The grand theme of the Bible is salvation! A simple definition of salvation is deliverance from the power and effects of sin. Scripturally, there is an initial New Testament salvation experience that brings dramatic change to one’s life. This is reflected in many of the scriptural terms associated with salvation:
The relationship of faith to salvation is one of the most misunderstood in Christendom today. Faith is a necessary ingredient in salvation, but faith is not the whole recipe. Faith alone will not save. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).
Faith is the factor that motivates a person to carry out the whole plan of salvation. If a person really believes the Word of God, his response will be obedience to it.
In Acts 16 the Philippian jailor, startled at his awakening to find the door of the prison open, decided it would be best for him to take his life rather than face punishment by his superior officers. Paul, cried in verse 28, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” The Philippian jailor asked in desperation, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul responded, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 8:31). Many take this to be the total plan of salvation. Notice that the apostle told the jailor, “thou SHALT be saved,” not “thou ART saved.”
Believing was the first step for the jailor’s salvation. Paul then explained to him and his household “the word of the Lord,” and as a result he was baptized that same hour. If believing is all one must do to be saved, why the urgency in baptizing the jailor “that same hour” and why even baptize him at all? Perhaps the answer to this is found in Jesus' words as recorded in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Water baptism is a part of being saved, just as believing has its role in salvation.
Jesus said in John 7:38, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John explained in the following verse, “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet, given because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Those who profess to believe on Jesus Christ, should also acknowledge it to be the plan of God for them to receive the Holy Ghost.
When Peter was in Jerusalem explaining how the Holy Ghost fell on the household of Cornelius he told the counsel of godly leaders, “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17).
Peter claimed that the household of Cornelius received the same gift as the disciples who had believed on the Lord. The gift, of course, was the Holy Ghost. Again, receiving the Holy Ghost is related to believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
It would be impossible to fulfill the plan of God without faith. Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is . . .” Faith is absolutely necessary if one is to be saved. But faith alone will never save; it will only motivate one to obey the truth and live in such a manner that God will lead them in His plan of salvation.