What One Must Know to be Saved: Introduction

July 13, 2008

Many passages in the New Testament promise salvation to everyone who believes (ie, has faith) in Jesus. Perhaps the most famous of these is this verse:

Joh 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

What a great promise, to everyone who believes in Jesus! It is obviously very important to believe in Jesus. But what does that mean? In order to lead someone to faith, what should we teach first? How much does someone need to know about Jesus in order to “believe in him?” How do we know when they have learned enough to be baptized into Christ as a believer?

In order to believe something, one has to know some minimal set of facts about that thing. There has to be some context for the belief. For example, I believe in the sun. I see it every day, and I have full confidence that it exists. Further, I believe that it will rise every morning and set every evening. But I don’t believe the sun is a god. To understand what “I believe in the sun” means, some context and some basic facts must be understood. Similarly, a statement that someone believes in Jesus has little meaning without some accompanying facts and context in which that belief operates.

The scriptures give us an incredibly deep set of facts and context about Jesus. The Old Testament is full of prophecies about Jesus, some which are explicit and others which are very subtle. And the New Testament provides much more of the meaning and relevance of Jesus to our lives. There are many truths about Jesus, in many layers. An entire lifetime of study is not sufficient to plumb all of the depths of the meaning of Jesus as revealed in the scriptures. And yet a person can reach a saving faith in Jesus in a relatively short time, as can be seen from the many examples in Acts. A person is not required to understand every truth about Jesus in order to become a child of God.

So a very natural question is, “What does one need to understand in order to have saving faith in Jesus?”

I want to survey the book of Acts, with support from the epistles, to see if we can find the answer to that question. In Acts we have accounts of many conversions. We can look at what was taught to people who were at different points in their understanding of man’s relationship to God, in order to bring them to the point of salvation through faith. Hopefully from this survey we can determine the salient facts that must be understood by any person in order for them to become Christians.

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