Some churches historically have taught that water immersion is the dividing line between the lost and the saved. This means that a penitent believer remains unforgiven of sin until buried in the waters of baptism (Romans 6:4). Much of the denominational world disagrees with this analysis of Bible teaching, holding instead that one is saved at the point of “belief,” before and without water baptism. Consider some of the points that are advanced in an effort to minimize the essentiality of baptism for salvation. Read >>
“Baptism isn’t needed for salvation because baptism is a work and if salvation is by works then it’s not by grace!”
Ah, the old broken record that continuously repeats itself upon the same grove. It’s amazing what some people consider to be “works that earn salvation” while considering other “works that aren’t works” essential when it comes to being saved.
Grace. We all need it. It’s been shown to all, but all don’t want to see it. And all aren’t going to see it in the judgment. It’s the whole “blind before seeing” thing we sing about. Now, if a person wants to receive the gift of God’s grace they’re going to have to do something because if not, then everyone would be going to Heaven and there would be no need for a place called Hell. Simple enough to follow right? But no one wants to call this process “works” because they’re afraid it’ll stain the whole “saved by grace alone” theory. So which is it? Does a person have to respond to God’s grace to be saved or not? Of course they do! An individual person must willingly make a decision to follow God and accept the gift He offers through their own volition through Jesus, not be forced to accept it through something called irresistible grace. Responding to God’s grace is something we must do – responding is a work, an action needed on our behalf per say – but it no way earns the offer of God’s gift.
Faith. We all need it…to be saved anyways. But everyone doesn’t have it because everyone doesn’t want it. Now some teach that we’re saved by grace alone through faith alone (amazing how you can two “alones” isn’t it???) and that anything else done is a work that makes a person earn his or her salvation. No works people proclaim – only grace and only faith, for works have no place in salvation. But here’s the secret that many people who proclaim this don’t want to hear – having, showing and responding to God’s gift of grace through Jesus is a work! It’s a work we’re responsible for, and it’s a work Jesus discussed with people in the past: “Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:28-29). Jesus didn’t say anything about, “Oh, there’s nothing you must do, just simply believe and leave it up to grace because anything else would cause you to earn what I’m going to do.” No, Jesus said we have a responsibility to do something. We have a responsibility to follow God’s will and God’s commands and doing these things in no way places God in our debt and it no way earns the salvation that God offers.
Repentance. Repent is a command. Repentance is action. Salvation will not be enjoyed without repentance. A change of mind seen through a change of actions. Both of which is something we’re responsible for doing. Repentance is not a work done on us or to us. Not one verse in the Bible teaches this, but many verses teach that repentance is something we must do – a work, an action – or we’ll perish in Hell. “…but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) Jesus didn’t say, “Well, I would tell you to repent but that would mean you’re earning your salvation, so….” That’s not what Jesus said. Jesus said we, as individuals, are responsible for following God’s command and repenting of our sins if we want to find the forgiveness of our sins. This in no way places God in our debt because it’s something that God requires us to do. He’s not offering wages if we repent – He’s offering His gift of salvation. But we must want to be saved – we must repent.
Confessing Jesus. We should have a willingness to do so, but everyone doesn’t. Confessing Jesus is a must. It’s something we must do. It’s vital to salvation! It’s an action. It’s a work that we’re required to do. No, you say? I say…rather, I ask, have you not read the Bible? The Bible says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). I know many, many people who claim that a person is saved by grace alone through faith alone but for some reason they still teach that a person must confess Jesus to be saved…what happened to that just believing thing? Belief and confession are two separate things! Read Romans 10 again. The very verses used to teach grace alone by faith alone contradicts them both by saying confession on our behalf is essential! Confession is an action required by God on our behalf. It is something – a work – we must do. Confessing Jesus does not earn a person’s salvation because it submits to the offer of salvation made by God through Jesus.
Baptism. “Now preacher, it’s true that we must have faith, that we must repent and that we must confess Jesus, but even though those are something we must do they’re not “works” that earn our salvation, but that baptism stuff…that’s where the line is drawn!” I hear it all the time. Who drew that line??? I’ll tell you where the line is – there’s a line between listening to God’s will and rejecting God’s will. There’s a line between being saved and being lost. There’s a line between the works of men and women and the work of God. It’s a line drawn in the waters of baptism where the blood of Jesus washes our sins away (Acts 22:16, Revelation 1:5). It’s a line where the old person is buried in the water and the new, born again person is raised out of the water (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:1-4). And until a person submits to God’s work that takes place during baptism then a person is defiantly relying upon their own works, their own system of salvation through faith, repentance and confession that balks at baptism of God instead of walking down in the water submissively and allowing God to remove sin from their heart and replace it with the Spirit of God. A person doesn’t have the Son without being baptized, and if they don’t have the Son they don’t have the Father or His promise of salvation (Galatians 3:26-29). Submitting to God’s will in baptism doesn’t earn a man or woman his or her salvation. Baptism for the remission of sins came from God. He designed it. He ordered it. He requires it. And to say that a person is saved before baptism on this side of the cross of Jesus because baptism is a “work of man” is to say that one does not have to do the works of God to be saved.
There are works that earn, works that spurn and works that yearn, and no one can show how responding to God’s will and God’s commands to be saved causes God to be indebted to us; that’s because it doesn’t. Following the will of God never has, and never will place God in a person’s debt when it comes to being saved, but if we want to get rid of the debt of sin we need to respond to the offer of His gift. A gift that’s found through God’s will/grace, our faith, our willingness to repent, our willingness to confess Jesus, our willingness to be baptized and our willingness to live faithfully allowing the blood of Jesus to do what it was meant to do when it comes to the will of God – and that’s get us to Heaven.
It’s “funny” how faith, repentance and confession (all things – works – we must do) doesn’t earn a person his or her salvation but baptism does??? Yeah, if you believe that you might want to stop working on that and start submitting to God’s will.