In modern Christianity today, there are two terms used as the doctrine of salvation, and that is; "Believe on the Lord" and "Accept the Lord as your personal Savior."
The teaching is summed up like this; "If you shall believe on the Lord, confess you are a sinner, and accept the Lord as your personal savior, then you are saved. And because you have put your faith in Jesus you now have eternal life! And that is all you have to do!" The scriptures that are used for this doctrine are...
Joh 3:15-16 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
We need to make note of two things; 1) Jesus statement is a broad statement about salvation; 2) In Romans, Paul is writing to a church that was already saved according to Acts 2:38, which makes this a general statement as well.
And while these two scriptures are absolutely TRUE, you have to also take into consideration all the other scriptures concerning salvation which Jesus teaches in detail. Believing on the Lord is NECCESSARY TO BE SAVED... but this is just the beginning and not the end! If a person REALLY LOVES TRUTH, then they will see that Jesus taught way more about salvation then just believing... lets take a look at this.
SALVATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
With each time period during the history of man, and up until now, God has always had a way for a person to be saved. And believing in the Lord in every time period was required.
From Adam & Eve until Joseph in Egypt, the only things required to be right with God was to have Faith/Belief in God and to offer sacrifices of an animal on an altar. Abraham by far was the symbol of this kind of believing faith in God. Then came the law of Moses and the tabernacle plan of salvation. Not only was believing in God necessary, but sacrifices and the shedding of blood was required to atone for the soul. We will see later why this is so important.
JESUS STILL UNDER THE LAW
One important thing you have to remember is that Jesus was still under the law of Moses until His death. So, the people of that day were still subject to the Old Testament covenant with God and how they were saved. However, as Jesus began to teach, his teaching was in preparation for the new birth experience that would usher in the church age that we now live in. And so, it is important to read what Jesus taught in light of that fact, because Jesus was transitioning the way people were saved in the Old Testament covenant to a New Testament covenant, which didn't come into effect until the testator (Jesus) died.
Heb 9:16-17 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. (17) For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
WHAT DID JESUS TEACH ABOUT SALVATION
As we read at the beginning, Jesus taught that a person has to "Believe on the Lord" (have faith) to be saved... there is no debating those truths. However, one has to take into account the rest of what he taught. Lets look at the rest of it.
1) Believing and having Faith in God. We got that!
2) Confessing and repenting of ones sin. Most everyone believes you have to confess your sins. However, some people confuse confession and repentance; they really are two different things. Confession means to tell God you are a sinner, while repentance means to turn away from sin and determine in your heart to not go and sin anymore. Jesus taught repentance this way...
Luk 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
3) Jesus taught remission of sins. Which we will discuss later...
Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
4) He taught water baptism as a requirement of salvation. For we read...
Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
5) Jesus taught the baptism of water and the Spirit as a requirement to enter the Kingdom of God...
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
WHAT IS REMISSION OF SINS
In my article "When Is The Blood Applied" I give a detailed lesson on what the remission of sins are and how they are applied to a persons life during the salvation process. However, I will just briefly mention a few points here...
1) Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins...
Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
2) Jesus' blood is shed for these "remission" of sins...
Mat 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
3) Peter tells us how the blood of Jesus is applied to our lives...
Acts 2:38 ...and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...
The word "remission" means... freedom; pardon: - deliverance, forgiveness, liberty. It denotes a cleansing a washing away - to be forgiven. When a person is baptized, it is at that point that the blood of Jesus is applied to a person’s life and their sins are washed away. That is why Jesus came and died... to shed His blood so that it can wash away our sins through water baptism.
A BELIEVER WILL RECIEVE THE HOLY GHOST
Jesus also taught us what will happen to someone who believes on the Lord.
John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (38) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (39) (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Now keep in mind, that earlier we pointed out that Jesus said that being born of the Spirit is required to enter the Kingdom of God. So, we can see that getting the Holy Ghost is not only required to be saved, but it is also a wonderful river of life springing from within!!
SIGNS THAT FOLLOW BELIEVERS
Jesus also taught us what signs will follow them that "believe on the Lord" and one of those signs is that we will speak with "new tongues."
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
PETER PREACHED WHAT JESUS TAUGHT
Since Jesus taught believing, faith, repentance, remission of sins, water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Can we find in scripture beyond Jesus' life where the Apostles taught salvation? The answer is yes!!
Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
As we stated earlier, Jesus was transitioning the way people were saved from the Old Testament to New Testament and therefore, the new birth (born again) experience did not come into effect until the birth of the Church in the book of Acts 2. The main reason was that when Jesus died, that ended the Old Testament. And after His ascension; salvation through grace, repentance, water baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost was now put in place on the day of Pentecost. Jesus spoke of "believers" getting the Holy Ghost after His ascension That is why we must base the salvation plan on what Jesus and the Apostles preached it to be!
As we can see above, Jesus taught a lot more about salvation then just believing. Since "believing on the Lord" is something that has been required throughout history, there is no debates about it's existence in a believers life. However, the issue with using that idea as the complete plan of salvation, in-of-itself, really comes short of the complete truth. If you really sat down to think about this, you would have to resolve some questions about this "easy believism" doctrine. Here are some points to consider...
The main thrust of the "believe on the Lord" only doctrine is that Jesus paid for everything and there is nothing else we have to do. Yes, Jesus did pay for everything, which is ABSOLUTELY TRUE!! But, since He did pay for it all, does that mean we have a right to ignore everything else he taught? Doesn't He have a right to tell us what to do? And if a person realizes He does have that right, then shouldn't they believe what He taught about salvation?
In every time period God has ALWAYS REQUIRED the sinner to do something in response to their approach to God. And the main thing required was death (sacrifice) and blood. Since we don't have to pay the price with bulls, goats or even with our own blood, do we really think that nothing is required? If you think that, then how do you think the blood of Jesus is applied to your life?
Jesus taught that believing on the Lord is directly linked to water baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. Jesus even taught that "He that IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED!" And then to top that off, Jesus said that a person MUST be born of water and of the Spirit to EVEN ENTER THE KINGDOM of God. A person would have to clearly see, that these are REQUIREMENTS!
In scripture, when Jesus spoke these commands they were meant to be followed and obeyed. Some reason-away this by saying they are "works" which we don't need to do to be saved. But, that is not true. Works-of-our-own in scripture are things that a person comes up with on their own to be saved. The commands Jesus gave about salvation are not works that we came up with, they are commands that He requires, and obedience is required to be saved. These are God's works of righteousness, not our own works!!! I expound on this a whole lot more in my study on "The Born Again Experience".
A person who doesn't believe you have to be baptized to be saved will have to wonder then, how were their sins washed away! Nowhere in scripture does just "believing on the Lord" wash away sins, because the remission of sins only happens (and applied) when a person is baptized in water in Jesus name!
To wrap this up, "easy believism" as some call it seems so simple, yet too simple. The reason so many embrace such a doctrine is that nothing is required from them... they just have to believe and that is it, so they say. So many that hold to that doctrine will "believe on the Lord" and then just keep living their sinful life thinking that they can sin a little every day with no change in their lives. To me, that makes what Jesus did on Calvary seem so cheap. You mean to tell me that Jesus suffered that horrible death and shed his blood, and that we can ignore His commandments about being saved?!
I am a firm believer that a person has to BELIEVE ON THE LORD to be saved. But, when you read those kinds of statements in scripture you have to realize that these are broad statements that summarize what Jesus is teaching. But, then you have to go beyond and find the details of what he meant. It really does go beyond just believing in the Lord, for without His blood being applied to your life, your sins are not remitted (washed away) and you are not saved!!!
So we need to not only believe in Him, we also need His entire grace and salvation plan applied to our life through water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Ghost!!! There is SO MUCH MORE FOR YOU!!