We can ask no more important question than “What must I do to be saved?”
Each of us will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and we are responsible for obeying the Lord.
Salvation has two parts: God’s part and man’s part. God, because of His great love for mankind, has done His part in sending Christ to die for the sins of men. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Paul calls this grace the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). We cannot save ourselves and must rely on God through faith. “Through faith” means that man must also do his part, because no one benefits from a gift until he receives it.
To find what man’s part in the plan of salvation involves, one must go to the right place. The book of Acts explains God’s plan of salvation through nine specific accounts of conversion: The conversion of the Jews at Pentecost, chapter 2; the Samaritans, chapter 8; the Ethiopian eunuch, chapter 8; Saul of Tarsus, chapters 9 and 22; Cornelius, chapter 10; Lydia, chapter 16; the Philippian jailer, chapter 16; the Corinthians, chapter 18; the Ephesians, chapter 19. In each example, certain common actions, or steps of obedience, were taken by those who became Christians.
Upon hearing the gospel message, each believed in Jesus as the Son of God. Though the text does not explicitly mention belief each time, it is implied. The Jews at Pentecost, having heard the message, “were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). Their question “What shall we do?” showed that they believed, but they realized that they needed to do more than have simple belief to obtain salvation. James wrote, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).
Following their confession of faith in Christ, Peter told the Jews at Pentecost, “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” (Acts 2:38). Thus we understand that repentance must accompany faith in Christ.
One must also confess faith in Christ, as the Ethiopian did (Acts 8:37), because Christ will not confess us unless we are willing to confess Him. “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32–33).
Baptism is the only step toward salvation explicitly mentioned in every conversion. Each account shows that baptism is necessary for obedience to Christ. Hearing the gospel message, believing in Christ, repenting of past sins, confessing Christ, and being baptized into Christ makes one a Christian, and brings salvation. Then one must serve the Lord faithfully (Revelation 2:10). —Bob Prichard