What were they told in the Bible?
Can anyone think of a wiser way of figuring out what you must do to be saved than turning to the Bible and seeing what people were told in the Bible when they asked the question?
Rich Young Man
From our first example, we see Jesus referring the young man to the Mosaical law. This is because Jesus had not yet died to remove the Old Law and establish the New. Since Jesus has since died and we are under a different law, the answer given this young man does not include all the information we need on the topic. The rest of the examples we will look at did ask their question since the New Law came into place.
Before we read on, I want you to think about something. Let's say there is someone who lives in Wheelersburg, OH. I for example live in Kitts Hill, OH. If I ask how to get to this person's house, someone might say, "Go down route 141. Go West on 52. Take the 522 exit."
If someone else lives on route 52 around Franklin Furnace and asks the same question, they would be told something slightly different. They might be told, "Go down route 52 and take the 522 exit."
Finally, let's suppose someone else lived right by the 522 exit. If they asked the same question they might be told simply, "Take the 522 exit".
Were these people told to do the same thing or something different? I think we would all agree they were told the same thing; they were told how to get to their destination. The answer just varied slightly depending on where they were at on their journey. Keep this in mind as we see the answers these received.
Jews on Pentecost
Note that these people were told to repent and be baptized. The question comes to mind, "Why weren't they told to believe?" It's because they already did believe. Peter had just gave them a sermon about Jesus. He mentioned in that sermon that they had seen Him and the miracles He performed. They also knew His grave was empty. Thus the steps they had left according to Peter were to repent and be baptized.
Saul of Tarsus
Paul did as he was instructed and went to see Ananias. Finally we see what Ananias told him after three days.
Paul wasn't told to believe or repent. Why? Because he already had. When he met the Lord, he believed on Him. He also had a Godly sorrow for the things he had done such as persecuting Christians. That Godly sorrow led him to repent and give up such things. The only thing left was what Ananias told him to do. He was to be baptized for the remission of sins.
Let's think about a few things here. If Paul was saved "on the road to Damascus" as some teach, then he was saved "in his sins". I say that, because even after meeting the Lord on the road he still had his sins. According to Ananias he had to be baptized for the remission of those sins. It's obvious that just believing on Jesus is not enough to have your sins forgiven.
We see that when the jailor asked what he needed to do to be saved, all he was told was to believe. Why was he not told what the others were? Unlike the Jews and Saul, he did not even yet believe in Jesus.
If what the Jews and Saul were told to do in order to be saved is correct, then you would think that's what the jailor would be told too. Rest assured, he was. It's like our example of finding the friend in Wheelersburg. The jailor was just at a different place along the road to salvation than Saul and the Jews were. The jailor you might say was just starting his journey. As we read on we see what else he was to do as Paul continued talking with him.
I'm sure the words the jailor heard were similar to those the Jews heard on the day of Pentecost. It was the story of Jesus who had been crucified, but the bonds of death could not hold Him. Surely as the jailor listened his heart too was touched like those on the day of Pentecost. When he had been taught enough to believe on Jesus, Paul must have told him what the Jews and Paul himself had to do to be saved. The jailor and his household were then baptized. The jailor and his household at that point then received the same benefits Paul and the Jews received from their baptism. Their sins were washed away (remission of sins), they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and they were added to their (the churches') number.
The next time you are wondering, or even ask, or hear someone else ask what they must do to be saved, think about the answer you or they receive. You might be told a number of things. You could be told just believe, touch the radio, just say or call on Jesus' name, that you can't do any thing... God predestines you, or a number of other answers. Then think about what you know those who ask in the Bible were told. Like our Wheelersburg example, they weren't told word for word the same answer. However, the steps they took were to believe, repent of sins, and be baptized for the remission of past sins. There are a number of other passages that verify this truth.