Scott Gage

PO Box 3425
Fayetteville, AR 72702



January/February Issue 2011 - Volume 30   Number 1

What Must I Do To Be Saved?



What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Acts 16:25-34:  25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’
29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
31 So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”



There are many different answers given in the world to the question: What Must I Do To Be Saved? Some say that we don’t have to do anything at all because God will save everyone regardless of whether they serve God or not. This doctrine contradicts what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Jesus in fact teaches that more will enter the wide gate and be lost than will choose the narrow way and be saved.

Others teach that you just believe in God and Jesus and you are saved, and there is nothing that you have to do. The Bible actually teaches that faith is more than just an intellectual assent to the existence of God. The Bible idea of faith more corresponds to our English word “trust.” When we trust God we listen to his word and obey him. There is no one who believes more intellectually in the existence of God than the Devil and his angels. Notice what James says, “18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”(James 2:18-19) The Devil and demons believe in the existence of God, but they do not trust and obey his word. We must conclude that the kind of faith the Bible teaches us to have is one that leads us to trust and obey God.

Still others teach that God has chosen who will be saved and who will be lost and you don’t have any choice in the matter. All you can do is hope that God will give you some kind of saving experience that will convince you that you are saved. Once again this contradicts the principles taught in various places in the Bible. The Bible teaches that men must repent and repentance requires that men make a choice between obedience and disobedience. Jesus taught: “1There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’” (Luke 13:1-5) Jesus told the people of his day that they had a decision to make between obedience and disobedience and it is no different for men today.

There are many today who teach that in order to be saved that one must believe and then say the Sinner’s Prayer. This Sinner’s Prayer is not found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, in both places where the Great Commission is recorded Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel and baptize those who believed. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16) The only time we find someone being told to repent and pray is in Acts 8:5-24. Simon had already been baptized, but when he tried to buy the ability to lay his hands on people and impart spiritual gifts, as the Apostles did, he was told to repent of his wickedness and pray for forgiveness. This is a case of a man who was already a baptized believer being told to pray for forgiveness. We cannot find the Sinner’s Prayer in the Bible, nor do we find this as a practice of the early church when people came to obey the gospel. The Apostles taught people to believe, repent, confess and be baptized for the remission of sins. The Apostles did not teach people to say the Sinner’s Prayer.

There are other things that men teach regarding salvation, but these are a few of the major doctrines taught that contradict what the New Testament teaches on the subject. We want to explore some of the passages in the New Testament that help us to understand what a man must do to be saved.

1. Some Implications

There are some implications in the question that the Jailer asked Paul and Silas. His question implies that he believed in life beyond life on this earth. He wanted to be saved so that he could enjoy this other life beyond his earthly existence. If he didn’t believe in some kind of life after death, why would he ask this question? From what did he hope to be saved? He was ready to take his own life when he thought that his prisoners had escaped. He had been assured that no one had left; they were all still in the prison. He could not have meant that he wanted to be saved from the consequences of losing his prisoners, which at that time would have meant the loss of his life. The prisoners were all there. For what kind of salvation was the Jailer looking? It must have been the eternal life that the Apostles preached.

This question also implies that the Jailer believed he was in a lost condition. If he didn’t believe he was lost, why did he ask what he needed to do to be saved? This question implies the basic truth that Jesus taught regarding the wide gate and the broad way as opposed to the narrow gate and the narrow way. Throughout the Bible we are confronted with this basic doctrine about being lost or saved. It is imbedded in the question that the Jailer asks.

This question also implies that the Jailer believed there was something he could do about his lost condition. He was asking Paul and Silas to give him direction. There was something that he could do. It wasn’t just an intellectual exercise, but it was an action that the Jailer could take that would secure his salvation, and not only for him but for his whole household. We must obey the gospel in order to be saved. Paul teaches in Romans that we obey a form of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ: “3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:3-6)

2. How Shall They Believe?

The Jailer was asking what he must do to be saved and he was told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and he would be saved.  But what is he to believe about Jesus? How could he know what he should believe or what he should do unless someone should teach him? This is exactly what Paul teaches us in Romans 10:14-17: “14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
‘ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!’

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Paul taught in Romans 10 that it would come to pass that whoever called on the name of the Lord would be saved. However, a man cannot call upon a Lord about whom he knows nothing. So how can he know unless someone teaches him? It is obvious that the gospel must first be preached before it can be believed and obeyed. Saving faith comes through hearing the word of God. Paul and Silas taught the Jailer and his household and what was the outcome? Immediately he and all of his household were baptized…the very same hour of the night! Where did the Jailer hear about baptism? When Paul and Silas preached the word of the Lord to him, they preached baptism for the remission of sins. They taught him to obey the form of doctrine that has been delivered (Romans 6). The Jailer didn’t argue or question the wisdom of this command. He simply obeyed the gospel; he was baptized.

3. What does the Bible say about Calling on the Lord?

Calling on the name of the Lord does not mean to simply say Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, out loud repeatedly. We are taught to confess the Lord with our mouths. We should acknowledge that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. However, calling on the name of the Lord is a part of obeying the gospel.

The case of the Apostle Paul is helpful to us in understanding this. This story of Paul’s (he was previously called Saul) conversion is told in Acts 9. He was on his way to Damascus to bind Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem. On the road a bright light blinded him and a voice spoke to him. Paul asked this question, “So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”  (Acts 9:6)

Paul obeyed the Lord, “Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” (Acts 9:8-9) It cannot be questioned that Paul believed the Lord when he told Paul to go into the city and he would be told what he must do. Why didn’t the Lord tell Paul right there on the road to Damascus? Why did he have to go into the city? What will happen when he goes into the city?

Paul was visited by a preacher named Ananias in the city of Damascus. In fact, Ananias had to be reassured by the Lord to go see Paul. Ananias had heard about Paul’s persecution against Christians. Just as it was true for the Jailer it was true for Paul, he must hear the gospel preached in order to believe and be saved. Years later Paul would write a letter to the Corinthians in which he states, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:2) Even the Apostle Paul must first hear the word preached before he can be saved. It was true for the Jailer; it was true for Paul; and it is true for us today.

It is instructive to look back at Paul’s activities in the days leading up to his baptism. As we quoted from Acts 9 earlier, Paul was fasting for three days. He neither ate nor drank. In addition to his fasting Paul was praying because Ananias was told in Acts 9:11, “So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.’” So we find Paul was fasting and praying for three days leading up to the time that Ananias came to him to preach the word of the Lord to him. Paul still had to hear the word from Ananias. We note what transpired when Ananias came to Paul: “17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.” (Acts 9:11)  Paul was baptized as a result of hearing the word of the Lord.

When Paul recounts his conversion experience before the crowd as recorded in Acts 22, we learn some additional truth about what Ananias said to Paul. Listen to what Paul recounts: “’And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” (Acts 22:16) This passage is very instructive to us. It helps us to understand what it means to call on the name of the Lord. It also demonstrates that even though Paul had been fasting and praying for three days, he was still in his sins. He had not been saved as yet because he had not yet obeyed the form of doctrine given to us. He must arise and be baptized, thereby calling on the name of the Lord. And in obedience to the gospel command to be baptized Paul also had his sins washed away.


We return to the question that the Jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs what must I do to be saved?” As we noted, in the world we may find many conflicting answers to this question. However, in the word of God we can find clear evidence of what we must do. It is imperative first of all that we hear the word of truth. For how can we believe on him of whom we have not heard? And the word of truth instructs us to believe on the Lord Jesus, to repent of our sins, to confess the Lord with our mouth and to be baptized for the remission of sins. This is the form of doctrine that we obey, the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are buried with him in baptism that we might rise to walk in newness of life in him.

Have you obeyed the gospel? If not, why not? The word is near you. Open your heart to the Lord and his word and obey from the heart the form of doctrine delivered to us.

...Scott Gage

   Fayetteville, Arkansas



Toward the end of the Sunday service, the Minister asked, "How many of you have forgiven your enemies?"


Eighty percent held up their hands. The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.


"Mrs. Jones?"   "Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?"  "I don't have any," she replied, smiling sweetly.


"Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?"  "Ninety-eight." she replied.


"Oh Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?"


The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said, "I outlived all of them."


…Sent via email


Volume 30  -  Number 1 -  Jan/Feb 2011     BC is published every other month. Send all inquiries, address changes and subscriptions to the editor:  Scott Gage, PO Box 3425, Fayetteville, AR  72702-3425 Voice & Fax 479-521-6809  Email: Lsgage129@cs.com