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Overview of Salvation
Bible study on salvation.

God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). So, He sent Jesus to earth to preach the gospel and die for our sins (Jn. 1:1-14; 3:16; Rom. 3:25; Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10).

In this article, we go to God's word to learn what we must do to be saved.

We Must Obey Jesus
Jesus is the source (author) of eternal salvation to those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9; cf. Heb. 12:2).

People who obey Jesus will go to heaven (Heb. 5:9; Rev. 22:14). But, people who disobey Jesus will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15) and be eternally separated from God (2 Th. 1:8-9).


What has Jesus commanded us to do?

While Jesus was on earth, He preached the gospel (Matt. 4:23). Before ascending into heaven, Jesus commissioned the apostles (Matt. 28:18-20) who became His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20).

Believe, Faith
Jesus commands us to believe that He is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24). If we believe that Jesus is God's Son, we will obey Him and be saved (Heb. 5:9). If we do not believe and obey, we will be lost (2 Th. 1:8-10).

Faith comes by hearing God's word (Rom. 10:17). We must believe and obey the things revealed in God's word (Rom. 6:17; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:22-23; 2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Jn. 1:9). And, we must reject the doctrines of men (Matt. 15:8-9; 1 Cor. 4:6; Col. 2:20-23; 3:17; 1 Pet. 4:11).

Jesus commands us to repent. If we do not, we will perish (Lk. 13:3, 5).

"Repentance" is a change of mind resulting in a change of action. We repent of our sins when we make the decision to change our lives to live in obedience to God. We no longer obey sin in its lusts (Rom. 6:12), but we obey God (Rom. 6:17; Heb. 5:9).

We must repent before being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). After being baptized, we must repent of sins we commit as God's children (Acts 8:22).

Confess Jesus
If we confess Jesus before men, He will confess us before His Father and the angels. But if we deny Jesus before men, He will deny us (Matt. 10:32-33; Lk. 12:8-9).

The apostle Paul says that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Rom. 10:9). Because, with our hearts we believe, resulting in righteousness, and with our mouth, we confess resulting in salvation (Rom. 10:10).

Be Baptized
After rising from the dead, Jesus commissioned the apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15). He commanded them to make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). He told them that the people who believe and are baptized would be saved. But, people who disbelieved would be condemned (Mk. 16:16).

The word "baptize" is a transliteration of a Greek word meaning to dip, to immerse. Baptism is a process of immersion in water and emergence out of water.

What does the Bible tell us about baptism?

  • We must be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16).
  • Our sins are forgiven when we are baptized (Acts 2:38).
  • Our sins are washed away when we are baptized (Acts 22:16).
  • We are saved when we are baptized (1 Pet. 3:21).
  • We come into contact with Christ when we are baptized (Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27).
  • Babies cannot be baptized into Christ. Men and women (Acts 5:14; 8:12) who believe, repent, and confess Christ can be baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:36- 38).

Remain Faithful
Jesus commands us to be faithful until death (Rev. 2:10). Faithful Christians are given a crown of life (Rev. 2:10).

Christians who do not remain faithful, fall short of God's grace (Heb. 12:15; Gal. 5:4) because they cease from obeying the truth (Gal. 5:4, 7).


Examples of Conversion

There are nine examples of conversion in the Bible.

Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-47)
People who believed (Acts 2:44), asked Peter what they should do (Acts 2:37). Peter commanded them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). The people who obeyed Peter were saved and added to the church (Acts 2:40-47).

Samaritans (Acts 8:4-13)
Men and women who believed Philip's preaching (Acts 8:4-5, 12-13) were baptized (Acts 8:12).

Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40)
The eunuch believed Philip's preaching concerning Christ (Acts 8:35, 37). He believed, confessed Jesus to be God's Son, and was baptized (Acts 8:36-39).

Paul (Acts 9:1-20; 22:16)
Paul saw the Lord in a vision. Afterwards, he was blind for three days during which time he prayed (Acts 9:3-9, 11). Paul was commanded to be baptized, and wash away his sins calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).

From Paul's conversion, we learn that we cannot be saved by praying. And, we learn that we must be baptized to wash away our sins calling on the name of the Lord.

Cornelius (Acts 10:34-48)
Peter preached to Cornelius and his household the things commanded by the Lord (Acts 10:33). He commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10:48).

From Cornelius' conversion, we learn that someone can be a good person (Acts 10:1-2, 22), but he must believe and be baptized to be saved (Acts 10:43, 48).

Lydia (Acts 16:13-15)
Lydia and her household were baptized (Acts 16:15).

Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:25-34)
The jailer asked Paul what he must do to be saved (Acts 16:30). Paul told him to believe in the Lord Jesus (Act 16:31). Then, Paul spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer and his household after which they were immediately baptized (Acts 16:32-33).

Crispus, Corinthians (Acts 18:8)
Those who heard and believed the gospel were baptized (Acts 18:8).

Ephesians (Acts 19:1-7)
Paul preached the gospel to men who had been baptized into John's baptism (Acts. 19:3). After hearing the gospel, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5). From the Ephesians' conversion, we learn that people who have been baptized with a baptism other than Christ's must be baptized with Christ's baptism to be saved.



Jesus commands us to:

  • believe (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:16; Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6).
  • repent (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38).
  • confess Him (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:10).
  • be baptized (Matt. 28:18-19; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
  • remain faithful until death ( Rev. 2:10).

People who obey Jesus will go to heaven (Heb. 5:9; Rev. 22:14). People who disobey Jesus will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15) and be eternally separated from God (2 Th. 1:8-9).


The Thief on the Cross

Some people think that we do not have to be baptized to be saved because the thief on the cross was not baptized. This allegation is false.

First, we do not know whether the thief was or was not baptized. He may have been baptized by both John the Baptist and Jesus' disciples (Matt. 3:1-12; Jn. 4:1-2).

Second, the thief lived during a time when Jews were saved by obeying the law of Moses. If the thief was a Jew, he may have offered the sacrifices required by the Mosaic Law to be saved. God did not change the Law until Christ died (Heb. 7:12-14).

Third, the thief may have been a Gentile. He may have been saved by meeting the terms of salvation for Gentiles (Rom. 2:1-16).

Fourth, Jesus may have forgiven the thief's sins without him meeting the terms of forgiveness under any of God's laws. But, that did not change the terms of salvation for anyone living then or today (cf. Lk. 5:17-26).

When Jesus told the thief that he would be in paradise with Him, we do not know whether Jesus was stating a fact or whether Jesus forgave his sins. We cannot disobey the commands to be baptized in order to be saved (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:16) even if Jesus forgave the thief's sins.