Questions About Salvation: The TOP 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Salvation
Have Questions, Find Answers on Otakada.org – Top Miscellaneous Questions About Salvation – Daily, people turn to the Internet to find answers to their questions about spiritual matters. Topics related to spirituality are the second-most searched subjects online. Sadly, websites that present false teachings far outnumber those that proclaim the truth of God’s Word. We will provide answers as the Holy Spirit leads us from a biblical perspective. You will also need to pray to secure answers to any question you may have because one of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth – John 16:13. Today, we look at Top Miscellaneous Questions About Salvation and questions that relate to this with biblical answers.. Enjoy
Will there be a second chance for salvation after death?
What happens to babies and young children when they die? Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible?
What does the Bible say about a deathbed conversion?
Is there a difference between the Book of Life and the Lamb’s Book of Life?
Can a person be saved through general revelation?
Is there any sin that God will not forgive?
Why is the phrase “accept Christ” mentioned in evangelism when it is not in the Bible?
Is it biblical to ask Jesus into your heart?
Why do the four Gospels seem to present a different message of salvation than the rest of the New Testament?
Is it necessary to fully understand the gospel to go to heaven? Is it enough to believe it, even if we do not fully understand it?
What does the Bible say about household salvation?
Question: Will there be a second chance for salvation after death?
Answer: While the idea of a second chance for salvation is appealing, the Bible is clear that death is the end of all chances. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that we die and then face judgment. So, as long as a person is alive, he has a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc., chance to accept Christ and be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31). Once a person dies, there are no more chances. The idea of purgatory, a place where people go after death to pay for their sins, has no biblical basis but is rather a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.
To understand what happens to nonbelievers after they die, we go to Revelation 20:11-15, which describes the Great White Throne Judgment. At this judgment books are opened, and “the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (verse 12). The books contain all the thoughts and deeds of those being judged, and we know from Romans 3:20 that
“no one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight by observing the law.” Therefore, all who are judged by their works and thoughts are condemned to hell. Believers in Christ, on the other hand, are not judged by the books of works, but their names are found written in another book—the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). They have believed on the Lord Jesus, and they alone will be allowed to enter heaven.
Anyone whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life was chosen “before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) by God’s sovereign saving grace. These people need no “second chance” at salvation because Christ has secured their salvation. He chose them, He saved them, and He will keep them saved. Nothing can separate them from Christ (Romans 8:39). Jesus declared, “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37), and “I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Philippians 2:10-11 declares, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” One day, everyone will bow before Jesus and recognize that He is the Lord and Savior. At that point, though, it is too late for salvation. After death, all that remains for the unbeliever is judgment (Revelation 20:14-15). That is why we must trust in Him in this life. “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Question: What happens to babies and young children when they die? Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible?
Answer: When we discuss the age of accountability, we often lose the fact that children, no matter how young, are not “innocent” in the sense of being sinless. The Bible tells us that even if an infant or child has not committed personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty before God because of inherited and imputed sin. In Psalm 51:5, David wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David recognized that, even at conception, he was a sinner. He had inherited sin from his parents and was imputed sin through Adam. The sad fact that infants sometimes die demonstrates that even they are impacted by Adam’s sin, since physical and spiritual death were both the results of Adam’s original sin.
Each person, infant or adult, stands guilty before God. Each person has offended the holiness of God. The only way God can be just, and at the same time declare a person righteous, is for that person to have received forgiveness
by faith in Christ. Christ is the only way. John 14:6 records Jesus’ words: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Also, Peter teaches the exclusive path to salvation, stating in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
What about babies and young children who are unable to make an individual choice to accept or reject Christ? We believe they are covered by God’s grace. When a child is very young, he cannot understand the gospel, and he is not held accountable for what he is incapable of knowing. As a child matures, his intellect grows, and he is better able to understand the concepts of God, Jesus, and the need for salvation. The point at which a child is capable of understanding the gospel—and therefore held accountable for it—is what we call the “age of accountability.” Those who die before reaching the age of accountability are automatically saved by God’s grace and mercy. Thirteen years old is the most common age given for the age of accountability, based on the Jewish custom that a child becomes an adult at the age of 13. However, the Bible gives no direct support for the age of 13 always being the age of accountability. It likely varies from child to child. Once a child is capable of making a faith decision for or against Christ, he has passed the age of accountability.
With the above in mind, also consider this: Christ’s death is presented as sufficient for all of mankind. First John 2:2 says Jesus is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus’ death was sufficient for all sins, not just the sins of those who specifically come to Him in faith. The fact that Christ’s death was sufficient for all sin would allow the possibility of God’s applying that payment to those who were never capable of believing.
Second Samuel 12:21-23 is the one passage that seems to address this topic better than any other. The context of these verses is that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, with a resulting pregnancy. The prophet Nathan was sent by the Lord to inform David that, because of David’s sin, the child would die. David responded to this news by grieving, mourning, and praying for the child. But once the child passed away, David’s mourning ended. David’s servants were surprised to hear this. They said to him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” (verse 21). David’s response was, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me”
(verses 22-23). David’s response indicates that those who cannot believe are safe in the Lord. David said that he could go to the child, and this comforted David. David seemed to be saying that he would see the child again (in heaven), though he could not bring him back.
Although it is possible that God applies Christ’s payment for sin to those who cannot believe, the Bible does not specifically say that He does this. Therefore, this is a subject about which we should not be dogmatic. God’s applying Christ’s death to those who cannot believe would seem consistent with His love and mercy. It is our position that God applies Christ’s payment for sin to young children and those who are mentally handicapped, since they are not capable of understanding their sinful state and their need for the Savior. In any case, of this we are certain: God is loving, holy, merciful, just, and gracious. Whatever He does is always right and good.
Question: What does the Bible say about a deathbed conversion?
Answer: The most notable deathbed/last-minute conversion to Christ is the case of the criminal crucified alongside Jesus (Luke 23:39-43). Only moments before his own death, this criminal had been an unbelieving mocker of Christ (Matthew 27:44). However, at the last moment, the criminal repented and acknowledged Jesus as the heavenly King. The Lord gave him the blessed promise, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Although the story of the criminal on the cross demonstrates that last-minute conversions are possible, the Bible tells us to repent now, without waiting another moment. John the Baptist warned, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus preached an identical message concerning the need for immediate repentance (Matthew 4:17).
The Bible cautions us concerning the brevity of life: “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). We are not instructed to consider converting later, but to believe today! “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). None of us knows how much time we have left in this life or what the circumstances of our death will be. We may die in a sudden, unexpected manner that will preclude a deathbed conversion. The only reasonable option is to repent and believe in Jesus Christ today. “For he says, Tn the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Question: Is there a difference between the Book of Life and the
Lamb’s Book of Life?
Answer: There are eight references in the New Testament to the “Book of Life,” and two of them refer specifically to the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Seven of the references appear in the book of Revelation. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life are those who belong to God and have attained eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ.
Paul referred to those who labored alongside him as those whose names are in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3), again identifying the Book of Life as a record of the names of those who have eternal salvation. In the same way, Revelation 3:5 refers to the Book of Life as the place which records the names of believers in the Lord. This verse also makes it clear that, once a name is written in the Book of Life, Jesus will never blot it out. The Lord Jesus, who is speaking to the churches in this part of Revelation, promises to acknowledge His own before His Father. Conversely, Revelation 20:15 reveals the fate of those whose names are not written in the Book of Life—eternity in the lake of fire.
In Revelation 13:8 and 21:27, we find the references to the Lamb’s Book of Life. The Lamb who has been “slain from the creation of the world” has a book in which are written the names of all those who have been redeemed by His sacrifice. They are the ones who will enter the Holy City, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10), and who will live forever in heaven with God. Since the Book of Life records all who have eternal life through the Lamb, it’s clear that the Book of Life and the Lamb’s Book of Life are one and the same.
Question: Can a person be saved through general revelation?
Answer: General revelation can be defined as “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that reveals that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” Scriptures such as Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 clearly state that certain things about God can be understood from His creation around us. Creation reveals God’s power and majesty, but it does not reveal the plan of salvation through Christ. There is only salvation in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:12); therefore, a person cannot be saved simply through general revelation. Usually, the question “Can a person be saved through general revelation?” is asked in relation to another question, “What happens to those who have never heard the gospel?”
Sadly, there are still parts of the world with absolutely no access to the Bible, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, or to any means of learning Christian truth. The question then arises, what happens to these people when they die? Is it fair for
God to condemn a person who has never heard the gospel or heard of Jesus Christ? Some propose the idea that God judges those who have never heard based on how they responded to general revelation. The presumption is that, if a person truly believes what can be known about God through general revelation, God will judge the person based on that faith and allow the person entrance into heaven.
The problem is that Scripture declares that, unless a person is in Christ, he or she “stands condemned already” (John 3:18). Romans 3:10-12, quoting Psalm 14:3, pronounces the unregenerate nature to be universally sinful: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” According to Scripture, the knowledge of God is available (through general revelation), but mankind perverts it to his own liking. Romans 1:21-23 states, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” The status of those without God is one of rebellion, darkness, and idolatry.
Man rebels despite general revelation. Sinful man willfully rejects what can be known of God through nature and seeks ways to avoid the truth (see John 3:19). Since man does not naturally seek God, God must seek him—and that is exactly what He did, in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
A good example of our need for the gospel is found in Acts 10. Cornelius knew about God and was “devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (Acts 10:2). Did God save Cornelius because of his devotion to God based on the limited knowledge he had? No. Cornelius needed to hear about Jesus. God instructed Cornelius to contact the apostle Peter and invite him to come to Cornelius’ home. Cornelius obeyed, and Peter came and presented the gospel to Cornelius and his family. Cornelius and his household believed in Jesus and were therefore saved (Acts 10:44-48). No one, not even a “good” man like Cornelius, is saved simply by believing that God exists or by honoring God in certain ways. The only way of salvation is the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
General revelation can be seen as a universal call for people to acknowledge God’s existence. But general revelation, by itself, is not enough to lead a person to salvation in Christ. That is why it is so important for us to proclaim the gospel
throughout the whole world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Romans 10:14 declares, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Faith in the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation (John 3:16).
Question: Is there any sin that God will not forgive?
Answer: For the born-again child of God, there is no unforgivable sin. All sin was forgiven at the cross for those who belong to Christ. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant that the penalty for sin was paid in full. The word translated “it is finished” is the Greek word tetelestai. That word was used in several ways. It was used to stamp “paid” upon a receipt, and it was also the stamp put on a criminal’s charges once he had completed his sentence. A tetelestai was nailed to the door of the criminal’s house to prove that he had indeed paid in full for his crimes.
You can see the application to the transaction between the Lord Jesus and God the Father. Jesus Christ completed the legal transaction and satisfied God’s righteous demand for the payment of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ became our sin sacrifice and “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). When Christ was separated from God the Father for those hours of supernatural darkness (Matthew 27:45), the deal was sealed. After the price had been paid, Jesus was reunited with the Father: “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46). On the cross, all sin was paid for once for all.
However, there is a condition on God’s forgiveness of sin. Man must come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). God’s forgiveness is available to all who will come (John 3:16), but for those who will not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no forgiveness or remission of sin (Acts 10:43). Therefore, the only sins God will not forgive in this age of grace are the sins of those who die without first placing their faith in Jesus Christ. If a person goes through his life and never avails himself of the forgiveness God has provided through Christ, he goes into eternity unforgiven, separated from God.
Born-again believers also sin, and when we do, we grieve the Spirit and damage our fellowship with the Lord. However, God has made a provision to remedy that too. The Holy Spirit, who indwells every born-again believer, convicts us that we have sinned. When we feel His conviction, we have a choice to respond in the right way and renew our fellowship. “If we confess our sins, he
is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This verse outlines the way we can restore our fellowship with God when we sin.
In conclusion, we can rest knowing that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is greater than all our sin. If a person is truly repentant and turns to Christ for salvation, Christ will apply His sacrifice for sin to his account, and every sin he ever committed will be covered.
Question: Why is the phrase “accept Christ” mentioned in evangelism when it is not in the Bible?
Answer: Ever since the New Testament era, Christians have found the need to coin new terms to simplify or explain various doctrines. We often reference the Trinity, although this term never occurs in the Bible. While the phrase “accept Christ” is not found in Scripture, it does have a biblical basis—just as Trinity does.
Jesus and His followers often called salvation and the subsequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit a “gift.” For instance, Jesus told the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Paul said, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
By definition, a gift is not forced—it must be accepted. A gift can be refused. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful” (John 3:32-33). The word accept here is a translation of the same Greek word translated “take” in Revelation 22:17: “Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” God offers salvation, but we must accept the offer in order to receive the gift. Since we do this by exercising faith in Christ, the phrase “accept Christ” is simply shorthand for saying “place faith in Christ and receive His salvation.”
The goal of using terms like “accept Christ” is to communicate the truth more effectively to someone with limited biblical understanding. As long as a term is theologically correct and aids understanding, it need not be part of the biblical vocabulary. If, during evangelism, a certain term causes misunderstanding, then it is good to jettison the confusing term and patiently explain the truth from Scripture. While the phrase “accept Christ” does not appear in the Bible, the concept of receiving a gift does, and the phrase seems to work well in most evangelistic contexts.
Question: Is it biblical to ask Jesus into your heart?
Answer: “All you need to do to be saved is to ask Jesus to come into your heart.” The problem with this statement is that it is not expressly biblical. The Bible nowhere mentions Jesus coming into a person’s heart. Even the Scripture verse from which the “ask Jesus into your heart” concept is usually taken, Revelation 3:20, does not mention the heart or our asking Jesus to do anything. In context, Revelation 3:20 is speaking about the church fellowshipping with Jesus, not an individual person getting saved.
When the Bible gives a gospel presentation, it encourages people to believe (John 3:16; Acts 16:31), receive (John 1:12), or change their minds, i.e., repent (Acts 3:19). That is the proper response to the gospel. We are to change our minds about our sin and about who Christ is, believe Jesus died and rose again, and receive the gift of eternal life in faith. We are to recognize that we are sinners (Romans 3:23), understand that we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23), trust that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24), and receive the gift of salvation God offers us (Ephesians 2:8-9). All of this is done in faith, with God’s enabling (John 6:44). Salvation is not something we do or earn. Salvation is something we receive from God due to His mercy and grace.
While asking Jesus to come into your heart, i.e., enter your life, is not explicitly biblical, it is also not necessarily anti-biblical, if it is done in the context of a presentation of the biblical gospel. If a person understands sin and its penalty, understands the payment Christ made on the cross, and is ready to trust Jesus alone for salvation, an invitation to “ask Jesus into your heart” is not necessarily wrong. In fact, it could even help a person understand that the Spirit of Christ comes to indwell the believer (see John 14:17). However, it is always best to use the terminology the Bible uses. “Ask Jesus into your heart” does not fully communicate what actually occurs.
When we share the gospel, we should be extremely careful what we say and how we say it. Even the word believe can be misleading if it is presented as intellectual assent (agreeing that certain facts are true) instead of as trust (relying on those true facts). Judas Iscariot believed certain facts about Jesus, but he never trusted Jesus for salvation. Salvation is not about believing a list of facts. Salvation is not about asking Jesus to come into your heart. Salvation is not even about asking God to forgive you. Salvation is about trusting in Jesus as your Savior, receiving the forgiveness He offers, by grace through faith. Salvation is about being made new through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the
Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
Question: Why do the four Gospels seem to present a different message of salvation than the rest of the New Testament?
Answer: We must keep in mind that the Bible is intended to be taken as a whole. The books preceding the four Gospels are anticipatory, and the books which follow are explanatory. Throughout the whole Bible, God requires faith (see Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4; Mark 2:5; John 20:27; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 10:39). Salvation comes not by our own works but by trusting what God does on our behalf.
Each of the Gospels has its own emphasis on the ministry of Christ. Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, emphasizes Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, proving that He is the long-awaited Messiah. Mark writes a fast- paced, condensed account, recording Jesus’ miraculous deeds but not His long discourses. Luke portrays Jesus as the remedy of the world’s ills, emphasizing His perfect humanity and humane concern for the weak, the suffering, and the outcast. John emphasizes Jesus’ deity by selecting many conversations and sayings of Jesus on the subject and also including “signs” that prove Jesus is the Son of God.
The four Gospels work together to provide a complete testimony of Jesus, a beautiful portrait of the God-Man. Although the Gospels differ slightly in theme, the central Subject is the same. All present Jesus as the One who died to save sinners. All record His resurrection. Whether the writers presented Jesus as the King, the Servant, the Son of Man, or the Son of God, they had a common goal —that people believe in Him.
We’ll delve into the theology of the Gospels now. John includes many commands to “believe.” These inclusions fit his stated purpose, “that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you might have life through His name” (20:31). The other Gospels (the Synoptics) are no less concerned that we trust in Christ. Their appeals to faith are less overt but are just as genuine.
Jesus proclaims the need for righteousness, and He warns of the penalty of sin, which is hell. However, Jesus always presents God as the standard of righteousness and Himself as the means of righteousness—without Christ, righteousness is unattainable and hell is inevitable. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7) is a case in point. In that sermon Jesus meticulously deconstructs the pharisaical religion of good works, points to a holiness greater than our own, and offers Himself as the sole basis of religion. Accepting what
Jesus says in this sermon requires faith in His Person.
Matthew’s Gospel goes on to emphasize faith in the following verses: 8:10, 13, 26; 9:2, 22, 28-29; 12:21; 13:58; 14:31; 15:28; 16:8; 17:17; and 18:6. Also, Matthew includes a very clear presentation of Jesus as the Son of God in this exchange: “‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man,
but by my Father in heaven’” (Matthew 16:15-17).
Mark’s Gospel contains the following references to faith in Christ: 1:15; 2:5; 4:40; 5:34, 36; 6:6; 9:19, 23, 42; 10:52; 11:23; and 16:14. In Luke’s Gospel we see these verses promoting faith in Christ: 5:20; 7:9, 50; 8:12, 25, 48, 50; 9:41; 12:28, 46; 17:19; 18:8, 42; and 24:25. As we continue to see Scripture as a unified whole, we will see that there is only one message of salvation, and the four Gospels provide the basis for that message.
The Epistles which follow the Gospels elaborate on the same theme: salvation by faith in Christ. The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God and the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. The book of Hebrews stresses the pre-eminence and perfection of Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). First Corinthians specifies the content of the gospel message—events that are recorded in the Gospels (see
1 Corinthians 15:3-5). The three Epistles of John reiterate the basics of the faith and warn against those who would deny the Lord. Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, presents the last act of God’s plan for mankind and the fate of those who hold onto the same faith expounded in the entirety of the New Testament—faith in Christ alone.
The Bible does not present two ways of salvation. All of the Old Testament looks ahead to Jesus’ death on the cross, as recorded in the Gospels, and the remainder of the New Testament looks back to the same. The whole Bible is clear that faith in Christ is the only way to heaven.
Question: Is it necessary to fully understand the gospel to go to heaven? Is it enough to believe it, even if we do not fully understand it?
Answer: It is important to recognize that no one fully understands the depth and all the nuances of the Bible’s teachings. God is infinite, but the mind of man is finite and therefore incapable of fully understanding everything about God. Romans 11:33-34 expresses it this way: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the
wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”’ God reminds us through the prophet Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
That said, however, man is certainly capable of understanding the basic doctrines of the Bible and the knowledge of God that He has made clear to us (Romans 1:19). He has provided in His Word all we need to know for salvation and godly living (2 Peter 1:3). God does not try to confuse us when it comes to any biblical topic, especially salvation—“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV).
God has made it simple to understand salvation. When the jailer asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, they made it very clear: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). In John 6:28-29, Jesus was asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” to which Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). The Bible declares that it is faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus that saves us. Having a perfect understanding of the process is not required. We don’t need to know, nor can we know, everything about Jesus to be saved, but genuine faith will result in more and more understanding of God’s Word as we grow in Christ. The Author of Scripture— the Holy Spirit—will lead us “into all truth” (John 16:13). Without Him, we are unable to fully understand and rightly apply spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14).
John was quite specific: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17- 18). There will always be mystery, and we will never understand everything there is to know about the gospel, but that is where faith comes in. We know God is good, we know Jesus saves, and that’s enough for us to take that step of faith.
Question: What does the Bible say about household salvation?
Answer: Having a proper understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning household salvation must begin with an understanding of what the Bible teaches about salvation. To begin with, we know that there is only one way of salvation, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:13-14; John 6:67-68;
John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8). We also know that the command to believe is directed to individuals and the act of believing is an individual action. This is important when it comes to correctly understanding household salvation. Exercising faith is not something that a father can do for a son or daughter, and the fact that one member of a family believes is no guarantee that the rest will also.
Jesus Himself indicates that the gospel often divides families. For example, in Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”
So, if salvation is a personal matter, then how are we to understand those passages in the Bible that seem to contain a promise of household salvation? How can we reconcile the need for individuals to believe and verses like Acts 11:14, in which Cornelius is told that Peter would bring a message “through which you and all your household will be saved”? First of all, the fact that God promised Cornelius that his whole household would be saved does not mean the same promise applies universally to all households. In other words, this was a specific promise to a specific person at a specific point in time. One must be very careful about interpreting promises made to individuals as universal.
Second, we need to look at how God fulfilled His promise to Cornelius. In Acts 10:33 Cornelius and his household were gathered “to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you [Peter] to tell us.” In other words, they were in a place and position to hear the gospel, which “is the power of God for … salvation” (Romans 1:16). Upon hearing the gospel preached by Peter, everyone in Cornelius’s household believed and was baptized (Acts 11:15-18). So, God promised Cornelius that his household would be saved, and the way they were saved was consistent with God’s plan of salvation, which is through the preaching of the gospel. They were not saved because Cornelius believed, but because they also heard the gospel and believed.
Another promise of household salvation is Acts 16:31. Here the Philippian jailer asks, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), to which Paul and Silas respond, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (emphasis added). Again, it is important to remember that this promise is given to a specific individual in a specific context. Unlike the promise to Cornelius, this one also contains a universal promise—not the promise of household salvation but the promise that, if you believe in the Lord Jesus “you
will be saved.” Also, in the very next verse, we see again that salvation came as the result of hearing the Word of God and responding in faith (Acts 16:32). So, in the Philippian jailer’s house, individual people heard the gospel and responded in faith and were saved. They were not saved because they were a part of the jailer’s household; instead, they were saved because they heard the gospel message and responded in faith.
A third verse that some use to teach household salvation is 1 Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” Is this verse somehow teaching that an unbelieving spouse can be saved on the basis of his spouse’s faith in Christ or that their children will be holy before the Lord because one of their parents is saved? The answer is “no” because such a basis for salvation would be inconsistent with the overall teaching of Scripture. The passage is not dealing with salvation or being made holy before God. It is dealing with the marriage relationship.
Paul taught that Christians should not be “yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). In chapter 7, he clarifies that, if a believer is already married to an unbeliever, they should remain married as long as the unbeliever consents to do so. The reason this is allowable is that the marriage relationship is sanctified (holy or set apart in God’s eyes) based on the faith of the believing spouse. There is no need for them to divorce. Likewise, the children of that marriage are legitimate in the sight of God, despite the fact that their parents are “unequally yoked.”
The fact that 1 Corinthians 7:14 is not speaking of some type of household salvation is clearly seen in the rhetorical question that Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 7:16: “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” The obvious answer is they don’t, because only God knows who will be saved.
While there really is no promise of “household salvation” for believers, that does not mean we should not earnestly hope, pray, and work for the salvation of our families. One believer in a family can have a profound impact. The God of Abraham also becomes the God of Sarah, and then of Isaac, and then of Jacob. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Though grace does not run in the blood, and regeneration is not of blood nor of birth, yet doth it very frequently—I was about to say almost always—happen that God, by means of one of a household, draws the rest to himself. He calls an individual, and then uses him to be a sort of
spiritual decoy to bring the rest of the family into the gospel net.”-
God has not only appointed or elected individuals to salvation. He has also ordained the means by which they will be saved, which is by hearing and responding in faith to the gospel message. This often involves a family member, as God saves one person and then uses him or her in such a way that others in the family hear the Word of God, believe, and are saved.
Links to Other Q and A on Salvation
Top Questions About the Plan of Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Jesus and Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Who Can Be Saved with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Assurance of Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Salvation and Works with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Salvation Terminology with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Life After Salvation with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Election and Predestination with Biblical Answers
Top Questions About Salvation and the Old Testament with Biblical Answers
Top Miscellaneous Questions About Salvation with Biblical Answers