Peter answered this question for a crowd that asked him essentially the same thing in Acts 2. They asked, "What must we do to be saved?" In that instance, he answered them succinctly. But the truth on the path to salvation - your eternal salvation - runs throughout the entire Bible. The great plan of God to "redeem us from all lawlessness" was revealed in the very first pages of the Bible - "in the beginning". It's why "God has appeared" as Paul writes to Titus.
Getting to the truth about your path to salvation can be known. Why would God leave it ambiguous? Answering just a few basic questions with Scripture reveals the plain truth about the path to salvation.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
God’s grace appeared, bringing salvation for all people and training us to renounce sin and its passions. As a result, we live godly, righteous lives, controlling ourselves in the present age and waiting for the appearing of the glory God – Jesus Christ, our hope. He gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness, purifying us as a people for His own possession and eagerly doing good.
Paul is writing to a young preacher, Titus. He provides instructions regarding many of the other roles in the congregation including pastors/elders and deacons in chapter one. He continues to give instruction regarding behavior to certain segments/groups within the church: older men (2:2), older women (2:3), younger women (2:4), younger men (2:6) and finally slaves (2:9). With all of these, their behavior is to be exhibited as would “accord with sound doctrine” (1:9, 2:1, 2:10).
The heart should be the very last thing we should trust1,4,5,8. It is where evil thoughts and deeds are spawned6,7. What’s worse, our heart/mind can deceive us1,4 into thinking we are doing right. We must focus on God’s will and not our own2,5 and should be asking God for help3 and wisdom7.
There is literally no passage that describes a “sinner’s prayer” or any prayer related to or connected with one’s being saved or converted. The only passage used to justify such a prayer1 actually qualifies “calling on the Lord” not as any sort of prayer. Rather, Paul ties it to belief (heart) and confession (mouth). Further, we see the phrase used again by Paul2 to describe the ongoing worship that the saved engage in as a local church. Indeed, we can go to other passages to see a more complete definition, including in Paul’s own conversion. There is no such thing as a “sinner’s prayer” in Scripture! And take heed, Jesus actually warns that there will be those that think they are justified in “calling on the name of the Lord”, but they will be condemned3.
An individual must hear the gospel in order to know God’s will1,6,7,8. Not only does Paul tell us this plainly in his letters, but we see it played out in conversion stories in Scripture2,3,4,5. Interestingly, we see visions playing a role in all of these examples2,3,4 – even visions of Jesus, Himself5 – yet, in every case the fundamental pattern1 is followed (e.g. preacher sent, hearers hear, believers “call on him“8), thus fulfilling what Isaiah writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”1
If we are to follow all Scripture without Scripture weighting, we understand that our salvation is not simply one thing. It’s not grace3 (alone). It’s not faith1,2 (alone). It’s not baptism5 (alone). It’s all of these and more4,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19!! All of these have a part in what saves you; without any one you are not saved.
Yes, what saves you is all made possible and starts with God’s grace3. Specifically, the gift of His Son1,17,18,19. However, that gift can be accepted (or rejected) by belief2,4,12,18,19 in Him. We also see the necessity for obedience to His word1,2,3,6,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,17. We see the working/setting apart by the Holy Spirit7,8,13,14. We also repeatedly see the critical role that baptism plays5,15. By the way, it’s never presented as anything optional or ceremonial. Along with belief and confession2 with an open heart10, it is one of the very first acts of obedience4,7,8,15. Just as Paul emphasizes grace in one passage3, Peter (and Jesus15) emphasizes baptism in another5.
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When it comes to the thief on the cross, it's usually only raised as the "textbook" example of God's saving grace. Specifically, it's raised to counter the necessity of baptism. The popular response is something [more]
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