What must I do to be saved?
What is the greatest question ever propounded by mortal man? Some businessman might say it is the question of how to make a fortune. Those old and feeble might say it is the question of how to live to be one hundred years of age and remain in good health all that time. The sick might answer that the greatest question has to do with a cure for cancer, tuberculosis and diseases of the heart. However, the statesmen might contend that the greatest question is how to promote peace among nations and prevent all future wars. While these are all important questions they have to do with the fleeting things of time and this life only.
"What Must I Do To Be Saved?"
But it must be agreed by all those who believe the Bible that the world's greatest question is, "What must I do to be saved?" or "What shall I do, Lord?" or "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 22:10; 2:37; 9:6.) This question has to do with the soul of man and eternal destiny. The soul of one man in one side of the balances would outweigh the whole world in the other side! Jesus said, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26.) The soul is the skyscraper to stand through the eternal ages, while the body is no more than the scaffolding and ladders round about, and very temporary in nature. Once the soul is lost eternally, it will be too late to do anything about our great question.
But let us analyze our question and show that it is exceedingly simple. First of all there are two parts to the question. "What must I do" refers to the sinner's part, and "to be saved" refers to God's part of the plan. In other words the sinner must believe and put his faith into obedience in order to be saved of God, and on God's terms. But let us further analyze the question. "What" - of all things possible to be done, just what must one do to be saved? "What must" - it is not what may one do. Jesus said, "It shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:6.) Again, it is "What must I" - it is not what must God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit do. All heaven has already moved and done its part, and it is our move next. It is "What must I do?" It is not how must I feel or what must I imagine, or what must be done to me, but "What must I do?" it is not what must I do to blot out my own sins apart from God but what must I do "to be saved."
Jailer's Question Answered
When the jailer asked "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30), he knew little or nothing about Christ and had no faith in Him. However, the earthquake of the occasion and the miracle in evidence confirmed the fact that Paul and Silas were servants of God. In answer to his question they began at the very first and said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." This was a sort of blanket proposition meaning that he would have to obey Christ and trust in Him for salvation. They then preached Christ unto him so he could believe, for faith comes by hearing the word. (Acts 16:32; Romans 10:17.) He evidently believed and repented for he took them and tried to undo the harm done, and washed their stripes. He also was baptized the same hour of the night - at midnight. (Acts 16:25, 33.) He was then saved by Christ who had said in the commission, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." He rejoiced after his baptism. He did not "hit the saw dust trail" to have his sins prayed away at an altar. He also was saved by obedient faith and not by faith only. (Heb. 5:9.)
Answered On Pentecost
When many asked our great question on Pentecost saying, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37), unlike the jailer, they had just heard about Christ and been called upon to believe in Him as "Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:37.) They had been pricked in their hearts by the truth which they had heard pointing out their guilt in the murder of Christ. (Acts 2:37.) Since they were already believers, but had not put their faith into obedience, they were simply told what to do by faith in order to be saved. The apostle said, "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." (Acts 2:38.) They were to do this "for the remission of sins" for which Christ had shed his blood. (Matt. 26:28.) When the service was over, there were no seekers turned away with the explanation that they should keep on seeking in prayer until they should find. But the record says, "They then that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41.) The last verse says, "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47.) In no case were any said to be saved who had not heard the gospel and obeyed it. Furthermore, the Lord added all of them to the same church, the church of Christ which he had said he would build. (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; Eph. 1:22, 23; 5:23; 2:16; 4:4.) They were simply Christians and wore no human religious name. (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16; James 2:7.) They subscribed to no human creed and were members of no denominational church. They were united in the one body as Christ had prayed that they should be. (John 17:20, 21; Eph. 4:3.)