Have you ever noticed how many people never think that they need to do something in order to be saved, or how some simply do whatever they feel they need to do in order to be saved? Some people hope they are saved because of what they do, how they do it, and their continuation in doing it. Isn't this true?
"What must I do to be saved?"
That is a question that many have asked down through the years. Some of the seekers were only curious while others became convinced that they had to find the answer, realizing that their very life depended on it. The only answer, of course, is the one that comes from God Himself, found in the pages of the word of God...
"What must I do to be saved?"
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made
that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? - Acts 2:36-37
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? - Acts 16:30
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? - Matthew 19:16
Now let's take a closer look at the first Scripture again....
"They were pricked in their heart!" After hearing the word of God speaking to them from out of the mouths of the apostles they became convicted of their sin and stood guilty before God. They were so moved to do something in order to make amends, but they just didn't know what they could do. So they cried out: "What shall we do"? Peter gave them the solution...
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
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:38-41
In order for a person to be saved they must first become pricked in their heart! This means that they were found guilty of violating the word of God (and the penalty for doing that is... Death without mercy)! If they're not guilty of any violations then there's nothing to forgive! But they were guilty - they stood as such before God - and that is why they wanted to know if there was anything they could do to make it up to God? "What shall we do?" It was in this tormented and convicted state that they were crying out in that the apostles (speaking the word of God) gave them the solution (verses 38-40).
Take a look at the convicted state they found themselves in and see how it was the word of the Lord that brought them to the realization of their sin, and how through that realization they saw a definite need. (That need was always there, only they were made to realize it for the first time!) Once they were there, He showed them the way out of their dilemna (verses 38-40). This "state of conviction, understanding and recognition" of what was being said must happen to us as well.
And when he (the Spirit of truth) is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of
righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. John 16:8-11
We see then that it is the Spirit of God who comes upon our hearing the word. The Spirit of Truth has a special way of absolutely convincing us that we are indeed sinners through and through, lost sinners without any righteousnesses of our own and ready to be judged and found guilty of hell-fire.
By this we see that whenever an unsaved person "Hears" what God is saying through His word then the Spirit behind that word uses it to convince us for our own good that we are lost sinners who need to be found and saved.
So, the first step is to have God convince us (through our hearing and believing His word) that we are sinners who cannot save ourselves. The next step is obvious: "Repent of your sins". This is an actual turning about face, a coming to abhor them because of what they are, what they have done, what they have made us, and that by them we are continually slapping God in the face.
Therefore, true repentance involves our having a change of heart by our turning away from sin (in our cooperation with the Holy Spirit). Without our being convinced that we are the very sinner that God came to save and is talking about, then heaven remains closed for us all.
Salvation may involve ones being so wearied of life, miserable and heavy-ladened that they've had it. They don't know (short of killing themselves) what they can do. They're in a hopeless situation and they see no way out! So when they hear the word of God speaking to them (personally) as if for the first time, they grab hold of it as if it were spoken to them alone, not realizing (at the moment) that by their doing so they are in reality coming to; trusting in, Jesus to lift this heavy burden from them - a burden placed on them by sin.
(In other words, where there's no law there's no sin! Where there's no sin there's no burden to carry around anymore - thus the cross of Christ and our having to be crucified with Him. Once you're dead, you're dead -- dead to the Letter of Law just as the Letter of the Law is dead to you now as well.)
These people have heard the word (i.e. "the voice of God") being directed at their person - upon hearing the word they laid hold of it (i.e. of "Him") and are in reality crying out to Him to save them in their spirit - and in this way they are coming to Him (i.e. "trusting on Him") in order for Him to save them from this impossible burden that they're carrying!)
Afterwards they are full of praise and joy. Why? Because He has cut their chains...
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Galatians 2:19-21
Remember, "the blessed Faith" that saves us by bringing us to Christ Jesus to be saved, comes from Hearing the word of God speaking to us in our core, our hearts, and the ability to Hear comes from the word of God! Without one hearing the word of God speaking directly to the core of that hearing heart that now hears God calling, and the Spirit of God then taking it and using it to convince him and enlighten him to the truth, it becomes nothing more than vanity, regardless of how hard we try to get right with God, or anything else we may care to do or that we may try to be. (The problem here all lies in the... "WE" - the "SELF".)
The POWER to STOP sinning and become sensative to God lies not in ourselves but in the Holy Spirit giving us a new heart, therefore we must receive Him who is the promise from God to all who believe on the mighty name of Jesus. In verse 28 Peter shows us all how this happens:
"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."
To be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (THUS RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT) is a real and inward sign (a change of heart, really) to the person themselves. The true meaning of it is a circumcision of the heart (i.e. 'a removal of the old wineskin: the old uncircumcized heart, in order to make way for the new wineskin: the new circumcized heart'), in order to become sensative to God and obey His will.
It has nothing to do with the cutting away of the male foreskin. The cutting away of a male's foreskin or getting water baptized DOES NOT "CHANGE" anyone!!! At best it only "represents" (or is but a "shadow" of) the inward change that has already occured. It takes a direct encounter with the Living God to make any permanent changes!
Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is a "spiritual" occurence, not a physical one. Before, he didn't know God - now he does! The man cannot explain what happened to him, only that he knows it most assuredly happened... and it happened through Christ, through faith in Christ, apart from works, apart from any "self" doing. A man can be circumcized, or baptized with physical water, or even stand on his head all day long and never once receive the Spirit in his inward parts!!!
"It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63
It is in the inward parts - in a mans spirit - where this SPIRITUAL DEATH TO LIFE CHANGE takes place. As I said, this is a supernatural, yet very real occurence that happens to a man. When he becomes "Born Again" ALL THINGS BECOME NEW! "Spiritually speaking", he has been crucified with Christ yet he is at once "Born Again". Understand what receiving "Spirit Baptism" is (John 3:3) and you can't help but to understand what "Salvation" is....
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Matthew 3:11
John the baptist (who baptized with water unto repentance) has long since gone. The One who came after him is still here, and He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Ghost unto repentance and a new life in Christ. Look at these Scriptures....
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto
you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which
liveth and abideth for ever. 1 Peter 1:23
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them
that believe on his name: John 1:12
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 1 Peter 1:23
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
The water, washing, regeneration, has always been associated with the word of God. The above Scriptures make it clear that it is the word of God (the very words that Christ speaks) that does the washing and cleaning and sanctifying to the Truth (John 13:10). It is the Spirit of God contained in those words who takes them and convicts the old life and gives life to the new. The promised Holy Spirit is given to all who believe on thus come to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now take another look at the second Scripture....
Again we hear the cry: "What must I do to be saved?"
Once they were convinced of their sin by the Holy Spirit the apostles gave them the simple solution to their dilemna:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
Nothing more, nothing less! Well, once the Spirit had them facing their sins, their unrighteousness and facing the judgement, they LEAPED onto the words of the apostles, believing on Jesus with all their heart. Can it be so simple as all that? YES, once one has been convinced by the Spirit of truth that they are the sinner whom Christ came to seek and to find, then the next step is EASY - easy because knowing the truth leaves one no other choice except to believe and come to Christ (i.e. "receive Him") in order to be saved.
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
The jailer that this Scripture was refering to was promised that his whole house would be saved that day. Under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it is written that all who were of his house that day heard the word of the Lord and they believed and were all saved as well.
And looking at the third Scripture....
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?Matthew 19:16
and what was Jesus' reply?...
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Matthew 19:21
In verse 22 we see that the man was very rich. He claimed to obey the commandments, and even though he believed himself to be a "good" person, nevertheless the wealth and power he obtained and amassed from his riches pulled on him, and they were too great for him to give up and follow Jesus (verse 21).
What so many "OUTWARDLY RELIGIOUS" people just don't care to realize is that being a Christian is not just being "good" and going to church, and that in doing so they're "Following Jesus". "We are NOT our own but have been bought with a price!" (1 Cor.6:20) Therefore, following Jesus is NOT some extra requirement we need to do in order to save us... it becomes Part Of Us!!! What it involves is "Power" - the Power to live the Christian Life! It is this new-found "Power of the Holy Spirit" that brings us to New Life In Christ. It is the very annointing of the Holy Spirit who enables us to FREELY WANT TO sell all we own and follow Jesus!
Once you know the truth, You KNOW THE Truth!!! Once you've been set free, you've been set free!!! No power on earth can ever take the knowledge of the Holy away from you or take you out of His hand! You KNOW where you've been -- and you KNOW where you're going -- You know who you are -- and you know who He is -- and because you KNOW the Truth: You KNOW Him -- you KNOW who He is -- and He knows you!!! You've had the revelation of the crucified and risen Christ! You have been... "Born Again"... "Born of Above"... "Born of God"!
The command to give up all we own in order to follow Jesus comes as naturally as rain upon our believing and receiving Him. It is not an EXTRA work, but an ABIDING work, one that comes with no effort at all in our laying it all down in order to take up our cross, abide in His words and follow Jesus - following Him with Spirit-filled Joy over finding the pearl of great price that opens the door and the treasure to eternal life. Without Him all is loss, nothing! With Him all is gain! (Read Philippians 3:7-8 for what I am saying.)
So no matter if it's the love of riches, of family, of preserving our reputation, our own life, or of calling obedience to Christ, 'works'... if any of that keeps us from coming to (thus following) Christ... if we're not willing to lay it all down... if we love these things more than we love Him... then we are not worthy of Him. If that's all He means to us then it's best we deny Him and walk away from Him forever, because if any of the above fits us then that is exactly what we'd be doing anyhow!
I repeat, once a person is truly saved, they will more than gladly give up all they own to follow Jesus - who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life! Nothing holds them here any longer - Nothing can compare to Him, not after finding the treasure in the field; the pearl of great price; and of becoming born again and having all things made anew!
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3
The "Working" word here is, "KNOW"! This "Revelation Knowledge of Him" only comes by faith... and faith comes by hearing (i.e. understanding) the Living Word of God. Once you KNOW Him you will follow Him... of your own free will.
We are either saved by His power or our own. It's one or the other! There is nothing a man can do and no way that a man can save himself... except to, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" (and all that the word, 'Believing unto the end', contains)! All of the work necessary to save us and bring us to God has already been done through Christ by His death on the cross and His resurrection to new life and ascention back into heaven.
Heaven or hell? That choice is left up to us! We can either obey Him and come to Him and receive the eternal life that He is offering, or we can keep on going our own way and doing our thing. Heavens door has been opened through Christ -- hell through our sins. All we need do is Believe, thus Come and Receive the One, or do NOTHING to gain the other (for unbelief and rebellion against God have already gained it for us).
May God bless you in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!