by Matt Slick
To be saved means to be delivered from the righteous judgment of God. So when someone asks "How can I be saved?" the person is asking how to have his/her sins forgiven, to not go to hell, and to go to heaven. Furthermore, it means the person recognizes that he/her has sinned against God by breaking his commandments (1 John 3:4) and that he is not pure, not right with God.
This same question is asked in Scripture and the answer is provided.
"When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' 31 They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,'" (Acts 16:270-31).
The context is that Paul the apostle was being held with other prisoners. But, an earthquake had caused the doors of the jails to open and the jailer was going to kill himself. The reason is because in Roman law at the time, when a guard let a prisoner escape, the guard took the prisoner's place. Upon hearing Paul saying that everyone was still there, he knew his life had been spared. evidently he had been listening to Paul preach the gospel about the person and work of Christ. Grateful, he asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul's answer is the answer for everyone, "believe in the Lord Jesus." But, what does it mean to believe in the Lord Jesus?
This question needs a little bit of clarification because in today's culture there are so many differing views of who Jesus is. There is the Mormon Jesus who is the brother of the devil, the Jehovah's Witness Jesus who was Michael the Archangel, the Muslim Jesus who was a good prophet, and the one of biblical Christianity (explained below). This is why faith is only as good as you put it in and why we have to ask who is the real Jesus? After all, if you put your faith in someone who is false, your faith is useless. So, let me continue.
Belief is a confident trust in the truth of something. To believe in Jesus is more than a mental acknowledgment that he existed. To truly believe in him means to affirm that he is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), that he died on the cross for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and that we are justified (made right according to the Law) by faith (Romans 3:28; 4:5; 5:1). Now, everything I've said here is not explicitly stated in the quote "believe in the Lord Jesus." But for those of us who know what the Scriptures teach, the plain truth is that our faith in Christ includes knowing who he is and what he did; namely, that he sacrificed himself on the cross for our sins.
Therefore, the answer to the question "How can I be saved?" is simple. You must acknowledge that you have sinned against God (Romans 3:23), that you can do nothing on your own that would be good enough to warrant the forgiveness from God (Isaiah 64:6), and that your sins separated you from God (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 6:23). All that is left for you to do is to trust, by faith, and what Jesus did on the cross. That is how can you be saved.