God wants you to be saved.
It is comforting to know that the Almighty God of heaven cares for each of us. Yes, He cares about you. God is not indifferent about your salvation. He wants you to be saved. Listen to the words of scripture:
Paul says, that God, "... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:4
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
But sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Sin is a violation of God's will (1 John 3:4). It is against the very nature of sinless God (Deut. 32:4; Hab. 1:13; James 1:13).
Our reconciliation to God is a two way arrangement, meaning God must do something and we must do something to reach a state of fellowship. God will not force man to be saved and man cannot force God to accept his terms of pardon.
That being the case, God loved mankind so much (John 3:16) that He gave His Son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice to pay the ransom price and free us from sin (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6). God gave us His gospel which is, "...the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." and provided atonement by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9; Matt. 26:28; Rev. 1:5).
That is what God has done for man, but the real question is: what must I do to be saved?
First, in faith, believing in Christ is a necessity. The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). So, how does one possess faith? It's very simple: "...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17. One cannot have proper faith in Christ by listening to what your preacher tells you or trusting your gut-feelings — faith only comes through you learning from, and believing God's word. Jesus said, "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). Our belief in Jesus must include believing that Jesus was raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
Is faith alone enough to save someone? We would let the scriptures answer that question:
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:17
What does a scenario look like when somebody has dead faith? Consider a group of people who believed Jesus was the Christ but wouldn't show it:
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. John 12:42-43
Faith is essential to salvation. The faith of the rulers and Pharisees was inadequate because they refused to act on it. Our faith in Jesus must be accompanied by our obedience to be the type of faith that saves us. The Bible says that Jesus is the author of salvation to all those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9).
Second, there is the necessity to confess one's faith in Christ Jesus. This was the implicit problem with what the Pharisees refused to do. Romans 10:10 says, "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Confessing our faith in Jesus doesn't automatically give us salvation, but as Paul said, it leads us, "unto" salvation. Our faith must be a faith that obeys God — not a dead faith. James 2:19-20 says, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" The audience listening to Peter in Acts 2:37 believed and had faith that Jesus was the Son of God and so they asked, with sincere hearts, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
Third, Peter immediately answered their question by saying, "repent" (Acts 2:38). Repentance is a necessary action one must take to make themselves ready to be recipients of God's salvation (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30). The apostle Paul said, "...For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation" 2 Cor. 7:10. Repentance doesn't just mean feeling sorry for the sin you've committed, it means changing your life and stopping sinful behavior in every part of your life! When Paul was writing to the Christians in 1 Cor. 6:9-10, he lists several sinful behaviors that they used to be involved in before they became Christians. In verse 11 he states that these were things they used to do, but now no longer practiced. This was evidence that these people had truly repented and changed their lifestyle.
Fourth, when Peter answers the audience in Acts 2:38, he does not end his answer at repentance. He goes on to say, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." Baptism is the culmination of your faith wherein you show God your obedience to His terms of pardon. Very simply: baptism is action (obedience) because of your faith. In Mark 16:16, Jesus Christ, Himself, stated that belief and baptism were necessary for salvation and the Hebrew writer says that Jesus Christ authors eternal salvation to those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9).
So, what exactly is baptism? Is it sprinkling? Pouring? We can know with certainty by looking at the example of a man who was baptized in Acts 8:26-39. In verse 38 Philip and the man go down into the water and the man is baptized. Clearly, one does not go down into water when they are sprinkled or poured. Baptism is going down into the water to be fully immersed. Paul tells us that baptism is a figure where we are buried in water, much like Christ was buried, and we rise to walk in newness of life just as Christ was resurrected (Rom. 6:4). Baptism is not an outward sign of faith for one who is already saved. Peter says, "even baptism doth also now save us" 1 Pet. 3:21. Baptism is what washes away a man's sins (Acts 22:16). When we are raised up out of the water of baptism, that is the point where God saves man. When Jesus washes away a person's sins in baptism, Paul calls this, "the working of God" (Col. 2:12).
If you find yourself not in compliance with God's means of salvation, you can change. You can make your life right with God. No matter how old you may be, it is not too late to make your life right by obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are sincerely desiring be right with God, then you can rest assured that God is, "a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
The way God saves man is simple, free to all and Jesus implores souls today, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28.
Do you have questions? We would be glad to talk with you and study the Bible together!