Article: 7 Min

What Must I Believe to Be Saved?

by Bibles.net

The Bible teaches that a person can only be saved from God’s punishment for their sins and made right with God through faith in Jesus. Faith is confidence about what we can’t see, or being convinced that something is true (Hebrews 11:1). In other words, it’s belief.

But you might wonder what exactly you must believe in order to be saved. After all, many people believe that Jesus existed. James 2:19 tells us that even the demons believe God exists, and they recognized Jesus as the Son of God when he was on earth (Luke 4:34). But that doesn’t mean the demons are in good standing with God.

Having faith in Jesus does include trusting Jesus’ word about who he claimed to be. It also includes trusting his Word about what he has done on our behalf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 summarizes what Jesus has done for us saying that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead “according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Believing that Jesus died for your sins actually rests upon a number of other beliefs that are woven throughout Scripture—beliefs about God, humans,  Jesus, and life with Jesus.

We hope that like us you can confidently say that you have faith in Jesus. We also want you to understand what that really means. Consider the following truths from the Bible, about God, humans, Jesus, and faith itself. We wrote them in the first person so that as you read them, you can honestly assess whether they are truly what you believe. Read it as though you were asked to sign your name at the bottom.

1

God

  • There is a Creator God (Genesis 1:1) who made me to know, love, and worship him. Because he made me, I am responsible to him.  
  • God is holy, perfect, and good (Revelation 4:8; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 100:5; Nahum 1:7). He cannot dwell with evil (Psalm 5:4). He defines right and wrong and has given us his perfect law.  He will not tolerate those who fail to keep his commands, for that would contradict his goodness. 
  • God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4). He will punish every evil deed with perfect justice (Hebrews 4:13). 
2

Mankind

  • Humans were created good, the crown jewel of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-28), who have fallen into sin, through the sin of their father, Adam (Romans 5:12-14).
  • We’re sinners who choose to live for ourselves rather than yield our lives to God and worship him as he deserves (Romans 1:18-23).  
  • We’ve fallen short of God’s standard, sinning against him and others by not loving them nor God as we should (Luke 10:27; Romans 3:23).  
  • We’re on our way to eternal conscious punishment for our sins against God (Romans 1:18; 6:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). 
  • We can do nothing to save ourselves from God’s just punishment or to earn his favor (Romans 3:10; Galatians 2:16; 3:10). 
3

Jesus

  • God sent his Son Jesus, who is truly God, into the world to save me from my sin, because no mere human can make another human right with God (Psalm 49:7,15; Mark 10:45; John 1:1; John 3:16; John 10:30). 
  • Jesus is fully human, but he never sinned. Instead, he lived a life of perfect obedience to God (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). 
  • Jesus died on a cross, willingly being punished by God for my sin. He is the only way for me to be saved from God’s wrath and restored to a right relationship with God (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). 
  • Jesus rose from the dead, to free me from the power, penalty, and (when he returns) the total presence of my sin (2 Corinthians 5:17). 
  • Jesus is Lord over heaven and earth. Being my Savior, he is also my Lord, who I belong to and obey (Philippians 2:9-11). 
4

Faith and Repentance

  • Salvation becomes mine only by believing in Jesus and receiving his gift. I cannot earn God’s forgiveness for my sins, nor will I ever deserve it. I cannot mend my broken relationship with God myself (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Jesus’ work, however, can (and did!). I must simply trust in what Jesus has already done on my behalf.
  • Trusting Jesus means turning from my sins in repentance. (Repentance simply means changing your mind and turning away from sin.) Repentance is not a work I do, but the other side of the faith that God gifts us (Ephesians 2:8-10).

 

So, friend, the question is, do you believe these things? Would you sign your name to these things? And have these truths begun to transform you? 

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Believe and Be Saved
by Isaac Watts
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We have made a graphic so you can keep the poem "Believe and Be Saved" on your phone as your background or screensaver!

Verse
John 1:12-13 ESV

But to all who did receive him [Jesus], 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.

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Loving God means
keeping

his commandments,
and his commandments
are not burdensome.

1 JOHN 5:3 ESV
Verse
JOHN 6:67-69 NIV

“You do not want to leave too, do you?”
Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him,
“Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and to know
that you are the holy one of God."

The Belgic Confession (Part 2)

Creation, Angels, and Demons

We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, has created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator. That he does also still uphold and govern them by his eternal providence, and infinite power, for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God.

He also created the angels good, to be his messengers and to serve his elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state.

The devils and evil spirits are so depraved, that they are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers, watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all; and are, therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments.

Therefore we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of spirits and angels, and also that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.

God’s Providence

We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment.

Nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly.

And, as to what he does surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn only those things which he has revealed to us in his Word, without transgressing these limits.

This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father; who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power, that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust (Matthew 10:29-31); being persuaded, that he so restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us.

And therefore we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance.

The Fall: Our Inability to Do Good

We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God.

But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death.

And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: where St. John calls men darkness (John 1:5). Therefore we reject all that is taught repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin, and has nothing of himself, unless it is given from heaven.

For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can do any good, since Christ says, “No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him” (John 6:44)?

Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God (Romans 8:7)?

Who can speak of his knowledge, since “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14)?

In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not “sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5)?

And therefore what the apostle says ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but that Christ has wrought in man; which he teaches us, when he says, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

The Fall’s Effect: Original Sin

We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and a hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother’s womb, and which produces in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind.

Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death.

Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation. 

Eternal Election: God Chooses Who to Save

We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just:

  • Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works.
  • Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves. 
God’s Promise: To Rescue Fallen Humanity

We believe that our most gracious God, in his admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had thus thrown himself into temporal and eternal death, and made himself wholly miserable, was pleased to seek and comfort him, when he trembling fled from his presence, promising him that he would give his Son, who should be made of a woman, to bruise the head of the serpent, and would make him happy (Genesis 3:15).

God’s Plan: Jesus Christ Became a Man

We confess, therefore, that God did fulfill the promise, which he made to the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own, only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, without the means of man, and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man.

For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of his mother) that Christ is:

  • A partaker of the flesh and blood of the children (Hebrews 2:14)
  • That he is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Psalm 132:11)
  • A fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary, made of a woman (Galatians 4:4)
  • A branch of David (Jeremiah 33:15
  • A shoot of the root of Jesse sprung from the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:6)
  • Descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham, since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and became like unto his brethren in all things (Hebrews 2:16-17), sin excepted, so that in truth he is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us (Matthew 1:23). 
Jesus Is Fully God and Fully Man

We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties.

As then the divine nature has always remained untreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also has the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body.

And though he has by his resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless he has not changed the reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person, that they were not separated even by his death. Therefore that which he, when dying, commended into the hands of his Father, was a real human spirit, departing from his body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when he was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while.

Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very God by his power to conquer death; and very man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.

God Shows His Justice and Mercy in Christ

We believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent his Son to assume that nature, in which the disobedience was committed, to make satisfaction in the same, and to bear the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death.

God therefore manifested his justice against his Son, when he laid our iniquities upon him; and poured forth his mercy and goodness on us, who were guilty and worthy of damnation, out of mere and perfect love, giving his Son unto death for us, and raising him for our justification, that through him we might obtain immortality and life eternal.

Jesus Satisfied God’s Wrath and Is Our Only High Priest

We believe that Jesus Christ is ordained with an oath to be an everlasting High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20); and that he has presented himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease his wrath by his full satisfaction, by offering himself on the tree of the cross, and pouring out his precious blood to purge away our sins; as the prophets had foretold.

For it is written: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and numbered with the transgressors, and condemned by Pontius Pilate as a malefactor, though he had first declared him innocent.

Therefore: he restored that which he took not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, as well in his body as in his soul, feeling the terrible punishment which our sins had merited; insomuch that his sweat became like unto drops of blood falling on the ground. He called out, “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 26:46) and has suffered all this for the remission of our sins.

Wherefore we justly say with the apostle Paul: that we know nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2); we count all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose wounds we find all manner of consolation (Philippians 3:8).

Neither is it necessary to seek or invent any other means of being reconciled to God, than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers are made perfect forever. This is also the reason why he was called by the angel of God, Jesus, that is to say, Savior, because he should save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Faith In Jesus Christ

We believe and confess also, that the Holy Spirit, from eternity, proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, but only proceeds from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son: and therefore, is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.

How We Stand Righteous Before God

We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied: as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle says, that we are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:24).

And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in anything in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in him. This is sufficient to cover all our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approving to God; freeing the conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig-leaves.

And verily if we should appear before God, relying on ourselves, or on any other creature, though ever so little, we should, alas! be consumed. And therefore everyone must pray with David: “O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2).

Doing Good Works

We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Spirit, does regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin.

Therefore it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commended in his Word (Galatians 5:6).

Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good.

Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can we merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Let us therefore attend to what is written: when “ye shall have done all those things which are commended you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).

In the meantime, we not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and at though we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them.

Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.

The End of the Ceremonial Law in the Old Testament

We believe, that the ceremonies and figures of the law ceased at the coming of Christ, and that all the shadows are accomplished; so that the use of them must be abolished amongst Christian; yet the truth and substance of them remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have their completion.

In the meantime, we still use the testimonies taken out of the law and the prophets, to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel, and to regulate our life in all honesty, to the glory of God, according to his will.

Jesus Is Our Only Access to God

We believe that we have no access unto God, but alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1), who therefore became man, having united in one person the divine and human natures, that we men might have access to the divine majesty, which access would otherwise be barred against us.

But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between him and us, ought in no wise to affright us by his majesty, or cause us to seek another according to our infancy. For there is no creature either in heaven or on earth who loveth us more than Jesus Christ; who, though he was in the form of God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a man, and of a servant for us, and was made like unto his brethren in all things (Philippians 2:6-7; Hebrews 2:17).

If then we should seek for another Mediator, who would be well affected towards us, whom could we find, who loved us more than he, who laid down his life for us, even when we were his enemies?

And if we seek for one who has power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as he who sits at the right hand of his Father, and who has all power in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner be heard than the own well beloved Son of God?

Therefore it was only through distrust that this practice of dishonoring, instead of honoring the saints, was introduced, doing that, which they never have done, nor required, but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according to their bounden duty, as appears by their writings.

Neither must we plead here our unworthiness; for the meaning is not that we should offer our prayers to God on the ground of our own worthiness but only on the ground of the excellency and worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is become ours by faith.

Therefore the apostle, to remove this foolish fear, or rather mistrust from us, justly says, that Jesus Christ was made like unto his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17). “For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

And further to encourage us, he adds, “seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The same apostle says, “having boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith… (Hebrews 10:19, 22)

Likewise, Christ has an “unchangeable priesthood, wherefore he is able also to save them to the utter most, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).

What more can be required? since Christ himself says, “I am the way and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). To what purpose should we then seek another advocate, since it has pleased God, to give us his own Son as an advocate? Let us not for sake him to take another, or rather to seek after another, without ever being able to find him; for God well knew, when he gave him to us, that we were sinners.

Therefore according to the command of Christ, we call upon the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our own Mediator, as we are taught in the Lord’s prayer; being assured that whatever we ask of the Father in his name, will be granted us.