This is article #7 of Observations Gleaned from the Scriptures by JaneEllen. Click the link below to read her previous articles.
In the Bible are people told to do different things to be saved?
Let me tell you a story. It is winter time and snow is on the ground. A mother has three children who want to go out and play. One child has their coat on and the mother tells the child to put on their cap, boots, scarf and gloves before going outside. Child number two has their coat and boots on and the mother tells that child to put on their cap, scarf and gloves before going outside. The third child has no warm clothing on and the mother says to put on a coat, cap, boots, scarf and gloves before going outside.
What was the mother trying to do? Keep all of her children warm. Why did she tell her children different things to do? Because her children were in different stages of being dressed to go outside in the cold.
This is the same situation in the New Testament with those desiring to be saved. The Bible records that some people wanting to be saved were told to believe. Some were told to repent. Some were told to be baptized. Why were they told different things? Is it because you can do different things to be saved? No, that’s not it at all. It is because they were in different stages of learning how to be saved.
There are other ideas expressed in the Bible that if taken as the only information on salvation lead to a misunderstanding of how one is saved. Ephesians 2:8-10 says “by grace are you saved”. Romans 10:13 says “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Are these verses and others like them false? Of course not! That is why a thorough knowledge of the Bible is so crucial to the proper understanding of God’s Word.
One thing I do not understand is why some people will so readily believe that grace saves or that calling on the name of the Lord saves, but totally ignore or discount I Peter 3:21 which says “Baptism…now saves you.”
The Bible is not written like a dictionary. You can’t look up the word “baptism” or “salvation” or any other subject on a certain page and find all you need to know on the subject. The Bible is written in such a way that you have to take all the information on a particular subject scattered all through the book and put them together to get a complete picture of that particular subject.
Let’s get back to our beginning story. Just like the mother was telling her children how to dress to stay warm based on their current stage of dress, Peter is telling a group of people what they need to do to be saved based on their current stage of learning to be saved. In Acts 2:38, Peter told them to repent and be baptized. Why didn’t he tell them to believe? Their question “What must we do?” indicated they already believed. If a person is going to be saved they must do everything the Bible says that leads to salvation:
- Hear the Word of God. Romans 10:17, Acts 8:30-31
- Believe what they hear. Acts 16:31
- Repent of their sins. Acts 2:38, Luke 13:3
- Confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Romans 10:9
- Be baptized for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38, Acts 10:48
The only people ever baptized in the New Testament were those who were able to listen to reason, understand an argument, and reach a decision. There is no mention of a baby being baptized because a baby is unable to listen to reason, understand an argument, or reach a decision.
Here is an interesting note on the word “baptize”: when some of the earliest translators were translating the Bible, instead of translating the word to its truest meaning which is “the process of immersion, submersion and emergence (W.E. Vines), they did what is called transliteration. They gave the Greek word an English spelling. So the Greek word “baptizo” became “baptize”. Nowhere in the New Testament does anyone “pour”, “sprinkle”, or “pray” and someone is saved. The people proclaimed to be saved in the New Testament were always immersed, submerged and emerged from water.
Until next time, I remain with a song in my heart. JaneEllen