Fred E. Dennis
On the birthday of the church, after the gospel had been preached, this question was asked: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Saul of Tarsus asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). The trembling jailer at Philippi inquired, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). No more important question can engage the mind of a thinking person. Upon the correct answer to this question our souls’ salvation depends. We will now give consideration to this all-important question and the Bible answer thereto.
First, what must we know to be saved? Many poor souls do not know enough to be saved. We cannot be saved until we know the truth. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). It takes a knowledge of the truth to save us from our sins.
To be saved, we must know the Lord. We have this language in Hebrews 8:11: “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” This is a quotation from Jeremiah 31:34. In the New Testament plan of salvation, one is taught of the Lord before becoming a Christian. This precludes infant church membership, which is unknown to the New Testament.
What Must We Believe?
We must believe that God is. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). We must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).
We must believe the gospel of Christ. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). In His farewell commission to the apostles, Christ said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark. 16:16). This commission is part and parcel of the gospel of the Risen Lord.
How Must We Feel?
There has been much controversy in the religious world relative to the part feelings play in matters religious. One cannot be saved until he feels that he is a sinner and in need of salvation. The prodigal son finally came to himself and felt that he was in need of the blessings that only his father could bestow. He said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:18-19). He certainly did feel his sins and his unworthiness.
Thus ought the sinner to feel in coming to the heavenly Father. We should indeed feel sorrowful for our sins. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Cor. 7:10). We must feel determined to do what the Father commands us to do. But feelings are not proof of salvation. If we were to feel that we are saved before obeying God’s commands, we would have the wrong feelings.
What Must We Do?
There are four things the sinner must do to get rid of his past sins. He must believe, or have faith.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name (John 20:30-31).
Jesus did many things that are not written, but there are enough written to cause any honest soul to believe that He is the Son of God.
After believing, we must repent of our sins. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
We must then confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This is the way He said it: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33). Again, in Romans 10:9-10 we have this language: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
To get into Christ we must be baptized. In no other way can we receive the remission of our sins. We have already noted this from Acts 2:38 quoted above.
How Must We Live?
Getting saved and keeping saved are not the same thing. We may be saved from our past sins, thus becoming Christians, members of the body of Christ, but finally be lost in hell. We must keep saved. How must we do this? We must live godly lives. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12).
My brethren, do these adverbs describe the way you are living? If God were telling it, would He say you are living soberly, righteously, and godly? I am afraid there are many members of the church—even preachers—who are not thus living. And please note that this living is to be done now, “in this present world.” It does not sound much like a “second chance” does it? No, my friends, the doctrine of a “second chance” is of the devil—devilish. The Christian must be busily engaged in the work of the Lord. Thus Paul admonished the brethren at Corinth to, “be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Dear reader, if you are not a Christian I beseech you to become one by faith in Christ, repentance of your sins, confession of your faith, and by being buried in baptism for the remission of your sins (Rom. 6:3-5). If you are a Christian, may God help you to be faithful in your work and worship.