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What Man Must Do to Be Saved

WE CAN DEAL with no more important question than this. Joy and peace in this life, and destiny hereafter, depend on knowing the right answer to this problem—"What must I do to be saved?" The answer may not be as simple as some seem to think. We have roamed the entire range of New Testament teachings to discover what God's part in our salvation is, so it seems proper that WE SHOULD SEARCH THE NEW TESTAMENT likewise to discover what man's part in his own salvation is.

For the sake of fairness, and impartiality, we are not confining our thought to any one, or a few, great texts, but are indicating every text that seems to be a requirement for salvation. If one were going through the New Testament for the first time, marking every text that told him anything to do to be saved, we believe he would have such a list as we give below.


Man's part in his own salvation:

1.  He must hear the Word (John 5:24; 10:27; Acts 18:8; Rom. 10:17).

2.  He must repent (Luke 13:3-5; Acts 3:19; 26:20).

3.  He must turn (Matt. 18:3, American Standard Version [ASV]).

4.  He must believe (John 1:12; 3:15-18).

5.  He must receive Christ (John 1:12).

6.  He must come to Christ (John 6:37; Matt. 11:28-30).

7.  He must eat Christ's flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53-57).

8.  He must drink the water of life (John 4:13, 14).

9.  He must see the Son and believe on Him (John 6:40).

10. He must enter by the door which is Christ (John 10:9).

11. He must confess Christ (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9, 10).

12. He must be baptized, or believe and be baptized, or repent and be baptized (Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16).

13. He must keep the commandments (Matt. 19:17; Luke 10:25-29; Gal. 3:12).

14. He must obey (John 3:36, ASV; 2 Thess. 1:8).

15. He must do the will of the Father in Heaven (Matt. 7:21; 1 John 2:17).

16. He must endure to the end (Matt. 24:13; John 8:31; Col. 1:23; Heb. 4:1).

17. He must pray (Rom. 10:13; Luke 18:13-24; Luke 23:42; Acts 2:21).

18. He must follow Jesus Christ (John 8:12; 10:27; Matt. 8:22).

19. He must forgive men (Matt. 6:14-15; Mark 11:25, 26).

20. He must strive to enter in the strait gate and take the narrow way (Matt. 7:13; Luke 13:24).

21. He must forsake all and go after Jesus (Luke 14:33; Matt. 19:21; 19:29).

22. He must hate his relatives and his own life for Jesus' sake (Luke 14:26; Matt. 10:37).

23. He must take up his cross and come after Jesus (Luke 14:27; Matt 16:24).

24. He must keep Christ's sayings (Matt. 7:24-27; John 8:51).

25. He must be compassionate and helpful to the poor, the imprisoned, and the needy (Matt. 25:35-46; Jas. 2:14-17; 1 John 3:17).

26. He must fear God and work righteousness (Acts 10:35).


We believe that these propositions include every requirement for salvation which any open-minded reader might find. These requirements combined make a difficult and complex way of salvation, but, we have tried to be fair and to INCLUDE EVERY CONDITION FOR SALVATION THAT SEEMS TO BE IMPLIED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.

What are we to say about so many requirements? We would not wish to detract one iota from God's requirements by oversimplification, but, we cannot afford to be confused at this point. The way of salvation has been couched in many terms, and phrased in various ways in the New Testament, in order that all men may understand it. Yet, it is one simple proposition in its essence. Many of the above requirements are simply different ways of saying the same thing, but each covers the idea of trust, reliance, committal, reception, or appropriation. They all add up to the single idea of saving faith. Others of the above requirements are not conditions of receiving salvation, but, rather, conditions of discipleship, that is, ways of following Christ and living the Christian life. In such a category, we would classify confessing Christ, being baptized, obeying, enduring to the end, praying, forgiving men, striving, forsaking all, hating one's relatives, being compassionate, and helping the poor.

The one word "believe" is so significant that it includes and covers ALL of these other terms actually essential to salvation. When a sinner believes in Christ, in the saving sense, he does more than believe that: Christ is, that He made atonement, that He is able to save, and that he wishes to save. He believes to the extent of thrusting himself wholeheartedly on Christ, for time and eternity, of appropriating Christ, and all that He has done, as his ONLY HOPE, of turning his whole life Christ-ward for all time. This involves repentance, self-renunciation, trust, committal, confession, and loyalty.


The Saving Christ

When we speak of believing in Christ for salvation, we may well raise the question: “What [which] Christ?” So many views about Christ prevail today that we need to be certain that the sinner believes in the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament. No one can believe in any other Christ than the one he conceives in his own mind. Many have derived their conceptions of Christ from sources other than the New Testament, or they have taken some New Testament truth about Him, but not all. The New Testament Christ is the WHOLE CHRIST of the whole Bible! He is eternal, universal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, sinless, full of grace, the divine-human Redeemer, exalted far above every name that is named in Heaven above and earth below, and able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him (Heb. 7:25).

The Christ of the New Testament is not the Christ of Modernism: who tolerates sin. He is not the Christ of Roman Catholicism, who: though officially viewed in orthodox terms, is virtually surpassed by the Virgin Mary, is limited in His saving power to the sacraments of the church as channels, is hidden away in a maze of traditions, rituals, ceremonies, superstitions. Neither is He the Christ of Universalism: whose character we must emulate in order to be saved, and who will eventually save all. He is not the Christ of Christian Science: the offspring of Mary's self-conscious communion with God, a spiritual idea, impersonal and incorporeal, distinct from the earthly, corporeal Jesus.

He is not the Christ of Jehovah's Witnesses: a created being, the highest of angels, but less than God. He is not the Jesus of Spiritualism: only a man and a spiritualistic medium of the highest order, not God in the flesh. He is not the Christ of Mormonism (the Latter Day Saints): the son of Adam-God and Mary, not begotten by the Holy Spirit, who can save, only through the Mormon church and its baptism. He is not the Jesus Christ of New Thought, Unity, and others who: claim Him, use His name, compliment Him, but fail to exalt and enthrone Him as the very God of very God, the second person in the divine tri-unity.

The Christ of the New Testament, the only valid object of saving faith, is the second person of the God-head (Matt. 3:16-17; 28:18-20; John 1:1-3, 2 Cor. 13:14), eternally the Son of God, never created, identical with Jehovah of the Old Testament, possessing all the attributes of deity but voluntarily becoming incarnate in human flesh, and for the time of His earthly life laying aside the use, not the possession of, some of His divine qualities (Phil. 2:5-8). He is God, and, He is man—both natures, whole and entire, perfectly united in one divine-human Redeemer (Heb. 2:9-18). He was virgin-born without a human father (Matt. 2, 3; Luke 1, 2; He was sinless, holy, harmless, and undefiled (Heb. 7:26, 27); He performed all the miracles accredited to Him, He died on the Cross for the sins of others (1 Cor. 15:3), settling the sin question, once for all, and making salvation available by faith alone (Rom. 3:21-31; Eph. 2:8, 9); He arose from the dead in His crucified body (Luke 24; John 20; 1 Cor. 15) and showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs (Acts 1:3); He ascended into Heaven in that same crucified, but changed, risen body (Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:10, 11), where He is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3), as our High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16; 7:24-28), and Advocate (1 John 2:1). He shall return to the earth in due time (Acts 1:11), to receive His own (1 Thess. 4:16-18), and to judge the wicked (2 Thess. 1:7-10). This is the Christ of the New Testament, and He, ALONE, is able to save.

We do not mean to imply that an unsaved person must know all the facts about Christ in order to be saved by Him. Perhaps very few saved people have ever had a full-orbed view of Christ before receiving Him as Lord and Savior. But, the unsaved person must not have unbelief about any of the major aspects of Christ's Person, and work, to the extent that he could not bow humbly to His Lordship and Savior-hood. HE MUST BE WILLING TO TAKE JESUS CHRIST FOR ALL THAT HE UNDERSTANDS HIM TO BE AT THE TIME, AND THEN BE WILLING TO FOLLOW HIM AS HE UNDERSTANDS MORE ABOUT HIM. Jesus Christ will assume an increasingly greater and greater stature and significance to every obedient disciple.


How shall we present Christ to the lost?

Since it is virtually impossible to represent to a lost person the entire range of truth about Christ's Person, and saving work, we are entitled to ask: “What should we present? What are the essential truths and facts? What is the minimum truth about Jesus Christ which is able to save a lost sinner?”

The soul-winner should be concerned to present the largest possible amount of truth about Christ, not as little as he possibly can. All truth about Jesus has power. It is dangerous to maintain that only one aspect of Christ's redemptive work has power to bring saving grace to the lost. CHRIST'S SAVING WORK IS A UNIT. We cannot separate His sinless life from His substitutionary atonement, nor His atonement from His resurrection, nor His resurrection from his ascension, nor His ascension from His glorification, and high-priestly work in Heaven, nor His intercessory work in Heaven from His second coming, nor His second coming from His rule and reign, nor any of these facts from His deity and eternal sovereignty. We can begin with any of these truths and soon add enough to show the way of salvation. However, this writer believes that one truth about Christ is all-inclusive and all-important, and that is the truth of His Lordship.

That we should impress the fact of Christ's Lordship upon the lost cannot be doubted. This procedure has New Testament sanction. Jesus taught this truth by implication and positive declaration (Matt. 11:27-30; 16:13-19, 27, 28; John 13:13-16). Peter stressed the Lordship of Christ in his Pentecostal sermon (Acts 2:36). He reiterated it before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:12). Stephen maintained that he saw Jesus in Heaven as Lord and addressed Him as such in his dying prayer (Acts 7:55-59).

When the persecuting Saul of Tarsus was smitten down by the light from Heaven, while on the Damascus road, he knew that the One speaking to him, out of that light, was the Lord, the One who had appeared in Shekinah glory in Old Testament times (Acts 9:5). When this One identified Himself with Jesus, Paul knew that Jesus was the Lord and surrendered to Him immediately, and for all time, saying, "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts 22:10). Paul and Silas preached Jesus as Lord to the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31). Paul stresses the necessity of confessing the Lordship of Jesus Christ and believing in the heart that He arose from the dead (Rom. 10:9, 10) in order to e saved. All creatures must, some day, confess Christ as Lord (Phil. 2:9-11) and, if they make that confession voluntarily, and accompany it with truth faith, in this present life, they will be saved. If we truly believe in the Lordship of Jesus, we will do more than call Him "Lord;" we will do the will of the Father in Heaven (Matt. 7:21-23).

The resurrection of Christ was the crowing proof of His Lordship and Messiah-ship (Acts 2; 1 Cor. 15), and this truth became a keynote of apostolic preaching. The Lordship of Jesus Christ means His absolute supremacy, and sovereignty, throughout all time and space. He is the determiner of life, and destiny, for He holds all things in His hand. To Him, all men must give an account. When a lost sinner realizes the full meaning of the Lordship of Christ, he, like Saul of Tarsus, will be WILLING to do whatever He commands. He will believe on Him, accept Him, follow Him, and serve Him.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan believes that the first emphasis in evangelistic preaching should be the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He writes:

“First, the Lord-ship of Jesus. Now, you may say to me, ‘But have you put these in their right order? Is it not true that the first business of the evangel is to preach the Cross of Christ?’ I do not think so. I believe that the first note of the true evangel is that of announcing to men the Lordship of Christ…But it may be objected He cannot be Lord of a man's life until the man is saved. Quite true, but the vast majority of people will never begin to feel their need of His salvation until they have been brought to stand in the light of the claim of His Lordship, and so, I insist upon the putting of this first. This was the apostolic method" ("Evangelism," p. 14).

Men need a sovereign Lord, one able to save, to keep, to guide, to provide, and to bring them safely home to Heaven. Christ is such a Lord. We need to explain to them how Christ died for their sins on the Cross, how He paid their debt, how He procured for them full and free forgiveness, but we need to emphasize to them that as Lord, CHRIST HOLDS THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT THEY DO WITH HIS OFFER OF SALVATION, and that He must be received as Lord, as well as Savior. Perhaps some of our evangelism has been too shallow and unstable because we have put all the emphasis on the Savior-hood of Christ and none on His Lordship.

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