What Must I Know to Be Saved?
The question frequently is asked by those who are contemplating becoming a child of God, “How much do I have to know in order to become a Christian?” Some feel like they have to know every detail in the Bible before taking action to get rid of sin in their lives. Others believe they need every question “under the Sun” answered before becoming a Christian. Some want to know about the origin of the races. Others want to know whether or not there is life on other planets. The Bible, however, never indicates that for one to become a Christian, he has to know every detail about every book in the Bible, or that a person has to be able to answer every question that arises. But what, if anything, is necessary for a person to know before becoming a disciple of Christ?
First, an individual contemplating his spiritual life must understand that the reason there is even something for him to do is because he has sinned. Everyone who has reached the level of mental maturity (sometimes referred to as “the age of accountability”) so that he or she understands what sin is (cf. 1 John 3:4; 5:17), has sinned (Romans 3:10,23; 1 John 1:8). [The one exception, of course, was Jesus—1 Peter 2:22.] Sin is that which separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). For a person to be saved, he first must have knowledge that he is a sinner, and as such stands in a lost condition. One of the reasons Jesus condemned certain Jewish priests, elders, and sects was because they did not admit their sinfulness after hearing the preaching of John the baptizer (Matthew 21:31-32)—though the tax collectors and harlots (i.e., sinners) did acknowledge their sin, and believed.
Second, the one who aspires to become a Christian must know something about Jesus—the One Who came to save us from our sins (Luke 19:10; John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8). A person does not have to know every one of Jesus’ parables, or be able to quote the Sermon on the Mount, but he must know that Jesus is the Son of God Who died and was raised so that all men might have their sins forgiven and live eternally with Him in heaven (Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:9). In other words, before becoming a Christian, a person must have heard the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Finally, the individual who aspires to become a child of God must realize there is something for him to do (cf. Acts 2:38; 16:30; 8:36). If one understands that the Bible says he must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24), repent of his sins (Luke 13:3,5), confess that Jesus is God’s Son (Romans 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38), he or she then possesses enough knowledge to put on Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:27) and become a Christian, being added by God to the church that Christ established (Acts 2:47; Matthew 16:18; Romans 16:16).
Contrary to the belief of some, a person who desires to become a Christian does not have to know the whole Bible thoroughly before he takes action. Nor is there a need to have every question imaginable answered. The Ethiopian eunuch heard one Christ-centered lesson from Philip before asking, “What hinders me from being baptized” (Acts 8:35-36)? The three thousand on Pentecost heard only one Gospel sermon before accepting the grace of God and obeying the plan of salvation (Acts 2:41). They did not wait around for years, thinking they were not knowledgeable enough to be followers of Christ. Rather, they were convinced of their sins (Acts 2:37), heard the Gospel, believed it, and obeyed it. It is after one becomes a Christian that God commands us a person to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), and to continue to study the Word in order to teach others (Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 3:15).