How to get Saved

Every human has a soul that exists forever, but each person's body will eventually die.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. -- Matthew 10:28 (ESV)

Requirements for salvation

Unfortunately, there are many deceptions about salvation and various denominations has their own ideas on what salvation is, mainly because they institutionalized Christianity and turned salvation into a system for their own benefit.

The only true requirement for salvation it to live in righteousness with God Who grants eternal life.

  • That means you need to be in good standing with God the Father and His Son to know them intimately through fellowship (1 John 1:3) so that they may allow you into their Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46).
  • Building relationships requires your dedication (Romans 12:2), to prevent backsliding, and requires your obedience (Matthew 7:21), love (Matthew 7:22-23) and respect (John 14:15; Romans 6:17) which take a lifetime as it is a partnership on a journey (not a once-off sinner's prayer or altar call).
  • However, if your spirit is dead, it is hard (or perhaps impossible) to interact with a Spiritual God (John 4:23-24). That is why you need to be baptized.
  • Baptism is ineffective if it is not done under the authority (name) of Christ (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:46, 19:5, 22:14-16; Galatians 3:27). Therefore, you need to accepted him as your Lord (Romans 10:9) who make it possible to renew (or reborn) your spirit.
  • Christ can only be your Lord if you obey his commands and stop living in sin.
  • You will always sin unless you commit to repent (change your bad actions, lifestyle, deal with addictions, destroy idols, remove temptations, etc.)
  • Your repentance is only effective if it is cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice of Christ (1 John 1:7).
  • You will only be able to make a true commitment, if you believe (trust) that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:31; 1 John 2:22-23), the Son of God (John 3:16, 6:47, 20:31; 1 John 5:5-10) and the Lord, that his sacrifice is sufficient (1 Corinthians 15:2-3; Isaiah 53:4-6), that he is the only saviour (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; Matthew 7:13-14; Acts 4:12) and that he is not dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Romans 10:9, Ephesians 1:13).

Therefore, the basic principles are:

  1. You must commit to God (Psalm 37:5) and at least believe (trust) that:
  2. You must repent from you sin which requires that:
    1. You must be convicted of your sins (2 Corinthians 7:10, Isaiah 3:9, 1 John 1:8, Matthew 3:7-8)
    2. You must confess your sins (Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 32:1-2,5)
  3. Wash away your sin with baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 19:4) and bury the old life (Colossians 2:12-14, Acts 22:16, Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-14)
  4. Renew your life by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; Romans 8:9; John 3:5-6; John 16:13; Titus 3:5). This will enable you to:
    • Love one another (1 John 4:12) and to
    • Testify (1 John 4:14) that Jesus is the savior of the world
  5. Enjoy fellowship with God and fellow believers for the rest of your life (Acts 2:41-42; 1 John 1:3)

However, this is no checklist that one can quickly check off one day before your die to have a ticket to heaven. What is the point if you do not want to spend time with God? How will you survive eternity in His presence?

The key is to be able to fellowship and intimately know the Father and His Son which requires a lifetime and a unique journey for each person.

Public teachings from scripture

Each teaching was directed to a specific audience who was lacking or doing something wrong that prevented salvation.

Ezekiel's prophecy

  • Audience: Israelites who already knew the commands and statutes (laws), but choose to be disobedient and follow foreign idols.

If a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all My statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. -- Ezekiel 18:21-22 (ESV)

Purpose: Ezekiel, warns the Israelites to turn away from their sins and to obey the statutes (laws).

Repentance is more than an emotional "sorry" feeling. You need to "turn away" from your old commitments and instead obey God and do what is just and right.

John the Baptist's teaching

Audience: Israelites who had listened to John's preachings. The content of his preaching is not revealed, but we can assume he taught them what the "repentance" and "kingdom" meant. We can also assume that these people already "believed" otherwise John would not have "baptized" them (Matthew 3:7-8).

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"


Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

-- Matthew 3:1-2,3:5-6 (ESV)

Purpose: John was leading the Israelites to salvation.

Jesus teaching the Israelites

Audience: Like John, Jesus was also addressing the Israelites and leading them to salvation.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying,

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

-- Mark 1:14-15 (ESV), Matthew 4:17

Purpose: Mark only gave a summary of the events, so we can conclude that this single sentence was not the full sermon of Jesus. However, the main points Mark highlighted was that Jesus said that the people had to "repent" and "believe in the gospel". In other words they need to trust what Jesus taught them was true.

Jesus teaching the 11 disciples

Audience: His eleven disciples.

Afterward he [Jesus] appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. -- Mark 16:14-16 (ESV)

Purpose: The issue here was that the disciples thought Jesus was dead. So the point Jesus made that "whoever believes" that Jesus is alive and "is baptized will be saved". If you do not believe Jesus had risen, then you cannot believe Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient, then there is no point for repentance, then you cannot be saved. These things the disciples already knew, so Jesus did not have to re-explain these steps to them. It is also important that Jesus commanded his disciples to also baptize their followers.

Peter's teaching at the Pentecost

Audience: A multitude of mixed nations in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5-6)

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

-- Acts 2:36-41

Purpose: The people were amazed at the sign of the Spirit (Acts 2:12), then Peter took the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them (Acts 2:14). So after witnessing the works of the Spirit and hearing Peter's teaching, they believed and wanted to know what they need to do to get saved too. That is why Peter left out the "believe" part because his audience already first hand witnessed the power of God's Spirit.

Peter's teaching at the temple

Audience: Jews who witnessed how Peter healed a lame beggar.

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. -- Acts 3:19-21

Purpose: The Jews were amazed at the wonder they saw (Acts 3:10), this caught a crowd's attention and Peter used to opportunity to preach to them (Acts 3:11). Peter left out the "believe" part again, because these religious Jews were already believing in God. Peter had mention the "holy prophets" because he knew that his audience already know God and he had their attention because they had just witnessed the power of God. However, he also realized that the one important thing they were lacking was repentance from their sins.

Paul addressing the residents of Areopagus

Audience: Philosophers who were curious to know what foreign God Paul was about to introduce. (Acts 17:19-21)

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. -- Acts 17:30-31

Purpose: Paul uses the opportunity to warn the Greek about God's coming judgement if they do not repent from their idols and sins. At this point they were not interested to get saved yet, that is why it was pointless to reason with them about faith, baptism, and so on. However, this warning caught some people's attention and lead the separately to salvation (Acts 17:34) of which the details were not recorded.

Paul's letter to the Corinthians

Audience: Believer reading Paul's letters.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. -- 2 Corinthians 7:10

Purpose: Paul was writing a follow-up letter on his previous letter that caused a lot of "grief" (2 Corinthians 7:6-9).

John's understanding

Audience: Believers reading John's message.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is he who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:

  1. the Spirit and
  2. the water and
  3. the blood;

and these three agree.

-- 1 John 5:4-8 (ESV)

Explanation of the metaphor:

Symbol Testimony
Spirit The Spirit gives believers a clear conscious that they are indeed saved. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
water Like water washes believers bodies at baptism, they are also washed from their sins. (Acts 22:16)
blood The blood of Jesus' when he was sacrificed that proof that he paid for the sins. (1 Peter 1:19)

Purpose: John addresses the concerns of the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 1 John 4:3) and many false prophets (1 John 3:1). The purpose of his message is to identify true believers who are already saved and to differentiate them from a false antichrist or prophet.

Examples from scripture

Because each person's circumstances, culture, motives, beliefs and background is different, it is also not surprising that each person's salvation and journey with God would be unique. In each example God address a specific thing that was lacking or that needed to change.

Zacchaeus conversion

Audience: Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector.

There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

-- Luke 19:2-10 (ESV)

Purpose: Zacchaeus already believed Jesus. His issue was that as a tax collector (possibly hated by all people), he was not sure if Jesus would accept him. Jesus proof his acceptance by staying at his house.

The Ethiopian Eunuch's conversion

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”

This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.

And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

-- Acts 8:26-38 (ESV)

Saul's conversion

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
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.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 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.

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.”

Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

-- Acts 9:17-19 (NKJV)

Paul's testimony to the Jewish mob:

“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.

And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.

So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’

And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.

“Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ -- Acts 22:6-16 (NKJV)

Paul's testimony to King Agrippa:

While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.

And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’
And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

-- Acts 26:12-18 (NKJV)

The conversion of Lydia

On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. -- Acts 16:13-15 (ESV)

The conversion of the jailer

Paul and Silas' jailer who were forced to be in their company, because he had to guard them against escaping. The jailer supposedly already heard their message (Acts 16:23-24), prayers and hymns (Acts 16:25) and after the earthquake (Acts 16:26) he most have noticed they were different from the other prisoners. The jailer almost took his own life (Acts 16:27-29), which probably lead to realize that he is not saved.

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “Believe [in] the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

-- Acts 16:30-32

Paul and Silas told the jailer that it is not them who can save anyone. He had to believe (trust) the Lord Jesus. The next verse did not record the full details of "the word of the Lord", but we can assume that the jailer and all who were in his house were taught about the Lord and how he could save them.

... and [the jailer] was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed [in] God. -- Acts 16:33-34 (ESV)

(Note the word "in" was added by the translator in both passages)