According to the Bible, apart from God, mankind is in a fallen, depraved, sinful state. The Scriptures tell us that man’s heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and that all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). God’s Word states that all have sinned, and that there is no one who is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10). And, the Bible says that man’s sin had separated him from God, and that the wages of our sin is death (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 6:23-first part).
However, God did not abandon us in our hopeless and deplorable condition. The second half of Romans 6:23 gives us the good news that, although the wages of our sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ. Why and how can this be? John 3:16 gives us the answer; telling us that God loved us so much, even in our sinful state, that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to take our place; moreover, that when we believe in Him we receive everlasting life. Jesus took our sins upon Himself and died on the cross in our place, and He covers us with His righteousness when we place our faith in Him (1st Peter 2:24; 2nd Corinthians 5:21).
What God the Father and Jesus Christ have done in their plan of salvation for us, is something that we do not deserve and something we can never earn. Our salvation is a “gift” of God’s grace; in other words, His unmerited favor. The Bible clearly states that our works cannot save us, but that we are saved by God’s grace, and that we are “justified” to receive God’s gracious gift through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:4-9; Galatians 2:16). When the Philippian prison-keeper asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, they told him to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:29-31). However, in Romans 10:9-10, we’re told that we also need to confess Jesus; to boldly and proudly tell others that Jesus is our Savior and Lord. And, Jesus Himself also said that if we do not confess Him, but instead deny Him, He will also deny us (Matthew 10:32-33). Therefore, to receive salvation in Jesus Christ, we must believe in His victorious life, sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection in our behalf; furthermore, we must confess our faith in Him to others, and we must “repent”. What does it mean to repent? In the biblical sense, it literally means to choose to turn away from serving sin, and to serve and follow Jesus Christ instead. When Peter preached to the Jews in the Temple, he told them that they needed to repent in order to be baptized and to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38). When Jesus began preaching the gospel, He also told people that they needed to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15). And, when the Apostle Paul was on trial towards the end of his life, he stated that he had always told people that they needed to repent (Acts 26:19-21).
The biblical requirements for salvation are simple. When you place your faith in Jesus Christ, choose to repent of your sins and confess Jesus publicly, you are saved and have eternal life. For a more in-depth presentation of this subject, I encourage you to also read the article titled “The Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ” on this website.