In “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), we need to carefully examine every passage of scripture on a given subject. In the four gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John there are some events and teachings of Christ that are recorded in only one of the books. Sometimes the same thing is recorded in two or three books, and a few of the works and teachings of Christ are recorded in all four books. For instance, it is necessary to study all four books in order to obtain a complete picture of the events on the night Judas betrayed Christ (Matt. 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-12).
Mark 14:47 says when Judas led the multitude with swords and staves from the chief priests that, “One of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.” Neither this passage, nor its immediate context reveals who cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear, his name, or immediate response to this incident.
Turning back to Matthew 28:52-54, we find Jesus’ response to the individual who cut off the ear. “…Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest now that I cannot pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”
Turning to Luke 22:49-51, we find that all those with Christ were willing to take up swords against the multitude and that Jesus touched the ear of the high priest’s servant and healed it. But it is not until we turn to John 18:1-12 that we learn the identity of the one who cut off the ear—Simon Peter—and the servant’s name—Malchus. These four accounts of Judas’ betrayal of Christ serve to illustrate the necessity of taking all that is recorded in the Bible on a subject before drawing a conclusion. The same is true with our approach to the subject of our souls’ salvation. It is essential that we include all scripture pertaining to redemption in the New Testament.
In John 3:16, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Some people claim, “There is enough gospel in that one verse to save the world!” If that’s so, why did God give us 41,170 other verses in the Bible? Who can say one passage of scripture is more important than another? Many assume from John 3:16 and Romans 5:1 that a person becomes spiritually saved the moment he believes. But that concept is not Biblical.
A careful examination of God’s word reveals that there’s much more involved than mentally “accepting Jesus as Savior.” Jesus asked, “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Obedience to the gospel of Christ on man’s part is essential to salvation. That’s stressed in Hebrews 5:8-9: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
Submitting to the gospel terms of salvation in the Bible does not constitute “meritorious works” (Eph. 2:8-9; Luke 17:10). But there are essential works that God commands in order for us to be saved. Even our belief is a work of God (John 6:29). When Peter entered the house where the Gentile Cornelius and his family were gathered, he said, “of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). “Working righteousness” is another way of saying, “obedience to God’s commandments.” David defined God’s commandments as “righteousness” in Psalms 119:172.
Our faith is incomplete without obedience (Jas. 2:21-24). In order to be saved, we must, 1). Hear the inspired word of God (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31). 2). Believe in God and Jesus as the Christ (Heb. 11:6; John 8:24). 3). Repent of our sins (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 7:10). 4). Confess our belief in Christ as God’s Son (Acts 8:37), and 5). Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16).
You cannot be saved by any of these alone. But when they are taken as a whole and you do all of these things God requires, handling aright His word, He will save you from your sins.