“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will get saved.”—Acts 16:31.
Those memorable words were spoken by the apostle Paul and Silas to a jailer in the Macedonian city of Philippi. What do those words mean? In order to understand how belief in Jesus is linked to salvation from death, we must first learn why we die. Consider what the Bible teaches.
Humans were not meant to die
“Jehovah God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it. Jehovah God also gave this command to the man: ‘From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.’”—Genesis 2:15-17.
God placed the first man, Adam, in the garden of Eden, an earthly paradise filled with abundant wildlife and beautiful vegetation. There were fruit-bearing trees from which Adam could freely eat. However, Jehovah God clearly told Adam not to eat from one specific tree, warning Adam that if he did, he would die.
Did Adam understand that prohibition? He knew what death was; he had seen animals die. If Adam were created to die eventually, God’s warning would have had little meaning. Instead, Adam realized that if he obeyed God and did not eat from that tree, he would live on endlessly—he would not die.
Some believe that the tree symbolized sexual relations, but that could not be. After all, Jehovah wanted Adam and his wife, Eve, to “be fruitful and become many” and to “fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) The prohibition applied to a real tree. Jehovah called it “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad” because it represented his right to determine what was good or bad for humans. By not eating the fruit of that tree, Adam would have shown not just his obedience but also his appreciation for the One who created him and who had blessed him so richly.
Adam died because he disobeyed God
“To Adam [God] said: ‘Because you . . . ate from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, . . . in the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.’”—Genesis 3:17, 19.
Adam ate from the tree that was forbidden to him. That act of disobedience was not to be taken lightly. It was rebellion, a flagrant disregard for all the good that Jehovah had done for him. By eating that fruit, Adam rejected Jehovah, choosing a course of independence, which would have catastrophic consequences.
Just as Jehovah foretold, Adam eventually died. God had formed Adam “out of dust from the ground” and had told him that he would “return to the ground.” Adam did not live on in another form or in another realm. At death, he became as lifeless as the dust from which he had been formed.—Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.
We die because we come from Adam
“Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Romans 5:12.
Adam’s disobedience—or sin—had far-reaching consequences. By sinning, Adam lost for himself, not just an ordinary life of 70 or 80 years, but life with the prospect of living forever. Moreover, when Adam sinned, he lost perfection and could only pass on imperfection to all his progeny.
We are all descendants of Adam. From him, through no choice of our own, we have inherited an imperfect body that is prone to sin and eventual death. Paul well described our plight. He wrote: “I am fleshly, sold under sin. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?” Paul then answers his own question: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”—Romans 7:14, 24, 25.
Jesus gave his life so that we might live forever
“The Father has sent his Son as Savior of the world.”—1 John 4:14.
Jehovah God arranged a means for overcoming the effects of sin and freeing us from the penalty of eternal death. How? He sent his beloved Son from heaven to be born as a perfect human like Adam. But, unlike Adam, Jesus “committed no sin.” (1 Peter 2:22) Because he was perfect, he did not come under the penalty of death and he could have lived forever as a perfect human.
Instead, however, Jehovah allowed Jesus to be killed by his enemies. Three days later, Jehovah brought him back to life as a spirit so that he could in time return to heaven. There, Jesus presented to God the value of his perfect human life to redeem what Adam had lost for himself and his offspring. Jehovah accepted that sacrifice, making it possible for those who exercise faith in Jesus to receive everlasting life.—Romans 3:23, 24; 1 John 2:2.
Jesus thus bought back what Adam had forfeited. He suffered death for us so that we could live forever. The Bible says: “Jesus . . . suffered death, so that by God’s undeserved kindness he might taste death for everyone.”—Hebrews 2:9.
This provision reveals much about Jehovah. His high standard of justice made it impossible for imperfect humans to redeem themselves. However, his love and mercy moved him to meet his own requirements at an enormous cost to himself—the giving of his own Son to provide the redemption price.—Romans 5:6-8.
Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and others will be too
“Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. For since death came through a man, resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.”—1 Corinthians 15:20-22.
There is no doubt that Jesus lived and died, but what evidence is there that he was raised from the dead? Among the strongest evidence is the fact that the resurrected Jesus appeared to many people on different occasions and at different places. Once, he appeared to more than 500 people. The apostle Paul wrote of that in his letter to the Corinthians, noting that some of those witnesses were still alive, implying that they could testify to what they had seen and heard.—1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
Significantly, when Paul wrote that Christ was “the firstfruits” of those raised up, he was indicating that others too would later be resurrected. Jesus himself said that the time would come when “all those in the memorial tombs” would “come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
To live forever, we must exercise faith in Jesus
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
The first pages of the Bible tell of the time when death came to be and Paradise was lost. The final pages tell of the time when death will be brought to nothing and God will restore Paradise to the earth. People will then be able to live happy, productive lives forever. Revelation 21:4 says: “Death will be no more.” To underscore the reliability of that promise, verse 5 states: “These words are faithful and true.” What Jehovah promises, he is fully able to do.
Do you believe that “these words are faithful and true”? Then, learn more about Jesus Christ, and exercise faith in him. If you do, you will gain Jehovah’s approval. Not only will you experience his rich blessing now but you will gain the hope of life eternal in the earthly Paradise, where “death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”