The other day, I had a discussion with an individual about the salvation that Christ gives to us. Scripture makes it clear that salvation can only be attained through Christ and Christ alone and while few Christians will disagree with this concept, it is clear to me that there are many Christians who are confused about exactly what it means to be saved and how we are saved.
The concept of salvation is the most significant aspect to a Christian’s life and once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior, all we must do is live for Him. The concept of unconditional salvation is important and must be understood because there are many misunderstandings among Christians as it pertains to salvation and one of the biggest that I have personally witnessed is that of earned salvation.
Another area of salvation that people are confused on is that of baptism. There have been different occasions when I have been asked if baptism is required for a person to get into Heaven and there have been other occasions when people have argued with me about the need of baptism in regards to a Christian’s life. While baptism is an important gesture to the world that they have accepted Christ as their savior, it is not a requirement for salvation as if it was; it would not be unconditional salvation but salvation by works and we read this in Romans 3:28: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Galatians 3:24 tells us ‘Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” When we accept Jesus Christ and live for Him, we become new and the old is gone (2 Corinthians 5:17). No, this does not mean that we are suddenly transformed into a perfect, sinless being but rather, we have decided to follow Jesus and make Him our priority. The grace that we receive is not a token of our good works but rather, because this is God’s nature and who He is.
Scripture also tells us ““That if you shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine he art that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). The price for our salvation was paid on the cross with the life of Christ and although we come up short, it is through God’s grace that we are forgiven of our debts. If man had a role in salvation outside of accepting Christ, the grace of God would no longer be grace and we are told this in John 1:13: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
James 2:24 does tell us “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” This scripture does confuse a lot of people because they believe that James is telling us that it is faith plus works that save us but this is why reading within context is so important for a Christian to comprehend scripture. James is not saying that salvation comes through faith plus works but that when we are saved; our desires are to do good for the will of God. James refutes that a Christian can have faith without producing good works and deeds for Christ and this is what we are told in James 2:17-18:
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man
may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith
without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
Again, James is not saying that we are saved through faith plus works but rather, emphasizes that true and genuine faith will do good works for Christ and because of our new found life in Christ, we will desire to do the best that we can for Christ. Although water baptism is an important gesture of faith as it symbolizes the old creation dying and being buried with Christ and coming up out of the water symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. However, being baptized in water is only a gesture as many people have been baptized but their actions and behavior were unchanged.
Perhaps the best example that water baptism is not required for salvation is Jesus himself as He did not baptize while He was on Earth. He was the Messiah and God and while He did spread the Gospel, He never baptized and yes, He was baptized but again, baptism is only a gesture of your faith, not a requirement for salvation and when we believe that we must earn our way into Heaven, we are putting our faith into our abilities and actions and, in a way, become our own savior which is completely against the teachings of God’s word: “Thou shalt not have no other Gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
That if you shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine he art that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”–Romans 10:9