Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
- Acts 16:30-31
The universe, the earth, and everything in them were created by a good, loving, and perfect God. God created mankind in a sinless state, but our ancestors chose to disobey God's single commandment, which was not to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17). Because our ancestors sinned they became spiritually separated from God and their sinful nature was ultimately passed down to us (Romans 5:12).
God is a holy and perfect God and because of your sinful state you cannot come near Him to have a relationship with Him and ultimately your sinful condition will result in physical and spiritual death since you have been cut off from God who is the source of all life. Yet because of God's great love for you (John 3:16, Romans 5:8) He sent His Son Jesus into the world to live the holy and perfect life you should have lived and then He died in your place for your sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible says that Jesus took your sins upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24) and through Him you can be healed and restored to God (1 Peter 3:18).
Because He is perfect and all-powerful, three days after Jesus died He came back to life and now He reigns in Heaven forever. The Bible says that when you believe this good news God forgives your sins and reckons you righteous based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22, Romans 4:5). You are freely given eternal life and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
Do you believe?
The Bible is clear that we are saved by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ and not by our works or efforts to earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, the Bible also says that you can tell who has true faith based on what they do (James 2:14) even though what they do cannot save them. Works are evidence that someone has true faith and is saved just like healthy fruit on a fruit tree is evidence that the tree itself and its roots are healthy. When someone truly believes the good news of Jesus and is spiritually born again they will now seek to follow Christ and obey His commands.
The first command is to be baptized as a public proclamation of faith. This shows the world that you have died to the old self and are a new creation in Christ. Romans 6:4 says it is also a powerful symbol of how Christ died and was buried (when you go under the water) and then rose again (when you come up from the water). The water is a reminder of Jesus' blood that was shed on the cross to wash away your sins (Acts 22:16).
After being baptized, believers begin to live a different life that is marked more and more by doing good and loving others. Believers develop friendships with other believers in order to pursue God together and encourage one another to keep their faith and grow in righteousness. Believers also devote themselves daily to reading God's Word (the Bible) and to prayer (Colossians 4:2, 1 Timothy 4:13).
The Apostle Paul explicitly defines the Gospel, which simply means "good news", as the propitiatory death of Christ for our sins, and His subsequent burial and resurrection. This he calls "of first importance" because it is this message that if believed reckons one righteous in the sight of God:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, [and] that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-4