasser
There is no way we could exhaust the many reasons for being Christian, even if we tried. But in the following article, we would like to discuss five good reasons for being a Christian.
One should be a Christian, for only in Christ can one be saved.
2 Timothy 2:10 speaks of the “salvation which is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24 assures us that redemption can only be found “in Christ.” Eternal life, according to Romans 6:23, is found only in “Christ Jesus our Lord.” Galatians 3:27 teaches plainly that one enters into Christ through baptism. This is exactly what you must do, because the blessings described above are only for those in Christ.
One should be a Christian in order to obtain a right relationship with God.
As long as we remain outside of Christ, we are “without God” (Ephesians 2:12). We are cut off from Him; we have no relationship with Him. But when we enter into Christ, we become the children of God—and what a wonderful privilege this is. Read carefully these words: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God…” (1 John 3:1). And now that we are His children, we can call on Him in prayer at anytime, and be assured that He hears us (1 John 5:14-15). Whenever we are in need, we can go before His throne and ask for His grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:16).
One should be a Christian because it gives direction and meaning to life.
Christians can see the things of this life in their proper perspective. They understand that while all these things will soon pass away, the one who does the will of God will live forever (1 John 2:15-17). They know the answer to the question Jesus asked, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). They understand that the time spent here on earth should be devoted to the One who loved them and gave Himself for them (Galatians 2:20).
One should be a Christian to overcome the worries, anxieties, fears, and cares of this world.
The Christian can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear” (Hebrews 13:6). He believes the promise of Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Christians don’t ever have to worry about the necessities of this life as long as they seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Bad things may happen to them, but they remain confident that God will work it to their eternal good (Romans 8:28).
One should be a Christian because it gives him the hope of heaven.
Christians do not have to fear death, because they know that Christ has gone back to heaven to prepare a place for them (John 14:1-3), a place described as “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4). The hope that he “shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) sustains the faithful Christian through all the difficulties of this life.
You have these reasons and many more to become a Christian. Why not become one today? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 16:33); repent of your sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19), confess your faith in Jesus (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized in the name of Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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