He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Mr 16:16

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Must One Believe to "Be Saved?"

In a word, YES, but not for the reasons most people think.  However, those who believe in what is called High Calvinism or Unconditional Election and Predestination or Particular Redemption such as the Primitive Baptists, some times say,  No, you don't have to believe in order to be saved.  This difficulty arises from a misconception, sometimes in both Calvinists and Arminians, about what it means to be saved. 

First, the Bible makes a distinction between being saved eternally (eternal life) and being saved in time (conversion).  That does not mean that eternal salvation and salvation in time are mutually exclusive.  The fact is one begets the other.  Salvation is a broad term that encompasses both eternal life and conversion.  Therefore, those who experience eternal life will likewise experience conversion.  But confusion arises when a failure is made to distinguish the meaning of a small but significant word be.

Most modern Christians, because of false theology, think the scriptures teach that to be means the same thing as to get.  However, there is an important difference between the two.  If the Bible taught that one must believe in order to get saved, then salvation would be by our own effort.  But the Bible teaches one must believe in order to be saved.  The word be indicates a statement of fact.  The word get indicates a condition to be met.

What's the difference?  Mark 16:16 states, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  Clearly this scripture is talking about salvation in both its temporal and eternal aspect.  Many Christians today have been taught that scriptures such as this one mean you must believe in order to get saved.  But that is not at all what Christ said.  The term "shall be saved" is translated from the Greek word sodzo.  In this passage the verb sodzo is in the Future Tense, Passive Voice, Indicative Mood.  The Online Bible says, "The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact."  Because sodzo is written in the indicative mood, it means the salvation Christ has under consideration is not and cannot be a condition to be met.  It means that belief is the evidence or assurance of salvation not the means to obtain salvation.  It means that everyone who has been saved or will "be saved" will believe in Christ as a matter of fact.  Thus, as this scripture demonstrates, belief is necessary because of salvation not to get salvation. 

If Christ had rendered sodzo in the imperative mood, then one would be correct in saying you must believe in order to get saved.  The Online Bible defines the imperative mood as that which, "expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action by the order and authority of the one commanding."  A good example of a scripture with an imperative command is found in the Great Commission.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Mathew 28:19.  "Teach" is from the Greek word matheteuo.  This verb is written in the imperative mood and expresses a clear command to the disciples to teach the nations Christ's doctrine.

Another example of sodzo is found in Ro 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.  And again in Ro 10:13, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  In both of these scriptures sodzo is rendered in the indicative mood.  Therefore it is a statement of fact that anyone who confesses belief in Jesus and His resurrection, calling upon His name from the heart, will be saved.  Because the mood is indicative, it is not the belief, confession or sincerity that results in the saving, either in time or in eternity.  Jesus Christ is the Saviour.  He saves with the power of his shed blood and by grace alone delivers the sinner from death.  Belief, confession and sincerity from the heart are all the result of Christ's saving work not the cause or means to obtain that saving work. 

The recipients of this sovereign saving work of Christ are referred to in the scriptures as my sheep, His People, my people, the chosen, the elect and Israel (spiritual).  John 10:27, Mathew 1:21, II Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 1:4, II Timothy 2:10, Romans 9:6-24.

It is true that one doesn't have to believe in order to get saved but the Bible teaches a person must believe to be saved.

Elder James Taylor


Edit 10/5/2006


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