Suggested Further Reading

Four fundamental truths of the faithSpiritual Light is the result of four visitations from the Lord over a period of 4 years. Starting with the 3rd commandment and then insight into Christ's sacrifice the book reveals desperately needed understanding that dispels the confusion about conversion, baptism, salvation and works.

Related Topics

Other subjects from the topical index related to Salvation & Conversion.
The New Birth
Speaking in Tongues
Grace, Faith & Works
The Sacrifice of Christ

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Salvation & Conversion

Are you saved? Is it the same thing as conversion? Many are asked that question as if the two things are the same! No one in the Bible ever spoke of the day that they "got saved" as so many people do in this time. What does the Bible say about the subjects of salvation and being saved?

Jesus said that he who endures to the end will be saved. Paul wrote of the "hope of salvation" and Peter spoke of salvation being the end of our faith to be revealed in the latter time. What is the truth? Are you already saved, or not?

Study this page to learn the truth about Salvation. There are also audio clips taken from the What Must I Do to be Saved CD teaching series. Click on an article title in the box in the right column to read from a range of articles covering different aspects of the truth about salvation.

What Must I Do to be Saved CD Set

What must I do to be saved CD set, 4 hours of wonderful teachingWhat Must I Do to be Saved? examines an issue that everyone needs to understand. Confusion and error are everywhere on this subject and your eternal fate depends on understanding these things. Learn about salvation, being saved and the things you must do to be saved. This 4 CD set available at cost price from our eBay storePurchase at cost on ebay. This is vital understanding for walking with the Lord.

Extracts from "The Apostate Fathers"

Concerning Salvation

Following are extracts from "The Apostate Fathers", in which John Clark, Sr., considers the writings of the early Christian fathers found in the reprinted edition of The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, The Apostolic Fathers, originally published in the United States by the Christian Literature Publishing Company, in 1885, and reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers in 1994.

The writings of these early Christian believers were organized into eight categories. The material relating to the category, "Salvation" is presented here. Not all of the authors found in this book have extant writings that cover the issue of salvation.

The Standard for Salvation

The standard used for considering these writings is as follows:

Jesus, and every other genuine servant of God, taught that "salvation" is the final reward of the righteous, and that a believer must do the will of God in order to be counted worthy of salvation in the end. Many false teachers teach that God's people will be saved because of who they are instead of how they live. This was true even in ancient Israel (e.g. Jer. 7:3-10; Mal. 2:17).

Note: To their credit, these Apostate Fathers, in the main, agree that obedience to the will of God is required of believers in order for them to be saved in the end.


Irenaeus, whose work we will study later, tells us in his work, Against Heresies, that Clement was the third Bishop of the church in Rome (AH3, III.3); that is to say, the third Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The Epistle to the Corinthians has been historically attributed to Clement, but in the letter itself, the author's name is not given. The date of its writing is also uncertain, but two suggestions are: about A.D. 68, after the persecution of Christians by Nero, or about A.D. 97, following the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Domitian.


  • Clement looks forward to the elect of God receiving salvation in the future (II). Also, Clement states that the saints will be justified by their works, not merely their words (XXX).

    He also says that "the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed." Why? Because we are dealing with holy things, and "those who do anything beyond what is agreeable to His will are punished with death" (XLI).

The Truth

While it is true that "to whom much is given, of him shall much be required" (Lk. 12:48), the apostle John's statement that there is "a sin not unto death" (1Jn. 5:16), shows that Clement went too far with this last comment. However, Clement does use the word "saved"as Jesus and the apostles did (e.g. Mt. 24:13; Rom. 13:11), not with the incorrect modern evangelical meaning of converted but as rescued from sin and its ultimate consequences (VI; IX).

Also, Clement's teaching that the saints will be justified by their works agrees with the teachings of James (2:24), Paul (Rom. 2:5-10), and Jesus (Mt. 7:21), as well as the rest of the New Testament.

So, in the main, what Clement teaches on this subject is true.


Clement seems to contradict his own teaching on the subject of salvation when he writes, "All we, too [as with the Old Testament faithful], . . . are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, God has justified all men" (XXXII). He never explains to the readers why, in this place, he denies that "works wrought in holiness of heart" are required of those who hope to be saved, when in every other place he teaches the opposite. It may have been simply that he wanted to emphasize here man's complete dependence upon God to inspire and enable us to do good, which is true.


Polycarp is said to have been the Bishop of Smyrna and to have been conversant with John, the apostle of the Lord. He is also said to have been martyred by being burned alive at the age of eighty-seven. This epistle is believed by some to be from near the middle of the second century, A.D.


  • Polycarp teaches that salvation will be received only at the end of a life of faithful service to God. We will be raised from the dead into eternal glory only "if we do [God's] will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness. . ." (II). "If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him, we shall also reign together with Him" (V). In reference to a man whom Polycarp considers to be apostate, he states that such a believer who departs from the faith and is again defiled by covetousness and idolatry "shall be judged as one of the heathen" (XI).

The Truth

This is true.

Polycarp here is teaching the same thing that the prophets of Israel, Jesus, and the apostles all taught; that is, only those who do the will of God will be saved in the end. There is no hint in Polycarp's writings of the doctrine of many modern evangelical Christians - that is, that they are already saved and that their future salvation is assured even if they live contrary to the will of God.


Ignatius is thought by some scholars to have been born during Jesus' earthly lifetime. He appears to be the earliest Christian writer from whom more than one work has survived, but at least eight of the letters attributed to him are generally regarded as Christian forgeries. Possibly all have been tampered with, but then, the same might be said of many other writings of the fathers of Christianity. I have chosen to treat all the letters of Ignatius together, not only because it is more convenient but also because it is all but inconsequential as to whether or not a man named Ignatius penned them all. These are works that have been regarded as sacred by many in Christianity throughout its history.


  • The believer who has become dull of hearing the word of God and "sets at nought His doctrine, shall go to hell" (Ephs. XVI), writes Ignatius. He is equally firm about those who follow a heretic, saying, "If any man follows him that separates from the truth, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and if any man does not stand aloof from the preacher of falsehood, he shall be condemned to hell" (Phila. III). According to him, great danger exists for those believers who desire to "live according to the Jewish law, and the circumcision of the flesh" (Mag. VIII).

    Everything Ignatius writes on the subject of salvation is fairly well summed up by these words of his: "There is set before us life, upon our observance [of God's precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes shall go to his own place" (Mag. IV).

The Truth

All these statements are true.

Ignatius' words could have been written by Peter or Paul, or spoken by one of the prophets. Paul, too, used Old Testament examples as a warning to the saints that good works are required in order to inherit salvation (e.g., 1Cor. 10:1-12). And he warned Gentile believers, as Ignatius does here, that to resort to the Law of Moses was to put one's hope of salvation at risk (Gal. 3:1-4; 5:1-5).

Ignatius writes in one place that no man would be able to stand before God if God "should reward us according to our works" (Mag. X). But the works to which Ignatius refers here are works that people perform before coming to Christ; so, he is not, in this case, contradicting himself.

His insistence that obedience is necessary to attain to salvation is both correct and consistent.


Ignatius' insistence on absolute submission to Christian leaders is to be rejected. It begs the question as to whether those men are of God. It may be that they are those Jesus warned us about, the false teachers he said would come in his name. Moses was of God, and rebellion against him was sin, but refusal to obey the commandments of religious leaders who are not sent by God is a virtue.


The author of this epistle is unknown, though from early times, he was given the name Barnabas. Some early Christians believed that the letter was written by the Barnabas who was Paul's fellow-worker. It is, of course, possible that Barnabas wrote this letter in its original form, but he certainly did not write the letter as it now stands. The Barnabas who traveled with Paul knew the Scriptures better than the author of this letter knew them, and he understood the gospel Paul preached better than the author of sections of this letter understood it.

The exact date of the letter, as with all these earliest Christian writings, can only be guessed at. The most common guess is about A.D. 100.


  • That Barnabas does not consider himself to have already obtained salvation is made obvious in many places by such comments as this: "We take earnest heed in these last days; for the whole past time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger, as becometh sons of God" (IV). Barnabas also teaches that the man who, after having a knowledge of "the way of righteousness, rushes off into the way of darkness" will perish (V).

The Truth

This is true.

The last statement is very similar to Peter's language in 2Peter 2:20-21, "If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."


According to his own words, Justin's first Apology was written one hundred fifty years after Jesus' birth (1Ap. XLVI). For those unfamiliar with the term, an "apology" is a defense. Justin was not apologizing for his faith to the Roman emperor; he was offering a defense of it.


  • Justin uses the word saved, not as a synonym for conversion but in reference to being received into Paradise at the Final Judgment. Justin understands, as most of Christianity's fathers did, that "each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions" (1Ap. XII). "Not those who make profession," says Justin, "but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to his word" (1Ap. XVI; also LXV).

The Truth

This is true.

Salvation will be given only to those in Christ who do good works. Jesus said so (Mt. 7:21), as did all the prophets and apostles.


  • Justin says that "by [the blood of Christ], those persons who were at one time harlots and unrighteous persons out of all nations are saved" (Dial. CXI), but he is not using the word saved as modern Christians do, as a synonym for conversion. Rather, he is saying that by the blood of Christ, sinners are delivered from the power of sin so that they sin no more and, so, are prepared to receive salvation when Christ returns. He teaches that those once-vile sinners are saved by "receiving remission of sins, and continuing no longer in sin."

The Truth

Justin is correct. This is in harmony with the consistent biblical stance that only those who are converted and cleansed from sin, and afterward are obedient and faithful to Christ, will be saved from the coming wrath of God (Mt. 7:21-27; Rom. 2:13; Jas. 2:24).


  • Justin points out that Jesus was saved by his Father (Dial. CI).

    Justin warns Trypho and his fellow Jews: "When [Jesus] said, ‘Thou art my God; be not far from me,' he taught that all men ought to hope in God Who created all things, and to seek salvation and help from Him alone; and not suppose, as the rest of men do, that salvation can be obtained by birth, or wealth, or strength, or wisdom. . . . For if the Son of God evidently states that he cannot be saved, because he is a son, nor because he is strong or wise, but that without God he cannot be saved, even though he be sinless, . . . how do you or others who expect to be saved without this hope suppose that you are not deceiving yourselves?" (Dial. CII).

The Truth

Justin is exactly right.

This statement touches not only on the issue of salvation but also on the issue of the Trinity and the power of the Father over the Son. Jesus feared God (Heb. 5:5-9), knowing that the Father heard his prayers and would receive him into glory because he kept God's commandments and did those things that were pleasing in His sight (cp. 1Jn. 3:22).


Irenaeus claims that as a young child, he saw the aged Polycarp. If the dates assigned to Polycarp are correct, then Irenaeus was a boy in the late first or early second century. Irenaeus resided and ministered in the territory of ancient Gaul (modern France), in the city of Lyons, where he and a number of other Christians are reported to have been martyred in 202.


  • Irenaeus condemns heretics for teaching that they will be saved by virtue of their being "spiritual", rather than on the basis of their conduct (AH1, VI.2).

The Truth

Irenaeus is telling some truth here. He apparently understands that God requires holiness of those who would be saved in the end, "without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).

On the other hand, those who live a holy life are the ones Paul called "spiritual". The conduct of spiritual people proves that they are indeed spiritual. Irenaeus' dividing of "spiritual" from "righteous conduct" is unbiblical.


  • Irenaeus uses "to save" with the meaning of "to rescue" numerous times (AH2, VI.2; Ah2, XXVIII.3).

The Truth

Irenaeus is right in this matter. "To rescue" is one of the biblical meanings for the phrase, "to save". For example, the Bible says that Jesus saved Peter from drowning (Mt. 14:30-31).


  • At least twice, Irenaeus appears to use the term saved as modern fundamentalists use it (AH5, VI.1); to wit, as a synonym for conversion. However, a few sentences he clarifies what he thinks, which is that "salvation" refers to the eternal inheritance of the righteous (AH5, VI.1).

The Truth

Converted is never a biblical meaning for the word saved, and Irenaeus only occasionally appears to use it so, as a careful reading of his works makes clear.


  • Irenaeus teaches that "without the Spirit of God we cannot be saved" (AH5, IX.3; Frag. Ire. XXVI). Also, he says that it is the communion of the Spirit by which we are saved (AH5, XI. 1). And again, he says that it is by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God that we are saved (AH5, XI.1).

The Truth

All these statements are true. They indicate that Irenaeus understands that salvation is what is wrought in the lives of God's people by His Spirit and that without the Spirit of God, no one has any hope for salvation. As Paul wrote, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9). And in another place, "It is God who is working within you [by the Spirit] both to will and to do His good pleasure" (Phip. 2:!3).