If the message of God’s word is mankind’s redemption and salvation, shouldn’t it include information about what saves you? This is a really BIG question with an eternally-weighted answer. Unfortunately, we can find lots of different answers out there among different church leaders and religious “experts”.

When it comes to what saves you there is actually little consensus. Some will highlight one thing or another. Maybe “grace” or “love” as we see in popular music lyrics. Regardless of what others think, let’s examine what God’s word has to say about what saves you.

There’s only grace
There’s only love
There’s only mercy and believe me it’s enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
There’s nothing left now
There’s only grace

Matthew West

How Scripture answers "What saves you eternally?"

If we are to follow all Scripture without Scripture weighting, we understand that what saves you eternally 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 more4,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20!! If “The sum of your word is truth” (Psalms 119:160), then all of these must have a part in what saves you. Likewise, if any single part is missing, then you are not saved.

Yes, what saves you eternally 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.

God has made provision for our salvation1,2,3,6,7,8,10,14,16,17,18 to all the world; things we can only understand from His word2,9,10,11,13,16. It’s up to each of us to respond1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,13,14,15,16,18,19 and remain faithful until the end20.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

God loved the world so much that He offered His Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not die but have eternal life.  God sent Him because He wants all to be saved through Him.  If anyone believes in the only Son of God, they will not die.  But if they refuse, they are dead already.  The judgement is the light coming into the world and people clinging to the darkness instead because they practice evil.  Those practicing evil will stay in darkness so they won’t be exposed by the light. But those that practice righteousness come to the light so that they what they do is easily seen to be of God.

Nicodemus, a pharisee, has come to Jesus at night acknowledging that Jesus is from God because of His miracles (vs 2). Jesus responds by telling him a truth, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” and concluding with this well-known passage.

Scripture-block application to this question

God’s great love provoked the giving of His Son (e.g. grace). His was the light to the world (e..g judgment) to which anyone could “come to” (e.g. faith, obedience).

But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

What does it [Scripture] say?  God’s gospel that we proclaimed to you is on your lips and in your heart is near you, since confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead saves you.

Paul’s letter to Gentiles primarily, argues for their equal inclusion/access to God. However, he also speaks to his kinsmen (Jews) stating his desire for them to be saved as well (vs 1). He goes on to say they are zealous for God but without knowledge…specifically knowledge of His word (quoting from Deuteronomy 30:14 in vs 8). He then says they need to believe with their heart and confess with their mouth in order to be saved – all of which seems to be summarized into “calling on the name of the Lord” in vs 10.

The verses immediately following lay out the process — “How then will they call on Him…”  (vs 14) and proceeds to walk through what leads someone to “call on the Lord.”  The prerequisites are first hearing (someone being sent to preach) and then believing/obeying the gospel message.

Scripture-block application to this question

Confessing Jesus is Lord and believing in His resurrection saves us.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

This comes as a result in hearing God’s word and includes, in the full context of Romans 10, calling on the name of the Lord (vs 13). And how is that defined in Scripture?

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

God who is rich in mercy and love, loved us even when we were dead in sin and made us alive together with Christ (i.e. saved us) by his free gift (“by grace”).

Paul reminds the Ephesians of their past lives in sin (vss 1-3) and the great gift they received in Christ. He further qualifies the saving grace as received “through faith” (vs 8). Finally, he says it wasn’t a result of their works (vs 9) but that “good works” are the result (vs 10).

Scripture-block application to this question

God’s free gift (grace) of Jesus Christ is fundamental in saving us.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

The grace is received by us through faith (vs 8) and isn’t the result of our work or effort (vs 9) but should result in us doing good works in His name (vs 10).

Then he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
Answering a direct question about what he [the jailor] must do to be saved, the answer is to believe in Jesus.  They then spoke the word of the Lord [the Gospel] to them and in the same hour they were baptized.

Paul and Silas are in prison and miraculously set free, but after witnessing their praise and confidence in God the jailor is convicted to obey the Gospel.

Scripture-block application to this question

Belief in Jesus saves us.

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Baptism, like Noah being saved through the water, isn’t a bath in the physical sense of bathing. It “saves you” and is your commitment to God for a good conscience by Jesus’ resurrection, the same Jesus that ascended to heaven and is at God’s right hand, with all angels, authorities, and powers made in subjection to Him.

Peter is comparing the way in which Noah and his family were saved (through water) to the way baptism now saves (also through water).  Importantly, he’s not discounting or negating the gift of God’s son and His sacrifice which makes it all possible.  Those elements that make salvation possible at all are alluded to, it’s just not his main point right here.

Scripture-block application to this question

The saving element in both instances is the water, therefore water baptism saves us spiritually.

And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

And being made perfect/complete – designated by God to be High Priest after the order of Melchizedek – He [Jesus Christ] became the source of eternal salvation for anyone that obeys.

Arguing for those things that are better under the new covenant, the writer is pointing to the better priesthood of which Christ is the High Priest.

Scripture-block application to this question

Christ saves you if you obey (which obviously starts with believing).

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

God appeared in the form of Jesus and saved us, not based on our merit but by His mercy, by the “washing of regeneration” and by renewal of the Holy Spirit, poured out fully through Christ.

Paul’s letter of encouragement to a young preacher Titus. Much like his letters to Timothy, Paul instructs Titus regarding the different churches “in every town” (1:5) to which he was ministering. Also, like Timothy, he encourages Titus to “let no one [in the church] disregard” him (2:15).

Scripture-block application to this question

A concise summary of the “saving process” – God’s free gift, our baptism, the Holy Spirit’s renewing. (Close parallel to Peter’s answer to the crowd in Acts8 – repent, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

When they heard the preaching of Peter and the rest of the apostles, they were convicted by them and asked what they should do [to be saved].  Peter told them that they each should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that they could receive the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This “gift” was the promise made for all Jews, but also all Gentiles — everyone whom God calls to himself.

Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost where he recalled several prophetic statements from Joel and David (vss 16-36). By divine inspiration, Peter interpreted these statements to apply their fulfillment to Jesus and the ushering in of the “last days”.

He also specifically refers to the “promise of the Holy Spirit” earlier – given by the Father to the Son (vs 33). More were continuing to be saved and they began meeting together as the Lord’s church (vss 41-47).

Scripture-block application to this question

They asked what to do and were told to repent and be baptized.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

The lawless one’s coming is thanks to Satan’s wicked deception and activity demonstrated with power and false signs.  His followers are perishing since they refuse to love the truth, which would save them.

Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica sometime before for the First Jewish-Roman War when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.  He is assuring them that “the day of the Lord” has not come yet (vs 2), and won’t before two things happen: “the rebellion” and the revealing of the “man of lawlessness” (vs 3).

More broadly, the Thessalonians in particular were being told by false teachers that Jesus had already returned and were afraid that they had somehow missed it and that those Christians they knew that had died would not be raised anew (1 Th 4:13ff).

Scripture-block application to this question

Connects loving truth (God’s word) to being saved and the lack of loving truth to condemnation.

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
Lydia from Thyatira and a seller of purple goods and worshipped God.  God opened the heart of Lydia in order for her to truly listen to Paul’s words.
Paul and his traveling companions are in Philippi and have sought out worshippers of God in order to teach them about Jesus. Lydia is one among a group of women they found at a known place of prayer (so presumably she was praying to God). She responded to their message and was baptized.
Scripture-block application to this question

God was active in her salvation. Importantly, it doesn’t say that He acted on her in some way (impelled her) or entered her heart. It simply says He “opened her heart” – she still had to listen, comprehend and respond.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Souls that have been purified by obeying the truth should earnestly and sincerely love one another from a pure heart.  They should be doing this since they were born again of an imperishable seed through the enduring word of God. Unlike grass which grows, blooms and dies, God’s word remains forever and it’s this same word that was preached to them.
Peter is writing to the “elect” of the “dispersion” – Christians that have been scattered throughout Galatia and Asia Minor.  He is encouraging them to stand firm in the face of current persecution and reminding them of the promise they have in and through Christ.

A portion of this passage is quoted from

Isaiah 40:6-8
Scripture-block application to this question

Christians have been born again (saved) through the word of God.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
It’s worthless for someone to say they believe but then don’t obey.  Faith can’t save by itself.  We understand that someone lacking clothing or food isn’t cared for by simply telling them to “be warmed and filled.”  We must give them the things they need.  Likewise, belief without obedience is dead.

James, the brother of Jesus, is writing a very practical letter to Christians of the “dispersion” (dispersed) when encountering trials and the testing of their faith.   He goes on to point out that even demons believed, calling those “foolish” that would consider themselves saved with “faith only”.

Scripture-block application to this question

Faith alone can’t save. Someone must act on their faith, or as Paul puts it in Romans, “the obedience of faith”.

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We should give thanks to God [the Father] in the name and authority of Jesus [the Son] since He chose you to be saved through the setting apart by the Spirit and belief in the gospel. This salvation is what He called you to by the gospel message we had preached, and its end is glorification with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica where he is warning them about coming destructive forces to the faithful – those that succumb even being helped by God who “sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,” (vs 11).
Scripture-block application to this question

They were saved by the Spirit setting them apart and their belief in the gospel (“truth”).

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Therefore brethren, as you have been even now – obey!  Not only because I was with you, but even more now that I’m away.  Each of you, work out your salvation with careful reference, for it is God who works in you for His glory and honor.

Paul is transitioning into a long closing in an otherwise short letter to the church in Philippi.  He has expressed his deep fondness for them (1:6-7) and encourages them throughout to have the “mind of Christ.”  His encouragement here is to remain strong in their “partnership in the gospel” (1:5) so they continue to “shine as light in the world” (vs 15).

Scripture-block application to this question

Our salvation is “worked out” through the combination of two things: our diligent obedience (e.g. fear and trembling”) and God that works in us.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Go out and make followers of all the people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to abide by all that I [Jesus] have commanded.  Behold, I will remain with you to the end of this age.
The very close of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life on earth.  This address was made to the eleven apostles (vs 16) and similar accounts are given at the end Mark (
Mk 16:15-16
) and Luke (
Lk 24:45-47
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus stipulates observance of “all that I have commanded” (including being baptized), as a condition of discipleship (e.g. being saved).

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Paul reminds the Corinthian brethren of the word, the Gospel of Christ, that they believed and is currently saving them. It will continue to save them as long as they remain in it (“hold fast”).

Paul is about to make his great defense of the resurrection of Christ.

Scripture-block application to this question

Our belief in the word and our continuing to “hold fast” to it saves us.Our belief in the word and our continuing to “hold fast” to it saves us.Our belief in the word and our continuing to “hold fast” to it saves us.

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).

Scripture-block application to this question

God’s “grace” in terms of salvation is the appearing of His Son. Those that accept Him must be in “training”, live “godly lives”, and be “zealous for good works”.

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

He [Jesus] came to His own people, but they did not receive Him.  However, anyone that did — by believing in Him as the Christ — He gave the right to become a child of God, having been born again, not of blood or of carnal things or of man’s ability, but of God.

The beginning of John’s testimony of the things he witnessed about Jesus’ time on earth.  He elaborates on Jesus, the Son of God’s, manifestation in the flesh (vs 14).
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus “gave the right to become” a child of God. In other words, the gift of His sacrifice (the “grace of God”3) did not automatically save everyone. The “right” was exercised only by those who “believed in his name” and “were born…of God”.

And he said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

Jesus told the woman that her faith had saved her and to go in peace.

Jesus has been invited by Simon (a Pharisee) to eat at his house (vs 36).  Also, there is a prostitute “of the city” – “a sinner” (vs 37). Simon has just wondered to himself why Jesus would be with this sinner (vs 39).  Jesus goes on to tell Simon a parable (vss 40-43) and praise the woman for her actions (works) toward Him while Simon has done nothing (vss 44-46).
Scripture-block application to this question

The woman never made a profession of faith, never “called out to Jesus”, but simply did acts/works that demonstrated her belief12 that Jesus was the son of God and Redeemer of men. In this example we see grace by Jesus’ presence as well as faith and works from the woman.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Jesus’ statement points to her faith specifically that has saved her, but obviously it’s all three: grace, faith, and works. It’s the exact lesson that Jesus is trying to teach Simon.

You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.
You [Jesus’ followers] will be betrayed even by your family members, and some of you will be put to death. You’ll be hated by everyone because of your confession of faith2. But you won’t be harmed; by your perseverance, you will be saved eternally.

It is Jesus’ final week and He has been spending most of these days in the temple teaching (vs 5, 37) before He and His disciples retire to the upper room (22:7-12).

 This address by Jesus in Luke 21:5-36 is often paralleled with the more ‘famous’ and man-titled “Olivet Discourse” recorded in Matthew 24-25 and Mark 13. However, Matthew and Mark’s accounts are with Jesus with His disciples in private (Matthew 24:3, Mark 13:3), while Luke makes it clear He was in the temple and not in private (vs 5).

Scripture-block application to this question

Endurance would eternally save those whom Jesus commissioned.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Jesus is warning them of the physical persecution – even death – that His followers will experience. Therefore, the “you will gain your lives” must be understood as eternal life.

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