What Must I Do to be Saved?
By Bro Conrad Nathan Glover (1895-1986)
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30).
The question in this text is the most important ever asked by a human being. It is a question that everyone should be personally concerned about until he has found the true answer in a genuine experience of grace in his own heart. After having had this experience of grace he will become interested in all other sinners having the same experience. The spirit of missions in this world is multiplied just so far as the saving power of God's grace finds its way into human hearts.
I. Saved From What?
A. Saved from sin. What is sin? Sin is the transgression of God's law. What does sin do? It separates between God and man, and produces both physical and spiritual death. Sin is the cause of every unpleasant thing in this world, and in the world to come to all who die without salvation.
B. Saved from shame. Shame and everlasting contempt in the sight of God is the portion of every human soul as long as he remains in a unsaved state, and his sins are charged against him. Shame is a fruit of sin, and testifies against the sinner both in this life and the life to come. It causes the sinner to hide from the face of God in this world and to shrink from the justice and judgment of God in the world to come.
C. Saved from a depraved nature. All men are, by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). It is an immutable law of God that like begets like, and the race of mankind having been begotten by depraved parents are all, therefore, by nature depraved. Since all are by nature depraved, therefore, all stand in need of salvation. There is only one way to be made free from our sinful and natural state, and that is to die to the nature. By nature all men are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). All will remain children of wrath until we die to that sinful nature, spiritually, or until we are born of the Spirit and made partakers of God's nature. Since all men are possessed of a depraved nature, all need to be saved from that nature and its awful consequences.
D. Saved from eternal death. Death is a direct consequence of sin. God has said, The soul that sinneth shall die. All have sinned, therefore, all must die. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Sin separates a soul from God, and since all have sinned, all are separated from God. This separation results in eternal death.
E. Saved from hell. Hell is the place of departed spirits, whether it be called hades or gehenna; it is the ultimate abode of unsaved souls who have lived their lives in unbelief. The subjects of hell are imprisoned forever in a state of remorse and self-condemnation; an eternal night of despair; it is an eternal dying. The Bible doctrine of hell is sufficient to cause the most rebellious and stouthearted sinner to cry out in horror of it, "What must I do to be saved?"
II. How Can I Be Saved?
The Apostle Paul answered the man's inquiry as to what he must do to be saved. He said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
A. Who is Jesus Christ that He could save a soul? The world has always marveled at how Jesus can save a soul from the condition and fate outlined above. There is no possibility of any man being able to save himself, nor any group of men being able to save another, for all men are under the same condemnation. The Savior must Himself be free from sin and condemnation. Since all men are born with a depraved nature and possessed of inherent sin and have a disposition to sin, this depravity is passed on by the fathers to the children, so the Savior could not be the son of an earthly father, else He would have the sinful nature, and therefore, could not qualify under the law to be a sinless Savior. Thus it follows that God who is without and above sin must be His Father.
Here I cite a biological fact. We get our life from our father and our body from our mother, and we possess the same kind of life that our father possesses. God being the Father of Jesus Christ, He did not possess a nature of depravity, but a nature of innocence. He was born without depravity and without sin, and His life was lived here on earth in the perfection of holiness. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ being without sin, was the ONE RIGHTEOUS PERSON on earth. He was the Son of God, for God was His Father; and He was the Son of man (mankind) for Mary was His mother. He, therefore, possessed two natures, viz: divine and human, both qualified under the law of God, because of the righteousness of His life and the sinlessness of His nature to be offered as a substitute for such as are guilty under the penalty of the law. So, He stood as the Lamb, having neither spot nor blemish.
B. God must vindicate His justice. God does not offer a sinner MERCY at the expense of His JUSTICE. The penalty of sin, which is death, must be paid and justice satisfied before mercy and forgiveness can be bestowed. Since it requires eternal death to pay the penalty of the law and satisfy the demands of justice, there is neither time nor opportunity for man to do anything but die eternally; so, he is truly without God and without hope in the world when left to his own powers and abilities. If he is ever saved it will be the result of help outside of himself.
C. Jesus Christ our SUBSTITUTE under the penalty of sin. "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2). In this passage we are taught that Jesus Christ the sinless One, makes Himself the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the INIQUITY OF US ALL," (Isaiah 53:6). Isaiah teaches us that the sacrifice for sin was for all of us. John tells us that it is for the "whole world." Therefore, we see that as by nature we are all included under sin, so also, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the righteous, this sin debt was paid for all. "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus Christ, being without sin, took all of our sins upon Himself as if they were His very own, and on the cross of Calvary by his death satisfied teh demands of justice against every one of us by paying for us the penalty of the law, which is eternal death to the soul that sins. "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). He gave His life by the shedding of His blood. As there could be no remission for sins without the shedding of blood, so His life's blood was the ransom price by which we are redeemed. Redemption means to buy back from under the penalty of law. Jesus Christ died in our stead, and the price of His blood was acceptable to God, the Father. So, when the apostle saw Him transfigured in the state of His glory, as He is today, after having triumphed over death, hell and the grave, the voice of the Father was heard to say, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, here ye him." God accepted the price of our redemption, and salvation was made possible and free to every person who will accept it from Jesus Christ. The Father says, "Hear Him."
III. What Does Jesus Say We Must Do to be Saved?
Jesus told Nicodemus, the ruler of the Jews, who came to inquire the way of life, that he "must be born again."
Nicodemus said, "How can a man be born when he is old?" Both young and old are born the second time in the same manner (John 3:3, 4).
A. There are always conditions which produce a birth. The new birth is no exception to the rule that conditions determine the birth. A begetting and a conception must take place before there can be a birth. In the new birth, God is the Father and the conception takes place in the spirit in man. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth," John 6:63. Even as Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, so also is the new life conceived in the spirit of many by the Holy Spirit of God.
There are two conditions which prepare the human spirit for the conception of the new life by the Holy Spirit; these conditions are: Repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, both of which are dependent on the hearing of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
B. Repentance. What is it? Jesus said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5). Repentance is the resolute purpose of mind and heart which tears us loose from the world and a life of sin: it consists of three elements: (1) Intellectual. (2) Emotional. (3) Volitional. When one hears the gospel, he comes to know that he is a sinner. The knowledge of sin produces sorrow for sin. Sorrow for sin begets a willingness to be saved from sin; this is repentance.
C. Faith. What is it? "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarded of them that diligently seek him," (Hebrews 11:6). Since it is impossible to please God without faith, and God certainly will not receive into His eternal presence anything that displeases Him, we must have faith to abide in His presence. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). When the gospel is preached to a sinner and it finds a responsive attitude from the sinner, it produces faith in the heart of the sinner. Faith is also of three elements: (1) Intellectual; by this the sinner is made to know that God is, and that He rewards them that seek Him. (2) Belief, by the gospel, the sinner comes to believe that Christ can and will save him. (3) Trust. When the sinner knows that God will reward him, and that Christ will save him, he is led to trust Christ to save him by surrendering himself wholly into His hands. Repentance furnishes his attitude toward the world of sin, while faith furnishes his attitude toward God and Christ, and the two together cause him to surrender passively into the care and keeping of the Holy Spirit: he being thus prepared, the Holy Spirit begets within him the new life; then, he is saved; he is passed from death into life. He has the same kind of life that is in God, his Father, which is eternal life.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).