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Bible Q

How do we obtain salvation?

You ask how a carnal man can get saved — a question prompted by your reading of Romans 8:5-8.  God offers the gift of salvation to those who

  • believe the Gospel
  • repent and turn from their evil ways then are baptised into Jesus Christ
  • obey God and Jesus and strive everyday to serve them, leaving the things of the flesh behind

Some verses to elaborate the points above:

Acts 8:12   But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

The words “good news” are equivalent to the word gospel.  So as those who believed Philip, we also have to understand and believe the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts 17:30-31   The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, (31) because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Repentance is vital.  We have to change the way we think from thinking in a carnal manner to thinking in a spiritual manner.

Mark 16:16   Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

The above verse shows clearly two very important requirements to be saved.

The following section from Romans, tells us the process we must go through, in our conversion from being carnal to being spiritual.

Romans 6:3-13   Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death(4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his(6) We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin(7) For one who has died has been set free from sin.  (8) Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  (9) We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  (10) For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  (11) So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (13) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

So focus on the new life of serving God, and don’t focus on the old carnal ways.  Jesus gives us some good advice to help us on the way.  He tells us  in Luke 9:23-24, to

deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (24) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Every day when we wake up, we need to make a conscious decision to take up our cross.  What’s a cross used for?  Crucifixion.  What do we need to crucify?  The old man of the flesh.  It’s a daily effort.  We have to daily live for Jesus and daily make the decision to crucify the flesh.

You also ask if one can ask to be saved.  Yes, we can ask to be saved, but God requires certain things of us: belief, repentance, baptism, die to serving sin and live to serve God.

We have an example in Scripture of a man who asked what he needed to do to be saved.  This man was a Philippian jailor.  We read the account in Acts 16:30-34:

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (31) And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (32) And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  (33) 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.  (34) Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Your last question is:  How do we get faith?

Faith means belief.  If we believe God, we have faith in him.  I guess there are various ways to get faith, but basically one would need to check the claims that God makes and if the evidence is there to support those claims, one has a good basis for believing or having faith in God.    The apostle Paul tells us in Rom 10:13-15:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (14) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching(15) And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Paul is describing the crucial importance of preaching the gospel, so people can believe it.  People need information and knowledge about God and his purpose so they can weigh up the facts and make a meaningful decision about believing in him or disbelieving.

Paul gives a good succinct answer to your question in Rom 10:17

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

3 Replies to “How do we obtain salvation?”

  1. I know I will not change your mind, but would like for you to consider my comments. I was a member of The Church Of Christ for several years struggling to find answers to your beliefs. We are saved eternally by God’s grace without any actions or contributions on man’s part, thats why it’s called a free gift. Isa 50:2, Is my hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? Dan 4:35, Nebuchadnezzar said All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing, and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou? Your answer to me was we have to change the way we think from thinking in a carnal manner to thinking in a spiritual manner. I don’t know how you can make such a statement after reading romans 8 verse 7. The carnal man cannot make himself think in a spiritual manner, otherwise Paul would be making a false statement, and I don’t think he did. How do we “get” faith? We don’t get it, it is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5), so we can’t have faith unless we already have the Spirit dwelling within us. And how do we come in possesion of the Holy Spirit? God brought us to life (born again) when we were still dead in sin (Eph 2:1) There are numerious scriptures using the word “saved” that has reference to a deliverance (salvation) that we receive here and now in this world. Mark 16:16 being one example. In 1 Pet 3:20, eight souls were “saved” from drowning, a salvation they received then and there, not eternally. The like figure whereunto even baptism doeth now “save” (deliver) us from a guilty conscience to a good conscience toward God. A salvation we received the moment we are baptised and not eternally. The only thing that can eternally save a person is the faith Jesus had in himself by his action of dying for the sins of those that God gave him.(John 6:37-40). Gal 2:16, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,(any action of man), but by the faith(Jesus’s faith) of Jesus christ, even we have believed(our faith) in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the faith(Jesus’s faith) of Jesus Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Our faith delivers us many times here in this world, but those salvations we receive here in this world and not eternally. All the scriptures you have given as proof that we can have something to do with our eternal salvation are all pertaining to salvations we receive here in this world and not eternally. It’s strange to me why people like to take credit for their eternal salvation and not give God credit, honour and glory due him. I guess it explains it in Proverbs where it lists the seven things that God hates, and pride is at the top of the list. Kind regards, Forest

  2. There is no doubt that faith in God and our salvation are not our initiative; they are God’s.

    Gal 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—

    From this we learn two things. Firstly, the Galatians had been called. The grace that they received was not their own initiative. Secondly, they were in danger of undoing their calling by turning to a different gospel.
    Concrete examples help me to think about it. Saul of Tarsus was an opponent of Christ. He sincerely believed that he was doing the right thing in persecuting the Christians. That sincerity was one of the reasons God chose him.

    1Tim 1:12-14 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, (13) though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, (14) and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

    Actually it was no surprise to God that Saul was sincere. God knew before he was born that he would be called. “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.” Gal 1:15
    As with the Galatians there was a real possibility that Paul could undo God’s work in calling him, because Paul says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1Cor 9:27

    How does faith come? It comes from hearing the word of God. You have said that God sends his Spirit. Yes, that is true. It is God’s word that we hear, and God allows us the opportunity to hear the word. But God does not make us believe, and he does not make us respond to the gospel, nor does he force us to remain steadfast. He gives us every opportunity, but it is our responsibility to choose. Otherwise we would be robots.

    Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
    This does not mean that we take the initiative to believe. God calls. It is up to us to respond. Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mat 22:14

    Those who are not only “called”, but also “chosen”, are those that Paul describes in Rom 8:6 who “set their minds on the things of the Spirit”.

    The idea that we are “saved eternally” meaning (I imagine) that once we have responded to God’s call then we can longer fall, is not in accordance with scripture. The scripture I already quoted above shows that; “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1Cor 9:27

  3. We will be “saved eternally” when Jesus returns to the earth, we are resurrected, and given eternal life. Meanwhile our salvation, though real, is provisional. God’s part in our salvation is not in doubt; the only doubt is whether or not we continue. I have searched for the phrase “saved eternally” in scripture and cannot find it. Even in ordinary speech we use the word “saved” meaning slightly different things. An almost dead man in a life raft can say that he is “saved” when he is spotted by a plane. But he is only actually saved when a helicopter lifts him out of the water and he is taken to the hospital.

    Certainly John speaks of us having eternal life. John 6:54 He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up at the last day. But that needs to be understood in a way that is consistent with Paul’s statement that he might conceivably still be disqualified. It is actually true that if we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus, then we will receive eternal life. That is to say, if we really are doing what the emblems signify, and truly taking Jesus’ body and blood into ourselves, then we will certainly not only be raised at the last day, but “but we shall all be changed” (1 Cor 15:51)

    It is true that “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”. And certainly we are saved by baptism, as you correctly quoted from Peter. We are saved from sin, and we will be raised and judged.
    2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.