TL-15 - How to Become a Christian
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What does the Bible say that a person has to do to become a
Christian? There could be no greater question all the world than the
question found in Acts 16:30-31, ‘What must I do to be saved?”
We hope that you'll get your Bible as we're going to think about what
the word of God says concerning the matter of salvation.
As we think about the great question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’
how does one become a Christian?
Understand there are a lot of man's opinions that are given about
this. Some people say all you got a do is believe. Others say you got to
follow our tradition, and then some will say you know just say the sinners’
All we're worried about today is- what does the Bible say? What does
God say from His word and backed up by Scripture that a person must do
to be saved? We’re going to talk about God's very simple and plain sent
plan of salvation, and let the Bible be the answer to that.
As we do that please realize we want you to know up front that the
reason this lesson is being presented is because we want people to go to
heaven. More than anything, we want you to know that God loves you and
God wants all men to be saved and to come a knowledge of the truth, 1
Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9.
As we think about this lesson on salvation, just think about in your
own mind. Maybe right now you say ‘well I am saved.’ Here's what we
would challenge you to do today, just think about your own salvation
experience. Think about when you obeyed the gospel. Think about how old
you were and where you were at and the things you did. Just for now make
it clear in your mind this is what I did, by which I know I can be saved.
Maybe somebody told you to pray this prayer; maybe you went down front
to an altar and somebody told you were saved, or maybe something
different. Just make it clear in your mind right now, and then we just ask
each of us to examine our own experience and see if that lines up with the
word and the will of God.
What does the Bible teach a person must do to be saved? First one
has to be willing to listen to or hear God's voice on salvation. In Romans
10:17 the Bible says this “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word
of God.” If faith comes by hearing and hearing is done by the word of God,
then that passage clearly teaches we get faith by hearing, listening, to the
word of God. Now you may ask yourself, well that's all good and well but
‘how does that apply to salvation?’ Without faith it's impossible to please
God. Hebrews 11:6 says ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.’ If I
can't please God without faith, then faith is essential to salvation. Right?
How do I get faith? Whatever way by which I get faith is also essential to
salvation. Listen again the Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and
hearing by the word of God.” If faith is essential to salvation and I can't get
faith without hearing the word of God, then friend hearing the word of God
is also essential to salvation. In the long-ago David said in Psalm 95:7
“Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” So yes, a
person must be willing to hear the word of God.
What does it really mean when we say ‘hear the word of God’? What
does that mean? Does that mean just somebody who stands up and says
‘I've got a message from God’ you just take it do whatever they say? How
do you hear the word of God correctly? Well the Bible defines what true
hearing is for us. For example hearing the word of God first of all means
that I recognize the authority of only God's word. I want you to think about
an example with me from the life of Jesus. Mark chapter 9 Jesus takes
Peter, James, and John up on that high mountain. There He was
transfigured before them. An amazing event occurs, and Peter, because it's
so amazing, he says ‘Lord,’ he's afraid and doesn't know what else to say
so he says ‘Lord it's good for us to be here let's make three tabernacles
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ How did God feel about
that? God's voice boomed down from heaven saying “This is my beloved
Son,” listen now “in whom I'm well pleased. Hear Him,” Jesus. If I'm going
to hear the word of God correctly, I've got to realize that Jesus, the New
Testament, is God's pattern for man to follow today. Matthew 28:18 Jesus
said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” He has
the final authority. I've got a do whatever I do in word or deed by the
authority or in the name of Jesus, Colossians 3:17.
Let's realize this as we think about hearing the word of God correctly,
there is the seriousness involved in that for on the Day of Judgment it's
going to be the words of Jesus that I am judged by. Jesus said, “He who
rejects Me does not receive My words has that which judges him. The word
that I've spoken will judge him in the last day.” For practical application as
we think about the plan of salvation, let's realize it's not man's opinions. It's
not man's traditions. It's not what somebody somewhere makes up and
says you've got a do that matters. If we're going to hear the word of God
correctly, I've got to realize this book is God's a final authority on salvation
and what it says and only what it said it's is what I must give my attention to
in listening to God.
Secondly, as we think about hearing the word of God and the
importance of that hearing also means that I'm willing to the will of the test
that I'm willing to search and to seek it out and see if what I hear is true.
Now friend this is one of the major problems that often occurs in religion
today. Somebody may be dressed nicely and somebody that people look
up to with the religious stature says something and people just
rubberstamp it and take it to the bank and feel like that's a message from
God without first checking it in the Bible. That's not how hearing is defined
in the Bible. In the Scripture correctly hearing means that I go to the word
of God to determine if what I'm being told is true to the book and the gospel
or if it's a lie.
I want you to think about Acts 17:11. Paul comes to the region of
Berea. He knocks on the door, says he's got a message from God. Acts
17:11 says “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica in
that they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures
daily to find out if these things were so.” Did those people just up and take
Paul right at his message? Paul came in and taught them the gospel. Did
they say ‘Yeah that's got to be right. We believe it right here, right now’?
They said, ‘No we're going to search Scripture.’ They searched the
Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was telling them was true to the gospel.
Friend that's the idea when you hear something, today's lesson, when
you hear that when you hear a lesson given get out your Bible and check
and see if those things are true- that's correctly hearing the word of God.
God wants you to prove it. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 commands that ‘Prove all
things. Hold fast to that which is good. Test the spirits to see whether they
are of God.’ Why? ‘For many false prophets have gone out into the world.’
Don't just buy into everything you hear hook line and sinker- check it from
the Bible and see if it's true.
Then as we think about hearing the word of God, we need to realize
that God places a high importance on carefully listening to His message.
Luke 8:18 “take heed how you hear.” Mark 4:24, “take heed what you
hear.” Mark 9:7 “take heed who you hear.” Do you remember that refrain
that occurs in every one of the seven letters to the churches in Asia? “To
him that has ears to hear let him hear.” God wants man when God speaks
and the Bible is His spoken word, God wants man to listen up, to pay
attention, and to be ready to obey His voice. First when we think about
God's plan of salvation, I've got to hear God's word- which leads right into
the next step to have faith or believe in Christ.
Understand well that the Bible clearly teaches that if a person is not
willing to obey, to believe in Jesus, and submit to Him as Lord and Christ
he cannot be saved. The Bible clearly says that John 8:24. Jesus said
‘Unless you believe that I'm He you'll surely die in your sins.’ If we don't
recognize Jesus as Messiah, as the Christ, as Immanuel, God with us-
friend we cannot be saved. In Acts chapter 8 Philip is teaching the
Ethiopian eunuch, and they're traveling down the road. In the process of
teaching him, he sees water and he says ‘Here's water. What hinders me
from being baptized?’ Here's the condition, ‘If you believe with all your
heart you may,’ Acts 8:36-37.
So friend listen carefully, there's no denying you've got to believe in
Jesus. But just as well, I want you to hear this. The Bible never teaches all
I've got to do to be saved is believe. I know I hear it a lot probably just like
you. There are people who stand up and teach and proclaim that all you
got a do to be saved is believe in Jesus. Friend the Bible never says faith
only will save. In fact did you know the only time ‘faith only’ or ‘belief alone’
occurs in your Bible and mine, it says it won't save? That's right! The only
time those two words are combined God said, the Holy Spirit says, ‘it will
Now let me show you that from the Scripture. Notice your attention to
James chapter 2. I want you to look at what the half-brother the Lord
James says in James chapter 2. Look with me if you would in verse
number 24. That's James 2:24. James says, “You see they then that a man
is justified,” just as if I'd never sinned, “you see then that a man is justified
by works,” watch it now, “and not by faith only.” The only time ‘faith only’
occurs in the English Bible and friend God says you're not justified by ‘faith
only’. As we read our Bible, we recognize that to be true. Matthew 7:21
Jesus said “It's not everybody that looks up in heaven and says ‘Lord,
Lord,’ that's going there.” People acknowledge Him as Lord. They believe
in Him, but they're not going to heaven. Jesus said, “It's he who does the
will of my Father in heaven.” Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all
who obey Him, Hebrews 5:8-9.
I remember the words of Jesus well when He spoke to the religious
elite in Luke 6:46. He asked this striking question, “Why do you call me
‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things which I say?” Don't you remember the
admonishment of Jesus? John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me keep my
commandments.” Belief alone is not all it takes. Don't get me wrong, it's
essential. The Bible clearly teaches that, but I've got to be willing to do
more than just believe in Christ.
Along those same lines sometimes I hear people say, ‘Well to be
saved here's what you need to do,’ and they've got this little prayer ready.
They say you need to say the sinners’ prayer. It'll often go something like
this: ‘Dear Lord, dear Jesus I recognize you as saver Savior. I honor you as
master. I ask you to come in my heart and life and save me. In Jesus name
amen.’ Friend here's the question I ask- where is that found in the Bible?
Where does the Bible say to be saved you need to say the sinners’ prayer?
Friend here's what's amazing- you can look from the very first verse
Genesis 1:1 to the very last verse Revelation 22:21 and not one time will
you find that prayer mentioned in the Bible! What? I, we, hear it like it
occurs all the time, and it's not even in the Bible! That's right check your
Bible and see! You can't even find that one time in the Scripture. It is a
man-made prayer. It's man-made doctrine, and it is not found in the
teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now on to the third step, once I hear God's word, once I believe in
Jesus, I then must be willing to repent of sin in my life. Repentance means
to change one's way of thinking that leads to a changed way of acting. I
change the way I feel about my life. I don't do the old things I used to do, or
make up my mind try not to do those things, and now I'm ready to follow
God. I know repentance is essential to salvation for Jesus said in Luke
13:3, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Must a man repent of
sin to be saved? Jesus said ‘If you don't repent, you will perish.’ Acts 2:38
in the first gospel sermon when he preached Jesus was the Christ, they're
cut to the heart with sin. They cried out “Men and brethren what shall we
do?” The answer is, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your
sins.” Acts 3:19 Peter preached ‘Repent and be converted that your sins
might be blotted out that seasons of refreshing might come from the
presence of the Lord.’ Repent be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Repent that your sins may be blotted out. Repentance is no doubt
connected in God's plan of salvation to forgive man of sin and to cleanse
him of iniquity.
When we talk about repentance, sometimes there's confusion along
those lines. Sometimes people think that repentance is equated with tears
and sorrow. Don't get me wrong, repentance may have that as a part of it
but tears and sorrow alone is not real repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:10 the
Bible says ‘Godly sorrow produces repentance,’ not godly sorrow is
repentance. Feeling sorrowful, even in a godly way about sin, may lead one
to repentance that implies that sorrow alone is not repentance.
What is repentance? Luke 3:8 we learn that repentance demands a
changed life. Certain people came out to John to be baptized of him and
these are the religious elite who want to do it looks like because everybody
else is doing it. John said, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee
from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and do not
say to yourself ‘we've got Abraham as our father.’” John clearly taught them
repentance has fruit. It has some kind of indicator in one's life that a person
is trying to change. Does that mean we are going to be perfect? That's not
what we're saying. Nobody is perfect, or we're not from time to time we do
make mistakes. We do mess up. We're trying we turn from the old, and we
turn to the new. Thus, we want to put on the new man, put off the old man
as the Scripture teaches us throughout the books of Colossians and
Now let's move to that fourth step in God's plan of salvation. Once I
have heard the word of God, I believe the evidence that Jesus is the
Messiah, and I'm willing to change my life- the Bible also teaches I must
confess/ acknowledge with my mouth that Jesus is the Christ the Son of
God. Romans 10:10 the Bible says it this way ‘With the heart or with the
mind one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is
made unto salvation.’
We see an example of that in Acts 8:36-38. Do you remember we
mentioned earlier that Philip is traveling down the road with the Ethiopian
eunuch? They've come to a certain water. ‘Here's water. What hinders
me?’ ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ Peter said these words or
the Ethiopian eunuch said these words, “I believe Jesus is the Christ the
Son of the living God,” and that's what we're talking about-making the good
You can know that is an essential part of salvation. Here's why we
know that. Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, ‘If you won't confess me before
men, neither will I confess you before the Father who is in heaven. If you
will confess me before men, I'll also confess you before my Father who is in
heaven.’ Is it necessary that I acknowledge Jesus as the Christ to be
saved? Jesus indeed said that it was.
Sometimes people want to stop short in what the Bible teaches about
salvation, but friend the Bible teaches there is a another essential element
command that God wants man to do to be saved and that is to be saved
the Bible teaches man must be baptized.
Listen carefully, I know a lot of people teach and a lot of people claim
baptism's something good you ought to do. It's an outward sign of an
inward grace, but it is not essential to salvation. You remember in the
beginning of this lesson we encouraged each of us that what we hear we
check it by the Bible to make sure that's true. That's all we're asking right
The Bible teaches baptism is essential to be saved not something
you do after you're saved. How we know that?
Let's begin by thinking about what baptism is. Sometimes people talk
about baptism, and they use a rather loose and un-biblical definition for
that. They will say it may mean sprinkling. It may mean pouring, or it may
mean immersion. If one's not immersed in water, he's not met the Bible
requirement for baptism. Let me illustrate that.
What is baptism according to the Scripture? In John 3:23 John was
baptizing in the region of Aenon near Salim. Why? Because there was
much water there. How much water does it take to sprinkle? Not much!
What about to pour a little water? Not much! How much water does it take
to immerse an adult? Much water!
Listen to the other examples. Romans 6:1-4, Paul likened baptism
unto a burial. Imagine last time you went to a burial, graveside funeral.
What'd they do with the body? Did they lay it on the ground and sprinkle a
little dirt on it? Did they pour a little dirt on it? They dug a hole in the
ground. They placed that body all the way on the ground. It's covered on
the bottom and covered on every side by dirt, and then they completely
covered it. They engulfed it. They immersed it. They encased it in the
ground. The Bible says baptism is a burial not a sprinkling or not a pouring.
It's a burial.
Now two other passages, Mark 1:9-11 at the baptism of Jesus it says
as He was coming up out of the water the spirit descended upon Him like a
dove. To come up out of water, what must you first do? Well you’ve got to
go down into it. Jesus went down into the water to come up out of it, and
thus for His mode of baptism He was immersed. It was the same thing with
the Ethiopian eunuch. In Acts 8:37-39 both Philip and the eunuch stop the
chariot. They got down out of the water. They went into the water. He
baptized him, and they came up out of the water-again a picture of
immersion. You don't find sprinkling in the Bible. You don't find pouring. We
find people being immersed for the forgiveness of sins.
What then does the Bible teach is the purpose of baptism? I want to
direct your attention to these passages with us. The Bible teaches that
baptism is essential to be saved. It is essential for salvation. Mark 16:16
Jesus said it this way, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He
who does not believe will be condemned.” Did Jesus say you- just answer
the question for yourself from your own Bible- did Jesus say a person must
believe and be baptized to be saved? Friend if He said that, let's believe it.
What about Acts 2:38? Peter stood up with the 11 proclaimed the gospel.
When they wanted to know ‘what must we do to be saved?’ Peter said,
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ why
for the remission of sins.” Does the Bible say you've got to repent and be
baptized to have your sins remitted? Can't be saved without your sins
being forgiven. Does the Bible say you've got to repent and be baptized to
be saved, to be forgiven? Acts 22:16 Saul is told “Arise and be baptized
and wash away your sin calling on the name the Lord.” At what point is
man's sin washed away? It's at the point of baptism, and thus it is essential
Let's also realize this, one of the things that the Scripture clearly
teaches is that all spiritual blessings are found inside of Christ- Ephesians
1:3. 2 Timothy 2:10 says that salvation is also in Christ. If all spiritual
blessings are in Christ and if salvation is also in Christ, then we've got to
ask the question- how does the Bible say a person gets in Christ? And
again it's at the point of baptism. Galatians 3:27 the Bible says “As many of
us as were baptized,” listen, “into Christ have clothed ourselves with
Christ.” We’re baptized into His death, Romans 6:3-4. If I want access all
spiritual blessings, if I want to be in Christ, I've got to be baptized to get into
Now I know the objection. Sometimes people will often give
objections as it relates to these things. Sometimes people say ‘you know
that's all good and well but the Bible never says you baptism saves or you
have to be baptized to be saved.’ It absolutely does! 1 Peter 3:21 “Baptism
does now also save us.” That's the explicit language of the Bible. Listen to
it again. “Baptism doth now also save us.”
If the Bible says baptism saves, why would we ever make up a
doctrine or why would man ever make up a doctrine that says it's not
essential? Somebody says ‘Okay, but the Bible never says you got to be
baptized to get into God's kingdom and go to heaven.’ It absolutely does!
John 3:5 Jesus said, “Unless a man is born of water and the spirit he
cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
We ask you today to think about-remember when that the initial part
of this lesson we encouraged each one of us to think about our own
salvation experience or asked you think about where you were, have
maybe how old you were- and then to make clear in your mind exactly what
steps you took by which you knew you were saved.
Here's all we ask you to do, now hold that up look at it in view of what
we've studied today. Do the two merge?
If they don't match up, then friend we're encouraging you today- won't
you obey the gospel? Won't you become a Christian? Have you heard the
message about Christ? Do you believe He's the Savior of the world? Are
you willing to repent of sin that's in your life and turn from it and turn to
God? Would you acknowledge Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God
with your mouth? Would you be baptized for the remission of your sins?
If you haven't done that, you'd like to study more, or if we can help
you in any way- please contact us and may God help each of us to every
day obey the gospel of Christ.
Study Questions for: “Topical Lesson 15: Plan of Salvation”
1. According to Romans 10:17, how do we get faith?
2. What does Hebrews 11:6 say about faith?
3. According to Matthew 28:18, who has authority?
4. What made the Bereans more fair-minded in Acts 17:11?
5. What does 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tell us to prove? What should we hold
6. What must we do according to John 8:24?
7. What was the condition for the eunuch to be baptized in Acts 8:36-37?
8. If we love Jesus, what will we do according to John 14:15?
9. According to Luke 13:3, what must we do?
10. Who will be saved according to Mark 16:16?