Christianity’s Five Overlooked Facts




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14 thoughts on “Christianity’s Five Overlooked Facts”

  1. I appreciate the thoughtful care evident in the above responses. After following this thread for several months and commenting only occassionally, I feel the need, as the site administrator, to step into the discussion. It seems to me that we have failed to address one of the underlying issues in a discussion of faith, works, and grace. That is: does the exercise of human free will fit within the scheme of God’s redemption? If it does fit within our redemption, how much of a role does it play?

    Human salvation is predicated upon the will of God. We were lost; God decided to save us. His decision was not based upon our good works, for our evil works nullify whatever good we do. He decided to save us out of love. He expressed that love in the sacrifice of Jesus. None of us deserve His sacrifice nor could we ever make ourselves worthy of that sacrifice. On this I believe we all can agree.

    Paths diverge from this point forward. Some choose to believe God imposes His will upon His creation by supernaturally creating faith within an irredeemably evil heart. Others choose to believe God does not operate at all in the salvation of human souls, leaving faith and obedience entirely in the hands of human free will. The truth lies between these two extremes. God does operate in the salvation of souls. We are born again of incorruptible seed through the word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). This is a rebirth orchestrated by the will of God (James 1:18). And yet, this rebirth does not take place apart from human free will. Faith is based upon evidence; verifiable evidence which man can investigate and draw conclusions. This is not the empty “leap of faith” espoused by so many religious folk these days. Faith is not contrary to reason, it is the result of reason. It is the fruit of careful thought and it lies within the realm of human free will.

    God’s will works cooperatively with our free will. James says faith and works “work together.” In other words, they are partners. God operates in much the same way. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling for God works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). Paul depicts human will and God’s will working together in order to bring about salvation. They work together because we choose to make God’s will our will. We bring our values, our activities, and our beliefs in line with Him.

    While I appreciate the scriptural emphasis on baptism as a work of God (see Colossians 2:12), let us not forget that baptism is the fruit of one’s belief in God. One decides to conform themselves to the will of God based on the evidence and testimony of scripture. It is a choice and it is an act of faith on the part of the believer.

  2. There is often a great deal of parsing language and splitting hairs in discussions of faith and works, the current thread being no exception. Even when folks have come to essentially the same conclusions it seems there is still room for more scrutiny and consideration of detail. As such, additional comments may not clarify anything, but here goes…

    A couple of commentators above have pointed out that baptism is not a work of the believer, and that is surely true. The one who is baptized is submissive, not active, and the language describing the process consistently ascribes a passive role to the person(s) being baptized. In baptism the baptizer acts, God acts, the Holy Spirit acts, but the recipient, because of faith in Christ, receives forgiveness, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (I do believe that gift in Acts 2:38 references the Spirit himself, who facilitates the new birth and comes to dwell in the believer — the giving of the Spirit having been strongly emphasized in Peter’s previous words that day), is born again, is clothed in Christ, is raised with Christ, and so forth, as referenced is various scriptures mentioned already in the above thread. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that baptism is one thing in the gospels and especially in Acts, namely being dunked in water (in Jesus’ name at the close of Matthew and Mark and in Acts), but then baptism is something else not involving water in Paul’s epistles. The congruence between these authorities is beyond dispute. On the other hand, those who say that salvation depends on a heartfelt prayer are in the curious position of unintentionally affirming that forgiveness comes through works, because Jesus clearly characterized prayer as works, or good deeds, or alms, in Matthew 6:1-18, along with gifts to the needy and fasting.

    It appears to me that most of the commentators above have said that good works are relevant only after having been saved by grace through faith. Most seem to affirm that no one can be saved by works. Most comments above also seem to affirm that being saved, continuing in salvation, calls for, indeed requires, doing the work of God. This does not mean and cannot mean that works after the new birth in any sense earn or merit salvation, any more than works before the new birth earn or merit salvation. Salvation is irrevocably the free gift of God, as in Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:4-10, Romans 4:4-5, before and after believers receive it. Nevertheless, faith and good works are bound up together, just as also love and obedience are inseparable in Christ (John 14:15, 23), and good works adorn the saints and follow after them (Revelation 14:13). As John was told in Revelation 19:8, the Lamb’s bride is given fine bright clean linen to wear, and fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints. The righteous acts of the saints are done by the saints (not to become saints, but because they are saints) but also those acts are pictured as bridal clothing that is given to the bride. The giver is the Lord, the Lamb (Ephesians 5:25-27), so as someone noted above the righteous acts of the saints are meaningful because, and only because, the Lord gives them meaning, looks with favor on them, is pleased to in fact reward them, though on our own all our righteousness is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

    Somehow the thief on the cross, certainly a Jewish man living under the covenant of Mt. Sinai, sneaks into many discussions of salvation by faith, though I doubt he would have chosen to. As has been noted by others above, that incident precedes the enactment of the New Covenant, takes place just like all of the preceding events reported by Luke during the ministry of Jesus among the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), among people under the Law. Just as Jesus forgave the sins of the lame man (Luke 5:20) and forgave the “sinful” woman who bathed his feet with tears and perfume (Luke 7:47) and pronounced salvation upon Zacchaeus and his household (Luke 19:9-10), so he also forgave and accepted the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42-43). Those instances all are cited by Luke as demonstrating Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, highlighting faith, love, repentance, and compassion, all in the context of the Son of Man doing his work on earth among the Jews. The same author who reported those events also reported the command after the promise of the Holy Spirit had been fulfilled to “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38) which had never been reported as a command before the resurrection of Jesus, during the ministry of Jesus. Luke then proceeded to cite water baptism as a command and outcome in all of the conversion stories in the book of Acts (2:41, 8:12, 8:36-38, 9:18, 10:48, etc.).

    Realizing that brief comments about law or the Law are likely to be misunderstood, I will still point out that no law can make anyone righteous. If what we have in a “law of faith” (Romans 3:27) or “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) or a “law of the Spirit of life in Christ” (Romans 8:2) or a “perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25), if these descriptive phrases describe a set of rules written in the New Testament, then we have gained nothing in Christ, we would still be enslaved to sin and have no hope of righteousness. Those phrases are intended to convey to us that laws (rules) always condemn, they never justify, for having broken a single rule one is irrevocably guilty. Law prescribes penalties for violations of rules. The New Covenant, written on the heart, is not like that. It is a law of faith, not of works, because we are counted righteous by faith. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ because that is the principle, life is in Christ by the Spirit, not in what we have done (which condemns us). It is the perfect law that gives freedom because it is not a list of rules with punishment for violations, but the freedom to do what pleases God (most especially love our neighbor as in Jame 2:8) knowing that we have been accepted by God. Paul makes the case in Romans 7-8 that law brings condemnation, inevitably, because laws are violated, even though the Law itself was righteous and spiritual and good. The law given at Mt. Sinai was as good as any law could ever be, and it was not Moses’ law, but God’s law. Yet it could not make men righteous, and no law can. The problem isn’t in the law, it is in humanity. Paul stressed this especially in Galatians 3:21-22. “For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (NASU, see also Hebrews 8:7-8). Neither then nor now has a law been given that is able to impart life and bring righteousness. There can be no righteousness based on law, any law, except the “law” (principle) that Christ has fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law for our sake so that we can be counted righteous in his sight. And that we should be most thankful for.

  3. @Jim McCune Thanks for joining the discussion. I have tried to respond to most of your points below.

    “1. Paul states clearly in several places that the law is not binding on Christians.”

    This is true, so long as you limit the statement to the Law of Moses. Sometimes Paul refers to the Law of Moses as simply “the law’ which could make this concept confusing at times (see Romans 7:1-4). However, Christians are absolutely bound by law – the whole of the NT describes what Paul calls the “Law of Faith” (Romans 3:27) and James calls the “Law of Liberty” (James 1:25). Based on your points 2 and 4 and think you agree with this.

    “2. Paul also states quite clearly in several other places that what really matters is keeping the commandments; and that no one who lives unrighteously shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Without scriptural references here, I will assume we’re on the same page – obedience to God is vital and a condition of salvation.

    “3. Paul is correct in both instances: the law both IS and IS NOT done away for Christians.”

    Again, without a scriptural reference here I am a little unclear on what your position is. Christians are not bound by the Mosaic Law, but we are bound by the Law of Faith. Agreed?

    “4. As the Old Covenant gives way to the New Covenant, the letter of the law contained in the Old Covenant passes away with it.”

    Agreed. See Romans 7:1-4.

    “5. Jesus said not one “jot or tittle of the law shall pass away” until all things are fulfilled. Therefore the New Covenant MUST contain the law, only now it is the Spirit of the law which is more difficult to keep than the letter. (Instead of don’t kill, we now have don’t hate!)”

    Agreed, basically. The Law of Faith certainly includes the moral laws already established in the Law of Moses. The ceremonial laws are clearly excluded. As you say, on many levels the expectation in New Covenant has been raised. See Matthew 5:27-48.

    “6. Faith without works is dead, therefore works MUST be involved in faith that saves.”

    Agreed, however I think you might be implying that faith is the only condition of salvation. I address that idea below.

    “7. No one will be saved by the works of the law, therefore faith is the primary objective.”

    Faith is the primary objective; however, the phrase you referenced, “works of the law”, is used in the Bible only in the context of the Mosaic Law. This clarification is extremely important. The writers are distinguishing faith in Christ from the works required in the Law of Moses, not faith vs works generically.

    “8. While works are not required for salvation (only faith is), works ARE required to demonstrate living faith (without them faith is dead).”

    The first phrase in this statement cannot be supported by the Bible. Works of faith are connected to our salvation. See James 2:24: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Interestingly, this is the only passage in the NT that refers to “faith only”, and James makes it clear that faith of itself is useless. James explains that God justifies us (makes us righteous) through faith and works of faith.

    “9. The Christian who dismisses the Spirit of the law — which is founded upon “every jot and title” of the letter of the law — cannot simply say “I believe” and be saved.”

    Agreed.

    “10 Jesus sums it up in John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.””

    Agreed. I’m glad you said “sums it up” because using this passage as an explanation for God’s plan of salvation is certainly an abbreviation. Belief in Christ as Lord and Savior should lead us to follow his Word. Can we agree that other human actions are commanded by God? Such as confession, repentance, and baptism? See Romans 10:9-10, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, and Galatians 3:27.

    I don’t think we’re too far apart here. I’ll look forward to your thoughts.

    Tad

  4. Nathan

    I agree with your points, especially that “We are not saved by works” and “Our Works don’t originate from us.” I think that second point, especially is hard for many Christian to resolve within themselves. Here is how I see it: When God give us his Holy Spirit, one of the benefits is that it provides “fruit” if we allow it to work in us. So when a Christian does a work, like for example helping someone in need, it is the Spirit that inspires us to do that work. It is a fruit of the Spirit. A non-Christian could do exactly the same thing and it is simply a good deed because they are not doing it to glorify God. Of course, this point is much more involved, but essentially Christian works are the result of Christ working through us. Therefore, baptism can not be a good work. It is in another category.

    As for your third point: “Listing Work as a requirement for salvation takes James 2 out of context” I agree with your point as long as you don’t feel that baptism is a work. I don’t think it is a work at all.

    Many of those that have the opinion that belief and an acknowledgment of Christ is all that is required for access to salvation, discount baptism for the remission of sins because they think that baptism is a work. It isn’t all their fault, because many that believe in baptism for the remission of sins teach it that way. My point is that, I believe the Scriptures teach that baptism is an act of access by the Christian, It provides access to salvation. Acts 2:38 – …and you will receive the GIFT of the Holy Spirit. Read my comment above on how I believe that this gift is salvation. God provides us much more through baptism. Salvation is instant and continuing and will be eternal. Of course, as faulty humans we can mess that up through acts of disobedience.

    Also, to clarify my position. While I do believe that the Scriptures teach that baptism is required for access to salvation, I also believe that the one true, honest and fair judge has the right to provide salvation to whoever he wishes. It is not for me to pass judgement and say that God won’t save an unbaptized person that has done things that God feels are worthy of salvation. Christ provided this reward to a thief hanging on the cross next to him. I just would advise followers to take the route that the Apostles laid out in Scripture.

  5. This is a complicated topic, so let me summarize it (since we live in the age of the soundbite!)

    1. Paul states clearly in several places that the law is not binding on Christians.

    2. Paul also states quite clearly in several other places that what really matters is keeping the commandments; and that no one who lives unrighteously shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    3. Paul is correct in both instances: the law both IS and IS NOT done away for Christians.

    4. As the Old Covenant gives way to the New Covenant, the letter of the law contained in the Old Covenant passes away with it.

    5. Jesus said not one “jot or tittle of the law shall pass away” until all things are fulfilled. Therefore the New Covenant MUST contain the law, only now it is the Spirit of the law which is more difficult to keep than the letter. (Instead of don’t kill, we now have don’t hate!)

    6. Faith without works is dead, therefore works MUST be involved in faith that saves.

    7. No one will be saved by the works of the law, therefore faith is the primary objective.

    8. While works are not required for salvation (only faith is), works ARE required to demonstrate living faith (without them faith is dead).

    9. The Christian who dismisses the Spirit of the law — which is founded upon “every jot and title” of the letter of the law — cannot simply say “I believe” and be saved.

    10 Jesus sums it up in John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

  6. Hi Nathan. Thanks for contributing to the thread. Tad will be unable to respond for several days due to circumstances beyond his control. I administer this site, so I will be taking his place until he is able to comment.

    First of all, I agree with several of your points (if I understand you correctly):

    1. That we need to take care when talking about works.
    2. God creates us in Christ Jesus to live according to His will, or as you say, “saved to work”.
    3. One emerges from baptism as a saint.
    4. James 2 and Ephesians 2 are complementary, not contradictory.

    Rather than address your thoughtful comment in its entirety, allow me to offer my point of view on the issue of works. Perhaps it will provide sufficient grounds for further discussion, if you so desire.

    The broad Protestant world has given the word “works” a rather toxic flavor. As you probably know, the Greek word for work is “ergon.” Deeds or actions are two alternate translations for the word. A work is no more than a doing; an action or an activity in which I engage myself.

    James teaches that our deeds complete our faith. Notice what James says:
    “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’–and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:21-23).

    In offering Isaac, Abraham completed — or fulfilled — his faith. This is a critical point. Abraham was declared righteous in chapter 15, but he did not offer Isaac until chapter 22. James teaches that Abraham’s faith was not fully mature until he offered Isaac. Therefore, faith without deeds is incomplete or dead.

    James ties justification to works. He says three times that we are justified by our deeds. If we are justified by faith only, then why does James say, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only”? (Incidentally, this is the only time in the entire NT when the phrase “faith only” occurs.) Faith that justifies compels one to act. Therefore, we are justified by faith working together with our deeds. If I am justified by believing and acting, would it be inaccurate to say that our deeds play a role in salvation? And if our deeds play a role in our salvation, are we not, in part, saved by our actions?

    When you think about the various activities God requires for salvation, this makes a great deal of sense. How can one repent without a change in deeds? How can one confess the Lord Jesus Christ without action? How can one go down into the waters of baptism without action? How can one obey the Lord without performing what the Lord requires? Without the grace of God these acts are null and void. Without faith they are meaningless deeds. If we perform some act and believe it will save us though God never tells us that it will, we have acted in vain. However, if God’s word reveals it, His grace enables it, and my faith compels me to respond, those deeds play a role in my salvation.

    I know I left Ephesians 2 dangling in the wind, but my comment is already long enough. If you are interested in more of my thoughts on this topic, I’ll recommend the following blog posts:

    http://www.letsreasontogether.net/salvation/this-little-thing-called-works/
    http://www.letsreasontogether.net/media-archive/2011-video-blogs/not-of-works-vs-justified-by-works/

    If you would like to continue talking, I’m all ears (or eyes, as it were).

  7. Hi Tad,

    Great looking site here! I am a minister who used to teach this exactly as you have here. Please take a moment to patiently consider the points below that I’ve arrived at after trying to reconcile Ephesians 2 & Romans 4 with James 2, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-6, etc:

    1. We are not saved by our works: Eph 2:1-10.
    Paul begins chapter 2 by saying we were DEAD. There’s nothing a dead man can do to save himself. But God, rich in mercy, saved us while we were still sinners. He did this by grace, through faith (v.8). He has a reason for this—to “show the immeasurable riches of His grace towards us in Christ Jesus” (v.7). Further, “we are not saved by our works, so that no one may boast. ” (v.9)

    When we make salvation our work, we are robbing God of the glory of His grace and we are boasting in our own effort. When we teach we are saved by our works, we are defeating God’s intentions for us.

    2. Our works don’t originate from us: Eph 2:10
    I am not saying that a saved Christian will not work, or do good works—far from it. Saved Christians will work, but we are not saved by our works—that is, they don’t originate from us. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (v.10). We are God’s work, and He made us to do the works He prepared for us. Maybe another way to put it is that we’re “saved to work.”

    3. Listing Work as a requirement for salvation takes James 2 out of context James 2:14-26
    This is why many churches that preach baptism have a difficult time convincing those who believe it isn’t necessary (who rightfully believe we’re not saved by works). When one emerges as a Saint from the waters of baptism, they still haven’t done any “work,” for BAPTISM IS NOT A WORK!

    The examples James uses are:
    Caring for the poor
    Abraham offering Isaac
    Rahab protecting the messengers

    Are we sending the message that one isn’t saved until one has had the chance to do a good deed? I believe James is saying our faith is dead if it isn’t, by character, a working type of faith. He’s not saying we aren’t saved until we’ve done a good deed, or have worked. Otherwise, Christians who have never visited a prison are actually still lost (Matthew 25:31ff).

    James 2 and Ephesians 2 don’t need to compete with each other when both passages are understood properly. We can walk in the works God prepared for us, or we can be rebellions and lazy and be no better than demons by refusing to live out our belief. Either way one is saved before doing any work (see Romans 4).

    In summary, I believe we should be extremely careful in how we present the role of works in salvation. Although we must obey to be saved, we don’t save ourselves through working, or works. It is not the Christian’s Work that saves him or her.

    When Paul writes:
    “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13), he is saying that in Paul’s audience is to take responsibility for themselves, whether he is present or absent, and not rely on Paul for their salvation…but it is God who works in us to do what is pleasing to Him. We are not saved by our works!

  8. @Neal Ross
    Hi Neal, thanks for joining the discussion.

    I don’t see anything in the context of 1 Peter 3 indicating that baptism is meant to be a demonstration of our faith to the world. At times that might be the effect, but the express purpose of baptism is defined in the immediate context – “baptism now saves us” as an appeal to God for a good conscience.

    It is good to acknowledge that while baptism is required for our salvation, it is not effective of itself. Baptism is commanded by God as a condition of salvation, but it’s not the water that does the saving. Colossians 2:11-12 explains this well: “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

    Baptism is effective in relieving us of our sins only when we do so with faith in the operation of God. It’s God who does the real work.

    Thanks for bringing up that important idea.

  9. It is important to consider the context in the scriptures that are referenced, for example, in the reference made to I Peter 3. In that chapter he has been discussing “doing” the right things, by being compassionate (v. 8), love life and control what you say (v. 10), and “do good” (v. 11).

    Peter is encouraging us to be able to answer people who question our hope (v. 15), we have a good conscience about it (v. 16) and are not ashamed to proclaim it. Just as earlier in I Peter 2:12, we answer by our actions or good works…they proclaim louder than even our own words, because it is the Work speaking through us. So also, the ‘action’ of baptism is an answer for the world, anyone that would question if we are apart of Christ. “Yes, I am adopted and a fellow citizen with Christ!” (Eph 2:18-19)

    Baptism is not what saves us, it is the grace of God and proved by his Spirit. But we are to answer with “boldness in the day of judgement” (I John 4:17), would we be comfortable in saying that we did everything we needed to do in answering our conscience toward God if we refused something as simple as being baptized in His name when it seems it is requested by Him in word and example? Examples are important as Christ illustrates in John 15:24, and we should pattern our conscience after the ultimate example.

  10. @Scott W. Spears
    Hi Scott, thanks for joining the discussion.

    I think we have a lot to discuss, but I think we should start with a statement you made towards the end of your comments. You said: “It is by believing in Him now that one receives the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost…”

    I’m hoping you can expound on this position in light of Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    Thanks,
    Tad

  11. @Tad “that doesn’t negate all of the scriptures in the New Testament pointing to the need to be baptized for salvation” :

    #1)Romans 6th chapter can refer to baptism in Christ’s death as being baptized by Jesus Christ with promise of the Holy Ghost. We are crucified with Christ without actually physically going through that, so applying water baptism as a physical application to baptism into His death is dubious.

    #2)Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. That verse can be applied as being baptized with the promise of the Holy Spirit in context with Verse 14. Do note verse 26 as what signifies all believers as children of God in Jesus Christ: faith: not water baptism.

    #3)Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Do note that the condemnation rests on just not believing. Nowhere is it written that a believer that was not baptized with water was not saved. So the baptism here can very well be applied to the promise of the Holy Spirit which is the result for believing in Jesus Christ.

    #4)1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Again, if we take note of what this baptism is not what Peter was talking about as in what water does by putting away of the filth of the flesh, but this baptism Peter was talking about was by the answer of a good consience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is by believing that God raised Him from the dead: See note Romans 10:9 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<<<< then once again, this baptism is the one that involves the Holy Ghost & not water.

    #5) Although Acts references do cover water baptism, we cannot ignore how Gentiles believers had received the promise of the Holy Spirit before water baptism ( Acts 10:34-48 ) & more importantly, how the despensation of the Gospel has been given to the Gentiles when God had acknowledged that the Jews had rejected the chief cornerstone by sending Paul to the Gentiles in Acts 22:17-21.

    1 Corinthians 1:17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

    Jesus had set the groundwork for how a person is to be saved as in born again: and it was always by believing in Jesus Christ in John 3rd chapter. If water baptism was the signalling of everyone being born again, then what Jesus said about how one is born again can be observed and thus not applicable to the how the wind blows since no one knows where it comes from and where it goes. Jesus went on to answer Nicodemus question further on how one can be born again, and it was by believing in Him.

    It is by believing in Him now that one receives the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, a graduation from how John the Baptist had prepared the way of the Lord from water baptism of repentance for the remission of sins to now believing in Him for the remission of sins which comes with the promise of the Holy Spirit for salvation.

    To continue to contend that water baptism is necessary for salvation, then you have to address why Paul was not making it a priority when preaching the gospel, as if doing so should make the cross of Christ to none effect or in another words, as if believing in Jesus Christ was not enough… and yet it is for we are all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ: Galatisn 3;26

  12. I think that there is some question as to whether or not baptism is a work. Works are acts that we in response to our faith BECAUSE we understand what Christ has done for us. We become involved in works because we desire to use the gifts that we have been given to glorify God (Titus 2:11-14 and elsewhere). Baptism is an act of our faith, but it is not an act that we are involved in to reflect God’s glory. It is an act by which God provides many things for us, primarily access to the Holy Spirit and salvation. On Pentecost, Peter responded to those asking what they needed to do to be saved and said “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Yes, we do receive the Holy Spirit from God, but the gift of the Holy Spirit is salvation; Romans 6:23 ( For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.) and other places tell us this.

    Baptism also provides is a clear conscience. How can it be a work? It seems that it may be more a work of God, through Christ than a work by a follower:1 Peter 3:21 (NIV) and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

    Baptism provides the chance for a new life. That isn’t because of a work that we do, it is because through baptism we can be cleansed. Romans 6:4 (NIV) We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

    I would also argue that we are adopted and sons through our conversion, which in the Scriptures was accomplished over and over through the act of baptism. Once again, the adopted does not complete the work in baptism but the adoptive parent does. God, our Father did this for us.

    As far as the thief on the cross that was saved by Christ. We do not know of his situation, other than he was a thief sentenced death under Roman Law. Did he know of John the Baptist? Maybe. Nobody can say. What I know is that the righteous judge with judge all mankind. He can save who he wants. I have no doubt that some may be saved by baptism. But I also believe that those that have the opportunity to obey the gospel call by submitting to baptism are following the pattern of Scripture as so many did in the book of Acts.

    Those in American churches today that ignore the Bible examples should beware. We have the knowledge. It isn;t hard to find a Greek lexicon that defines the word “baptizo” as immersion. It is very hard to ignore the story of the Ethiopian, of Saul at his conversion, or Lydia and the list goes on. God is the judge, not me but I do pray that those that ignore baptism will honestly study for themselves. It is so much more than a work.

  13. @timothy towriss Hi Timothy, thanks for your participation.

    Using the thief on the cross as an example of someone being saved without baptism is a common argument, but there are some problems with taking that position. First, how do we know that the thief wasn’t baptized? Secondly, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ was not instituted until after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, baptism is effective because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (see Romans 6). So even if the thief wasn’t baptized (which we don’t know), that doesn’t negate all of the scriptures in the New Testament pointing to the need to be baptized for salvation (see Gal 3:27, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, etc…)

    Concerning faith and works, where does the Bible say we are saved by faith only? We are saved by faith, but that is not the same as being saved by faith ONLY. In fact, the only passage in the Bible that mentions the idea of “faith only” is James 2:24 where James explains we are NOT saved by faith only – “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only”.

    I agree, we are not saved by works in and of themselves, but works are still required by God. It’s just like faith. Faith doesn’t save us by itself – faith (with repentance, confession, and baptism) saves us because God designed his plan of salvation in this way. We certainly can’t boast and our works, but works are still required.

    Looking forward to your comments!

    Tad

  14. i want to point out the theif on the cross was not baptized with water nor did he have any works but because his belief in christ he was saved went to heaven with jesus christ ,paul says we are saved by faith alone and not by our works that no man can boast .

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