Baptism Saves — Does the Bible Teach This?

Question from a Site Viewer
I have some questions on baptismal regeneration. I agree that faith alone saves, but how do you explain Mark 16:16? Mark 16:16 says that faith plus baptism (together) equals salvation. It doesn’t say that faith equals salvation. So faith saves and baptism saves . . . but both are required together.

Additionally, according to a Bible commentary I recently read:

They go together in this way. Baptism cannot, therefore, be a mere sign or symbol that bestows nothing. If it were no more it could not be so vitally connected with salvation. Baptism bestows and the believing baptized person accepts and receives this great “salvation” from the Savior. For anyone who comes to faith baptism is the great means of grace, i.e., the channel by which forgiveness, life, and salvation are bestowed upon him. As he believes the word, so he will demand all that the word promises in baptism and thus the baptismal act itself.

The word “and” grammatically shows that Jesus is placing equal importance on both belief and baptism. Belief and baptism are conditions to: “shall be saved.” Again, we see that belief saves and baptism saves. Both are required together.

We also see that baptism is before the remission of sins in Acts 2:38. In Romans 6:4, baptism is before newness of life. Acts 22:16 says that baptism is before sin being washed away. In I Peter 3:21, baptism is placed before salvation. Jesus placing baptism before salvation, then, is congruous with the teaching throughout the New Testament. Again, it seems as if the act of baptism saves.

Tim’s Answer
I do not know what Bible commentary you are quoting, but I assume that it must be from a person who believes that baptism saves. Simply because a book is called a Bible commentary does not make it more trustworthy. The Pharisees in Christ’s day had Bible commentaries and Christ Jesus did not find them always trustworthy (Mark 7:9-13). Ultimately, Bible commentaries are trustworthy only to the extent they accord with what Scripture teaches. Everything in print purporting to explain the Scriptures may be read to seek insight, but ultimately the test of truth is what Scripture itself teaches (Acts 17:11).

You ask how to explain Mark 16:16, particularly the observation that salvation is connected to faith plus baptism and not faith alone. According to the commentary you read, the author states that baptism bestows salvation (baptism saves) and the baptismal act is the means of grace by which we are saved. You then state that the word “and” grammatically shows the equal importance of faith and baptism. Finally, you point out that placing baptism before salvation is consistent with the rest of the teaching of Scripture.

First, let me urge you to get a Bible program and do a search of Scripture for the words “baptize,” “baptized,” and “baptism.” You should find that one of these words is found somewhere around 48 times in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These books are the ones that provide to us the vast majority of the direct teachings of Jesus. Or, if you have a Bible concordance, you can do the same thing manually by looking up the passages that contain one of these words.

Second, I would urge you to do the same with the words “believe,” “believes,” “believed,” “believing,” and “faith” in the same four books. If you use the King James Version to search, you will need to substitute the word “believeth” for “believe.” You should come up with slightly over 170 references.

If you do this, you will find there are only two places in the gospels where the concept of baptism and faith are mentioned together–only two. The first is Matthew 21:25 where Jesus asks the chief priests and elders a question about the baptism of John the Baptist. The chief priests and elders refused to answer because they knew that if they said his baptism was from heaven Jesus would ask why they did not believe John the Baptist. This mention thus has nothing to do with our salvation. The other place is Mark 16:16. Outside of Mark 16:16, the only times Jesus speaks of baptism are at His own baptism (Matthew 3:14-17), the baptism of His own suffering (Matthew 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-39; Luke 12:50), and the question about John’s baptism in Matthew 21:25, which account also is found in Mark 11:30 and Luke 20:4). None of these other three events concern salvation. Certainly, we cannot say that Jesus was saved at His baptism. Such would be heresy. Nor was Jesus saved by His sufferings; though His sufferings brought salvation to us. And the question to the religious leaders about John’s baptism had nothing to do with salvation. So, when we read Mark 16:16, we must read it with what has come before. Before Mark 16:16, Jesus has not made baptism even a passing thought in His discussions of salvation. Never once did he even hint that baptism saves. Rather, baptism has been linked to righteousness (Matthew 3:15) and to suffering.

Contrast this to the subject of belief and faith. Repeatedly, Jesus links faith to salvation (Luke 7:50; 18:42; John 1:12-13; 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 4:39-43; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 7:38 [belief as the condition for having the Holy Spirit]; 9:35-38; 10:37-38; 11:25-26; 12:46; 14:1; 17:20; 20:30-31). If Jesus thought that baptism was needed in addition to faith, then His statements in these many passages are only partial truths, and we know that partial truths are another name for lies, as we find in Genesis 2 with Satan’s temptation of Eve. Stated another way, if Jesus said that the one who believes in Jesus will have eternal life (John 3:16, etc.), and a person believes in Jesus, then either that person must have received eternal life or Jesus is a liar. Jesus does not say in any of these passages that you must believe and be baptized to receive eternal life. The sole condition is faith. And the fact that faith is the sole condition upon which God bestows righteousness to an individual is the consistent theme throughout the pages of Scripture, as Romans 4 and Hebrews 11 so powerfully state. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). No mention is made of baptism. Psalm 2:12 says that those who believe in the Son are blessed. No mention is made of baptism. The Scriptures never state that without baptism it is impossible to please God. But the Scriptures affirmatively state that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The thief on the cross pleased God and received salvation apart from baptism. As Romans 10:10 affirms, with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

So, when I give primacy to faith, I am only doing what Jesus did. There is no equality in Jesus’ teaching between faith and baptism. Repeatedly Jesus links faith and salvation. Only once, in Mark 16:16, does He ever even mention baptism and salvation in the same breath. The priority Biblically is on faith. Based on the Biblical evidence, it’s hard to say that baptism saves.

Second, the commentary cites four places in Scripture where according to the commentator baptism comes before salvation (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:4; and 1 Peter 3:21). First, as we have pointed out in our article on the passage, baptism does not necessarily come before salvation in Acts 2:38. Rather, we believe that the better translation of that verse is that Peter calls upon the people to be baptized because of the remission of sins brought about by the death of Christ. Second, in Acts 22:16, the exact relationship between baptism and the washing away of sins is not detailed. What the verse gives are two commands: “be baptized” and “wash away your sins.” What role baptism has on washing away sins or what role washing away sins has on baptism is not explained in this verse. One cannot say that one precedes the other, except for the mere fact that one precedes the other in the sentence. But anyone who knows Greek knows that word order in a sentence is not what it is in English. Words can be in almost any order in Greek. Some Greek grammarians have argued that the first word or word phrase of the sentence may be seen as the main point of emphasis in the sentence and the last word or word phrase of the sentence may be seen as a secondary point of emphasis. But I have read no Greek grammarians who otherwise hold word order in Greek to create a priority of one idea over another. These verses provide no evidence, for me, that baptism saves.

As for the Romans 6:4 passage, I do not believe that passage even discusses water baptism. When we are baptized in water, we are commanded to be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The Romans 6:3-5 passages speaks not of a baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but rather of a baptism into Christ Jesus; that is, the medium in which we are placed is not water but is Christ Himself. And, according to Scripture, the person who places us into Christ Jesus is not a human being, but is none other than the Spirit Himself (1 Corinthians 12:13). For those who see water baptism and the baptism by the Spirit as being the same thing, I simply note that the writer of the book of Hebrews notes that there is more than one baptism (Hebrews 6:2; see also Acts 19:1-5).

The last passage your commentator mentions is 1 Peter 3:21. That verse speaks of a baptism that saves by the request of a good conscience towards God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, I do not concede that any of the passages cited in the commentary show that water baptism comes before salvation.

Further, the commentary (at least the section you quote) leaves out some powerful passages where baptism is clearly not given priority before salvation. Of course, the most obvious one is that of Jesus Himself. His baptism did not come before He was saved. He was baptized not to become righteous (He already was righteous) but rather to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:14-17). If we follow the Lord in baptism, then likewise we are not baptized to become righteous, but because we have received righteousness by faith we are baptized to fulfill all righteousness. It is our righteous standing that entitles us to receive baptism.

Again, in Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius and those who were with him were righteous before they were baptized. Baptism did not save them. This is demonstrated by the fact that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit while they were yet unbaptized. Scripture affirms that the gift of the Spirit is a mark of our salvation (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13). Only after they had the Spirit did Peter remark that baptism should not be withheld from them. Again, in Acts 16:31, when Paul and Silas were asked what the Philippian jailor had to do to be saved, they affirmed that if the Philippian jailor believed he would be saved. They said nothing about the need to believe and be baptized to be saved. The sole criteria for salvation, as it was repeatedly in the teachings of Christ, was belief in Christ. Afterwards, they were baptized, having believed as verse 34 explains. And, in Acts 19:1-6, there were individuals who were already disciples (verse 1) and who had already believed (verse 2), but who had not been baptized. Each of these are examples show salvation first followed by baptism, which examples are not mentioned in the commentary for whatever reason, and which examples run contrary to the assertion by the commentator.

So, in answer to your question about why salvation is linked to faith plus baptism and not faith alone, I do not see Scripture teaching such a linkage, unless Mark 16:16 is the sole exception. Rather, what I see consistently in Scripture is that salvation is by grace through faith and that baptism is an event that comes after that inward imparting of eternal life. I do not see in Scripture the teaching that baptism saves.

You also argue that the “and” in Mark 16:16 shows that Jesus is placing equal importance on faith and baptism. I respectfully disagree. The Greek word “kai” that we translate as “and” can have many meanings just as the English word “and” does. Sometimes the word connects equals. Sometimes it does not. When Jesus said in Mark 12:17 that we should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s, I do not believe that He is intending us to understand an equality between what we render to Caesar and what we render to God. In Mark 10:21, when Jesus instructed the rich young ruler to go his way, sell whatever he had and give to the poor and come and follow Christ, I do not think that Jesus would want us to understand that there is an equality in these commands. Going his way was not equal with following Christ. Selling what he had and giving to the poor was not equal to following Christ. Rather, they were the predecessors to following Christ. Jesus’ words in Mark 8:36 about gaining the whole world and losing one’s soul is not intended to demonstrate an equality. To the opposite, they are intended to convey the idea that even the whole world is not equal to one’s soul. The argument that the “and” shows that Jesus is placing equal importance on both faith and baptism is a huge stretch. It is even a bigger stretch if we realize that Jesus did not speak in Greek, but in Hebrew (or some would say Aramaic which is a cognate language of Hebrew). Thus, the word translated “and” probably stems from Christ’s use of the Hebrew “vav,” a common conjunction with an extremely wide field of meanings. To state that it means an equality is akin to stating that if you get married and drive to the hotel you will be happy. There is no equality between getting married and driving to the hotel. The priority is the marriage. Likewise, for Christ to say that the one who believes and is baptized will be saved does nothing to state that these two concepts are equally important for one’s salvation. And the consistent teaching of Jesus elsewhere and of the rest of Scripture is that the priority always is on faith; never baptism, in the context of salvation.

So that then brings me back to Mark 16:16. The verse makes two statements. The verse affirms that the one who believes and is baptized is saved. And the verse also affirms that the one who does not believe is condemned. Beyond this, the verse does not directly affirm anything–especially not that baptism saves. For instance, the verse does not state what happens to the one who believes but is not baptized. In contrast, the verse directly affirms that the one who is baptized but does not believe is condemned, as such people are simply a subset of those who do not believe, a group that the verse says are condemned. So, in reading the verse, one cannot state that baptism saves, as the verse never affirms this statement. We know elsewhere in Scripture that faith is essential for salvation; but Scripture never elsewhere affirms that baptism is essential for salvation. In fact, the opposite is implied. In Romans 10:9-13, we have a promise of salvation apart from baptism, much like the many statements of Christ.

You may ask why Jesus would include baptism in this verse. I believe the answer is that baptism to Christ was the same for the believer as it was for Him. It is an act, not to achieve righteousness, but to fulfill righteousness. It is not a matter of salvation, but rather a mark of our salvation. It is our obedience and identification with the death and burial of Jesus Christ.

But I urge you not to take my word on this important matter. Rather, you should take your Bible and read through Scripture and see what it says on the subject. I have provided several Scriptures, but you will want to look at others as well to answer your question of whether or not baptism saves. Remember that the Scriptures are the best commentary on the Bible commentaries. It is not that commentaries are not helpful, but what they say and what I say must always give way to what Scripture says.

You also ask about the relationship between justification and baptism. I do not know of a single Scripture that links our justification and baptism. Our justification comes from our belief (Romans 5:1), and in this way it is linked to our salvation. Justification is the process or act by which we are seen as right in the eyes of God. Thus, when we believe, God declares us to be justified. This is our salvation. Though water baptism is never linked to justification, we can conclude that because justification results in our salvation, water baptism should follow justification in the same way that it follows our salvation. The death and resurrection of Christ provides the basis for our justification. Water baptism, in depicting our death and resurrection with Him, shows our identification with that means to justification. However, as with salvation, Scripture never affirms that water baptism brings about justification. Rather, to the contrary, justification is solely by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:30; Galatians 3:8).

I trust these thoughts are helpful to you. May the Lord Jesus guide you into Himself in full measure, that you may comprehend the greatness of His love and the depth of His presence in your life, and that you may live your life as a blessing to God and humanity.

a fellow pilgrim,

tim

21 thoughts on “Baptism Saves — Does the Bible Teach This?

  1. xino

    That’s a lot of writing just to simply explain if Baptism is required to be saved.
    Baptism is required for public declaration and to see the Kingdom of God.
    It is not required for you to be saved

    Reply
    1. David

      Greetings.
      I am not sure what to make of your comment. Are you saying that a person can be saved without a public declaration of faith and that he or she can be saved but not be able to see the Kingdom of God? In 1st Peter 3:21 baptism is described as an expression or confession of a good conscience toward God. The verse states that this confession is what saves us. Just read it again. This expression of a good conscience toward God is much like a knock on a door is the accepted expression of a person’s desire for it to be opened. Just standing at the door and having faith that it will open is foolish. What’s worse is refusing to knock because it goes against an accepted belief (faith alone). Part of having faith is accepting the Word of God even when it does not seem to follow what we think it should say. Naaman thought it silly to wash in the Jordan River to be healed. It made more sense to him to wash in his home river which was cleaner. Good for him he just obeyed.

      Reply
      1. truthsaves Post author

        People can be saved without a public confession. It is not what we do, but it is accepting what has been done for us that brings salvation. People in isolation wards, or out in the desert by themselves, or those who are mute, or suffering from a stroke; these all can be saved. Belief is a belief of the heart. Of course, if we have the opportunity to speak, what we say will reflect what we truly believe. And all who are saved will have the kingdom of God.

        Reply
        1. David

          Greetings.
          Tim, I was and still confused by Xino’s comment that baptism is needed as a public confession of faith and needed to see the Kingdom of God, yet how can you be part of the Kingdom of God and not see it. Will the unbaptized enter heaven blind and yes we must confess Jesus is Lord and not under our breath or when no one is looking.

          Reply
          1. truthsaves Post author

            I cannot speak for Xino. But as you know, I do not read Scripture as imposing baptism as a condition of salvation. We are saved by grace through faith as a gift from God, and not by our works, whether the works be circumcision or baptism. We cannot both condemn the Jewish legalists for requiring circumcision for justification and then do the same thing with baptism that they did with circumcision. If circumcision is a work, as Scripture teaches that it is, then baptism is also a work, as conceptually the two are both practices we do or have done to us by others. Just as Abraham was justified apart from circumcision (see Romans 4) and circumcision was a sign of the justification he already had received, so we are justified by the same faith as Abraham apart from baptism, and baptism becomes a sign of the justification we have already received. We follow our Lord in baptism, and He certainly was not baptized for His justification. Neither are we.

  2. Calvin LeBlanc

    Thank you for your time, research, insight and being true to God’s word. This was very helpful to me.. now its Acts 17:11 time ;op (time with my pastor,, the Holy Spirit)

    Reply
  3. David

    Greetings.
    Anyone reading Mark 16:16 and 1st Peter 3:21 and coming away with the notion that baptism is not needed for salvation is living in a fantasy world. What is the point of Jesus saying that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”. What kind of message is he attempting to get across? Of course He is saying we must be baptized, I know this because He said it. I do not need to find so long drawn out way around the truth. If Jesus said that we must wear yellow shoes on Tuesdays to be saved, then we must do it. It is not for us to find a way to change the simple message of the Bible to fit our “Faith Only” mind set. Having faith is about accepting God at face value. When God told the ancient Hebrews to gaze upon the brass serpent to be healed, it would have been foolish of them to say, “No, God must mean something else”. When God told Abraham is sacrifice his son, he never said “No, this is what God really means”. True faith obeys, even when we disagree.

    Reply
    1. truthsaves Post author

      Jesus never said that one must be baptized to be saved. His only statement that He made on the subject of baptism in relation to salvation was in the Mark 16 passage and there He says that if one believes and is baptized, one is saved. Elsewhere, He repeatedly makes it clear that if one believes, one is saved, as noted in the article. The many statements that one is saved if one believes and the one statement that one is saved if one believes and is baptized can each be true only if faith is the one essential needed for salvation. If baptism is needed, then the many statements of Christ are incomplete and convey a false sense of what is needed for salvation. Stated another way, when Jesus told the people in John 6:47 that whoever believes has everlasting life, that statement is true only if in fact those who believe gain everlasting life. If those who believe do not gain everlasting life because they were not baptized, then the statement Jesus makes in John 6:47 is false. Baptism is important, but not essential. Faith is essential (Hebrews 11:6).
      As previously explained, Jesus does not stop in Mark 16:16 with the statement on baptism. Rather He continues by saying that the one who does not believe is condemned. He makes no reference to baptism in the grounds of condemnation. I think we would be wise to follow His leading.

      Reply
      1. David

        Greetings.
        Your logic fails. To imply that baptism is not needed because the 4 gospels rarely speak of it, is not sound. Most of the New Testament is not written in red ink but it is still the Word of God. The idea that we can ignore the “and baptized” of Mark 16:16 because it is not mentioned again in the 2nd part of the verse is wrong. Of coarse, those who do not believe are condemned, adding “and not baptized” would be a waste of breath. You also state that Jesus only mentions having faith in Him for salvation. These are true statements but general statements like 99% of all language is. Think about how we all speak and write, almost everything we say is general, almost never do we speak definitely, if we did we would be exhausted. This is why there are no verses that say “faith alone” except “you are not saved by faith alone” which is definitive (James 2:24) Jesus rarely mentions repentance or confessing Him in public or taking up your cross but they are part of the plan

        Reply
        1. truthsaves Post author

          If I tell you that I will sell you my car for $2,000 and you give me $2,000 for the car, I am required to give you the car. I cannot add a new term to the agreement. What is true of covenants between men is even more true with God, as Scripture tells us in Hebrews 6. God cannot lie. Jesus told many people that if they believed in Him, they would have eternal life. If they believe and He does not give them eternal life, then He is not true to His word. He never told anyone that they needed to be baptized to have eternal life, except perhaps in Mark 16 if one interprets the passage to state this, which I note it does not so state. So, all those other people will not make it to heaven, even though they did the one thing Jesus asked them to do, because they did not do the one thing He never asked them to do, that is, to be baptized? In the Mark passage, Jesus says that those who believe and are baptized will be saved. He does not say that anyone “must” be baptized to be saved. When the Philippians jailer asked what he must do to be saved, Paul responded with belief in Christ.

          Reply
    2. Lee

      Its amazing how you’ll overlook all the massive evidence and go back to focusing on two passages. Did you even read The Whole article?

      Reply
      1. David

        Greetings Lee
        I fail to see this “massive evidence” you speak of. Obedience is not a result of salvation, it is the avenue to salvation. When Jesus gave the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20 & Mark 6:14-18 He commanded baptism. It is not wise to try to find loopholes by looking for exceptions. ALL ten examples of conversions have baptism as part of the act of salvation. There is no logical way to read the Great Commision and come away with the notion that baptism and obedience in general are not part of the commission itself.
        Solely believing unto salvation is and has always been a false concept that goes against the flow and form of the Bible. If believing in Him was all that was needed Jesus would have never uttered the words (cont.)

        Reply
  4. David

    Greetings.
    Tim, lets use your example of the auto sales contract. All agreements have unstated understandings, in your example the seller would expect without stating it, U.S. currency, prompt pick up and no implied warranty. The buyer would expect without stating it a bill of sale, clear title and access to drive or haul it away. This terms are never stated but it is understood as part of the agreement. When the Bible states that we must believe to be saved, it is understood that just trusting in Jesus to forgive your sins is not the end, we must act. We can not just stand by the door and have faith that it will open, we must knock until it opens. Knocking is not a work it is a command. There are over fifty passages in the New Testament that state faith is needed for salvation and I accept them all without any need to explain them away but each one of them are general not definitive statements. This is why you can not find any verses that state “faith alone”.

    Reply
    1. truthsaves Post author

      If Jesus has unstated conditions in His offer to us, then we are all in trouble. How would we ever know what they are? You think it is baptism. Someone else thinks it is good works. Perhaps it may be going to the top of the hill on the second blue moon of the year. How would we ever know if the conditions were unstated? As Paul points out in 1 Thessalonians 4, even by the early 60’s, many believers had died. This was long before Mark or John were written. So is there no hope for them, especially as Paul stated that he was not called to baptize, he never teaches baptism as a condition for salvation, the church at Jerusalem did not impose it as a condition in Acts 15, and Mark and John were not written? If belief alone does not save, then the scriptures are false witnesses of the condition for salvation. Jesus said repeatedly that if one believes, they have eternal life. He does not say that if one believes and meets the rest of the unstated conditions, one will be saved.

      In my example, there are no unstated conditions. You have inserted something that is not there. I did not promise the car in any particular condition. My only duty was to deliver to you the car if you paid me the stated amount. I am bound only to do what I promised if you meet my condition. God, likewise has bound Himself to do what He promised if we meet His condition. His goal is to reconcile people to Himself. He does not impose unstated conditions. He did not do so with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, or Israel. He does not do so with us. If I believe and God does not save me, then God’s word is not true in the same way that if you paid me the stated price and I refused to deliver the car to you, my word would not be true.

      Reply
  5. David

    Greetings,
    All agreements have tacit understandings, society could not function without them, they are not wrong, just needed. If you agreed to sell a car, EVEN IF YOU DON’T STATE IT, you are implying that you have the right (title) to sell it. I am not adding anything into your example I am just pointing out an unstated understanding in your example. When the Bible states that belief is needed for salvation it does not mention what kind of belief but it is understood to be more then what the demons believe. I offer to you that the type of faith God expects is one that obeys and not simply trust, a faith that knocks at the door and not simply hopes that it will open. Remember, there is a reason you can not find a verse that states “by faith alone” because it is not “by faith alone”. Also, I am not saying that there are unstated understandings as in “hidden” understandings, just clear common sense understandings like Acts 2:38.

    Reply
    1. truthsaves Post author

      Abraham did not have a faith to obey. In Genesis 15 God asked him to do nothing. Rather, God promised him that his seed would be as the stars of heaven and Abraham simply believed. No command to do. No law to keep. Simply a promise in which he believed. Is he not the type of faith that we should be advocating?

      Further, not all contracts have unstated conditions. My right to sell the car is part of the stated condition, because I promise to give it to you. It is not an unstated condition. I think to make my example into something it is not is bad logic. I have worked in contract law for 29 years. While many states have incorporated consumer protections into contract law and implied conditions through the respective Uniform Commercial Codes, at common law the rule was “let the buyer beware.” There were no obligations on the part of the buyer or the seller outside of what they agreed among themselves. If the conditions where not stated, they did not exist.

      Further, the argument that Scriptures never use the term “faith alone” is like the argument that Scripture never uses the term “trinity.” It is a bad argument. The question is not whether the words are found in Scripture, but whether the concept the words describe is found in Scripture. Paul’s argument in Romans 4 is that righteousness is imputed solely by faith and apart from works. He does not use the words “faith alone,” but he states “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” He further states: “Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputed righteousness apart from works.” He later says of Abraham: “and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform. And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Paul then states that the story of Abraham was written for us so that we who believe in the One who raised Jesus from the dead. Paul states that we have been justified by faith. It is difficult for me to read Paul and not come away with a view that Paul held to a position that by the grace of God faith alone yields justification. No work, no obedience, no keeping of an ordinance, all of which Paul would argue results in merit and not grace, can add anything to our justification. He makes similar arguments in Galatians. Do you read Paul as stating that we need to have something other than what Abraham had?

      Reply
  6. David

    Greetings.
    Wow, lets begin with your choice of Abraham. Abraham is one of the greatest examples of obedient faith in the Bible. He was commanded to move to an unknown country, told to send away his first born and to kill his second son and in all of this he “did” the will of God and he was rewarded. If he had failed to obey, the promise would not have been kept. Next, ALL language either verbal or written has tacit understandings. You do not need a degree to understand this, it is common sense. We may disagree about what is unstated but not the fact that they exist. Using the example of a car sale, if I buy the car I expect that you will allow me to enter your property and drive it away, you did not mention giving me permission but to complete the agreement it is an “unstated understanding” that you will allow this to happen. It was not discussed or written on the agreement but never the less the understanding exist. I do not understand how you can not see this. (next page)

    Reply
    1. truthsaves Post author

      Have you read Romans 4? Abraham was not saved because of obedient faith. Justification was not a reward for obedience. Where do you ever get that idea? Paul certainly does not teach this. Paul states that if Abraham was justified by his works, then he would have something to boast. Abraham’s obedience did not lead to justification. God never declared Abraham justified when Abraham left his country and moved to the promised land. Nor did He declare Abraham justified when he sent away Ishmael, or when he obeyed God in the sacrifice of Isaac. Justification came only when God made a promise and Abraham believed God. This is what Paul strongly argues both in Romans 4 and in Galatians.

      If I were to agree with you that there are unstated conditions in contracts and in the promises of God, then neither contracts nor God’s promises could ever be certain because none of us would know what the unstated conditions are. You may think you know what those conditions are, but I would challenge you to show that you know what God’s unstated conditions are. Your position leaves all of God’s promises empty, because no one would know what the unstated conditions are. Every statement of God in Scripture could never be taken at face value. If we cannot trust God’s word, then we are left with only a religion of our own making. I think you need to consider what you are saying.

      If you truly believe what you are stating, I fear for your salvation. In Galatians, Paul pushes back against those who would add works to the gospel of faith. He has strong words in chapter 1 about those who do so. If you think that baptism is crucial for salvation, despite Jesus’ words and Paul’s words about salvation coming by belief in Christ apart from our works, then you have a different gospel than what Scripture states.

      The Biblical writers and Jesus repeatedly say that eternal life comes to those who believe in Christ. If someone believes in Christ and they are not saved, then God is not true. Scripture never says that the demons believe in Christ, so I do not know what you mean to say when you reference the faith of demons. A belief that God is one is no statement of a belief in the Son.

      I do not know what more I can say. All I can do is present the Scriptures and pray that the Spirit will do His work. If you can read Romans 4 as supporting works in God’s salvation, or a position that Abraham was rewarded with justification because of his obedience, then we do not even share the common ground of what words mean.

      Reply
  7. David

    Greetings again.
    On your example of the use of the word “trinity” you fail to understand that this term was created by man to express a biblical truth that is hard to grasp. If you are explaining the concept of the Godhead you don’t keep stating the “Trinity”, you show verses that state the triune nature of God. But “faith alone” is a definitive statement and if true should be easy to point to. If the Bible truly teaches “faith alone” there should be a huge number of verses stating “alone or only” that someone could point to and verses such as Acts 2:38 or Mark 16:16 should not exist. It is true that we are saved by faith but it is the type of faith that Abraham had and not the faith of demons.

    Reply
  8. David

    Greetings.
    Lets look at Romans 4, which I have read many times. In verse 13 it states that God approves of the faith of Abraham, why? Why among all the men in the entire world would God pick this one person’s faith to approve of? What was special about his faith that God would pick him to be the father of many nations? Let me suggest that in His great wisdom and foreknowledge, God KNEW that Abraham would obey, just like God picked David while still a boy to be king and he would be called a “man after God’s own heart” God knew the heart of Abraham and rewarded him in advance. Also, you don’t seem to understand the meaning of tacit understandings, it does not mean “hidden” or “unknown”, I just means “UNSTATED BUT UNDERSTOOD”. It is part of the language that YOU and I both use everyday. An example, you invite a visitor from your church to dinner at your home, do you tell them that it is “free of charge”, of course not. You did not state it but it is understood, correct?

    Reply
  9. David

    Greetings.
    I noticed in your reply you state, “If I were to agree with you that there are unstated conditions in contracts and in the promises of God” (7-15-14 7:34pm) and “Further, not all contracts have unstated conditions” (7-15-14 10:50am) as a matter of fact you use conditions FIVE times in this one paragraph. In your reply on (7-14-14 9:44pm) you use “conditions” TEN times in two paragraphs. You are either not truly reading my comments or using a “straw man” attack. Please reread my comments, I am NOT using the word “conditions” but “understandings”. You are commenting on statements that I have not made. Why not state, “If I were to agree with you that there are unstated understandings in contracts and the promises of God” that would have been fair. You are twisting and changing my words, that is clear to anyone who has been reading these posts. I never used “conditions” in any of my posts. There are NO unstated conditions, repentance and baptism are clearly stated.

    Reply

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