How To Become A Christian - What Must I Do To Be Saved?
Are you saved? Are you absolutely sure you are saved?
Do you know without any doubt that you are going to heaven?
If you say you are saved, how do you know you are saved?
If you believe you are saved, is it because you "feel" like you are saved?
Did you "pray" to receive Christ?
Are you saved because someone has told you that you are saved, or can you point to the scriptures that prove you are saved?
Have you done something that a mere man has told you to do, or have you done what God has commanded you to do to be saved?
The very Word of God tells us that we should always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have... that we should always be ready to defend our faith.
1 Peter 3:15(b) Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you to explain the hope you have. (ISV)
1 Peter 3:15(b) And be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (KJV)
Do you know exactly what you must do to be saved? This question is probably the most important question anyone could ever ask.
Some other questions you might ask yourself...
How exactly do we obtain forgiveness of sins?
What exactly is it that saves us?
When are we actually saved?
We must study thoroughly and answer carefully to make absolutely sure we have the correct answers. A wrong answer will cost us eternity without God. We cannot afford a wrong answer.
Salvation is VERY SERIOUS!
Jesus said that many will follow the broad way to destruction, but few will find the narrow way into heaven.
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.
Yes... Jesus tells us clearly that "many" will follow that "broad" path, and only a "few" will "find" eternal life.
The Greek word for "many" is "polus" or "polos" (many, much, largely, mostly)... while the Greek word for "few" is "oligos" (few, puny, little, small).
With only a "few" finding the right way, it makes practical sense that the majority of people are going to follow the wrong way. Whether it makes practical sense or not, it is exactly what Jesus says. The risk of following the wrong path is one reason it is so important to know the truth... the truth will set us free! I pray that you will be one of those "few" who will search for the truth and "find" the way to heaven.
Now think about what Jesus said again... to "find" something, you must look for it, right? If someone does nothing more than tell you that you are saved, and you do not find out (verify) for yourself through God's Word that you are genuinely saved, have you actually found eternal life? You did not look for it, did you? So, how do we find eternal life? How can we know (without any doubt) we are saved?
The absolute only way we can know without any shadow of a doubt that we are indeed saved is to look for ourselves to the one and only source that gives us the answer... the inspired and infallible Word of God!
Consider this following passage very carefully... it clarifies that the Bible... the Holy Scriptures... is what will make us "wise unto salvation"... and give us "instruction in righteousness."
2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
We must believe and have faith that what we read in the Bible is, in fact, the truth. If you do not believe what is written in the Bible, then neither the Bible nor this study will do you much good.
The Holy Scriptures are intended to deliver the same message to everyone. God created only one way for salvation before creation, and for us to know the truth, we must "find" out what that one way is.
We absolutely must believe that the Word of God tells us the truth, that God does not lie. Therefore, there is no reason not to trust what the Bible tells us. If you believe this, you will unquestionably trust what Jesus says is the truth.
It is crucial for us to remember that Jesus tells us the words which He spoke will judge us in the last day.
John 12:47-48 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (KJV)
John 12:47-48 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save it. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has something to judge him: The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (ISV)
Jesus had no reason to judge because the words He spoke will judge us if we do not believe those words and keep them. Thankfully we have those words written by these inspired men in the Bible so that we can know the words that will judge us.
Before we get into exactly what we must do to be saved... let's answer the question, "What actually saves us?"
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (KJV)
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth... He was crucified for our sins, shed His blood for us, He was buried, and he rose again on the third day.
The most wonderful sacrifice ever made for us... let's read it one more time in another translation.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Now I'm making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you-unless, of course, your faith was worthless. For I passed on to you the most important points of what I received: Christ died for our sins in keeping with the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day in keeping with the Scriptures - and is still alive! (ISV)
Jesus is the "propitiation" for our sins... He "satisfied" the punishment for our sins.
1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Why did Jesus have to die for us? Because we are sinners.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
What happens if there is no sacrifice for our sins.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Although we are sinners, God still loves us enough that He gave His only Son to die for our sins.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Yes... Christ suffered a painful death on that cross... pain and suffering that we cannot fathom. He died, He was buried, and He was raised from the grave... this is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
So is the gospel what saves us? No, the gospel is not what saves us. Notice that Paul wrote that "the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation."
An essential word we should learn and understand is "unto"... the Greek word that "unto" is translated from is "eis," which means "towards" or "in the direction of" or "in order to obtain." So the gospel of Jesus Christ gets us going in the direction of salvation... towards salvation.
So "WHAT" actually saves us... how can we have our sins forgiven?
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
"In Him" we have redemption "through His blood" we have forgiveness of sins... through Christ's blood, we have forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we may serve the living God!
Through Christ's blood, we cleanse our consciences.
Hebrews 9:22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Without Christ's blood, there is no forgiveness.
Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation."
Christ's blood purchased us for God.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
Jesus Christ "washed us from our sins in His own blood,"
Through the proof of God's Word, the truth is that the "blood of Christ" is "WHAT" actually cleanses us of our sins.
However, Jesus Christ is no longer here on earth; He is in heaven... how can we possibly come in contact with the "blood of Christ" so that we can have our sins washed away?
How and "WHEN" do we come in contact with the blood of Jesus Christ?
Again... the Bible will give us clear and precise answers better than any man can ever do.
What does the Bible tell us we must do to be saved?
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
1 John 1:1-3 What existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we observed and touched with our own hands - this is the Word of life! This life was revealed to us, and we have seen it and testify about it. We declare to you this eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. What we have seen and heard we declare to you so that you, too, can have fellowship with us. Now this fellowship of ours is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
The "Word" was manifested as Christ... Christ was the "revealed" Word when the Word became "flesh," so the Word of God is where we will "find" life and learn how to come in contact with the "blood of Christ."
Romans 10:13-17 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
We must "hear" the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to "learn" about God.
John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Jesus said, "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me."
We must "hear," but also we must "learn" of the Father. To "learn" is to "know and understand."
John 17:3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
As Jesus says... "eternal life" is to "know" God and Jesus Christ... Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life."
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
We must "hear and learn" of Christ to be saved.
We must also "believe" in the Son of God.
1 John 5:10-12 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
John wrote that "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." If eternal life is in Christ, we must be "in Christ" and "in Him" to have eternal life.
Jesus said that unless we believe who He is, we will surely die in our sins. John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."
One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is John 3:16.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
So is that it... do we simply "believe He exists" and we will not perish but have eternal life? Does believing in Christ get us "in Christ" where there is eternal life?
We need to know because John has already written that "in Him" is where eternal life is. Salvation is "in Christ."
Believing alone cannot put us "in Christ"; therefore, we can not be saved by simply believing that Jesus exists.
The passage does not tell us that "whosoever believeth He exists should not perish "... NO, this is where "many" go wrong and follow that "broad" path to destruction. If this is all we have to do, then we could throw our Bibles away and forget the rest of what Jesus said. How much sense would that make?
We MUST understand what "believing in him" means.
We must believe in the Son, "in Christ."
What does believing "in Christ" mean?
Believing is not simply a mental acknowledgment that we believe Jesus Christ exists, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and believing that He died for our sins. Believing in Christ is not only believing that He is indeed the Son of God... it is also believing in what He did for us. It includes believing in ALL of what He said... believing in ALL of His words... and trusting in Him for the way of salvation. Believing encompasses ALL of these truths combined. It is a common thought that all anyone has to do to be saved is believe that He exists. While that might be a convenient thought, it lacks the whole meaning of believing.
Remember, in John chapter 12, Jesus explains that if we reject His words, the word He spoke will be the words that judge us. Therefore, believing in Him must also include believing in His words.
Jesus wants us to hear His words and believe them, which is part of "believing in Him."
So we know that "believing in him" is not simply saying that we believe that He exists.
Let's consider the Greek word for "believe."
The Greek word "pisteuo" is translated today in most Bible translations as "believe" or "believeth."
We need to understand that the meaning of the English word "believe" is not what is most important. Instead, it is essential to understand what the word "pisteuo" means because it is the word that was actually used when John wrote the verse. Remember that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write what God wanted to be expressed. What did the word "pisteuo" mean when it was written? It means the same thing today as it did back then. Translators used the word "believe" to translate it to English, but it has more meaning if we consider the Greek word. Thus, consider the definition for the word "pisteuo."
Strong's Definition for "pisteuo":
to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit;
by implication to entrust (especially one's spiritual well being to Christ):
- believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.
Thayer Definition for "pisteuo":
1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in
1a) of the thing believed
1a1) to credit, have confidence
1b) in a moral or religious reference
1b1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
1b2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith
2) to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity
2a) to be intrusted with a thing
"Pisteuo" means "to have faith in, commit, to trust, to be persuaded of, place confidence in, and to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith."
So to "pisteuo eis autos" or "believe in Him," per our translation of what John wrote in John 3:16, would mean that we should put our faith in Him, commit to Him, believe what He said and that we should trust in Him to help us obtain salvation. It is more than simply saying that we believe, or merely believing He exists, or even simply saying that we have faith.
This definition is why it is essential that we study the Bible and learn what words mean. If we genuinely study, we can understand that the word was not really "believe" but rather "pisteuo," and men translated it as "believe." The word "pisteuo" really has much more meaning than simply "believe" as we think of it in today's society. You should understand that John, the writer of the Gospel of John, did not use the word "believe"... this was not his word, but rather our word... it is the word uninspired men decided to use to translate John's word from God's word.
We should even carry the thought of our English word "believe" to a level of "trust" as well. If you believe me, what does that mean? It means you trust I am telling you the truth, right? So... if you believe in Christ or "believeth in Him," as John wrote, you would be "trusting in Him"... so clearly you should see that this is not merely a mental assent to the existence of Christ.
Many people have long thought that John 3:16 was it... just believe that Christ exists and you can be saved... NO, NO, NO! That is absolutely not what the Bible teaches. Let me give you an example to clarify what John is communicating to us. Jesus said in Luke 13:3 that unless you repent, you will surely perish... now do you believe Him? Do you believe in Jesus? Do you "believeth in Him" as John wrote 3:16? Do you also believe that unless you repent, you will surely perish? If you do, you must understand that believing alone is not all that is required to be saved because if we don't repent, we will perish. Nowhere in John 3:16 is repentance mentioned. Thus, believing must include repentance. If we consider it in the Greek, "pisteou" means trusting in Jesus; therefore, we trust in what Jesus said, which includes what He said about repenting.
Can you now understand the difference between "believing that He exists" and "believing in Him"? Again... believing in Him includes believing He exists, believing in what He did, believing in what He said, believing in what He taught, and trusting in Him for the way of salvation. This is what "pisteou" means.
Knowing that we must believe in Him and trust in Him and what He said... let's consider a few statements Jesus made when He walked this earth.
During the beginning of Jesus' ministry here on earth, He gave us the first instructions on what we must do to enter heaven.
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Now hold on just a minute... "Not every one that saith to me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; "... well now... if we call Jesus "Lord, Lord," would we not be confessing that He exist? Would we not be "believing" that He exist? Why else would we be calling Him "Lord, Lord"? Yet, He clearly says that not everyone who calls Him "Lord, Lord" will enter heaven. This passage is indisputable proof that "believing" does not simply mean acknowledging His existence. It is also undeniable and indisputable proof that having "faith" is not all that is required for salvation. Jesus tells us that even some that have faith, some that believe, will NOT enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus clearly explains "he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" will be the one that enters into heaven. If all we had to do to enter heaven is "believe" in Jesus as most define the word "believe" in English, then explain why Jesus said we had to do the will of the Father to enter heaven.
We must do the will of God, the "Father." Do you believe in Him? Do you believe what Jesus says? If you "believeth in Him," as John wrote in John 3:16, then you will have to believe that we must do the will of Father in heaven, just as Jesus stated. This is more than simply believing as defined by today's world when people say they are saved because they believe in Jesus.
What is the will of God for us to be saved?
Let's consider a few more passages that prove we must "believe" (have faith).
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Remember earlier we referenced that Jesus also said, "And if any man hear my words, and believe not... the same shall judge him in the last day."
We should indeed listen to His words and believe what He says.
We have "learned" thus far that we must "hear the gospel of Christ," and we must "believe in Him."
Let's consider what else Jesus said we must do.
Matthew 4:16-17 The people living in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land and shadow of death, a light has risen." From then on, Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!"
Luke 13:3,5 I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
The "people living in darkness" are the unsaved sinners of the world. Jesus said that they had seen the light, which is Jesus. Jesus then preached that they should "repent."
Jesus made a clear statement that if we do not "repent," we shall likewise perish.
Jesus said it, and we should not doubt what Jesus says... we must "believeth in Him" as stated in John 3:16.
Now... how could you possibly believe that all you have to do is "believe He exists "... that all you have to do is have "faith"? Especially since Jesus Himself tells us that we must "repent" or we will "perish."
Repentance is also part of what Jesus commanded the apostles to preach.
Luke 24:46-47 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
God also commands everyone, everywhere, to "repent."
Acts 17:30 Though God has overlooked those times of ignorance, he now commands everyone everywhere to repent, for he has set a day when he is going to judge the world with justice through a man he has appointed, and he has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."
God commands and wants "everyone to come to repentance,"... and thankfully, He is patient with us.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some people understand slowness, but is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance.
So what exactly is "repentance"?
Repentance is turning away from a habitual life of ungodliness and sin, turning to God, and living a life for God. It is acknowledging that you are a sinner and making a decision to seek what God desires for you... and then putting it into practice.
Acts 26:20 Instead, I first told the people in Damascus and Jerusalem, then the whole countryside of Judea, and then the gentiles to repent, turn to God, and practice works that are consistent with such repentance.
Let's consider the Greek word for "repent," which is "metanoia."
Strong's Definition for "metanoia":
(subjectively) compunction (for guilt, including reformation);
by implication reversal (of [another’s] decision): - repentance.
Thayer's Definition for "metanoia":
1) a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done
Okay... so you repent and turn to God... does this mean we will never sin again? Not according to God's Word.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
The blood of Christ keeps us cleansed of sin provided we continue to repent of our sins and confess them to God... notice John wrote to Christians that we should "make it our habit to confess our sins."
1 John 1:6-9 If we claim that we have fellowship with him but keep living in the darkness, we are lying and the truth is not in us. But if we keep living in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we do not have any sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we make it our habit to confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us those sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Repentance brings forth conversion.
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
There is no doubt we must "repent" to be saved, and we must continue to repent of sin after we are saved.
We have "learned" thus far that we must "hear the gospel of Christ," and we must "believe in Him," and we must "repent of our old ways of sin and turn to God."
Jesus also tells us more that we must do.
Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
We must "confess" Jesus before other men... we cannot be ashamed of Jesus, nor can we be ashamed of His words.
Luke 9:23-26 Then he said to all of them, "If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross every day, and follow me continually. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit will a person have if he gains the whole world, but destroys himself or is lost? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels.
In the following passage, the apostle Paul confirms what Jesus taught concerning believing and confessing.
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (ISV)
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (KJV)
It is undoubtedly clear that if we do not "confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord" and do it "before men," then Jesus will not confess us before His Father (God).
We can read an excellent example of how we confess within the story of the apostle Phillip and the eunuch.
Acts 8:35-38 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
After Phillip preached Jesus to the eunuch and as they were traveling down the road, notice the first words the eunuch spoke... "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"
It appears the eunuch was overjoyed that he could obey and be baptized. Phillip explained that nothing would hinder him as long as he believed with all of his heart.
Now notice how the eunuch confessed Jesus as he answered Phillip... "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Then the eunuch was immediately baptized.
The eunuch heard the gospel, he believed it, he confessed Jesus, and he was baptized.
The eunuch made the "good confession," which Jesus testified of and Paul confirmed.
1 Timothy 6:12-13 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
For us to abide in God, we must "confess" Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
Now it becomes even more clear that "believing He exists," as referenced in John 3:16, cannot be all we have to do.
We have "learned" thus far that we must "hear the gospel of Christ," and we must "believe in Him," and we must "repent of our old ways of sin and turn to God," and we must "confess Jesus is the Son of God."
Let's continue to read what else Jesus said... remembering that we have to trust in Jesus by believing all of what He said to do.
Mark 16:16 "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who doesn't believe will be condemned." (ISV)
Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (KJV)
Mark 16:16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." (NASB)
Jesus said, "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved."
I am not sure how much clearer this could be. Jesus said it Himself.
We must "BELIEVE" and be "BAPTIZED" to be saved.
I have no reason to doubt anything Jesus said, and I hope no one else would either because clearly Jesus also said, "And if any man hear my words, and believe not... the same shall judge him in the last day."
We know what "believe" means, but what exactly does it mean to be "baptized"?
Let's look at the Greek word for "baptize," which is "baptizo."
Strong's Definition for "baptizo":
to make whelmed (that is, fully wet);
used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism:
- baptist, baptize, wash.
Thayer's Definition for "baptizo":
1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe
3) to overwhelm
To "baptize" is to "make whelmed, fully wet, immerse."
Notice how Thayer defines it "of vessels sunk." If we study secular history that covers hundreds of years surrounding the life of Christ and in the early first century, we learn that the word "baptizo" was used to describe ships that sank at sea. These ships were completely underwater... at the bottom of the ocean. These ships were not sprinkled with water; they were overwhelmed with water. In the early days, "baptism" never meant "sprinkling." The apostles would have been perplexed had someone suggested sprinkling for baptism in their day. The Roman Catholic Church changed the method of baptism in approximately 606 A.D. This change has been brought forward as a tradition of some denominations to this very day. God never authorized the change, although it is evident that denominations are not concerned with what God desires. To emphasize this point, there is already a Greek word for "sprinkled," and that word is "rhantizo." So had Jesus meant that we only needed to be sprinkled for baptism, He could have easily used the Greek word "rhantizo" instead of "baptizo."
If we "believe" what Jesus says, we must believe that what He says in Mark 16:16 is true. The ones who will be saved are those who "believe" and are "baptized."
We "believe" in Christ, and we are "baptized" into Christ, then we are "in Christ."
Not only do we have to believe "in Christ,"... we must also be "in Christ" to be saved.
Jesus also commanded the apostles to teach all He taught and make disciples by baptizing them.
Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Jesus tells us in the above passage how disciples are made... "baptizing them" and "teaching them." These two actions can make a disciple.
And what is a disciple?
Acts 11:26c And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
A disciple is a Christian!
Doing the will of God includes believing and being baptized. If we do not believe, we "shall be damned."
Obviously, if we do not believe, we will not care to be baptized either... this would reason without even needing to be said. Think about it... did Jesus need to say, "but he that believeth not and is baptized not will be damned"? No, of course not! Jesus knows that if you do not believe, you obviously are not going to be baptized. No one is claiming that baptism alone saves us, and I cannot imagine anyone wanting to be baptized who does not believe... how ridiculous would that be. It is an ignorant argument to claim that just because Jesus only said that he who does not believe will be damned means as long as we believe we do not have to be baptized. That is not how the passage reads. Remember what "believeth in Him" means. If all we have to do is believe, there would be no reason for Jesus to have mentioned baptism.
When Peter preached the gospel message on the day of Pentecost, he commanded the people to "repent" and be "baptized" for the forgiveness of sins.
Acts 2:37-38 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? 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 Holy Ghost.
How can anyone suggest that baptism is not what causes forgiveness (remission) of sins when it is written as such in the Bible? Paul's conversion proves to us "WHEN" our sins are washed away.
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
If baptism is not essential, as some claim, then when are our sins washed away? If it is at some other point in time, such as believing, then why were Paul's sins not washed away when he first believed, or when he repented, or when he confessed, or even when he was praying before he was instructed to be baptized (Acts 9)? That's right... Paul prayed before his sins were washed away, so why were his sins not washed away by prayer, such as the sinner's prayer? The Bible clearly teaches us that Paul's sins were not washed away (forgiven) until he was baptized. The whole story is in Acts chapter 9 and chapter 22.
Paul later explains that we are "baptized" so that we can "walk in newness of life."
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Remember "WHAT" saves us... the "blood of Christ." Now we learn how we come in contact with His blood; the "WHEN" is when we are "buried with Him by baptism into death."
Paul also wrote that we who have been "baptized into Christ" have "put on Christ."
Galatians 3:26-27 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Are you one of the "For as many as have been baptized"? If you are not, you have not "put on Christ."
Is there any other way to "put on Christ" other than baptism? God forgot to inspire someone to write it in the Bible if there is.
Paul wrote again that we are "buried with Christ in baptism" and "raised" with Christ through baptism.
Colossians 2:12 Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Peter wrote that "baptism does also now save us."
1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Jesus said unless we are "born of water and of the Spirit," we cannot enter the kingdom.
John 3:5 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."
The evidence is overwhelming that we must be "baptized" to complete our salvation.
Why do so many people (including many preachers) say that baptism is not that important. They claim that baptism is simply obedience after we are already saved, or that baptism is an outward expression of an inward change? I have searched the Bible for answers, but I have yet to find any. I will never find any in the Bible, and neither will you nor any preacher because they are not there. The concept is not even mentioned in the Bible. There is no scriptural proof whatsoever for these human philosophical opinions. The only logical answer I can come up with is that they believe this because Jesus said they would... they are among the "many" that Jesus said will follow the "broad" path to destruction, while "few" find eternal life.
You may be thinking right now that what I say is cruel and unloving towards these people... how can so many people be wrong... what about all those popular evangelists on TV etc., etc.? I cannot apologize because I am not the one who is saying it... the Bible says it... you will have to take it up with God. He is the one who inspired the writers, not me.
Ask yourself how so "many" were wrong when God only saved eight souls in the days of Noah, after Noah preached for 120 years and people laughed at him. Ask yourself why Jesus said only a "few" will "find" eternal life. There is no way that "few" can possibly constitute the "majority"? I do not believe I want to be on the side of the "majority" because Jesus has clearly stated that they will follow the "broad" path to destruction.
I hope you will continue to read more scriptural proof concerning these things. I encourage you to get your Bible out and start studying... you will learn the truth for yourself if you truly study and seek God. Why risk your soul?
We have "learned" thus far that we must "hear the gospel of Christ" and we must "believe in Him" and we must "repent of our old ways of sin and turn to God," and we must "confess Jesus is the Son of God" and we must be "baptized into Christ for the remission of sins."
It is crystal clear what we must do to be saved...
We must HEAR the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn about God...
We must BELIEVE in Christ and ALL of what He said...
We must CONFESS that Jesus is Lord and the Son of God...
We must REPENT from our old way of living in sin and live for God...
We must BE BAPTIZED for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus tells us all these things for a reason because He came "to save the world." We also know that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
John 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
You have now come to the knowledge of the truth for what we must do to be saved. Why do you delay, go now and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord!
God bless you!