29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:31
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul and Silas noted above, is a brief and practical response to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”
For the serious and anxious enquirer, who seeks a fuller answer to this question for the good of his/her eternal soul, please refer to this summary.
For professing Christians, we recognize the Holy Scriptures have more to say than simply the words of Acts 16:31—and the evidence is plain that not all Christians have agreed with the Catholic Church in its presentation of the truth regarding salvation.
Evangelical Christians have done an exceedingly effective job in forcing Catholics—many nominal, some not—to ask themselves whether such terminology applies to them. Often, Catholics will ask, “How should I respond to someone who asks me if I've been saved, or born again?”
It is hoped that Catholics might be ready to reply with a resounding, "Yes!" to those who ask them such a question.
Tell them that it is through Baptism that you were saved, just as the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:20-21 and that it is through Baptism, water and the Spirit, that you are "born again," just as the Bible says in John 3:5.
You see, many Protestants believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us.
There are so many places in Scripture, which talk about how one is "saved", but not one of them says we are saved by one act of faith at just one point in time. As I just mentioned, 1 Peter 3:20 says we are saved by baptism. In Hebrews 12:14 it says that we will not see the Lord unless we are holy, and that we have to strive for this holiness. In Matthew 6:14-15, it says we must forgive others or we will not be forgiven. Can you attain salvation if God hasn't forgiven you? No! So, our forgiving others is necessary for our salvation.
1 Tim 2:15 says that woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with modesty. John 6:54 says we will have eternal life by doing something...eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 19, verses 16 and 17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. Did He say, Accept me into your heart once and that’s it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.
Yes, as Catholics we are born again. And, as Catholics we believe that we were saved, as Paul says in Rom 8:24; that we are being saved, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18; and that we will be saved, as Paul says in Rom 5:9-10, provided we persevere and keep our eyes on the prize. Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches.
John Martignoni of Christian Bible Society
There’s more on this subject in one of my former posts, found here.