What do you need to believe to be saved?


Jesus’ teaching about being “saved”

Jesus says a very profound thing to his disciples in Mark 16:

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15-16

To be in a position to be “saved” therefore one must believe in the gospel and be baptised. We have already considered baptism in previous posts and articles but in this article we will look at what the gospel consists of and what it is we need to believe.

Clearly belief is extremely important and therefore what we believe is something we should all consider. In Ephesians Paul writes to the believers and says:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8

So the principle is that we cannot save ourselves and that being ‘saved’ will be a gift of God. How are we saved? Through faith. In what? The gospel as Jesus has told us.

What is the gospel?

We have a whole section on this in the Bible Teaching part of the website so head over there if you want some detail. In simple terms the gospel consists of the covenants of promise that God has given to man and their associated doctrines. Consider this verse:

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

So by the knowledge we have in the promises of God we have an opportunity to be saved from sin and death and be able to partake of immortality in Gods grace when Jesus returns to the earth to establish God’s kingdom. These promises are extremely important and they have to do with the nation of Israel – Paul tells us this in his letter to the Ephesians:

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh…  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians 2:11-13

So the Ephesian believers, now baptised into Christ had become a part of the covenants of promise. They were no longer aliens from the things of Israel. The things which had been promised to that nations fathers. What things? Well to understand that question you would have to study the promises of God to Israel and in particular to the fathers of Israel, Abraham Isaac, Jacob and King David.

There are three main covenants outlined in the Bible and each have associated doctrines:

1. Genesis 3 – promise of the seed which would destroy the serpent power, associated doctrine: atonement in Christ.

2. Genesis 12-22 – promises, to Abraham, associated doctrines: resurrection, eternal life,  forgiveness of sins,  Israel to be a great nation,  atonement in Christ.

3. 2 Samuel 7 – promises to David, associated doctrines: Christ on the throne,  Kingdom of Israel restored on earth,  resurrection,  Christ’s second coming.

In Galatians Paul tells us that the Gospel was preached to the ancients of old and in particular was preached to Abraham in the promises from God:

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Galatians 3:8

He goes on to say that all those who are “in Christ” – who have believed in the gospel and been baptised based upon that belief, are heirs of such promises:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:28-29

In Acts 8 we have described to us what constitutes the gospel:

“…when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:12

So then the gospel is the good news of the promises of God and how they will and are outworked in the Lord Jesus Christ and how we can be associated with them. There are two parts “the name of Jesus Christ” and “the Kingdom of God”.

Christadelphians believe their statement of faith is a summery of the gospel and associated doctrines. You can view this here » Obviously as time has gone on much error has crept into “christianity” and therefore we require more clarification on certain doctrines than maybe the apostles of old did. For example the doctrine of the “Trinity” was not then known in a Christian guise and therefore the apostles would not of had to labour the unity of God.

Because the statement of faith summarises the things required to be saved we uphold and guard the things expressed within it passionately. Our beliefs define us as a community and those not believing the things we profess to believe are asked to leave as they are not Christadelphians anymore. Because they have moved away from the gospel they do not subscribe to what Christadelphians believe in (see this principle being outworked by the Apostle Paul in Acts 19:8-9). We call the different aspects of the gospel “first principles”. The first principles never change and a knowledge of them makes you accountable to baptism. Once baptised you need to show your faith in works (James 2:18). Studying the scriptures and thinking upon them allows your knowledge of Gods principles to grow enabling you to help overcome sin and manifest God in your character in some small way. However once you understand the gospel there will not be new fundamental truths revealed to you – anything new will build upon the foundation already laid in the gospel (Ephesians 2:20).

Is a person who does not accurately know the gospel able to be saved?

No – the Bible tells us we need to have faith in the gospel to be saved as we have seen in Mark 16:15-16. If what the person thinks is not a true reflection of the gospel as revealed in the word then they cannot believe in the gospel or been baptised correctly into that gospel. According to the words of Christ in the reference quoted, they cannot be saved.

Many may say this is a bit of a legalistic way of looking at things. God can save who he wants they will say. This is a fair point but God does not lie. Therefore he will not go back on what he has revealed in His word. The word sets out the process for salvation based upon a belief in the gospel.

When will we be saved?

It’s clear then that we need to understand the gospel, believe it, be baptized into that belief to be in a position to be saved. When will the “saving” take place? Those who have this knowledge and have been baptised are in a sense “saved” now as they are in that position. However they still sin and still die and so the ultimate “saving” comes in the future. Consider Jesus’ words: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.The “saving” will be done at the same time as the “condemning” – this will be determined by the judgment which will be carried out when Jesus returns to the earth:

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” 2 Timothy 4:1

See also Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. At the judgment those who have known the gospel will be judged by Christ to see what they have done with that knowledge. They will either be “saved” or “condemned”. We can see from this reference in Peter who mentions that it is at the judgement when we will eventually be saved:

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1Peter 4:17

So then it is very important that we understand and uphold the principles of the gospel if we are to be “saved” in that day. I urge you therefore to study your Bible to gain a better understanding of the promises God has revealed in His word. You may also find some helpful articles in the Bible Teaching part of this website.