When is the penitent believer saved?
Published 9:28 am Thursday, September 28, 2023
In the religious world there are many theories put forth by men to answer the question, “When is a penitent believer saved?” Many of these concepts come from the minds of men and are without real value. Other ideas are taken from the word of God; and many of these ideas are perversions of the truth found within the Bible. If a person’s soul is valuable, if heaven is real, if the possibility of hell is certain, then the question is a valid one indeed.
The question brings to mind the question, “Is baptism necessary for salvation”? Let me state now that baptism alone does not save a man’s soul, but that’s different from saying baptism is not necessary to be saved. Consider the following.
According to the scriptures, the sin problem of mankind is real, however the Bible also reveals the cure for our sins. The Bible teaches us that all responsible people are guilty of sin (Rom. 3:23). We also learn in (Rom. 6:23), that there is a day of reckoning for those people that choose to live in sin. While there may be earthly consequences for our sinful actions while living on Earth, all willful and unrepentant sinners will ultimately face the wrath of God. In (Romans 5:8-9), Paul reveals to us that the only way men can be saved from sin is by the blood of Jesus. Even though men may know that contacting the blood of Christ is important, many fail to accept the truths in the Bible concerning salvation from sin. The truth is, many people have fabricated schemes of redemption that are foreign to the scriptures; others have taken scriptures out of context to support their teachings concerning salvation. When men attempt in any way to subvert the plans of God, they in fact are resisting God. In honesty and true concern for their souls, men must ask the question: At what point in man’s response to God is he saved by the blood of Christ? What does the Bible say about this matter?
Some insist that God will save everyone. That is, everyone will go to heaven, and no one will go to hell. While this may seem to be a comforting teaching doctrine we must ask, but is it true? Jesus spoke of two ways of mankind, one broad and the other narrow. The broad way leads to destruction, while the narrow way leads to life (Matt. 7:13,14). According to Jesus’ statement he certainly didn’t have the idea that everyone was going to be saved, even though that is His desire (John 3:16). There are others that teach that a person is saved at the exact moment he or she believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is the basic teaching of “saved by faith alone.” There are others that carry this idea to an extreme by stating that salvation is by “faith only,” “without works of any kind.” There are others that teach the doctrine of “eternal predestination” or being “ordained to eternal life.” The result of these doctrines is that those who submit to them have no need to be baptized because they are already saved. The conclusion of such doctrines is that faith is the only condition of salvation, and that baptism has nothing to do with being saved.
For proper clarification of this matter, considering what is at stake, we should allow God to give the answers. According to Acts 2:38, Peter teaches about baptism, but he also teaches about repentance. So, is salvation by faith alone, or is it by faith plus repentance? In James 2:24ff, James speaks about the faith of Abraham, and says that faith without works is dead, and that man is not justified by faith alone. Whom should we believe, God or man? In Mk. 16:15, 16, Jesus spoke about believing, which all admit is necessary to salvation, but He also said you must be baptized in order to be saved. Considering what Jesus said, ask yourself this question, does the Lord know as much about salvation as man knows? As we consider the whole of the Word of God, there is no doubt that baptism stands between the sinner and being saved. Who is saved? He that believes and is not baptized, or he that believes and is baptized? Who is right, Jesus or man? Baptism stands between the sinner and the remission of sins. That is what Peter said on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). The Apostles of Jesus simply taught what they were by inspiration told to teach (Lk. 24:44). On the day of Pentecost, being convicted of their sins, the people asked, “What shall we do?” Peter’s inspired response was, “Repent and be baptized.” Those on that day believed what was taught, they believed that there was more to do than merely believe.
All men have the right to become Christians (John 1:12). Paul taught that we can become Christians through baptism (Galatians 3:26,27). Paul, like all men under the Christian age who desire to go to heaven, had to submit to baptism (Acts 22:16). Paul believed in Jesus, but he had to be baptized to wash away his sins. He was able to get into Christ, that is, the blood of Christ was applied to him in baptism (Romans 6:3-4). It was at the point of baptism that he began his new walk-in life. In honesty, Romans teaches us that we must be baptized. If you can be saved without being baptized, then you can be saved without Christ because Romans shows that the two ideas are inseparable. Have you been baptized into the body of Christ? Why would you not, considering what the New Testament has to say concerning baptism.
(Tony Hoss is minister of the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton)