What must I do to be saved?

“What must I do to be saved?” is truly the most significant question anyone can ask. How we personally answer this will impact not only how we live this life, but also where we spend eternity.  Thankfully, in the Bible God gives us clear instructions that answer this eternally important question.  It can be helpful to examine the Biblical answer to this question in five distinct parts or steps – referred to as “The five-fingered plan for becoming a Christian.”

1. Realize that you are a sinner

Before anyone can be saved they must first realize they are in need of being saved.  No one is righteous (right with God) apart from believing in Jesus Christ.  The Bible is clear that “There is no one righteous, not even one… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:10, 23)

To be saved we must ask God to forgive the sin in our life.  The Bible calls this “confession.” To confess is to admit or acknowledge something.  Literally it means “saying the same thing.” This implies that our sincere confession agrees with what God already knows and says to be true about us – that we are sinners before a holy God.

Confession is seeing your life as God sees your life, and acknowledging the sins God already knows you have committed.  It’s saying, “God, I see me as You see me. I confess that I am a sinner, and I stand in need of Your saving grace.”

2. Repent from your sinful life

The Biblical word for “repentance” literally means to change one’s mind. It describes a complete transformation of the purpose and direction of one’s life.  In other words, when someone repents, they are turning from something and turning to something.  Specifically, they are turning from sin and to God.

The Bible commands all sinners to “Repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).  Being a Christian is more than simply going to church or saying a simple prayer.  When someone becomes a Christian they become a whole new person: they are “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

3. Receive Jesus as the Savior of your life

Receiving Jesus means that you trust and love Him with all of your life. It is believing – with all of your heart – that Jesus is the one and only Son of the Living God and that He lived a sinless life, died a sinner’s death, and rose to life conquering both sin and death. For the Bible declares, “… the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Christ will not be one of your “saviors”, but must be your only Savior! Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In Acts 4:12 we read, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

To receive Jesus as Savior of your life means that you have put all your faith (belief and trust) in Him, and that you realize you are saved by God’s grace alone.  The Bible tells us, “… it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone and in Christ alone.

4. Respond to Jesus as Lord of your life

Jesus Christ is not only the Savior, He is also the Lord. To be sure, saying Jesus is Lord of your life is different than Jesus being Lord of your life.  Jesus asked, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

Clearly, you cannot have Jesus as the Savior of your life and not have Him also as the Lord of your life.  Romans 10:9 says, “… if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Being a Christian means you are a “Christ-follower.”  It means you belong to Jesus. In other words, you have abandoned your old life (that you lived without Him) and now live a new life (that is lived for Him).  You are now in Christ! You no longer live for sin because you now live for Christ, and you no longer love sin because you now love Christ.  For Christ has set you free from the power and penalty of sin.

5. Resolve to glorify Jesus with all of your life

The Christian is one that is passionately and joyfully sold-out to glorifying Christ Jesus with everything they say and do.  In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Christians are given this God-glorifying exhortation: “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

To be resolved means to be unmoved, undeterred, unchanged, and unwavering.  It describes the Christian’s steadfast and stubborn refusal to never forsake, but always be faithful to, the will and love of Jesus Christ.

This Christ-glorifying resolve naturally compels the Christian to live a life of loving and faithful obedience to God.  Thus, the Christian desires to be submissive and pleasing to God in every way.  This results in the Christian’s commitment to praying to God (Colossians 4:2), reading God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), attending a Bible-believing church (Hebrews 10:23-25), being immersed in Christian baptism (Acts 2:38, 22:16), and telling others that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of all who believe in Him (Matthew 28:18-20).

Now, the question that remains is, “Do you WANT to be saved?” Through His Word, God has made two things abundantly clear: 1) Everyone stands in need of God’s saving grace, and 2) Salvation comes only through believing in and receiving His Son Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord.

Jesus perfectly summed up these truths when He said:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18).

Jesus alone can save you from the eternal penalty of your sins.  Jesus alone can transform your life and make you righteous before God.  Jesus alone can restore you to perfect fellowship with God.  Jesus alone can grant you eternal life in heaven with God.  Jesus alone is the Savior and Lord of all who believe.  Will you repent and confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today?

Additional Scripture References

  1. Realize that you are a sinner
    • Jeremiah 2:22
    • Psalm 51
    • Romans 1:18-23
    • 1 John 1:8-10
  2. Repent from your sinful life
    • Matthew 4:17
    • Luke 15
    • Acts 3:19
    • Acts 17:30-31
  3. Receive Jesus as the Savior of your life
    • John 1:11-12
    • Romans 5:6-8
    • 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
    • Ephesians 2:1-5
    • Titus 3:3-7
  4. Respond to Jesus as Lord of your life
    • Matthew 7:13-27
    • Matthew 22:37-40
    • Romans 5:20-6:14
    • 1 John 2:1-6
  5. Resolve to glorify Jesus with all of your life
    • Matthew 5:14-16
    • Romans 12:1-2
    • Ephesians 2:10