What Must I Do
to Be

The Plan of Salvation
Made Plain to Sinners
from the Word of God

By Evangelist
John R. Rice

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

   What must I do to be saved?   Here
in the simplest, shortest form is put
the question to which every man must
learn the answer, or spend eternity
lost, away from God, suffering the
torments of the damned!   Thank God,
this question is asked and answered in
the Word of God so simply that every
soul can understand it.   There are
other questions in God's Word which
affect the soul's welfare, and many
places in the Bible is the plan of sal-
vation made plain, but only one place
is this question given word for word,
and there, too, we find the answer.

   Paul and Silas were in jail in the city
of Philippi and at midnight they sang
and prayed until God broke down all
the doors and broke the stocks which
held their feet, with a mighty earth-
quake.   The poor jailer, frightened and
convicted of his sins, came to these
two preachers and asked this ques-
tion.   Read it in Acts 16:29-31:

   "Then he called for a light, and
sprang in, and came trembling,
and fell down before Paul and
Silas, And brought them out, and
said, Sirs, what must I do to be
saved?   And they said, Believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou
shalt be saved, and thy house."


   "What must I do to be saved?"   "Be-
lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved"
!   There is God's
plan of salvation, the only plan He
has for every man, woman and child
who was ever born into the whole

What Must I Do?

   Sinner, there is something you must
do if you would be saved.   There was
hope for this jailer because he saw
himself a lost sinner and came trem-
bling to inquire, "What must I do?"
Reader, you are a sinner.   The Word
of God from beginning to end empha-
sizes that fact.   In Isaiah 53:6 we
   "ALL we like sheep have gone
astray; we have turned EVERY
ONE to his own way; and the
Lord hath laid on him the iniquity
of us ALL."

   We have all gone astray!   The Lord
is not content for sinners to be left
believing themselves good.   In Romans
the third chapter, how positive, how
certain is the Word of God that every
man, woman and child is a sinner!

   "What then? are we better
than they?   No, in no wise: for we
have before proved both Jews
and Gentiles, that they are ALL
under sin; As it is written, There
is NONE righteous, NO, NOT
ONE: There is NONE that un-
derstandeth, there is NONE that


seeketh after God.   They are ALL
gone out of the way, they are to-
gether become unprofitable; there
is NONE that doeth good, NO,
!--Rom. 3:9-12.
   In verses 22 and 23 it is stated again
that "there is no difference: for all
have sinned, and come short of the
glory of God."
  That is the reason
Jesus said to Nicodemus in the third
chapter of John, "Marvel not that I
said unto thee, YE MUST BE BORN
  And a little later in the
same chapter, verse 18, He said that
the man who has not believed in Jesus
is already condemned.
   Certainly these Scriptures must
make it clear to every man who be-
lieves the Word of God that he is a
sinner, and until he has believed in
Christ and has been saved, he is a
lost sinner and needs saving.   The
heart is wrong, and only God can
make that right.   Then if you want to
be saved, you must admit in your own
heart, "I am a sinner.   I am lost and
need to be saved."
  No one ever was
saved without coming for salvation
as a sinner.

Christ Died to Save Sinners,
Not Good Men

   Oh, I beg you, see it today!   You are
a poor, lost sinner, a Hell-bound sin-
ner!   Your heart is black.   You have
hardened your heart, you have resist-
ed the call of God, you have rejected
Christ.   However good you are in


man's sight, you are a terrible sinner,
and unless you turn to Christ you
must spend eternity in Hell.   A SIN-
NER!   That is what you are.   Admit it
in your own heart, confess it to God.
You are a sinner and you need saving
worse than you need anything else in
the world.

   If you have settled in your heart
that matter, then you are ready to
learn God's answer to your question,
"What must I do to be saved?"

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ

   Here is God's simple way to be
saved.   You are a sinner, your heart is
wrong, you cannot save yourself, you
are already condemned.   The thing
you are to do then, to be saved, is to
simply trust the Lord Jesus with that
matter.   When you do trust Him, then
you have God's promise, "Thou shalt
be saved."

   I do not mean that you are simply
to believe that there is a God or that
there is a Saviour.   Devils believe that
and tremble (James 2:19).   You can
believe that a certain physician is a
good doctor without calling him to be
your doctor when you are sick.   You
can believe that a certain man is a
good lawyer without taking him as
your lawyer to defend your case.   You
are not just to believe the truth about
Jesus; you are to believe on Him, that
is, depend upon Him, risk Him, trust
Him; and when you do, you are saved.


Not Saved by Good Works

   Of course, you do not deserve salva-
tion.   There is nothing you can do that
will make you worthy of it.   You can-
not be saved by keeping the Ten Com-
mandments, for the Scripture clearly
shows that you have not kept them.
Romans 3:20 says:
   "Therefore by the deeds of the
law there shall no flesh be justi-
fied in his own sight: for by the law is
the knowledge of sin."

   The same thing is told in Galatians
3:11 which says:
   "But that no man is justified
by the law in the sight of God, it
is evident: for, The just shall live
by faith."

   Many, many Scriptures repeat again
and again that there is no salvation
through human goodness.
   "Not by works of righteousness
which we have done, but accord-
ing to his mercy he saved us, by
the washing of regeneration, and
renewing of the Holy Ghost."
Titus 3:5.

--Eph. 2:8, 9.
   We had as well admit, then, that no
man deserves saving and no man can


save himself.   Salvation must be free
or the sinner could never get it.   In
fact, it takes blood to pay for sin, for
the Scripture says:

"Without Shedding of Blood Is
No Remission"
--Hebrews 9:22
   "For when we were yet without
strength, in due time Christ died
for the ungodly."
--Rom. 5:6.
   "All we like sheep have gone
astray; we have turned every one
to his own way; and the Lord
hath laid on him the iniquity of
us all."
--Isa. 53:6.

   Peter tells us that all of us are
bought by the blood of Christ:
   "Forasmuch as ye know that ye
were not redeemed with corrupti-
ble things, as silver and gold, from
your vain conversation receiv-
ed by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of
Christ, as of a lamb without
blemish and without spot."
Peter 1:18, 19.

   Every lamb, bullock, heifer, goat,
turtle dove and pigeon offered in the
Old Testament times on the altar pic-
tured this: that man, a guilty sinner,
must have some innocent one to shed
his blood to pay for one man's sins.
Jesus died for our sins, and, thank
God, salvation is bought for every
man in the world, if he will have it,
as the free gift of God.


   "For the wages of sin is death;
but the GIFT of God is eternal
life through Jesus Christ our
--Rom. 6:23.

   Dear sinner, remember that church
membership will not save you.   If you
have been baptized that cannot save
you.   Baptism does not save, does not
keep anybody saved.   It is only an act
of duty for those who have already
found Christ as their Saviour.   A
moral life or lodge membership or
good citizenship--these must all fail to
bring salvation, for it is "not by
works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to his mercy he
saved us"
(Titus 3:5).   Don't depend,
then, on what you do, but on what Je-
sus did and promises to do for you.

What About Repentance?

   Does not the Bible say that we
must repent?   Yes, the Bible plainly
says that "God...commandeth all
men every where to repent"
(Acts 17:
30), and again, "Except ye repent, ye
shall all likewise perish"
(Luke 13:3,
5).   This was the preaching of John
the Baptist, of Jesus, of Peter and of
Paul, that men should repent.   And
certainly repentance is God's plan of
salvation.   The trouble here, however,
is that men misunderstand what re-
pentance means, and there has grown
up an idea that repentance means a
period of weeping and mourning over
sin, or sorrow for sins.   This idea


comes from the Douay Version of the
Bible which instead of "repent" says
"do penance."   So the place of inquiry,
where people should be taught the
plan of salvation from the Bible, in
revival meetings, became "the mourn-
er's bench"
and thousands of people
have been taught that God would not
hear their prayer nor forgive their
sins until they went through a process
of sorrow and mourning over their

   Do not misunderstand me.   God is
anxious for you to have a penitent,
broken heart over your sins.   You have
gone away from God.   You have
trampled under foot the blood of Jesus
Christ, wasted years of your life
which you can never live over again.
You have served your father, the Devil.
There is plenty for you to weep over,
and I am not surprised if you feel
deep shame and sorrow in your heart
that you have so mistreated the God
who made you and the Saviour who
died for you.   I am not surprised if you
cannot keep back the tears!   But what
I want you to know is that tears or
no tears, however much sorrow you
may have in your heart, or not have,
those things do not save you.

   You ought to be sorry for your sins
and ashamed of them.   "Godly sor-
row worketh repentance"
(II Cor.
7:10)--the right kind of sorrow leads
to immediate repentance, but mourn-
ing is not itself repentance.


"Could my tears forever flow,
 Could my zeal no respite know,
 These for sin cold not atone;
 Thou must save, and Thou alone."

   To repent literally means to have a
change of mind or spirit toward God
and toward sin.   It means to turn from
your sins, earnestly, with all your
heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to
save you.   You can see, then, how the
man who believes in Christ repents
and the man who repents believes in
Christ.   The jailer repented when he
turned from sin to believe in the Lord
Jesus Christ.

Instant Salvation!
   The jailer did not go through a per-
iod of mourning.   He was told to be-
lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ; he did
just that and was saved, and his whole
family was saved the same way, im-
mediately, the same hour of the night.
Everywhere you look through the
New Testament you find that people
were saved all at once without any
process, without any period of mourn-
ing.   Zacchaeus, up a tree, trusted
Jesus and made haste and came down,
and received Him joyfully (Luke 19:
6-9).   Jesus said, "This day is salvation
come to this house."
  When Peter told
Cornelius and his assembled house-
hold that they could be saved by be-
lieving, immediately "while Peter yet
spake these words,"
the Scripture
says, the Holy Spirit came on them


and they were happily saved (Acts
10:44-48).   The thief on the cross,
wicked sinner that he was, who a few
minutes before had been railing at
Jesus, was saved immediately when
he inquired of Jesus (Luke 23:42, 43).
In the first chapter of John, verses 35
to 49, we see where Andrew, Simon
Peter, Philip and Nathanael were all
converted, one by one, immediately by
faith in Christ.   There is no record of
any person in Bible times who was
ever told to wait, or mourn, or weep
over his sins before trusting Jesus
and being saved!   One who believes in
Christ has repented.   Repentance and
faith are the same thing put in differ-
ent words, and neither requires a long
period of time, nor a process of
mourning and sorrow.

   Salvation is instantaneous.   All that
keeps you today from being saved is
the wickedness of your heart that
holds on to sin and will not run to
Jesus to trust in Him for salvation.   I
beg you, turn in shame and sorrow
from your sins this minute, and trust
in Christ and be saved!

Can One Be Saved Without Prayer?
   In the Bible there are many cases
of sinners who prayed like the thief
on the cross or the publican in the
temple.   In fact, Romans 10:13 says:
   "For whosoever shall call upon
the name of the Lord shall be


   Many people believe that a sinner
cannot be saved without a period of
prayer, without consciously calling on
God.   However, the Bible does not say
that a sinner must pray in order to be
saved.   In fact, immediately following
the verse in Romans 10:13 is an ex-
planation which shows that calling on
God is an evidence of faith in the
heart and that it is really faith which
settles the matter.   Read it again.

   "For whosoever shall call upon
the name of the Lord shall be
saved.   How then shall they call
on him in whom they have not
--Rom. 10:13, 14.

   The Lord encourages the sinner to
pray, and the Lord hears and answers
the sinner's prayer, if that sinner
trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation
when he prays.   He heard the prayer
of the thief on the cross, of the publi-
can in the temple, of blind Bartimae-
us.   But the Scripture says, "How
then shall they call on him in whom
they have not believed?"
every one who is to be saved must be-
lieve.   Prayer is evidence of faith.   No
matter how long one prays, if he does
not trust in Christ, he can never be
saved.   If he trusts in Christ without
conscious prayer, then he is saved al-
ready.   There is just one plan of salva-
tion and just one step a sinner must
take to secure it.   That step is to be-
lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ!


   Some way we preachers have left
the impression on this poor world of
sinners that God is hardhearted and
that it takes many tears and loud
cries and long periods of sorrow be-
fore He will hear and save the sinner.
We have left the impression that God
does not care whether sinners are
saved or not, and that sinners must
some way touch the heart of God and
get Him ready to forgive.   What a
slander on a good and holy God who
"so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son, that WHOSO-
EVER BELIEVETH in him should
not perish, but have everlasting life."

Man's sins are already paid for, God's
wrath is already turned away from
any sinner who wants to be saved.
Both the Father and the Son are a
million times more anxious to save
every sinner than the sinner can be to
get saved!   Thank God, I do not have
to beg God to forgive my sins.   He
will do it the minute I am willing to
trust it with Him.

How to Get the Change of Heart
   This simple way of being saved by
faith seems so easy, and it is.   Some
sinner may say, "But I thought one
must have a change of heart."
  So you
must, dear sinner, but that is God's
part.   Jesus was talking to Nicodemus
when He said, "Ye must be born
and in the same chapter He
tells Nicodemus how to get the new


   "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."
--John 3:16.

   The change in your heart, sinner, is
God's part and you may be sure He
will attend to that.   Your part is to
simply believe in Him.   Whatever else
is necessary in your eternal salvation,
the Lord attends to when you trust
in Him, or believe in Him.

How Should I Feel?

   Some people have an idea that the
change of heart is a matter of feeling.
Some do not want to claim Christ as
Saviour until they have the mysteri-
ous feeling that they want.   Do not let
the Devil deceive you here.   I believe in
heartfelt religion, and thank God for
the joy which He gives to me day by
day.   But the Bible nowhere tells how
one must feel before he is saved, nor
does it anywhere say how you feel aft-
er you are saved.   In fact, people do
not feel the same.   Feeling varies with
the person saved.   Some cry when they
are saved, some laugh, and a few
shout aloud the praises of God.   One is
no more saved than the other.   What
you want, dear sinner, is salvation,
and you should be satisfied to feel any
way that will please the Lord, just
so He forgives your sins.
   Be sure you notice another fact,
too, and that is that you cannot feel


right until you get right.   Rejoicing
does not come before you trust the
Lord.   One does not feel the result of
medicine before he takes it.   The Chil-
dren of Israel in the wilderness, bit-
ten by fiery serpents and at the point
of death, were not healed and did not
feel healed until they looked to the
brass serpent on the pole (Num.
21:6-9).   People are not saved by feel-
ing; they are saved by trusting in
Christ.   The prodigal son, away from
home in the hogpen, decided to arise
and go to his father, but he did not
feel good.   He was without shoes,
clothed in rags, without the ring of
sonship, without any evidence of his
father's forgiveness, perishing with
hunger!   Yet he arose and came to his
father, not by feeling, but by faith in
his father.   Thank God, his father re-
ceived him, like God receives every
sinner who will come.   And when the
prodigal boy sat down at his father's
table, with shoes of the gospel of
peace, clothed in the garments of the
righteousness of Christ, with the ring
of sonship on his finger, eating the
fatted calf at the right hand of the
father, happy in his love, then he has
plenty of feeling.   Feeling comes after
salvation.   Leave the feeling with the
Lord and come to the Saviour by
faith today.

   After you are saved, you will get
peace and joy out of following the
Lord in baptism, reading His Word,


winning souls and otherwise pleasing
Him.   You need to go to the Lord
again and again day by day for the
joy of a Christian life.   But thank God
that salvation is settled once and for
all when you simply depend upon
Christ as your Saviour.

What About Public Confession?
   Every person who is saved ought to
publicly confess Christ.   Matthew 10:
32 and Romans 10:9 plainly teach
that God will claim as His child any
of us who will claim Christ as our
Saviour, but we simply confess with
the mouth what we have already
trusted in our hearts.   Concerning
that very matter Romans 10:10 says:
   "For with the heart man be-
lieveth unto righteousness; and
with the mouth confession is
made unto salvation."

   To claim Christ as your Saviour
simply proves that you trust Him in
the heart.   Likewise with all other
promises in the Bible about how to be
saved.   "Him that cometh to me I will
in no wise cast out,"
says John 6:37;
and salvation is promised in John 1:12
to as many as receive Jesus.   But you
could not come to Christ without
trusting Him, and John 1:12 shows
that receiving Jesus is the same as
believing on His name.
   Dear sinner, do not make this a dif-
ficult matter.   There is one simple step
between you and Jesus.   When you
trust Him, everything else is settled,


and you have repented, you have
come to Christ, you have received
Him, you have done everything neces-
sary to be saved.   Take the answer in
Acts 16:31 at face value: "BELIEVE
In dozens of Scriptures all through
the Bible salvation is promised to
those that believe.   Read carefully the
following Scriptures and see that
again and again, many, many times,
God has promised all any poor sinner
would ever need when he believes on
the Lord Jesus Christ.
   "But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become
the sons of God, even to them
that BELIEVE on his name."
John 1:12.
   "And as Moses lifted up the
serpent in the wilderness, even so
must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever BELIEVETH in
him should not perish, but have
eternal life.   For God so loved the
world, that he gave his only be-
gotten Son, that whosoever BE-
LIEVETH in him should not per-
ish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:14-16.

   "He that believeth on him is
not condemned: but he that BE-
LIEVETH not is condemned al-
ready, because he hath not BE-
LIEVED in the name of the only
begotten Son of God."
--John 3:18.


   "He that believeth on the Son
hath everlasting life: and he that
BELIEVETH not the Son shall
not see life; but the wrath of God
abideth on him."
--John 3:36.
   "Verily, verily, I say unto you,
He that heareth my word, and
BELIEVETH on him that sent
me, hath everlasting life, and
shall not come into condemna-
tion; but is passed from death un-
to life."
--John 5:24.
   "And this is the will of him
that sent me, that every one
which seeth the Son, and BE-
LIEVETH on him, may have
everlasting life: and I will raise
him up at the last day."
   "Verily, verily, I say unto you,
He that BELIEVETH on me hath
everlasting life."
--John 6:47.
   "To him give all the prophets
witness, that through his name
whosoever BELIEVETH in him
shall receive remission of sins."
Acts 10:43.
   "And by him all that BELIEVE
are justified from all things, from
which ye could not be justified by
the law of Moses."
--Acts 13:39.
   Read again the Scripture we start-
ed with:
   "What must I do to be saved?"
"BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

--Acts 16:30, 31.


Trust Jesus, the Great Physician

   If you were sick and about to die,
and there was some good doctor whom
you could trust, would you not risk
him to take your case, give you the
necessary treatment, and with God's
help get you well?   Then just like that,
trust in Christ, depend on Him for
your salvation, and turn it over to
Him today.   With the same kind of
faith that will call in a doctor and
risk him for your body, you can call in
the Lord Jesus Christ and risk Him
to forgive your sins and save your
poor lost soul!   He said, "They that
are whole need not a physician, but
they that are sick"
(Luke 5:31).   He is
the Great Physician and will heal
your soul instantly if you will trust
Him.   As you would trust a doctor,
submit to his treatment, depend on
him for results, so trust Jesus today
about your soul.   To be sure, human
doctors fail many times.   Their results
at best are gradual, and so no doctor
is a perfect picture of Jesus.   The doc-
tor can work no miracles, but Jesus
can, and the change that is needed in
that poor, wicked heart, He will make
immediately, instantly, without any
further effort on your part, when you
trust Him!

Jesus Is Our Lawyer

   If you had committed a crime and
were thrown in jail, probably the first
thing you would do would be to send


for some lawyer in whom you had
confidence and trust him with the en-
tire matter of your defense.   In God's
sight you are a criminal, condemned
already and with the wrath of God
upon you day by day.   But God has
provided somebody to take the part of
us poor sinners, criminals before the
bar of God's justice, and Jesus is that
lawyer, for the Scripture says:
   "If any man sin, we have an ad-
[or lawyer] with the
Father, Jesus Christ the right-
eous: And he is the propitiation
for our sins: and not for our's
only, but also for the sins of the
whole world."
--I John 2:1, 2.
   Jesus will not only be your lawyer
to defend your case; He has already
paid the penalty and you may safely
trust Him to have you immediately
pardoned and justified!   Why not sim-
ply risk Jesus as you would risk a
good lawyer?   Jesus is better than any
lawyer, of course, and you do not have
to pay Him a fee, and He never fails.

A Wedding
   A young man and young woman
stand together, side by side, before
the preacher.   The preacher says, "You
will join right hands."
  Then to the
young man he says, "Do you take this
young woman to be your lawfully
wedded wife, to love her and cherish
her until death do you part?"
  He an-
swers, "I do."   To the young woman
the preacher says: "Do you take this


man to be your lawfully wedded hus-
band until death do you part?"
answers, "I do."   Then the preacher
says: "I pronounce you man and wife,"
and they are married in the sight
of God and man.
   What a simple picture of salvation!
Jesus is the Bridegroom and we who
trust Him are to be His bride.   Already
Jesus has loved you and has long
urged you to accept His love.   Jesus
invites you to accept His love.   Jesus
invites you to believe in Him right
now and be saved and so become a
part of His bride.   Will you not right
now with the same simple faith of
that young woman who takes a hus-
band, accept Jesus as your Saviour
and say to Him, "I do"?

Make It Sure--Claim Him Today!
   The way is plain and you can be
saved this moment if you will.
   Surely it has become plain, dear
lost sinner, that it is your own fault if
you are lost!   Do you hate Jesus
Christ?   Will you hold on to your sin
and go to Hell for your stubbornness?
Nothing in the world could show your
wickedness like postponing this mat-
ter.   You can be saved right now, this
minute.   I beg you, do it now.   Turn
your whole heart from sin to trust in
Christ.   Choose for Heaven against
Hell, choose for Christ against Satan.
Do not let Satan deceive you any
longer.   If you delay, it may result in
a hardened heart, a wasted life and a


tortured soul in Hell!   And if you are
not saved, when God has made the
way so plain and paid the price for
your sins, then you have no one to
blame but yourself.   Will you trust
Jesus Christ today and be saved?
   "Boast not thyself of tomorrow;
for thou knowest not what a day
may bring forth."
--Prov. 27:1.
   "Behold, now is the accepted
time; behold, now is the day of
--II Cor. 6:2.
   "Today if ye will hear his voice,
Harden not your hearts."
3:7, 8.
   God has given you this heartbeat,
this breath, this moment in order to
trust Christ, but there is no promise
of another.   I beg you do it right now,
and then claim Him as your Saviour.

Decision Form

   You have read Dr. Rice's famous
sermon, "What Must I Do to Be
  If you will trust Christ today
as your personal Saviour, and write
and tell me so, I have some free
literature I want to send that will help
you as you set out to live the Christian
life.   All you need do to receive your free
literature is fill out the decision form
below and mail it to me.   Either clip out
this statement and mail it or copy it on
a separate sheet of paper and send it to


Date _______

P. O. Box 1099
Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37130

Dear [Sir]:
   Realizing that I am a sinner, and
believing that Jesus Christ died for my
sins, I here and now trust Him to be
my personal Saviour.   From this mo-
ment on, I am fully depending upon
Him to get me to Heaven.
   Please send me the free literature
that will help me as I set out to live the
Christian life.

Name _______________________
Address ______________________
City ______________ State ______
                                        Zip ______

   One who trusts Jesus Christ as per-
sonal Saviour should publicly claim
Him before men.   "For with the heart
man believeth unto righteousness; and
with the mouth confession is made
unto salvation"
(Romans 10:10).
   After trusting Christ you should join
a church and be baptized.   I hope you
will find a good Bible-believing [Baptist] church
and attend faithfully.




[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]