What must I do to be saved? (a little rant)

This particular article is not about the gospel itself, but our Biblically required response to it. If you are unsure if you know the gospel, please consider this Gospel booklet, which will go through the Scriptures with you on both the good news along with what is, and what is not asked of a non-believer in order to be saved.

Do any of you ever look back and wonder what ‘gospel’ you may have told someone in your past? Especially those of you who were raised Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Church of Christ and others who add to the Gospel. Or maybe you’ve learned this from a church claiming grace, but teaching ‘lose your salvation or repent from sin to be saved?

This man-made requirements are not good news at all to a non-believer. This requires a work, maybe even a good work, but not something a person who is a sinner without the Holy Spirit can accomplish. Nor is it required (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7; Rom 4:1-6; 11:6)

There was so much church language out there that was muddled, beyond that, some church style language that was flat out wrong. Non-biblical terms they add to what you must do to be saved, such as surrender allturn from your sinsmake Him the Lord of your life, or put Him on the throne, etc.

Part of the problem may be that some could be using poor paraphrases like NLT or the Living Bible which either add the words from sins‘ to the word repent, or changes the word repent to ‘turn from sin’ (LB). Others are using the Message (an almost occult-like new age paraphrase), which literally replaces the word repent with ‘change your life‘ — so it’s understandable why they get mixed up beyond just bad teachers or pastors.

How much surrender friends? How many sins have you turned from? Is it enough? Have you made Him Lord of your life in all areas? Is He sitting on the throne all the time or do you fail? God’s standard is perfection, which is why none of these works can be added in order to gain eternal life.

What does repent mean?

I remember during that time, reading through Acts again. But this time, I really wanted to see what info the apostles shared that people needed to believe. And to determine what repent actually meant.

I saw in Acts that all people were told to repent, so it was a matter of finding out what repentance meant. Then I noticed verses saying that all people should do works worthy of that repentance. I certainly believe once we are believers, we should do works worthy of demonstrating to others that we have had a change of thinking (repent) when we believed.

But we also are told in Scripture that some believers not only did not demonstrate good works, but they did some really despicable things, (James 2-4; 1 Cor 5, 1 Cor 11; Gal 5, etc) — things they committed that were worse than the ‘heathen’, yet it was said their soul would still be saved. So good works cannot be added to gaining salvation, or in order to keep that salvation, nor is it a proof of salvation. If your church is teaching you that, you need to find another.

What Kind of Repentance for Salvation?

Repentance in Salvation is a change of mind or thought. Something we previously believed that would keep us from believing the truth. Some believe there is no God, or that there are many gods or many paths to God. Some believe being a Jew or a Catholic will save them. Some don’t believe Jesus is God. Some don’t believe He died on the cross and rose again. You need to repent from those things that are not true.

Repentance is implicit when someone has believed the truth of the gospel. In fact, the book of John which never uses the word once, yet was written so that people might come to know and believe He is the Christ/Messiah, the Son of God, and that in believing that, we would have life (eternal) through His name (John 20:31). So the word itself does not need to be used (I know, gasps of horror from some of you).

A clear gospel

I remember some Bible teacher in my past asking something along these lines; “Since the gospel is what is the power of God unto salvation, shouldn’t we be very sure we are keeping it clear?”

Man, I was not in any way keeping in clear. Who knows what I was adding? I wanted to know. I had been down the ‘Romans Road‘. When I was young, I used the early language of ‘ask Jesus into your heart‘. I tried the different methods, the ‘steps to salvation‘, etc. etc. I even checked out the ‘Way of the Master‘ (it’s not His Way at all). Instead, in His Word we are told over and over and over and over again in so many ways what our response is to be to the good news of who Jesus is, and what He’s done for us:

BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:28-29

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. John 6:47

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (Holy Spirit) John 8:37-39

(The Blind man, one of my favorite stories)
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. John 9:35-38

And the passage we shared with the husband of our friend Wendy. who was just promoted to her place with the Lord a couple of weeks ago:

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. John 11:25-27


Whoever believes in Jesus (and His work for them) shall:

  • HAVE everlasting life
  • Be Justified from all things
  • Never die
  • Never perish
  • Never be Lost
  • Never be plucked out of His hand
  • Never be cast out
  • Never be forsaken
  • Never be separated from His love
  • Never come into condemnation
  • Never hunger or thirst (we know this does not speak of food or water)

(1 John 5:13; John 6:40, 47; Acts 13:39; John 11:25-27; John 10:28-29; John 6:37; Heb 13:5; Rom 8:31-39; John 5:24; John 3:14-18; John 6:35)

9 Responses to “What must I do to be saved? (a little rant)

  • Dear Holly

    I have spoken to you before, I read your articles from time to time.

    There is an issue that has caused me a lot of trouble in my thoughts in the past few months, it’s the idea that “God would give someone over to a reprobate mind.”

    One with such a mindset, people say can never receive the Gospel. Like God has shut the door on them and given them over to their sins.

    Is this statement ever true at all? If so, is there an example of it in the Bible?

    I believe 100% Jesus accomplished his mission, but I fear I can never be saved. My sins just pile up, and I don’t believe I have been given the Holy Spirit because I never feel like following God out of my sins. I’m just so stuck in them. I question weather my belief is genuine but I cannot doubt Jesus paid for all of my sins on the cross.

    I know like your post has said, just believing is the answer. i have done that the best that I could, and I do not contribute works to salvation. I have asked God to save me before too, and I know his word says “Whosoever calls on the name of The Lord shall be saved.”

    Any advice on this issue of the “Doctrine of Reprobation” would be much appreciated.



    • Liam, funny, the Lord I believe directed me to run across a comment of yours from four years ago yesterday. I will say this regarding you. You are listening to the wrong people. It’s kind of apparent in some of your comments like the ‘doctrine of reprobation’. Their doctrines have nothing to do with Biblical doctrines. The Word shows in context shows that God makes Himself known to all. And yet it is they who do not want to retain thoughts of God in their mind. It was because of their choices that their foolish hearts were darkened. God didn’t force them to be reprobate anymore than He did with Pharoah. He knows their end, and they choose to be hardened against God. This is not just about sin, but about their attitude towards God. God ‘giving them over’ is showing God does not force us against our will. But understand, these are hardened non-believers being spoken of in Romans 1, not sinning or carnal believers. Sometimes they bring up 2 Thess. 2:10-12, but again, this time period is the 7 years of judgment upon Israel, and they will have much reason to choose God, but they still prefer darkness.

      You are not letting Jesus wash your feet. You figure you can do it yourself (that was me for many years, still can be me). Read John 13, see where Peter said initially he didn’t want Jesus to wash His feet, and Jesus said if he didn’t, he couldn’t ‘partake’ with Him (walk in fellowship). There are two aspects to Christianity in this life. There is the receiving of eternal life by belief in Him. He did it all, we did nothing. He asks us to believe Him. If you’re having a hard time believing, remember Faith comes by hearing the Word (Rom 10:17), so get more Word. We are washed in the water by the Word (Eph 5:26), so get washed. Ps 119:9 says how can a young man cleanse his way? And the answer is taking heed to His Word. The more we know it, the better we can listen. Read Luke 10:38-42 again. Really see Mary and what she chose. And choose the same thing, and out of it, trust what God says about His Word. It will not return void, it will accomplish what He sends it to do. It will provide food for the eater, or seed for the sower. It will settle on you in a certain way, like the snow and the rain from heaven.

      God saved many people that I’m sure others thought couldn’t be saved. And some had evil thoughts almost immediately after salvation (like Simon in Acts 8 thinking he could buy (and exploit), the gift of the Holy Spirit). Or the incestuous adulterer. Or the church that could have cared less about it (1 Cor 5). Or those in James. Stop looking at your behavior, and ask the Lord to please wash your feet with His Word. Only you can make the choice to spend time in it. And if you don’t, the enemy will be able to take you down daily with his accusations, because you won’t have your sword sharpened (Eph 6).

      Two answers. Time with the Lord and hearing of His Word.

      Love in Christ.

    • I wanted to comfort you too Liam because I have the exact same fears and struggles too especially lately. I was so afraid for a while because I did not have the “desires” that I saw many christians had. I was pulled by my sins and the temptations got so bad i wanted to give up because how could I ever succeed or live like this. And I’m slowly learning how much God wants me to just let go and let Him guide me and to not worry about the words of man.

      • Jenny, I think many of us have gone through this, and realize that we will go through it again, through choices of our own, or through circumstances of life, or because of what others may do to us. We walk by faith, not by sight 🙂

  • Thank You Holly, things seemed so much more simple years ago after I believed. I was able to read the Bible enthusiastically but I have lost the fire for it, believing God has not been answering my prayers.

    It’s cementing myself as one of his children by faith, I struggle with that concept. My mind is always looking for an excuse to say “I am not a true believer”. Be it my mind pointing me to my sins, or my lack of love for God.

    I have prayed for him to work on my heart and perform a good work in me.

    • Liam, love for another person comes by getting to know them. You know the saying, out of sight, out of mind? Kind of like anorexics, as they push away the food, food becomes less desirable for them. We start with just obeying to continue in His Word by faith in Him. We pray, we ask Him to help us, each day, each step. Sadly, not one of us loves Him the way He should be loved, but we will. Fortunately when He sees us, He sees His Son. I am praying He will continue the work He started, just remember we can’t finish it in the flesh, so we can’t push it, but we can acknowledge Him in more of our ways. Trust in Him, lean on Him more often vs. our own understanding.

  • Just wanted to let you know how impressive I find your article to be. The clarity of your post is remarkable, leading me to believe that you are an authority on this subject. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to subscribe to your feed in order to be notified of future posts. Your work is truly appreciated. Please continue this gratifying endeavor.

    • Johnny, there is a drop down menu for subscribe about 30 seconds after you open the site if you would like to join. Thanks.

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