What Must I Do to Be Saved?

by Shawn Brasseaux

If you were to ask the average church member, “What must I do to be saved?,” you will get a myriad of answers. Most professing Christians give contradicting instructions to this simple question. For instance, most Protestants believe that you can be saved by faith in Christ alone, without works. However, Roman Catholics believe that you must have faith in Christ and good works. Which is it? Faith alone? Or faith plus works?

Some tell us to “join the church” to receive salvation or “ask Jesus into our hearts,” or “make Jesus the Lord of your life.” Others encourage us to “repent and be baptized,” “go to mass,” “confess your sins,” “keep the Ten Commandments,” “pray in tongues,” “repent of your sins,” and “pray the sinner’s prayer.” There are over 38,000 denominations each with their own agenda and preferred doctrine. Who is right? What must you do to be saved? As one Christian expressed it, “Denominationalism is the worse thing that ever happened to Christianity!”

In this Bible study, we want to examine some common Bible verses taken out of context that have absolutely nothing to do with you and me today in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God! The Apostle Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). We need to separate what instructions were given to the nation Israel from the instructions that God gave us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace. Because people are not “rightly dividing” the Scriptures as 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV says, we get the following jumbled mess of doctrines and confusion.

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“FOR SALVATION, MUST I REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED?” (NO!)

Oftentimes, denominationalists will use Acts 2:38 for a ‘salvation invitation:’ “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.” Now, before we try to force this verse on someone who wants to be saved today, we must first understand that Acts 2:38 has a context. Acts 2:38 is God’s message to the nation Israel on the day of Pentecost—it is not directed to us! Acts 2:14,22,36 all show us that Acts chapter 2 is God’s message to “the house of Israel.” This message has nothing to do with us.

The nation Israel needed to repent because they had killed their Messiah-King, Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews had to change their mind and recognize Jesus as their Messiah, instead of rejecting Him like they had previously done. Are you a Jew? Have you just murdered your Messiah-King? Are you under Law like those Jews were, or are you under grace? Then why are you following Acts 2:38?

According to Romans 6:14-15, we are not under the law, but under grace. For you in this Dispensation of Grace, there is no repentance and water baptism necessary for salvation because Paul makes it explicitly clear that we cannot work for our salvation, and repentance and water baptism are works. Notice the following passages:

Romans 3:24-28 KJV:

“24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

According to this passage, what is necessary for salvation? Faith and works, or faith alone? Notice God is “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (verse 26)—this did not say, “him which has repented as was baptized.” Faith in Christ is the issue; not water baptism and repentance. “…A man is justified by faith WITHOUT the deeds of the law.”

Romans 4:4,5 KJV:“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Again, works are not the issue; faith in Christ Jesus is the issue. Romans 11:6 KJV says: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Galatians 2:21 KJV says: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” And Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Finally, Titus 3:5 KJV: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

Repentance follows salvation (see 2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Furthermore, Biblical repentance is a change in mind, not feeling sorry for your sins or turning from your sins (as religion often claims).

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“FOR SALVATION, MUST I DO GOOD WORKS?” (NO!)

By twisting James 2:24—“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”—the works-religionists try to convince you that you need to do a multitude of good works to merit salvation. The problem is that James 2:24 has a context, and that context has nothing to do with us.

Firstly, James was an apostle to Israel under the Mosaic Law (Galatians 2:9). Like we said earlier, we are not Jews, and we are not under the Law (Romans 6:14,15). Jews in Israel’s program could not be saved by faith alone, for works were also necessary (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 16:16): good works were to “perfect” their faith (James 2:22). Believers in Israel’s program had to have faith and then do good works to receive salvation.

In our Dispensation of Grace, we do not have to do good works as part of salvation. We do not have to “endure unto the end.” You can do good works all the days of your life and still be no closer to heaven than you were before! For you in this dispensation of Grace, there are no good works necessary for salvation. Again, we are not saved by doing good works today. Let us refer back to our previous verses.

Romans 3:24-28 KJV:

“24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

According to this passage, what is necessary for salvation? Faith and works, or faith alone? Notice God is “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (verse 26)—this did not say, “him which has kept the law.” Faith in Christ is the issue; not good works. “…A man is justified by faith WITHOUT the deeds of the law.”

Romans 4:4,5 KJV:“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Again, works are not the issue; faith in Christ Jesus is the issue. Romans 11:6 KJV says: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Galatians 2:21 KJV says: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” And Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Finally, Titus 3:5 KJV: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

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“FOR SALVATION, MUST I CONFESS MY SINS?” (NO!)

Religion’s “short account system” of confessing sins is a misunderstanding of 1 John 1:9 KJV: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This verse has nothing to do with us for three reasons.

Primarily, we do not practice 1 John 1:9 because John is Israel’s apostle (Galatians 2:9). Again, Paul is our apostle, not John (Romans 11:13). The doctrine found in 1 John belongs in Israel’s prophetic program, not our mystery program (the Dispensation of Grace). Confession of sins was Israel’s doctrine under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:21; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:6,7; Ezra 10:1; Daniel 9:20; et al.). Furthermore, in Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5 John the Baptist water baptized Jews who confessed their sins.

Secondly, 1 John 1:9 is NOT written to saved people, it is directed to lost Jews. We read in 1 John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Apparently, there are two groups of people in 1 John: some saved (forgiven), and some lost (not forgiven). In 1 John 1:9 John urges lost Jews to confess their sins in order to be saved.

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“FOR SALVATION, WHAT MUST I DO?”

Like we said earlier, you are a non-Jew, a Gentile, and you live in the Dispensation of Grace; you are not living in Israel’s program, and you are not expected to follow Israel’s directions for salvation. You need to be following the instructions God gave of the apostle of the Gentiles—the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11).

Paul wrote, “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” (Romans 1:16 KJV). And 1 Corinthians 1:21 KJV: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Romans 3:24 says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” The word “freely” means without cost to us. Verse 26 says: “To declare, I say, at this time his [God’s] righteousness: that he [God the Father] might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

None of these verses said anything about works for salvation; those who are believe (trust) in Jesus are saved, not those who work (cf. Romans 4:1-5; Ephesians 2:8,9). The issue is not tongues, penance, confession, tithing, church membership, water baptism, repentance, or anything else religion often uses to muddle up the simplicity of the Gospel of Grace. We are sinners, and we can do nothing to please God and merit salvation. The Mosaic Law condemns us; it does not make us “fit for heaven.” Romans 3:19,20 explain: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” How can we sinners be made righteous before God? We must be made the “righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Our salvation and fellowship with God is independent of our performance. We are forgiven, apart from anything we have done. In Colossians 2:13, our Apostle Paul tells us that we are “forgiven of all trespasses [in Christ].” Ephesians 4:32 says, “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” We are forgiven (past tense), not because of anything we have done, but because of Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. In Christ, we have unbroken fellowship with God forever and ever. How many times can we be forgiven of all trespasses?” Only once. In Christ, now and forever, we are forgiven of all sins—past, present, and future!

So, what must you do to be saved? That is what the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, and Paul’s answer was Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Again, there was no reference to water baptism, speaking in tongues, tithing, church membership, and so on. “Believe” literally means having faith or trust in Christ Jesus alone. When we trust in Christ Jesus alone, the Holy Spirit will take us and baptize us into the Church the Body of Christ, and we will be saved forever (Ephesians 4:30). Then, after salvation, good works will follow (Galatians 5:22,23; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8).

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, we find the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Gospel which we must trust completely if we are to receive salvation from God. The Gospel of Grace, also known as Paul’s Gospel, is that “Christ died for our sins [His blood was shed], according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.” Place your faith in this Gospel alone, and forget meriting salvation. Faithless good works do not appease God!

*** SALVATION = FAITH + NOTHING ***

“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

(Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV)

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