The kingdom of God has come through Jesus. He is Christ, the King, God’s only Son. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day according to the scriptures. God, our loving and graceful Father, saves everyone who repents from their sin, believes the gospel, and follows Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. When King Jesus returns on the last day, the Great Day of Judgment, all Christians will enter the eternal kingdom of God (Mk. 1:14–17; 8:27–31; 1 Cor. 15:1–5; Jn. 3:16; Eph. 2:8–10; Mt. 25:31–46).
The gospel demands a response.*
WHAT MUST ONE DO TO BE SAVED?
REPENT from sin. Because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” God commands all people everywhere to repent (Rom. 3:23; Acts 17:30). The word repent is an imperative that means to reverse course, or to turn away from something. The “something” we are to turn away from is sin. Sin can be defined as “any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.” (Grudem) Jesus said in Luke 13:3, “Unless you repent, you will perish.” Repentance is not a one-time act. Instead, God commands us to live in a state of ongoing repentance.
BELIEVE the gospel. Repentance and belief are two sides of the single coin of salvation. In repentance, we turn away from sin. In belief, we turn to God. The gospel declares “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” (Jn. 3:17–18). As with repentance, Christians should live in an ongoing state of belief.
CONFESS Jesus as Lord. The outflow of biblical gospel belief is the confession of Jesus as Lord. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
FOLLOW Jesus. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk. 8:34). Jesus never taught that a person can receive salvation and not follow him. In fact, he warned against such teaching. In Luke 6:46, Jesus asked the penetrating question, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” He also said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). John echoed Jesus’s warning by saying, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 Jn. 2:4–6).
* In order to be saved, sinners must repent from sin, believe the gospel, confess Jesus as Lord, and follow Him until the end. These actions, however, should not be considered acts that earn salvation. Paul reminded the Ephesians, “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). No person is saved as a result of works. Therefore, as we repent, believe, confess, and follow, we do not earn salvation; rather, we demonstrate the reality of God’s saving grace in our lives.