What must I do to be saved?

“What must I do to be saved?” is the question the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas. Paul and Silas answered with the Gospel: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30, 31). The Gospel is all of God’s grace and simple, but many stumble on it, for it goes against our desire to do something ourselves to save ourselves. Rather it is Good News, because Jesus has done it all – it is His person and work a person must look to and believe. Jesus is the Son of God, perfect and without sin, who suffered the punishment due to his people on the cross and the wrath of God due to them that they might enter into direct communion with God once again. This substitutionary sacrifice for his people’s sin, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, sealed eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord for those who believe. What follows gives the Biblical content of what we believe about ourselves, Jesus, and what He did:

What is it a person needs to be saved from?

(1) The wrath of God due to us because of the guilt of our sin  

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18)

And he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)

And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

(2) The consequences of our sin:

(A) Death  

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread through all men, because all sinned…so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord…. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12, 21; 6:23)

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)

(B) Condemnation  

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in the Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)

And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification…. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:16, 18)

Hear this from the books of Romans and Ephesians:

First the truth about all of us in our lost, sinful condition:

As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;

There is none who understands;

There is none who seeks after God.

They have all turned aside;

They have together become unprofitable;

There is none who does good, no, not one.”

“Their throat is an open tomb;

With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Destruction and misery are in their ways;

And the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”


Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those 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 no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:10-20)


And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

And now the good news – the Gospel – showing us what God has done in Christ for his people:

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. (Romans 3:21-31)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace have you been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

This same God-man conquered death for his people as he rose from the dead the third day, and after teaching and comforting the believers, he ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.

What are you to do? Believe what the Bible says about you – you are a sinner who deserves death and the wrath of God because of your sin. Believe what the Bible says about Jesus and what He did – He is the only begotten Son of God, the eternal Word who became flesh and was sinless and perfect; He was crucified on a cross and died bearing the sins of His people and rose again on the third day.

For He made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)

If you would like prayer or do not have a Bible of your own and wish to receive one (no strings attached) please contact us at The Trinity Foundation, Post Office Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692, (423) 743-0199 – voice or (423) 743-2005 – fax, or email  tjtrinityfound@aol.com. May it please the Lord to grant you salvation.

Essays for further reading:

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

How Can a Just God Forgive a Sinful Man?

Through Faith Alone

Only One Way of Salvation

What is the Gospel?

Calvin on the ‘Pernicious Hypocrisy’ of Justification by Faith and Works

The Ground of Justification

The Means of Sanctification

The Relationship between Justification and Sanctification

Justification and the Clarity of the Bible

Contemporary Religion versus the Gospel

Assurance of Salvation

Justification by Faith: Romanism and Protestantism

What is Faith?

Saving Faith

Are You Catholic?

God’s Plan to Save His People

Four Great Certainties