What Must I Do to obtain remission of sins (be Saved)?

What must I do to he saved?  How can I receive forgiveness (remission of sins)?  What does God demand of me?  This question, in one form or another, has been asked over and over since God put mankind on this earth. This is the very same question that many Jews on the day of Pentecost wanted answered. These are the very same people who, some forty days earlier had cried out for the torturous death of Jesus. So, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke the words needed to pierce their hearts (Acts 2:22-36).

Baptism

The people, instead of reacting to this accusation with anger, as some today, reacted with godly sorrow: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They were asking the question of universal interest to all. What shall we do? How do we gain atonement for our sins’? They wanted to know what was necessary to remove the stain of blood from our hands’?

But remission of sins comes by grace

What shall we do? Do; was it possible that there was something that they (or we) could do? People for ages have insisted quite strenuously that there is nothing we can do in order to have our sins forgiven. Their rational is, “If we must do something, salvation is not of grace – it is not the free gift of God.”

Is it possible that salvation can be of grace and that we still must do something to obtain it? An illustration used to make the point go something like this: Two men were sitting at the table talking. when one noticed the other had a very nice pen. Upon the man commenting about the nice pen, the owner of the pen held it out and said, “You may have it.” Here is a gift. This is an act of grace. The man did not pay for the pen. the other simply gave it to him.

But, if this man took the modern notion of grace he would have simply sat there and stared at the pen. Why? If the gift is of grace, there is nothing for him to do to obtain the gift. If he so much as reached out his hand to take the pen he has “worked” for it and the gift is not of grace.  He, however, not burdened by this false notion of grace, would take the pen and thank the owner for his gracious offer. He did something.

Those on Pentecost understood remission of sins and salvation

And indeed, on the day of Pentecost there was something the crowd had to do. In fact, there were several things. First, they had to recognize (believe) that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Notice, something they had to do. They demonstrated this by their reaction to Peter’s sermon. Having believed, they felt they must do more. Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, agreed.  His directions were simple: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

They were commanded to repent; change their heart and ways. Also, they were commanded to be baptized. The result? The remission (blotting out) of their sins. As straight forward as this seems. many who would call themselves Christians claim forgiveness of sins is not contingent upon baptism.  Their reasoning goes; baptism is a “work” and if remission requires you to do anything, it cannot be of grace. They fail to comprehend what was said in John 6:28-29 about belief.

If we say baptism paid the price for sin, the argument would have some merit. But the fact is, I know of no one who teaches that baptism earns forgiveness of sins. Simply being obedient to God earns us nothing. We are His and this is our duty (Luke 17:10). Every one I am acquainted with (regardless of religious affiliation) accepts the necessity of belief and repentance for forgiveness. But these are things one must do. So, also, must one be baptized.

When does remission of sins come?

One objection continually raised by some is; Acts 2:38 says “because of the remission of sins . . .” instead of “for the remission of sins ….” Their reasoning; A person is baptized because he is saved, not in order to be saved. Circular logic comes into play at this point. The proponents of this reasoning argue salvation happens when they believe (and repent), otherwise salvation is of works, not faith. Despite this claim, not one single respectable translation of the Bible contains this reading! For comparrison refer to the KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, MV, NCV, RSV, NRSV and any other acronyms that you can think of.

In fact, Peter’s words properly translated into English remain: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Three thousand people understood that day and were baptized (Acts 2:41). There is a similar passage when Ananias is instructing Saul (later known as the apostle Paul) as to what was necessary for the remission of sins in Acts 22:16. If you want remission of your sins, you will believe, repent, and be baptized.

If You Were To Die Today, Would You Go To Heaven
Somethings Never Change

Grace! Is It Possible To Fall

Most of our friends in the religious community want to tell us that when God decides to bestow His grace upon us, we have no choice in the matter. And once a man has entered God’s favor (been saved), his continuing to receive God’s grace is not conditional at all upon man’s teaching, actions or will. Article 9 of the Methodist Discipline states, “Justification by faith alone is a most wholesome doctrine and full of comfort.” I can see where “faith alone” would be a very comforting idea, can’t you? If that were true, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything you might do. In fact, it would leave you the option of doing anything you might desire. Things such as cheating, lying, committing sexual immorality (and all that it implies) or even murder might be engaged in without fear of any repercussions from God.

God’s Grace is Conditional

We see conditions placed on man’s continued salvation all the way through the Bible. In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter says, “…for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble…” In this verse never falling is conditioned by the word “as long as you practice.”

It seems somewhat strange that people believe this, in that we have so much evidence in the Bible, of God placing conditions on mankind. In Gen. 2:16-17 God told Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” Is this not a command from God that Adam and Eve were required to keep? Because they transgressed that command (sinned), Adam (and Eve) were driven out of the garden and man was separated from God.

Grace must be Guarded

In Acts 8:13 Simon obeyed the gospel (called gospel of God’s grace in Acts 20:24). Yet after entering into a saved state he fell into sin as to be (1) doomed to parish, (2) having a heart not right with God, (3) needing to repent, (4) being guilty of wickedness, (5) poisoned by bitterness and (6) bound by iniquity. Some will tell us that he was not really saved, but the scriptures do not support such statements. Here is a man who entered the grace of God then turned to his own will and committed sin, refusing to abide by the conditions of the Lord and thus falling from grace. Either that, or with all the things mentioned here against him, he still goes to heaven. But in Revelation 21:27 we read, “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.” That means sin cannot enter heaven.

Also in Heb. 6:4-6 we read, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” The writer here is speaking to those who need to go beyond the first principles of Christ (Heb. 5:12-14). It could not be the alien sinner since the sinner needs to obey the first principles not go beyond them. The writer is speaking to those (1) once enlightened, (2) who have tasted the heavenly gift, (3) partook of the Holy Spirit and (4) tasted the good word of God. Not one of these can apply to the alien sinner because the alien sinner has not tasted nor partaken of any of these and certainly not been enlightened, as the Bible throughout speaks of his state as “darkness”. Instead this is describing the child of God who has not born the proper fruits, with the warning he can fall away.

Letters are Addressed to Saved

Peter addressed his second letter to those who have already obtained faith of the same value (just as strong) as the apostles (2 Pet. 1:1). Would I be wrong in assuming that they were saved? After saying that they can pursue the course that will cause them to never fall (2 Pet. 2:10), he then points out that they can be “carried away by the error of unprincipled men” (2 Pet. 3:17). Surely it is clear that remaining in God’s favor (grace) is conditioned on continued obedience to Him. Either these spoken of could fall and be lost or Heaven will have some who have left faithfulness and embraced the error of the wicked. God knew that man would attempt to tamper with His will, so he left us clear statements to disprove these human theories. Read 1 Tim. 4:1-2 and Gal. 5:4.

John 10:28-29 reads, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Some will raise the question, “doesn’t this prove that one cannot fall?” The forces of error will use many passages to try and lull people into security. What is said in John 10:28-29 is true; no man, no force, not even Satan himself, can forcibly remove a child of God from God’s care. No one who hears the voice of the Lord and follows Him is going to fall. And no power can remove such from God’s hand. But in the points, we have already made God’s Word speaks of those who decide to refuse to hear, refuse to follow, and willfully persist in entering a sinful way. No one snatched them from the Lord’s hand: they willfully departed. There is no doubt that one who abides by the conditions of God is enjoying God’s grace and will be saved eternally. Conversely one who decides to not continue in God’s Word will fall from grace (favor) and be eternally lost. Remember Peter’s admonition: “as long as you practice these things.”

Also See:

The Grace Of God

The usual definition for grace, “unmerited favor,” is not broad enough in its scope to fully defirne all that is meant by the term (see Luke 2:40; Col. 4:6). W. E. Vine defines it as, “That which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard;…on the part of the bestower, the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds, graciousness, lovingkindness, goodwill generally…especially with reference to the Divine favour or grace, e.g., Acts 14:26…” (Expository Dict. Of New Testament Words, pp. 509–510).

As seen in the Bible, grace, in respect to salvation, is a summary of all God has done to effect the salvation of man. It includes all of His acts which show favor to undeserving mankind. But God’s grace is more than mere passive pity. It expresses itself in real, concrete acts of love (Rom. 5:8).
Considering several New Testament passages makes it easy to see how His grace runs through all God has done for man’s salvation. By grace He sacrificed His Son (Heb. 5:8–9). By grace He revealed His plan of salvation (1 Cor. 2:9–12; Gal. 1:11–12; Eph. 3:1–5). It is by grace that God raises sinners to a new life in Christ (Eph. 2:4–7; cf. Rom. 6:4–5). By His grace, God commissioned His Son to build the church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28).

While grace includes all God has done to bring about the salvation of man, it excludes salvation by meritorious works (Rom. 4:4; 11:6). Salvation by works of this nature would demand a life of perfect obedience to divine law — it would be of debt. Salvation by grace, on the other hand, bridges the gap between our imperfection and God’s perfect law by means of pardon and forgiveness (1 John 2:1).

The presence and reality of sin is what makes the grace of God necessary. Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:10, 23), all, therefore, are under the sentence of death, the penalty for or the wages of sin (Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8).

God, in His matchless love, provided His Son to die in man’s place (1 Pet. 1:18–19). While the grace of God is demonstrated in many ways, none is greater than its manifestation in His Son (Rom. 3:23–24). Since man has sinned, he deserves the punishment of the second death in hell and no works he could do would earn or merit his salvation from it. Therefore, salvation is that which is given by the grace of God, a favor man has not merited. Hence, salvation is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8–9).

Some have erroneously concluded from Romans 6:14–15 that we are “not under law but under grace” and that law and grace are mutually exclusive. However, the fact we are under grace does not mean we are not subject to law and that it is not essential for us to keep divine law.

We are subject to law from God. The teaching of Christ is called “law” (1 Cor. 9:21; 1 John 3:4; Isa. 2:1–3). We are required to obey that law (1 John 3:4; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; John 4:24; 1 Pet. 4:11). Whenever God has spoken to man or given a law, He has expected strict obedience and the utmost respect for His word (Deut. 4:2; Lev. 10:1–2; Rev. 22:18–19).

Grace does not mean we are not subject to law, rather, it means that we have a means of forgiveness when we violate that law, if we meet the divine conditions. The teaching of the apostle Paul in Romans 6:14–15 is that we are not under a system of mere law without grace as a means of justification. Depending on mere law would require perfect law-keeping for justification. Such would make one a legalist. Our justification is by grace through faith.

Though salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8), it is not by grace alone. Some teach otherwise: “We believe the scriptures teach that the salvation of sinners is wholly by grace” (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, ch. 8, art. 4). Actually, one is saved by nothing alone. The many factors of salvation include: faith (Rom. 5:1); repentance (Acts 11:18); blood (Rom. 5:9–10); works (Jas. 2:24); baptism (1 Pet. 3:21); the gospel (Rom. 1:16); confession (1 John 4:2); and grace (Eph. 2:8–9).

Salvation by grace is through the teaching of the gospel, God’s “power unto salvation” (Rom.1:16). It is called “the word of His grace” (Acts 14:3) and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). It is by the gospel that the kindness of God redeems man and provides him all spiritual blessings. The word is the medium of His grace (Titus 2:11–12). The word of His grace is able to build up and strengthen the Christian so that he might grow in Christ, grow unto salvation (Acts 20:32; 1 Pet. 2:1–2).

But God’s grace is conditional. It is conditioned upon obedient faith made perfect by works (Eph. 2:8–9; Rom. 5:1–2; Jas. 2:17–26; Matt. 7:21). The obedient works upon which salvation is conditioned do not nullify grace for they do not earn salvation. The examples of Naaman (2 Kings 5) and the blind man (John 9:6–7) show that these gifts were given by grace but conditions had to be met to receive them.