The Bible teaches in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” However, the word “believe” is often misunderstood. The same verse continues on to say that one must believe ‘that’ Jesus Christ came down from heaven and was born of a virgin. A person can believe these things yet still be unsaved because they fail to trust Christ alone for their salvation. For example, someone could say this out of fear or guilt when they know deep down they aren’t really trusting God alone for their forgiveness; verses like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 reveal that many people who claimed to believe in Christ were actually guilty of serious sin.
The result of genuine faith is expressed extensively throughout Scripture with words like trust, obey, commit, endure etc. So it is clear that genuine faith will manifest itself in one’s life through obedience to Christ (John 14:15).
The New Testament makes numerous references to salvation being something which has already occurred in the past for believers. Romans 8:24-25 says “to be put right with God” people must believe in Christ. Then it goes on to say that believing includes receiving ‘redemption’, becoming a child of God and having access to the grace that brings eternal glory. Galatians 2:16 states very clearly “the man who accepts the good news trusts God…because of his faith.” Ephesians 2:8-9 says “…it is by grace you have been saved, though faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
The Bible teaches that both believing and obedience are necessary for salvation. Believing alone saves nobody (James 2:19), whereas obedience alone won’t save anybody either (James 2:24). These verses bring to light Christ’s radical stance on such issues as His own divinity and work of salvation; which reflect a person’s true nature, sincerity and motive for obeying Him. We must understand what we say we believe in order to know if we truly do.
So when people ask about what the Bible says about “salvation” they should focus less on the words ‘believe’ and ‘faith’ and more on what they mean. In the New Testament these words usually just refer to a person’s attitude of trusting God for everything in their lives. Such trust begins when a person acknowledges their sinfulness, belief in Christ as savior and Lord, and desire to obey Him. Essentially it is a change in nature from being self-centered to being God-centered in all thoughts, ways and decisions.
Salvation is a gift from God (Revelation 22:17). But like any gift it must be received (John 1:12). That means the sinner must want salvation truly bad enough; this is what living by faith or belief really means. So before someone asks about what the Bible says about “how I can be saved” they should ask “why do I want to be saved?”
The Bible teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace not dependent on any work or ceremony performed by men (Romans 3:24, Titus 3:5). But it also acknowledges the fact that God doesn’t force His gift upon anyone. He simply desires their heart so much that He will do anything for them until they receive it… even die on the cross for them (Galatians 2:20). The key is truly wanting Christ’s gift of eternal life based on understanding what it really means. There are no magic words necessary to have your sins forgiven and escape an eternity in hell. Saying you believe isn’t enough; but with genuine faith comes obedience (James 2:17, Matthew 7:21).
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” -Acts 4:12
Salvation Frequently asked Question
What does the Bible say about salvation?
It says that it’s only possible through Jesus Christ.
What does “salvation” mean?
Salvation means being forgiven of your sins and escaping eternal damnation.
How can I be saved?
The first step is asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins. Once you have asked forgiveness for your sins, you must live by the Word of God just as Jesus did. Doing this will lead to good works.