What Must I Do to be Saved?

June 21, 2020 · 1345 words · 7 minute read Baptism   Faith   Justification   Question   Repentance   Salvation   Works  

Seriously, what must I do to be saved?

This blog post contains what I consider to be big, weighty questions (with very few answers). If you choose to keep reading, please skim this post first: https://bible.hightower.space/posts/2020-warning/.

What must I do to be saved?

Seriously, what must I do to be saved? I’m so confused and overwhelmed by a whirl-wind of comments and responses on this question (both from inside and outside the Bible) that I honestly don’t know what the answer is right now. One of the key questions in this whole discussion is: What do we mean by the word “saved”? But, I’ll address that at a later date. For now, I’ll define “saved” as: spending eternity with God in heaven and, later, the News Heavens and New Earth.

Here are some Bible passages and the main command which, by some people’s interpretations of the passage, answers the question of how someone can be saved:

Matthew

  • Matthew 4:17 - Repent
  • Matthew 5:20 - Have a righteousness which exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees
  • Matthew 6:14-15 - Forgive others
  • Matthew 7:21 - Do the will of God the Father
  • Matthew 7:24-27 - Hear and do Jesus’ words
  • Matthew 10:22 - Endure to the end[1]
  • Matthew 11:28-30 - Come to Jesus, take His yoke, and learn from Him to get rest for your soul
  • Matthew 12:31 - Do NOT blaspheme the Spirit
  • Matthew 12:50 - Do the will of God the Father
  • Matthew 13:23 - Hear the word of the kingdom and understand it, producing fruit
  • Matthew 13:41 - Do NOT be a stumbling block or commit lawlessness
  • Matthew 13:47-52 - Be righteous (not wicked)
  • Matthew 15:13 - Be planted by God the Father
  • Matthew 16:24-27 - Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus Christ
  • Matthew 16:27 - Do good deeds
  • Matthew 18:3 - Be converted and become like children
  • Matthew 18:3 - Do NOT cause a little one to stumble
  • Matthew 18:8 - Cut off and throw away that which causes you to stumble
  • Matthew 18:21-35 - Forgive, from your heart, your brother who sins against you
  • Matthew 19:16-26 - Keep the commandments (namely, those mentioned in verses 18-19)[1]
  • Matthew 19:21 - Sell your possessions, give the poor and follow Jesus [3]
  • Matthew 22:1-14 - Be dressed appropriately (whatever that means)
  • Matthew 24:13 - Endure to the end[1]
  • Matthew 24:42 - 25:30 - Be faithful and alert
  • Matthew 25:31-46 - Lovingly act toward those in the Church as if serving Christ (and, be righteous (Matthew 25:46))
  • Matthew 28:18-20 - Become a disciple, be baptized, and observe Christ’s commands

Mark

  • Mark 1:15 - Repent and believe in the Gospel
  • Mark 1:4 - Repent and be baptized(?)
  • Mark 3:29 - Do NOT blaspheme the Spirit
  • Mark 3:35 - Do the will of God the Father
  • Mark 4:1-20 - Hear the word of the kingdom and understand it, producing fruit
  • Mark 6:12 - Repent
  • Mark 8:34 - Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus Christ
  • Mark 8:35 - Lose your life for Christ’s sake[1]
  • Mark 8:38 - Do NOT be ashamed of Christ(?)
  • Mark 9:42 - Do NOT cause a little one to stumble
  • Mark 9:43-48 - Cut off and throw away that which causes you to stumble
  • Mark 10:15 - Receive the Kingdom of God like a child
  • Mark 10:17-22 - Keep the commandments (namely, those mentioned in verse 19)
  • Mark 10:21 - See entry for Matthew 19:21
  • Mark 11:25-26 - Forgive anything you have against anyone
  • Mark 13:13 - Endure to the end[1]
  • Mark 13:21 - Do NOT follow false ‘christs’
  • Mark 16:16 - Believe and be baptized (and do not disbelieve)[2]

Luke

  • Luke 3:3 - Experience a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins
  • Luke 3:7-14 - Bear fruit in keeping with repentance
  • Luke 3:16-17 - ???[4]
  • Luke 5:18-26 - Have faith to forgive sins[3]
  • Luke 5:31-32 - Repent ???[4]
  • Luke 6:46-49 - Come to Jesus, hear His words and do them
  • Luke 7:44-50 - Have faith to receive forgiveness of sins
  • Luke 8:4-15 - The difference between the seed on the shallow soil and the seed on the good soil is holding fast to God’s word and bearing fruit with perseverance
  • Luke 8:21 - Hear God’s word and do it
  • Luke 9:23 - Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus Christ[1]
  • Luke 9:24 - Lose your life for Christ’s sake[1]
  • Luke 9:62 - Don’t turn back[3]
  • Luke 12:8 - Confess Jesus before men[1]
  • Luke 12:9 - Do NOT deny Jesus before men
  • Luke 12:10 - Do NOT blaspheme the Spirit
  • Luke 13:1-5 - Repent
  • Luke 13:22-30 - Strive to enter through the narrow gate
  • Luke 15:7 - Repent
  • Luke 17:2 - Do NOT cause a little one to stumble
  • Luke 17:33 - Lose your life (and do NOT seek to keep it)
  • Luke 18:9-14 - Humble yourself and implore God for mercy
  • Luke 18:16-17 - Receive the kingdom like a child (in the context this is emphasizing the humility with which the kingdom must be received)
  • Luke 18:18-27 - Keep the commandments (namely, those mentioned in verse 20)
  • Luke 18:18-27 - Sell your possessions, give the poor and follow Jesus[3]
  • Luke 21:19 - Endure to the end
  • Luke 24:47 - Repent for the forgiveness of sins

John

  • John 1:16 - Receive/Believe Jesus
  • John 3:3 - Be born again
  • John 3:5 - Be born of water and spirit[5]
  • John 3:9-21 (esp. 15, 16, 18) - Believe
  • John 3:36 - Believe in the Son and obey the son
  • John 5:24 - Hear Jesus’ word and believe in Him who sent Jesus (God the Father)
  • John 5:29 - To be in the resurrection of life, one must do good
  • John 6:29 - Believe in Him (Jesus) whom He (God the Father) has sent
  • John 6:40 - Behold and believe the Son
  • John 6:47 - Believe
  • John 6:51 - Eat the bread of life
  • John 6:53-54 - Eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood
  • John 8:12 - Follow Jesus
  • John 8:24 - Believe “that I am” (Jesus speaking)
  • John 8:31-32 - “Continue in my word”
  • John 8:51 - “Keep my word”
  • John 10:9 - Enter through Jesus
  • John 10:28 - Be one of Jesus’ sheep
  • John 15:2 - Bear fruit
  • John 15:6 - Abide in Christ
  • John 20:31 - Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God…

[1] This passage can be interpreted in a way that does not make this criteria necessary for salvation, but it certainly guarantees salvation

[2] Here it appears to be the belief which is saving or condemning, not the baptism

[3] I don’t think this passage is intended as normative, but it deals with the subject of how to be saved/have sins forgiven (which may or may not be the same thing), so I included it

[4] I’m not sure if this had to do directly with salvation

[5] Interpretations of this passage vary, but Jesus makes it clear that whatever this means, it is required to enter the kingdom of God

Whew, that’s a lot of verses… I’ll conclude with two thoughts/questions. First, it is frustrating to me when conservative, evangelicals say things like “You just need to believe Jesus to be saved”. What does that mean? And besides that, a number of passages listed above seem to indicate that there is something more than belief which is required. Second, if you or anyone distills the Gospel proclamation down to a simple phrase like “believe Jesus” or “believe in Jesus” or “repent and believe”, why are you (or the person making the claim) choosing only those criteria as the ones necessary for salvation? Again, it seems like Jesus is clear that there are a number of things required to spend eternity with God. If you’re going to take one verse in isolation (e.g. John 3:16), why are you doing that? Should we not also consider the rest of Jesus’ words?

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’d like to dig more rigorously into each of these passages in the future and see which ones I interpret as actually being necessary for salvation, but that will have to wait.