Jerry C. Brewer
Christianity is a teaching and a taught religion. That’s why Jesus commanded His apostles to, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). No man can come to Christ except he is drawn by God (John 6:44), but that drawing is by teaching. “Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). Salvation—being saved from our sins—is not a result of some direct, supernatural influence. It comes from man’s response to God’s teaching. Salvation begins in learning (John 6:15) and culminates in obedience to that teaching (Rom. 6:16-18). The steps God has revealed in the Bible in order for man to be saved are simple, but require our response.
Hear The Gospel
To “hear” means more than comprehending the sounds of the words. It means to understand what is taught. Jesus said, “This people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:15). To hear the gospel is to understand it, and this is where being saved begins. Understanding the gospel is absolutely necessary for salvation.
Believe The Gospel
Belief of the gospel (faith) is based on the word of God. That is the source of saving faith (Rom. 10:17). True faith comes in no other way, except by God’s word. One must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Matt. 16:18; John 8:24) and believe the gospel of Christ (Mark 16:16).
But faith alone is inadequate. Belief in Christ and His gospel demands a response from man. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). Most religions say that one is saved by “faith only” but the Word of God does not teach that. Faith “only” is a dead faith. “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (Jas. 2:20).
Repent Of Sin
Having heard (understood) the gospel and believed it, one must then repent of his sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). This is the most difficult of the steps of salvation because it requires a person to change his mind and determine to stop living in sin. In fact, repentance is just that—a change of mind.
Jesus illustrated that in the parable of the two sons. “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented and went. Repentance is the difference between “will not” and “will.” The son simply changed his mind and that’s what repentance is.
Paul wrote that, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Cor. 7:10). Repentance is not sorrow for sins, but a change of mind prompted by godly sorrow, and resulting in a change of life—the “fruits” of repentance (Matt. 3:7-8). Among the fruits of repentance is restitution. If one has sinned by stealing, he must make restitution of what he has stolen.
Confess Christ As God’s Son
The heart that believes in Christ and is willing to turn from sin in repentance, will freely confess that faith before others. Jesus made that a condition of salvation. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).
What confession is required by the Lord? Some people say we must confess that, “God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven me.” But that cannot found anywhere in the Bible. Let’s go to God’s word and find what the confession that saves is. When the Ethiopian eunuch asked to be baptized, “…Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). That is the confession that must be made.
One who has believed, repented, and confessed is still not in Christ where His saving blood cleanses from sin (Eph. 1:7). Salvation is in Jesus Christ and the culminating act of obedience— baptism—is the only way one enters into Christ. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3).
Baptism is an immersion in water, “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). That is baptism’s single design. Religious groups say baptism is, “an outward sign of an inward grace,” or, “to show the world you are saved,” or other such non-Biblical reasons. Those are false. No one is saved who has not been baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3).
Jesus coupled baptism with belief in order to salvation. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Peter told his hearers on Pentecost that baptism is coupled with repentance. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
The Ethiopian eunuch understood that baptism is coupled with confession of Christ for salvation. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-38).
Dear friend, the gospel of Christ is simple. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins, paying the price that no man could—His own sinless blood. It is that blood which takes away the guilt sin in our lives and justifies us in the sight of God. After He was crucified, He was buried, arose from the dead the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4), ascended back to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and sent the Holy Spirit to complete the full revelation of Truth to man (John 14:26; 16:12-13; Acts 2:1-4). We now have that Truth in the New Testament. Will you not learn it, understand it, and obey it that you may be saved?