Duh! I’m stating the obvious here. To be saved you must hear the word. How else would anyone know why they need Jesus to save them? It almost seems a little silly to include this in my list of steps to be saved. Yet, it is very important to state the obvious so that the source that establishes faith in the truth can be identified.
As humans, we depend on evidence before we believe in something. What better evidence do we have than God’s word? It is the greatest source of our faith as Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Every instance of conversion that we read about on the pages of our New Testament after Jesus’ resurrection begins with a follower of Christ preaching the word to people who are hearing those words. And it’s no surprise as Jesus Himself, before ascending into heaven, told His disciples in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
If we read the book of Acts, we see the disciples doing exactly what Jesus asked — preaching the gospel to every creature. Over and over the disciples of Jesus preached the gospel, the people heard and then responded according to how what they heard provoked their heart. Some responded by doing what the disciples told them to do to be saved (Acts 2:41), some heard yet walked away without doing anything (Acts 26:27-28), while others became angry even to the point of killing the messenger as in the instance of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60).
In Acts 2, we see Peter preach the first gospel sermon that set a relevant tone and pattern for all conversions that came after this. If we read closely, we will see that even though he had a miraculous sign in speaking in tongues that confirmed his teaching was from God, he still gave ample evidence from scripture to back up his claims. The focus was always on the word, not the sign, and he said exactly what they needed to hear.
These people were devout Jews that knew the scriptures (Acts 2:5); they knew about God and His holiness and how their sin separated them from God (Isaiah 59:2); they knew the sacrifices that needed to be made to atone for sin (Leviticus 16:30); they knew what had been foretold about the Christ coming through David’s lineage to save them (Jeremiah 23:5-6); they knew about this Man named Jesus who performed these great miracles and claimed to be the Christ (Acts 2:22); they knew they were the ones that put Him to death (Acts 2:23).
There wasn’t much they didn’t know, and there wasn’t much they needed to hear to convict them of the fact that Jesus was the Christ because after Peter presented them with sufficient evidence, He said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)
As a result, they were cut to the heart by what they heard and immediately responded by asking Peter and the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)
Thus, Peter proceeded by telling them what they must do to make things right with God and immediately about three thousand of those souls gladly did what they were told to do to be saved (Acts 2:38, 41).
And so the pattern was set — the disciples of Jesus preached the gospel, the people heard and then responded according to how what they heard provoked their heart.
To be saved we must first hear the word. Once we hear, our heart will be pricked in some way. Will it lead us to believe the evidence or turn away from it? Believe is the next step to be saved and the topic of the next blog post. Stay tuned.