Author: Ron Graham
Paul’s Six Steps to Grace
—In his letter to the Romans
This lesson would be boring if it were not so important and controversial. What we do in this lesson, a child not yet out of primary school could do. We start with a basic question...
What things does Paul, in his letter to the Romans, say that people must do as necessary to their salvation by Christ?
That is a simple question. You don't have to be a theologian to answer it. All you need to do is read carefully through Romans and look for what Paul says a person needs to do in order to be saved. It's not a daunting task. Anyone could do it easily in a day.
I've done the above, and found six basic steps that Paul considers essential for everyone to take. I've put these steps in the order that a person might take them. It seems a straightforward piece of research.
I am not the first to do it. I have repeated what others have done before, and come up with the same result. Unfortunately the result shocks a great many people and they reject it. Nevertheless, I present it for your consideration.
1 Hearing of the Gospel
In this passage Paul mentions three requirements: a calling upon God confessing Christ with your mouth, which cannot be done without a belief (faith) in Christ, which cannot be had without hearing and heeding the gospel. The latter is therefore the first essential step a person must take.
Paul said at the beginning of his letter, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes [it]..." (Romans 1:16).
A lot of people think they can be saved just by being good people, or just being true to their own beliefs and light. However, Paul holds that they have to have the gospel preached to them, and they are required to listen to it and heed it. That's the first essential step anyone must take in order to be saved.
2 Believing in Christ
Romans 1:16-17, 8:34
We've already come across the requirement to have faith in Christ. Paul separates the saved from the lost by calling the saved "everyone who believes [the gospel of Christ]" (Romans 1:16).
This does not mean believing merely that Jesus was a good man, one of the great prophets. It means believing that "Christ Jesus is he who died [for our sins], and rather he who was raised up, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us" (Romans 8:34). So this faith is the second essential step anyone must take in order to be saved.
3 Repenting of Sin
Romans 2:4-5, 6:1-2
Paul says, "[In the day of wrath] there will be tribulation and distress for everyone who does evil" He warns people against having "an unrepentant heart" (Romans 2:4-5).
He says that we "[cannot] continue in sin that the grace of God might increase" and that we must become dead to sin —it must no longer be our way of life (Romans 6:1-2 ). So this turning away from sin, and having a change of heart about sin, is the third essential step anyone must take in order to be saved.
4 Confessing Jesus Christ
When we were in chapter 10, we skipped over something Paul stated one must do in order to be saved, so let's come back to that now. Paul says, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).
Here we have something added to faith, and just as essential as faith. Confessing Christ with your mouth when you don't really believe in your heart, is a useless confession. Likewise, believing in your heart when you don't confess Christ with your mouth is a useless faith. So here we find that the confession is a fourth essential step anyone must take in order to be saved.
5 Being Baptized into Christ's Death
Romans 6:3-4, 8:1
When we were in chapter 6, we did not read on to note what Paul says about baptism, so let's go back and notice that now. Paul speaks of being...
- "baptized into Christ" (Romans 6:3).
- "baptized into his death" (Romans 6:3).
- "buried with him by baptism" (Romans 6:4).
These verses show that a person remains outside of Christ until baptism brings that person into Christ and into his death where salvation is found.
People make all kinds of “explanations” of these words of Paul, in order not to make him say that baptism is an essential step. When Paul says, "There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1), let us ask Paul to tell us how people came to be "in Christ Jesus".
He has already answered that question. He says that we "have been baptized into Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:3). Really, you need to look at that with clear eyes. Just read the words and forget your own preconceptions. Baptism is a fifth step anyone must take in order to be saved.
6 Presenting Your Body a Living Sacrifice
One may properly regard a person as saved who has taken all of those steps. However Paul is also concerned that a person not be lost again. He encourages the continued "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5). So Paul says, "Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1-2).
Further on, he makes it plain that diligence and perseverance is required (Romans 12:11-12).
For simplicity, we have treated this as one step, but you will realise that this “step” is really a walk and a long one at that. Paul does speak of it as a walk. He tells us to...
- "walk in the steps of that faith" (Romans 4:12),
- "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4),
- "walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1), and
- "walk honestly as in the day" (Romans 13:13)
If we will not take the step of a committed life, we cannot expect to keep a saving faith, hold on to eternal life, continue to have the Spirit in us, and stay in the light of the day of God.