If you are to ask people for the answer to this question, you will most likely get as many different answers as people you ask. But can they all be right? That probably depends upon your view of truth. If you believe that truth is the same for everyone, then you must answer no. If this is the case, where, then, can the answer to life’s most important question be found?
When we go to the Bible, we find many people being saved in the first century (the 30 - 60 years right after Jesus' death). This is the time that the apostles were going through the world teaching the gospel (Mat. 28:18–20; Mark 16:15-16; Lk 24:45-49). If people in the first century discovered how to be saved by listening to the apostles, then we should be able to discover how people can be saved in the twenty-first century can be saved by listening to the apostles. This is especially true if it is discovered that every person saved in New Testament times was saved in the same way. Let’s look at some of them.
Jews on Pentecost. The record of the conversion of 3,000 Jews on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is recorded in (Acts 2:14–41). What did they do to be saved?
* In verses 14–35, 38–40, they heard the gospel.
* In verses 36, 41, 44, they believed in the gospel.
* In verses 37, 38, they were told to repent of their sins.
* In verse 47, Luke implies they had confessed their faith in Jesus.
* In verses 38, 41, they were baptized for the remission of their sins.
* In verses 38, 47, these things are said to have resulted in their being saved.
Samaritans. The record of the conversion of the first Samaritans (Acts 8:5-13). What did they do to be saved?
* In verses 5, 12, they heard the gospel.
* In verse 5, it is said that they believed in the gospel.
* In verses 9, 10, Luke told of their sins of which they repented.
* In verses 10, 12, Luke implies they confessed their faith in Jesus instead of Simon.
* In verses 12, 13, they were baptized for the remission of their sins (cf. verse 16).
* In verse 16, it is said they had been saved (baptism in the name of Jesus is for the remission of sins according to Acts 2:38).
Ethiopian Eunuch. The record of the conversion of the first African (Acts 8:26-31). What did he do to be saved?
* In verse 35, he heard the gospel.
* In verses 36, 37, he believed in the gospel.
* In verse 36, he repented of his sins (he had been worshiping God under the Law of Moses that was no longer in effect and turned to serve God under the New Covenant).
* In verse 37, he confessed his faith in Jesus.
* In verse 38, he was baptized for the remission of his sins (according to Acts 10:47-48, baptism in water is the same as baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, which according to Acts 2:38 is for the remission of sins).
* In verse 39, he went on his way rejoicing knowing he was now saved.
These are the first three recorded cases of conversion in the New Testament. Do you notice, they 1) heard the gospel, then 2) believed in the gospel, next 3) obeyed the gospel by repenting of their sins, confessing their faith in Jesus, and being baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of their sins.
Consider the following chart that documents the cases of conversion that are recorded in the New Testament:
Notice that in every case of conversion in the New Testament the people hearing the gospel,believing the gospel, repenting of their sins, confessing their faith in Jesus (as commanded in Rom 10:17-18), and by being baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins.
A common passage connected with salvation is Eph 2:8-9, “for by grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should boast.” But, if you’ll notice in the chart, before Paul said this to the Ephesians they too had heard the gospel, believed the gospel,repented of their sins, and had been baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of their sins. Today, if you want it to be said of you that you have been saved by grace through faith like it was said of the Ephesians, then you must do what they did before this can be said of you.
We see then that conversion is summed up in three categories: 1) a change of heart, 2) a change of conduct, and 3) a change in relationship with God. So how is a person converted?
* Through belief your heart is changed, Joh 3:16; Joh 8:24; Heb 11:6.
* Through repentance your conduct is changed Lk 13:3; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30-31.
* Through baptism your relationship with God is changed, Mk 16:16; Acts 22:16; Gal 3:26-27.