Many important questions confront us in life. Think about it, we must answer where we will live, how we will earn a living, whether or not we will obey the law of the land, whether and whom to marry, what career or profession to pursue, which friends to choose, etc., etc. These are all extremely important questions.
Yet one question towers above all of these: What must I do to be saved? It is more important than any other question, because it has implications for eternity. From a material standpoint, a man may do everything right in this lifetime, and still be lost. He may live in the most desirable city, become enormously successful in his chosen profession, marry the best possible wife, yet still be lost eternally because he has never been saved from sin.
People are lost because of sin. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) Sin is the thing which separates all people from God. (Is. 59:1-2) One of the greatest problems we face in spreading the gospel today is the fact that so many people do not realize they are lost. They are not interested in the saving gospel because they do not believe they need to be saved. Like a man in a burning building who does not yet know it is afire, they are comfortable in their lost condition. All cries of, “Save yourself!” fall on deaf ears to the person who is unaware that he is lost. Many excellent sermons explaining the process of salvation have missed their mark because the hearers did not yet know they were lost.
When Peter preached the first recorded gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost, he did not move immediately to the plan of salvation. He did not begin by telling people how to be saved. Instead, he spent 15 versus showing them that they were lost. (Acts 2:22-36) Only then were they “pricked in their heart” and deeply interested in the question, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 2:37)
When a sincere, honest person recognizes their own lost condition, they naturally and urgently want to know how to remedy it. They want to know how to be saved. Is the most absorbing question in their mind. They may not eat or sleep until this is addressed. It is of paramount importance because nothing else matters until they can see themselves free of eternal doom.
Where will they go for the answer? It’s one thing to have a question, it is quite another thing to know how to find the answer. They might go online and begin an Internet search, but they will quickly find that there are many conflicting answers offered. In their desperation, they may ask their friends, their family, their preacher, but, again, they will be overwhelmed with contradictory answers to their simple question, “What must I do to be saved?”
Answering a question of such supreme, eternal significance cannot be left to chance, or postponed until something happens to come up. Once a person sees the urgency of this question, they cannot rest until they have found the answer-the correct answer, the answer from God. They correctly reason that a gracious God who has created man must surely have revealed how men can be saved. He must have told us. Indeed, they conclude that God has given the answer in the Bible. As the apostle Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” (Rom. 1:16) To the sincere seeker, that passage is a great comfort. It teaches that if I can only learn and receive the gospel, I have the hope of salvation.
At that point, the sinner begins a sincere study of the Bible. It may seem overwhelming, even hopeless at first. In trying to understand it, he may feel like the Ethiopian Eunuch, who said, “how can I, except some one shall guide me.” (Acts 8:31) But a sincere seeker of truth tends to come upon a gospel preacher, doesn’t he? Philip was there to show him the plan of salvation from God’s word. As Cornelius was taught by the apostle Peter, or Paul was instructed by Ananias, God has his ways of reaching the lost with his saving word.
The gospel plan of salvation, as clearly laid out within the pages of God’s word, is like living water for the thirsty soul. Offered full and free, it is able to provide for man’s needs completely. If we only knew the gift of God, and who it is that invites us, we would have asked for the living water which is able to save our soul! (cf. Jn. 4:10)
Are you humbly asking life’s most important question? If you are, the gospel of Jesus Christ has your answer. Will you gladly accept and obey it today?
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.