This word, when it is used, is almost always in a question. The word implies that there is a definite answer to the question being asked. It underscores the importance of the question following it. In this question, it tells us that there is something or other that will lead the questioner to salvation, and there definitely is.
It is not what may I do, or what should I do. The question is "what must I do". Thus far we have the impression that there is one definite thing that one must do, and that that one definite thing will lead one to salvation.
It is not what God, Christ and the Holy Spirit must do. All within the ranks of Christian religion are agreed that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit have a role in salvation, and without them it would be impossible for anyone to be saved. But the question does not relate to them; it asks, "What must I do?". So thus far in the question, we have the idea that there is something that an individual must do if that individual wants to be saved, and that only doing that will lead the individual to salvation.
It is not "what must I feel", or "what must I think". This part of the question implies that there is something that "I must do". We can, therefore, reason that there is something or other to be done in order to achieve the goal of being saved.
This last part of the question implies that the questioner is in danger. Was the questioner in danger always? If that had been the case, then it would seem illogical that the question would even be asked, since the questioner would not have known any other way of life. This therefore implies that the questioner was once safe, and then was put in danger.
This question, or one similar to it, has been asked and answered in the Bible several times on this matter. One man asked this question to Jesus:
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:16-26)
Jesus answered this question truthfully, the man had obeyed Godís laws up to that point in his life, but his heart was not in it. Jesus answered this question with a specific work. He would not necessarily answer with the same specific work today. One other thing is of note in Christís discussion of the question: in verse 26 we see that it is impossible for man to save another man, but with God, following His perfect plan, it is possible to be saved.
But that is not all that God has said on the subject. In fact, in a way, that does not totally apply today, because of the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross at Calvary, taking the punishment for our sins and weaknesses. In Godís perfect plan, and at the timing that He deemed perfect in history, Christ died for us. So letís hear what God had Peter say when he preached the worldís first post-resurrection Gospel sermon:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.(Acts 2:36-38)
There are two items to address here. The first is the first word that Peter said in that last sentence: "Repent". The Greek word from which that word is derived literally means "do a military about-face". Turn away from your old life and towards Christ. Show that you have done that by submitting yourself to baptism (by immersion). That is, demonstrate your new-found faith in Jesus Christ by being baptized into the likeness of His death (Romans 6).
This point is made even stronger in the next instance of the question being asked that we see:
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.(Acts 16:29-33)
Paul and Silas truly preached the Word of God to their jailer (they had been in jail for preaching the Word of God), and the jailer believed. Turning away from his sins, he accepted Christ and was immediately baptized. Let me be absolutely clear here: I am NOT saying that baptism saves. Baptism by itself canít save anyone from anything. It is faith in Christ which saves, and if a person truly has faith in Christ, he or she will show it by being baptized. See Romans 10:9-10:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
So now we have it, friends. To receive salvation in Christ, you must place your faith in Him. Good works canít save you: nor can anything else. So why not do it today? Send me some Email when you do. Weíd love to see you in heaven.