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  • Writer's pictureDean Thompson

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

This is one of the most important questions that someone could ever ask. This question has been posed by millions of people for centuries but unfortunately, the answer has not always been the same. Some say, “all you have to do is have faith,” while others exclaim, “just be a good person and you will be fine.” There are others who say, “you’re saved already—there’s nothing else you need to do.” I’m not questioning the sincerity of the people who may try to answer this most pertinent question with the knowledge and wisdom afforded to them. But herein lies the problem—the response regarding how one gains salvation is not always the same. Shouldn’t the answer to this important question be consistent across the board? The answer is a resounding YES! The reason why there are different schools of thought regarding salvation is because there are thousands upon thousands of religious groups who think their way is the correct way. What we must do is open up our Bibles in order to find the answer because the Bible always gets it right (John 8:32, 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3). God has revealed His plan of salvation in His word so that mankind will have the opportunity to be reconciled to Him. So, what must one do to be saved?

A Divine Mandate

It’s been said that there are two parts involved when it comes to salvation—God’s part and man’s part. God’s part was made manifest when He sent His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). The only way men can be saved today is if they go through Jesus (John 14:6). In the book of Acts, we find 9 specific accounts of conversion, which gives us a guide on how God wants man to be saved today: the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-41), the Samaritans (Acts 8:5-12), the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:27-39), Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:17-18, 22:12-16) Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:47-48), Lydia and her household (Acts 16:14-15), the Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:25-34), the Corinthians (Acts 18:6), and the Ephesians (Acts 19:1-5). In each of these accounts, we see a common theme: the Christians followed God’s divine mandate in order to be delivered from their sins and enter into God’s family (Rom. 6:17; 1 Cor. 12:12-13). In order to be saved, you must put your faith into action like the multitude in the book of Acts did (James 2:24). They believed in God’s word, repented of their sins, confessed Jesus as Lord, and were baptized for the remission of their sins.

In every account mentioned, baptism is the only step toward conversion that’s explicitly stated. To be baptized is not a mere suggestion or a formality, it’s required in order to be saved (John 3:5; Mark 16:15-16; Rom. 6:3-4; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21). There are some who believe that baptism is just an “outward show of inward grace,” but that notion is not supported anywhere in scripture. Let’s dig a little deeper by examining one example of a conversion we find in the book of Acts.

The Philippian Jailer

While in Philippi, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison by the magistrates for “teaching customs which were unlawful” (Acts 16:20-24). God subsequently rattles the prison with a great earthquake, causing the prison doors to swing open and everyone’s bonds to be freed (Acts 16:26). Upon seeing the prison doors open, the prison guard was ready to take his own life, but Paul stopped him after he confirmed that no one had escaped (Acts 16:28). This is what prompted the jailer to ask a noble question, “What must I do to be saved?” Notice that Paul and Silas did not say, “Just say the sinner’s prayer and you will be saved.” No, they supplied the jailor with all he needed to build his belief in Jesus by preaching the gospel to him and his household (Acts 16:31-32). The Philippian realized his wrong-doing by washing the stripes of Paul and Silas, which was a manifestation of his repentance (Acts 16:33). Finally, we read that the jailer and his household were immediately baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 16:33). The sinners transgressions are taken away in the watery grave of baptism. A person can't be saved if they are unwilling to have their sins washed away (Acts 22:16). When we commit to being baptized, we are simply reenacting the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord (1 Cor. 15:3-4, Rom. 6:3-6). In baptism, your old self is put to death while the new man is raised to life! (2 Cor. 5:17). What's more, great stress must be put on the word “immediately” in the jailor's conversion account. Notice that Paul and Silas did not wait for a ”Baptismal Sunday” or await confirmation from a religious official. They saved those Philippians that very hour—there cannot be a delay when someone’s soul is at stake! Luke sums it up nicely for us when he says, “he (the jailer) rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:34).


The jailer at Philippi, along with his household, simply moved towards salvation like countless others in the book of Acts did, which is why their names are written in the Book of Life (Phi. 4:3). They had faith in God and cemented their belief in Him by being baptized and having their sins washed away (Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:11). Are you willing to follow the same plan they did? Real faith demands action (Titus 3:8; Heb. 11:6; James 2:18). If you want to be saved the way God requires, then you’ve got to be willing to follow the gospel plan of salvation that’s laid out in scripture. Want to know more? Then please contact us! We’d be more than happy to study the Bible with you.

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