It must be agreed by all those who believe the Bible that the world's greatest question is, "What must I do to be saved?" or "What shall I do, Lord?" or "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 22:10; 2:37; 9:6.) This question has to do with the soul of man and eternal destiny.
First of all there are two parts to the question. "What must I do" refers to the sinner's part, and "to be saved" refers to God's part of the plan. In other words the sinner must believe and put his faith into obedience in order to be saved of God on God's terms.
When the jailer asked "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30), he knew little or nothing about Christ and had no faith in Him. In answer to his question they began at the very first and said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." This was a sort of blanket proposition meaning that he would have to obey Christ and trust in Him for salvation. They then preached Christ unto him so he could believe, for faith comes by hearing the word. (Acts 16:32; Romans 10:17.) He evidently believed and repented for he took them and tried to undo the harm done, and washed their stripes. He also was baptized the same hour of the night - at midnight. (Acts 16:25, 33.) He was then saved by Christ who has said in the commission, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." He rejoiced after his baptism.
When many asked our great question on Pentecost saying, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37), unlike the jailer, they had just heard about Christ and had been called upon to believe in Him as "Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:37.) Since they were already believers, but had not yet put their faith into obedience, they were simply told what to do by faith in order to be saved. The apostle said, "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." (Acts 2:38.) They were to do this "for the remission of sins" for which Christ had shed his blood. (Matt. 26:28.) "They then that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41.) The last verse says, "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47.) In no case were any said to be saved who had not heard the gospel and obeyed it. Furthermore, the Lord added all of them to the same church, the church of Christ which he had said he would build. (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; Eph. 1:22, 23; 5:23; 2:16; 4:4.) They were simply Christians and wore no human religious name.
- Gus Nichols