Many times throughout the Bible that the question is asked “What must I do?” or “What shall I do?” In fact, throughout the New Testament this is a recurring theme. And obviously, it is very important to do what is necessary to be saved. What are the things one must do?
We’ve all heard the plan of salvation: Hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized. But what do they mean? Hear what? Believe what? Let’s look a bit closer at each one of those things.
WHAT MUST I HEAR?
We take for granted sometimes that people automatically know what we are talking about when we say they must hear. But suppose someone does not know, what then? Romans 10:14 says “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” This verse says that no one can believe in Christ if they have not heard of Him! Just a few verses later, Paul says So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
So, what the person must hear is the Word of God. Throughout the Bible, people are told to obey the word of God. The Israelites in many, many instances were told to hear the Word of God and return to him. (See the entire book of Judges, and about every one of the Major and Minor Prophets). If they heard the Word of God, they had the chance to make things right.
Now, just hearing obviously is not enough, because you can see in reading those books that not every one that heard actually obeyed.
Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostles preached the first gospel sermon, starting with the following words: Act 2:22 “Ye men of Israel, hear these words;“ Later on, Peter told them Act 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”
So, there is a consequence for not hearing the Word of God! Have you ever had anyone say, “I don’t want to hear about Jesus” or “Don’t talk to me about religion.” They don’t realize that they shall be destroyed for not hearing!
We can see what we must hear to be saved: the Word of God.
WHAT MUST I BELIEVE?
In the example of those first converts on the Day of Pentecost, we can see they believed the Word of God. But what exactly must one believe before they can be saved (remember, belief alone does NOT save you, but you must at least believe a certain amount in order to be saved). Obviously they must believe that God exists, but that is not enough.
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
The people on the day of Pentecost were already religious people. So, they already had some background in the existence of God and his mighty power to save. But something was missing. What was it that they still needed to believe? The answer can be found in Peter’s sermon to them in Acts 2, but let’s look a bit later in the book of Acts at a different example.
Acts chapter 8 tells of a man of Ethiopia, a Jew who had come to Jerusalem to worship God. On his way back home, he was reading the scriptures (OT), thinking he was in a saved condition. Then Phillip showed up to preach to him.
Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
What was it that these Jews did not know yet? JESUS! Jesus came and fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. He was the messiah that they had been waiting for!
When the eunuch asked to be baptized, Phillip told him that he must believe with all his heart first. The eunuch answered and said, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” Phillip thought that was enough to baptize him and make him a Christian.
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.
So, what must we believe? That Jesus is the Son of God and that he was raised from the dead. Some try to make too many rules and restrictions on who can be baptized. They may say something like “They don’t know enough yet.” or “I don’t think they’re ready.” If you’ll notice, EVERY specific example of conversion in the book of Acts was the result of a single sermon. ONE sermon. It was not the result of weeks or months of study on many different topics. These people were at a point where they could be baptized based upon the first time they heard the truth about Jesus being the Son of God.
Paul refers to the new converts as “babes in Christ” (I Cor 3:1) I Peter 2:2, Peter tells them that “as newborn babes” they were to “desire the sincere milk of the Word.” so that they may grow. The milk of the word is the basic teachings of the gospel. Paul calls it the first principles of the oracles of God. Babies do not know much of anything, but they do grow. Slowly, but surely they do grow. We don’t expect them to be able to walk and talk and eat solid food before we allow them to be born, so why do we expect the same of people who wish to born spiritually in baptism?
Jesus even illustrated this in his last words in the books of Matthew.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Notice that the teaching of all that they were to observe came after they had been baptized. You don’t have to know the whole Bible before you can become a Christian!
What must one believe? That Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
OF WHAT MUST I REPENT?
John the Baptist preached in the wilderness “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matt 3:2)
Jesus Christ preached “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17)
Jesus also said “Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5)
Jesus sent the apostles on the limited commission, and they “preached that men should repent.” (Mark 6:12)
Peter told the Jews on the day of Pentecost “Repent” (Acts 2:38)
But the question arises: repent of what?
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;
We must repent in order to have our sins blotted out.
Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness,
Peter told Simon the sorcerer to repent of his wickedness.
Act 26:20 … that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
These were told to repent and turn TO God. This means they were not following God.
So, what we can see from these passages is that we must repent of our wickedness, and from being turned away from God. All of which can be boiled down to one word: SIN. But what does it mean to repent?
Repent means “to turn away” or “turn again” Vine’s dictionary says that repent always signifies a change for the better, and overwhelmingly is used in reference to changing from sin. Easton’s Bible Dictionary says “to change one’s mind and purpose, as a result of knowledge.”
So, repenting is a change for the better (leaving sin) after knowledge. And what is that knowledge?
Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Jesus here is speaking, and tells them to repent and believe THE GOSPEL! Change their minds and purpose as a result of hearing and believing that Jesus is the Son of God!
So, we know what we must hear (the Gospel), what we must believe (that Jesus is the Son of God – aka the Gospel),
Of what must we repent? Our own sin.
WHAT MUST I CONFESS?
To Confess is to tell someone something; to spread the word about something that deals directly with YOU. You cannot confess for someone else. To tell someone else’s sins is to gossip and be a talebearer in most cases. But you cannot confess for anyone else anymore than you can believe or repent for someone else. So, confessing is something personal. Whether it be something that you have done, or something that you believe, it is personal to you. Let us keep that in mind as we look at what we must confess.
Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (see also Luke 12:8)
So, Jesus is saying that if we confess HIM before others, He will confess us before God above. Remember, confession is something personal, so we would be professing our belief in Him as the savior and the Son of God. In turn, Christ will give his profession of His acceptance of us before God.
What must we confess? Our belief -before others-that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
I wondered about exactly how to tackle this topic. Should I do, “Why should I be baptized?” Or perhaps “How should I be baptized” or maybe even “Who must baptize me?” Or “In what must I be baptized?” So, let’s just look at all of them.
Why should I be baptized? Because over and over in the Bible it is shown as the way to get into Christ and be saved. Mark 16:16:, I Peter 3:21, Romans 6:3, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16.….
How, and in what, should I be baptized? Any example in the Bible of baptism where any description is used talks about either going into or coming up out of water. So, you must be baptized IN water. The word “IN” means “surrounded by.” So you need to be baptized, surrounded by water. That is why baptism is seen as a burial.
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.
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.
Who should baptize me? While all specific examples given in the Bible are preachers, the apostle Paul points out that the specific person who does the baptizing is not as important as the fact that they were baptized. He, in fact, thanks God that he was not the one who baptized some of the people there, because they might try to follow Paul instead of Christ. Obviously Paul wanted them baptized, but he left it to some other Christian to do it.
Why? Because we want to be saved.
How? By being buried, surrounded by water and being raised up from it.
What is the central theme of all of these? The GOSPEL, my friends! The GOSPEL!
We must hear that wonderful good news that Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth, died, was buried and arose on the third day so that we an have forgiveness of our sins! We must believe the Gospel with all of our heart! We must repent from sin, and change our mind and purpose to following Christ upon hearing the Gospel. We must confess our belief in the Gospel. And we must be baptized, following the form and command of the death, burial and resurrection (aka GOSPEL) of Jesus.
After obeying the Gospel, we must then tell others about it! If we do not continually confess Christ before others, we will not be confessed by Him before God! Spread the Word! Jesus Christ is the Son of God! He came to earth, died, was buried, and arose!
Have you followed the Gospel?