What Is the Bible’s View?
How Can You Be Saved?
YOUR life is precious, is it not? You want to live. Imagine yourself in a small boat, tossed about in a raging storm at sea. Would you not be very concerned about saving your life? Once Jesus’ apostles were in such a situation, and they cried out: “Lord, save us, we are about to perish!”—Matt. 8:23-27.
Whether you have ever been in such a dangerous situation or not, you and all other humans face a more urgent need to be saved.
All of us have a desperate need for salvation from the imperfect, sinful and dying condition inherited from our common forefather Adam. (Rom. 3:10-12; 5:12) Both our intense need to be saved, and the result if we are, are highlighted in Romans 6:23: “The wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” But just how can we be saved out of death and receive eternal life in perfection and happiness?
Millions of persons have accepted answers such as those found in a tract distributed by a Baptist church: “Dear sinner, do not make this a difficult matter. There is one simple step between you and Jesus. When you trust Him, everything else is settled, and you have repented, you have come to Christ, you have received Him, you have done everything necessary to be saved. Take the answer in Acts 16:31 at face value: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!’”
However, according to the Bible is that “everything necessary to be saved”? Can you now, simply by believing in Jesus, get saved once and for all time? If so, why did the apostle Paul, who spoke the words at Acts 16:31, write to spirit-anointed Christians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”? (Phil. 2:12, Authorized Version) And if once a person has believed that he is thereafter completely saved, why did Paul write, “for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers”?—Rom. 13:11.
Since your life is involved, you surely want to know what the Bible does say as to how you can be saved for eternal, happy life.
The Creator did not ignore the plight that we as imperfect humans face. Bearing out the psalmist’s refrain, “Salvation belongs to Jehovah,” God made a provision by which we can be saved. (Ps. 3:8) If you desire to be saved from sin and its effects, you must look to Jehovah, “our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” The Bible urges us to call on Him in faith, being concerned with his will.—1 Tim. 2:3, 4; Joel 2:32.
Some persons might take exception to this, having in mind Paul’s advice to the jailer in Philippi, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved.” Why would Paul urge that if he knew Jehovah to be “our Savior”? The answer rests in Jesus’ role in the outworking of God’s purpose involving our salvation.
When God’s angel announced to Joseph the coming birth of Jesus, he said: “You must call his name Jesus [meaning, Jehovah is Salvation], for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) Yes, the fundamental provision that our loving Father has made for the saving of humans is the ransom sacrifice of his only-begotten Son. God’s Word repeatedly stresses Jesus’ vital role in our obtaining salvation.—John 3:16, 17.
For instance, on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. the apostle Peter gave a masterful discourse that concluded: “Know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.” Cut to the heart by what they heard, the listening Jews and proselytes wanted to know what they must do. They already worshiped Jehovah, accepted the Scriptures and believed in the holy spirit. Yet what else did they need?—Acts 2:36.
Peter told them to “get saved” from that crooked generation. How? They had to accept Jesus as the Messiah, the one about whom Peter not long afterward said: “There is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 2:38-40; 4:12) Similarly, after teaching in Philippi about “the way of salvation,” it was appropriate for Paul to tell the jailer to believe in Jesus so as to get saved.—Acts 16:12, 17, 31.
It is imperative to note, however, that in both instances the apostles showed that more was required than simply ‘believing in Jesus.’ Peter said that in addition to having faith in Jesus believers had to repent, be baptized and seek forgiveness of sins on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice. (Acts 2:38) And Paul first “spoke the word of Jehovah” to the Philippian jailer and his family, after which they were baptized. (Acts 16:32, 33) Can you see the bearing this has on your course if you want to get saved?
Far more is required than simply saying “I believe in Jesus” or “I accept Jesus as my Savior.” Certainly accepting and exercising faith in Jesus as our ransomer is necessary. But the salvation through him comes only to those who conform to the conditions on which it is offered. We have mentioned some of those conditions: A person must know of and have faith in Jehovah, accept his Word, recognize the operation of his spirit, repent and be baptized.—Heb. 11:6; Matt. 28:19; Acts 3:18.
When once a person has met these conditions, salvation is possible. Then to the question “Are you saved?” he can give the truthful reply, “Yes, thus far I am saved.”
‘But,’ someone may ask, ‘why do you say “thus far”? Were not the early Christians sure that they already were saved?’ In a sense, yes, for they met the conditions for being forgiven and saved from their sins. We read: “By this undeserved kindness, indeed, you have been saved,” and “according to his mercy he saved us through the bath that brought us to life.”—Eph. 2:8; Titus 3:5.
Yet, they knew that they had not been completely saved for all time. Having accepted Jesus, God’s means of salvation, they had to continue in the way of salvation. That is why they were told: “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” and, “Now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers.” (Phil. 2:12; Rom. 13:11) They had yet to make their salvation sure for all eternity by enduring in the way of salvation.—Matt. 10:22; Rev. 2:10.
Thus, once you are in the way of salvation, exert yourself to stay in it. You cannot earn salvation by works; faith is what is needed. (Rom. 3:10-12; Gal. 3:11) But you do need to exercise your faith by practical works that give proof of it. (Jas. 2:14-17, 26) That is what the apostles did. They especially gave emphasis to the preaching work that Jesus commanded be done by Christians. They realized, as we must, that rather than merely giving salvation to anyone who says he has accepted Him, Jesus “became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.”—Heb. 5:9.