That’s a great question! In fact, it is a question right out of the Bible. People have been asking this question for hundreds of years. They have been asking it because they came to the conclusion that they were lost in sin and needing saving. Let’s look at some of the people who asked that question.
In this passage, the people who asked the question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”, had just been told that they were guilty of crucifying Jesus.(v36) They realized they were sinners and so asked what should they do to be forgiven of this sin. Now, let’s notice the answer they were given. In v38, Peter said to them, “Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The question is this passage, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”, was asked by a jailer who was standing guard in the jail where Paul and Silas were prisoners. The immediate answer that came back was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”(v31). What followed gives us a fuller understanding of what was involved in “believing in Jesus”. First, they “spoke the word of the Lord to him” so that he would know who the Lord Jesus is. Second, “immediately, he was baptized, he and his entire household”. (v33). This salvation experience was summarized by the next verse which tells us that they “rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”(v34). It is worth noting that being baptized was described as “having believed in God”.
Our next example concerns Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Jesus and the church, who became the apostle Paul. This is the story of his conversion to Christ as he related it to his Jewish audience. After telling them about seeing Jesus (v7-9), he asks the Lord this question, “What shall I do?”(v10). Again, like Acts 2:37, the fact of being saved is assumed due to the context. In Saul’s case, he now realized he had been sinning so he now wanted to know “what shall I do, to be saved or forgiven of this sin?” The answer is not immediate but he is told to go into Damascus and there it would be told him what he was to do for salvation. (v10). Once in Damascus, Paul waited three days for the answer to his question. He fasted and prayed during that time. Finally, Ananias came to him and told him simply, “And now why do you delay, Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”(v16). Ananias was telling Saul what to do by direction of the Lord Himself (Acts 9:10-19), and it was baptism that was the thing that was to wash away his sins.
There are some other examples in the book of Acts that we will refer you to at the bottom of this article, but for now these are representative enough. At this time, let’s summarize what we have seen as the answers to this question, “What must I do to be saved?”
Here is what we’ve seen:
- People being taught about the Lord (see John 6:44, 45; Mark 16:15)
- People believing on the Lord (see John 3:16; 8:24)
- People repenting of their sins (see Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30, 31)
- People being baptized for the remission of their sins (see Mark 16:15, 16;Colossians2:12; I Peter 3:21)
If you have any questions and would want to talk with someone about being saved, please contact us. We stand ready to assist you in anyway.
Other passages that you will want to study: Acts 8:1-13; Acts 8:26-39; Acts 19:1-5; Romans 10:9-17.